Of all the times we’ve been to Banff National Park, I haven’t seen any bear roaming about yet except when we were cycling on the Continental Divide west of the Park over 15 years ago.
This summer Jack did spot a bear when he biked out to Vermillion Lake, a popular marshy area with birds, striking wild grasses and bushes in especially fall. People drive out, hike, kayak and hang out along the water edge. I had
declined after a fabulous 50 km. of cyclng round trip along the Legacy trail between Canmore and Banff.
To see a bear in broad daylight in a human-busy national park at summer peak, is a rare treat. Good thing the bear, was ambling up a gentle rocky hill. Be aware this type of bear can run 50-60 km. per hour.
More than Just Wild Bears
While international tourists might crave to glimpse our large wildlife –elk, bighorn sheep or mountain goat, they might consider some of our wild birds and small ground animals found in the Rocky Mountains. Not anywhere else in Canada, east of central Alberta.
We forget in some countries, particularly in the tropical areas, certain squirrels and chipmunks we see in Canada, don’t even inhabit elsewhere in the wild.
In my last blog post, I included shots of chipmunks sited in the park, by Lake Moraine. They were wonderful chance glimpses.
This spring, while we were biking in the mountain resort town of Canmore, it was the Columbian ground squirrel by a bike path. It has a habit of standing up, sentinel-like when it senses danger (of a human being or large animal) nearby.
The next siting was by picnic table where not surprisingly there were several burrow holes right underneath the table. One might as well be dropping food from heaven without any effort for these wild happy critters. Certainly we
spied a plump Columbian ground squirrel that didn’t run away from us. It did shriek out for others –probably a food call, rather than a danger alert.
Perhaps it’s just living thousands of kilometres from where I grew up in southern Ontario but now decades later, I am more aware of the birds flitting, chirping and twittering in the trees and above. The red-breast robin is still one of the bird harbingers of spring in western Canada. There are still the brilliant green headed mallard duck trundling around in ponds and rivers.
Now it’s the Stellar Jay, a bird native to northwest Pacific coast in Canada and states as well as into the Rocky Mountains. More grey with blue and less white than the flashier blue jay I saw often in Ontario.
Since we still don’t have a pair of binoculars, it’s a challenge to glimpse tiny cute warblers and other song birds darting and hiding among tree foliage.
While we were along the Tram Line, a hiking and snowshoeing trail in the Lake Louise area, we spotted a bird colouring unknown to us. It turned out to be a Varied Thrush — a species that does not frequent this area.
While we were near Lake Agnes, by the Beehive mini-mountain, a short hike above Lake Louise, a friendly Canada Jay popped onto a low branch. It was formerly called the Gray Jay, until the American Ornithological Society renamed it appropriately since this jay bird does occupy a huge swath across Canada.
True, long after leaving these wilderness areas, I occasionally dream of jewel lakes, ice capped mountains and the wildlife that pop about.