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Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

osprey family and feathered friends

27 July 2011

Summer weather seems to have finally arrived in Penticton and the sunny south Okanagan, better late than never.  The skies are blue, the sun shines warmly, and clouds are mainly fluffy white puffs high overhead – which means that bird watchers can get some great views of feathered friends.

The osprey nest at the corner of Warren Avenue and the Channel Bypass is a busy place these days, as the remaining two youngsters (yes, it appears that the third little one did not make it) are growing rapidly, and regularly peer out over the edges of the nest.  Mama tends to spend most of her time with the young ones, while Papa stands guard at a distance in the tops of bare long-dead tree trunks.  When human beings venture too close to the nest, Papa swoops from his perch, shouting at the intruders, and then flies up to the nest, lands for a moment or two to reassure his little family, and then sails back to his lookout.

The osprey family generously allows their much smaller feathered neighbours to perch on nest branches that extend out from the platform.  The nest stands high on a pole above one of the Okanagan River’s oxbows, on the edge of a patch of wild untamed landscape.  One building sits alone in the deserted bit of wilderness within the city, alongside a parking lot that is being slowly but surely overgrown by unruly vegetation.  A row of lamp posts stick up incongruously here and there among the trees, bushes and grasses.  Apparently at one time human inhabitants carved a recreational area out of this bit of land, perhaps a mini-golf course as I’ve heard tell.  But except for the office building, parking lot, and lamp posts, mother nature is reclaiming this bit of Okanagan dryland next to the cut-off oxbows.  The land and bits of water have become home to an increasing number of creatures large and small, as well as waterfowl and other birds who love the safety and openness of this wilderness of  tall trees and wetlands which are bounded by highway on the west, a broad streetscape on the south, and single family residential homes to the east and north.

(To get the best view of the ospreys and their feathered friends, be sure to click on the photos to see enlarged photos).

Ospreys update

I was out for a walk today on Okanagan Lake beach and was pleased to see that the osprey nest by the casino/hotel has an osprey family in it after all.  Several times lately it has seemed empty, and I was afraid that the much-vaunted “riparian environment” along the beach walk was being overwhelmed by the motorboat rentals, kayak rentals, houseboat cruise rentals, live music on the stage jutting out over the riparian area, the numerous guests at the sidewalk cafe overlooking the riparian area, the numerous folks attending the restaurant built on posts above the riparian area, etc etc etc…  But today there were, in addition to the osprey’s in the nest, a duck family, and a quite large flock of geese in the lake and on the shoreline.  Of course it could be that yesterday was an extremely wet rainy day, and this morning was cool after a night of rain, which meant that few humans were around, and it was early enough that none of the rentals had started yet.  Hmmm….

On the other hand, the osprey nest at the corner of the Channel Bypass and Warren Avenue features a non-stop concert of baby ospreys cheeping and chirping – although in the past week or two I’ve only been able to spot two little heads rather than the three previously.   I am hoping that the third osprey youngster is still there, of course, but am beginning to wonder if the little one hasn’t made it this far.  Mom and Pop osprey are very devoted parents, and if any humans cross over the street to the side where the nest sits high atop a pole, Pop leaps up from the nest and whirls in great circles, crying out vigorously in an attempt to draw the intruders away from the area near the nest.  As Pop leaps up from the nest, a flurry of much smaller birds often rush upwards at the same time, suggesting that the ospreys are good neighbours, willing to share their nesting space.

Here are some recent snapshots of Ma and Pa stretching their wings.  No shots of the little ones though …  I must get out my telephoto lens rather than get that close.

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critter homes

July 15, 2011

Penticton has many residents – and a lot of them are wildlife.  In the past couple days you’ve seen some examples here – osprey and deer.

While some cities tend to be “concrete jungles,” others, like Penticton have many green spaces tucked among the streets and parking lots.  Today’s snapshots feature a selection of the homes which some of our wide variety of residents inhabit in our version of the “urban jungle.”  Can you guess which critters call which abodes “home”?

Deer on highway

15 July 2011

Word has it that there are about 500 deer living within Penticton city limits this summer, and many more in the surrounding countryside.  A friend reports that the game warden says a cull would be dangerous because removing the in-city deer would simply result in the deer in the surrounding areas moving into the city limits – and their major predators, black bear and cougar, would follow them in.  The deer are pleasant to look at, but they joyfully clear out people’s garden and  chew the bark off young trees.  Though I haven’t heard about deer causing injuries to humans or their pets, there have been an unusual number of reports of this kind of activity at other locations in the province this year.  Some people are very concerned it could start happening here.

One activity that is occurring frequently is deer crossing roadways.  While most of the roads within city limits have fairly slow  speed limits, the highway bypass, for much of its length, allows speeds of up to 70 to 80 kilometers/hour.  At these speeds, it is sometimes difficult for drivers to slow down suddenly enough to avoid colliding with deer, especially when the creatures panic and swerve all over the highway.  An example of this happened today, and I managed to catch a few photos.  Some are a bit blurry, as the deer was skittering here and there and it was hard to keep up with him.  But they do give a sense of the problem.

What is to be done about this situation is another story.  Obviously, the city and surrounding residential and farming areas keep expanding into the deers’ natural territory.  Humans particularly love to live close to the lakeshores and along the rivers, cutting wildlife off from their water supply in this arid landscape.  Furthermore, the green irrigated vegetation of human habitation is inevitably a temptation to the deer, who otherwise need to feed on dry scrubby grasses.

Penticton osprey’s nest

15 July 2010

A couple months back we featured some snapshots of an osprey’s nest  at the corner of Warren Avenue and the Highway 97 bypass.  At the time mom and pop were in the process of setting up home.  Now passersby enjoy watching 3 little heads pop up as the proud parents swoop down with food for their chicks.

I haven’t been able to get a decent snapshot of the little ones yet, but this evening I got some wonderful snapshots of the parents swooping low over the nest.  Enjoy!

romantically ducky moments

May 16, 2011

A daily sight on Penticton’s walking paths and beaches is romantic couples wandering along together, enjoying each other’s company.  Here are some examples.

eagle’s — no, osprey’s! — nest

April 15, 2011

Including the mating pair, there are at least 5 adult eagles — oops, osprey’s — wheeling over our neighborhood.  And a baby or two in the nest.  Wonderful!

Too funny!  That’s what happens when a short-sighted earth-bound pedestrian admires wonderful winged creatures sailing far overhead.  Mis-identification!  How embarrassing!

Thanks to everyone who gently pointed out  my error 🙂

On the other hand, just checked my stats – seems my “oops” has garnered more hits and comments that any previous post.   Have to like that.

spring: planning baseball and migration!

March 6, 2011

Spring is planning time!  Planning the summer garden, planning summer vacation, planning graduation and other end-of-school-year events.

And obviously, planning for the upcoming baseball season.  The ball fields next to our house have been empty for months, but today marked the first of the baseball enthusiasts out planning the coming season.  The in-field is still pretty muddy, the grass still brown, and a new irrigation system is being installed.  But the sun is peeking through, the snow is all melted, and these baseball lovers couldn’t stay away another minute.

Across town, another gathering of spring enthusiasts.  Not sure if they chose this particular spot because of the handy gas-up stations nearby, but these ducks were certainly having a large and excellent migration-north stop-over convention.  A few sea-gulls and other winged creatures were hanging around the edges, getting in on the excitement.

What are you planning this spring?

beautiful Okanagan Lake

January 17, 2011

In summer, this beautiful Okanagan Lake beachfront is covered with sun-worshippers every day, the water filled with adults and children alike splashing and swimming, and zipping down the slides that are placed in the water each sunny season.  Out beyond the white marker buoys (you will definitely want to click on the pictures to see the detail; click on the “back arrow” at the top left of your screen to return to the post), motor-boats, water-skiiers, canoes and kayaks, wake-boarders, and all manner of other summer water activities curve criss-crossing wakes across the water’s surface.

But on this mid-January day, with unusually clear skies and calm surface, the lake sits still, with only a flock of local over-wintering ducks and the ubiquitous sea gulls gliding slowly over the surface – at least until a rude photographer dares to creep too close, and with a sudden squawking and flapping, the whole group splashes up from the water and sails overhead in great arcs, finally descending again and landing smoothly a safe distance away.

The water itself is so clear today that every grain of sand beneath its surface along the shoreline can be seen distinctly.  In fact, it is difficult to see where the water begins, it is so clear.  A scattering of washed-up plant life at various levels along the shoreline replaces the summer covering of beach towels, floaties, and tanned bodies.  It also reminds us that not every winter day is this placid; occasionally, winds blow up or down the lake with fury, whipping up huge waves and sometimes even taking out large trees near the shore line.  But today the world is still, and the footprints of the ducks are clearly outlined in the sand at the water’s edge.

At the east end of the beach, the Penticton Peach sits closed up and deserted, and tourists looking for entertainment are more likely out of town at Apex Ski Resort, or having fun in the Casino in the hotel just beyond the Peach.  At the west end of the beach, the old steamship SS Sicamous sits tall and stately, remembering, keeping watch over the beach that at one time was the southern terminous of its trips up and down the 135 kilometers of Okanagan Lake, connecting the many communities, large and small, that dotted her shorelines in earlier days.

(Take a look at this slide show of the SS Sicamous, a lively tourist and historical destination in the warm months each year).

spidey

August 2010