Janets`s Nature Notes
Canada & America tour
(All photographs taken with a Canon Power Shot S2 1S)
Wow , what a year this has turned out to be. We have just fulfilled a dream that we have had for some years, in that we would not only visit relatives in Canada and America, but would cross the whole of Canada by train. We started by flying to Ottowa at the start of October to stay with my step cousins. Their garden and surrounding countryside was alive with flora and fauna, all of it strange to us. The birds that came to the bird table included Blue Jays, (that stuffed two whole peanuts in their shells down their throats at one go) Cardinals, Mourning Doves, Chickadees (which I had always imagined as a very exotic bird and which turned out to be a form of Great Tit) and Hairy woodpeckers. ( at least I think that’s what they were.) We also saw skeins of Canada geese honking overhead on their way down country. The most enchanting animals were the Chipmunks that lived in the lawns and came every day at four o’clock to be fed with peanuts. W e watched them pulling their cheeks out and stuffing them, then running like mad to their burrows and a few minutes later come back for more. What’s more, they weren’t above sneaking into the kitchen to help themselves if the food wasn’t forthcoming. We were very envious of the jet-black squirrels that seemed to be everywhere on the North American continent. There was also a beautiful bright red squirrel with a white stomach.
Autumnal Colours at Huron Point in Gatineau Park Ottowa
Mourning Dove and Blue Jay.
Moving onto Manitoba we saw literally hundred of Beaver lodges and dams and I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of a Beaver swimming towards a dam with a stick in its’ mouth. Clive and I both saw, from the train, a Skunk running alongside the railway line, which was as close as we wanted to be, having been regaled with tales of people having to leave their property for weeks on end after a Skunk sprayed there. West of Winnipeg there were a lot of (empty) Osprey nests on top of trees and telegraph poles. There were frequent sightings of White tailed deer, but we got our best view when we were in Jasper station where we were able to stand in a carriage and photograph the animals just outside the window. Just before entering the station we glimpsed some Big-horned Sheep but weren’t fast enough to get a picture. We got a glimpse too, in the Rockies, of a pair of Black bears waddling down to a river.
White Tailed Deer
Large Blue Heron
Small Blue Heron
Having left the train we stayed at Vancouver for a few days and saw the Bald Headed eagles flying out over the water. We also flew over to Vancouver Island in a floatplane, then out into the Sound in a twelve seater RIB, all of us decked out like bright orange Michelin men. The Sea Lions were the first marine animals we saw, closely followed by Harbour seals and Common porpoises. There were hundreds of sea gulls and Cormorants on the rocks and Common Murres in the water, but the highlight of the trip, even though we didn’t get to see the Orcas, were the two Hump backed whales that played around the boat. If you would like to see that stretch of water for yourselves, just go to Racerock.com for the webcams.
Hump Back Whale sounding.
Hump Back whale sounding
Another Hump Back whale
Sea Lions Cormorants & Seagulls.
I'm In Charge!
More of the tribe.
Hand sized spider Nr Houston!
From there we flew to Houston in Texas where we stayed with Clives’ cousins, who were birding enthusiasts. They took us Brazos Park and we walked round the lakes (in 91-degree heat) where we counted twenty Alligators ranging in size from three to twelve feet! We also saw Great and Small Blue herons; Tri-coloured herons, a Blackheaded Night heron, Ibises, Great and Small and Snowy egrets, a couple of female, peach coloured, Vermilion fly-catchers (unfortunately we didn’t see the males who are so scarlet they seem to bleed) Pied billed Grebes, Eastern Phoebes, Mexican Whistling ducks and a Sharp Shinned falcon. There were a lot of huge birds around the region and when I pointed them out to the cousins they casually said “Oh yes, that’s just another Turkey vulture!” We tried to explain to them that all these creatures were alien to us, but it didn’t seem to get through to them. There were Mocking birds (which are the State bird of Texas) everywhere, plus Grackles, which look a bit like our blackbirds. And last but not least Red –Bellied Woodpeckers.
Mocking Bird. The Texas State bird.
Yes its real!
Aligator 1 of 20.
Aligator 8 of 20.
Words by Janet, Pictures by Clive.
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