A serving of fish


Mommy Osprey brings a serving of fish to her rather large chicks still in the nest.


Posted in birds, fish | 2 Comments

Solitary Sandpiper


This is only the third time I have seen a Solitary Sandpiper in the last decade, and it has always been seen in August.

The Solitary Sandpiper does not appear to breed around Kootenay Lake, but does breed farther north. So, when seen around the Lake, it is just stopping to feed during migration.

A Solitary Sandpiper forages in the Harrop wetlands during its migration south.


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Staring fawn


Now is the season to watch fawns — and the season for fawns to stare back at us.

Deer stare at people, and, it seems, this practice starts at a fairly early age. As was discussed in staring contests, this probably results from a deer’s rather poor vision. The deer cannot quite tell if you are there or not, and if there, are you a threat? As it tries to figure this out, it just stares hoping to spot clues.

In tall grass, a white-tailed fawn just stands and stares at a passing human.

Oh well, caution advises departure.


Posted in mammals | 4 Comments

Wolf family


That indefatigable wanderer of the woods, Doug Thorburn, has shared his pictures of a family of wolves, which he encountered beside a mountain road in the south Selkirks in late July.

Fifty years ago, wolves were considered to be extirpated from around here. We now have a low density population. I have never seen one in my own wanderings. 

Doug Thorburn’s picture is used with permission.


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Deer and squirrel


Two mammals posed for portraits in a short time this morning.

This is a white-tailed buck with misshapen antlers: an extra spike and nodules at the base. Apparently, these can be caused by damage to the deer’s pedicles (region from which antlers grow). However, this buck also had a truncated tail, so it may have had more problems.

The Columbian ground squirrel is fairly common, but it rarely approaches closely and poses.


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Ghosts aplenty


Each July and August, I keep an eye out for Indian pipe, a flower also known as the ghost plant. Only now and then will I encounter the strange plant that lacks chlorophyll. It has carved out an ecological niche on the deep, sunlight-deprived, forest floor, where it extracts energy, with the help of fungi, from surrounding trees, rather than from direct sunlight.

Alas, I rarely find it.

A couple of years ago, I and others, discovered a small patch of Indian pipe that had started growing beside the spawning channel at the Kokanee Creek Park. It was there again last year. This year, it has erupted into many patches, each with multiple flowers.

What is it about the weather this year that encouraged the growth of Indian pipe? I don’t know, but I do delight in the present profusion of these ghosts.

One of a number of patches of Indian pipe along the spawning channel.

This group of plants is sitting in a momentary patch of sunlight on the dark forest floor.


Posted in wildflowers | 3 Comments

A fish flew by


A headless fish flew by. It was being packed by an osprey.

For an earlier discussion of this strange phenomenon, see headless fish flying.


Posted in birds, fish | 1 Comment

July goulash


Nothing from this baker’s dozen of July images has had a posting of its own. 

A few birds avoid the valleys and prefer the mountains. One of these is the White-crowned Sparrow. Wintering to the south, it breeds here in the summer.

Another mountain bird, at least in the summer, is the Townsend’s Solitaire. Although it eats berries in the valleys during the winter, in the summer it switches to mainly insects.

The solitaire flies off after an insect.

Also seen in the mountains is a male Lazuli Bunting. That may be a female it is chasing.

A Cherry-faced Meadowhawk hunts insects from the ground.

Two fawns frolic in a field.

Another summer resident, the Willow Flycatcher does just that: It hunts bugs, often from a willow.

This Cedar Waxwing looks as if it is going after the seeds of the common tansy.

I was struck by the colour of this large beetle found on the beach.

A Double-crested Cormorant often swims low in the water.

A painted turtle is on a log in a pond, and all are covered in duckweed. Duckweed depletes oxygen in the water and so is hard on fish, yet it is welcomed by turtles, which feast upon it.

I don’t often see a goldfinch for we are near the northern edge of its breeding range.

A Barn Swallow obligingly poses on its nest.


Posted in birds, bugs, herptiles, mammals | 4 Comments

Bitching chicks


Osprey parents share a problem with a number of other species: How do you persuade maturing offspring to leave the nest? Being fed and looked after at home is comfortable, and consequently many offspring never want the coddling to end. But, it must.

The ospreys’s solution to this problem was treated extensively in a 2013 posting: It’s time you went. Essentially, the parents starve them out. An adult will taunt the chicks by flying past the nest with a fish, but will not deliver it. When it does deliver something to the nest, it is a stick, not a fish. 

The message is: You want to continue to eat; get out there and fend for yourself.

This morning, I witnessed the delivery of an early eviction notice: the stick brought to the nest prompted a fervent bitching by the hungry chicks complaining about their unjust treatment.

Mommy delivers, not a fish but, a stick to her increasingly distraught chicks.

What we have here is a clear case of two bitching chicks.


Posted in birds | 9 Comments

Kokanee Wild


Once a year, I mention a presentation that I will be giving — this is the one for 2019.

Topic: Kokanee Wild
Presenter: Alistair Fraser
Occasion: Science in the Park
When: 7-8 pm, Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019
Where: Nature Centre, Kokanee Creek Park
Proposed donation to the Nature Centre: $5

This will be a richly illustrated, observer’s guide to some of the wildness in and around the Park. After an introduction, the audience will pick a few topics to cover from a menu offering many.

The menu: Now, what will be chosen?

Given the vagaries of being able to make only a few choices out of many options, it is likely that any subsequent presentation of Kokanee Wild would be somewhat different.


Posted in commentary | 2 Comments