Elk & harem


home again

For much of the year, elk travel in herds of females and juveniles. Separately, males travel in smaller herds or as individuals. However come fall, a male will form a harem of perhaps a half-dozen to a score of females, and mate with each one.

I encountered a group of at least a half-dozen females, and one male. It was a little difficult to tell the number as they kept dipping in and out of the foliage. 

It was twilight as I encountered the harem. The first view of the male was from the side.

There were perhaps over a half-dozen females in this harem.

Here is some of a number of females hanging around in the harem.

The male looks on.


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Grizzlies &


A few days ago, I visited Bute Inlet to watch grizzlies hunt pacific salmon in the local streams and then posted a sequence to grizzly bear feast. Here are few more, plus another large mammal. 

A grizzly bear scrounging a stream for fish emerges dripping water.

This freshly caught salmon is still very much alive.

A male elk was seen.

And another was in the forest.

A grizzly whisks a salmon from the stream.

A cub and his mother work on a portion of a salmon.


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Grizzly bear feast


On October 3rd, I visited B.C.’s Bute Inlet to watch grizzly bears fattening up for hibernation by eating freshly caught salmon. The visit was during the spawning of chum salmon, so the grizzlies were predating a different species of salmon than those found around Kootenay Lake. I watched about a dozen bears catch and eat salmon. Here are two.

A female grizzly bear catches a salmon in the shallows of a river flowing into Bute Inlet. The fish is still very much alive and is struggling. 

The bear carries the struggling fish to the shore, or at least to the really shallow waters.

The grizzly lays the now dead (?) fish at the water’s edge. Meanwhile, another bear approaches. At first I thought that there would be a clash, but it turned out that the other bear was the female’s cub.

Mother and child examine the fish.

Then eating begins.

Mother tears the fish apart and they both eat.

“OK, that is finished, let’s find another.”


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A cloudbow is just a rainbow formed by the much smaller droplets found in a cloud or a fog. It is as huge as a rainbow in that it spans nearly a quarter of the sky. But, it is nearly white with only a touch of colour. 

Indeed in this case, it is the very small size of the fog drops that produces the lack of colour. As with the rainbow, light is refracted as it passes through each drop but diffraction causes the the light to spread out causing the different colours to overlap and mainly give a broad white bow.

The cloudbow in the picture has a variable intensity. As it formed in a thin fog, there are more droplets in the brighter upper portion than when looking down toward the water.

As this one formed over water (and was seen from a boat) there is an apparent reflection of the bow seen in the picture. 

I took many pictures of portions of the bow, but in the end I particularly liked the exceedingly wide angle picture taken by my son, (also named) Alistair Fraser, and so show his shot.


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Sea lions


Sea lions: When posted, I called these seals. Mike C set me straight — so, sea lions it is.

There is a point to showing sea lions in this posting: I am at the Coast. I am not at my usual place of the Lake. Sea lions serves this purpose in that they are not found inland. 

However, the next few postings contain pictures that could have been taken at either place, but they are from the Coast.

A sea lion expresses its opinion.


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Juvenile Turkey Vulture


This is the time to see a variety of juvenile birds flying around. They are as large as adults and they haven’t migrated yet. Further, they often look different from the adults. And, they are sometimes different in other ways.

The Turkey Vulture is one of those migrants. We have it from mid-March to mid-October when it breeds here. The juveniles look a bit different from the adults. 

First, a picture of an adult taken a few weeks ago. It has a red head and half of its bill is ivory.

Yesterday’s juvenile has a dark grey head and beak. This gradually shifts to adult colours over the course of a year or so. There are some other differences, but this will do for now.

I try not to disturb animals. Most of the time, when I am spotted, the animal just leaves. But there is another behaviour that seems confined to fresh juveniles: curiosity. On this occasion, I was quite visible as I was walking on the beach. A juvenile Turkey Vulture flew by overhead and on spotting me, it came down for a closer look. It then flew by repeatedly — maybe a half-dozen times. I have noticed this same curiosity with a few other fresh juveniles. 


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Scarce migrants


We have many ground-feeding birds and many migrants, but some are rather uncommon. I encountered two of them yesterday: a Horned Lark and a Lapland Longspur.

Mind you, I strikingly misinterpreted them initially. As the longspur often kept rather close company with the lark I suspected that each was a mated pair of only one species. Alas no, two different species. Indeed, there are mentions of this behaviour on some bird sites and even some pictures on blogs showing them together, sometimes accompanied by Snow Buntings.

As each bird is uncommon around the Lake, the sight of the two of them together, can be viewed as — well, rather small.

In a flock of perhaps a dozen birds, a striking feature was that they often appeared in pairs. Here the Horned Lark is at the back, and the Lapland Longspur is in front.

Another pair has been feeding together on the ground, when the longspur flew off.


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Osprey family


It is September, but some Osprey families have yet to separate. Soon the adults will migrate leaving only the juveniles (white-flecked wings, orangish eyes) to linger a little longer before going. This will be one of the final meals together for this family.


Posted in birds, fish | 9 Comments

Red-necked Phalarope


A juvenile Red-necked Phalarope visited the West Arm of Kootenay Lake.

This shorebird summers and breeds in the Canadian Arctic and it winters in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Ecuador and Peru. To get from one place to the other, it migrates, but its routes rarely have taken it close to Kootenay Lake. 

Here was a juvenile and it hung around as long as three of us were prepared to watch.

A juvenile Red-necked Phalarope swims a bit east of the Harrop Ferry.


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August’s goulash


This is a collection of August’s pictures that lacked a posting of their own. 

This strange looking bird is just a juvenile Robin.

Wintering in the Amazon, this Red-eyed Vireo is near the limit of its summer range. The red eye does not appear until after the first year.

It is always pleasant to see a Robin with a mouthful of worms.

This cluster of millimetre-sized eggs was on the beach in a deer’s footprint. They lasted for a few days until something ate them. But, what would have they become?

A eight-spotted skimmer (dragonfly) is a common feature of a summer’s day.

The ubiquitous red squirrel is a noisy character. It lives among us, but regularly complains about our presence. This one is chewing me out for walking beside my home.

A juvenile Great Blue Heron is not only catching minnows, it is also objecting to being watched. The hint is the wag of its tail which was rapidly moved back and forth. It kept this up for a few fish catches but finally ignored my presence and just went about its business.

I do not know what this Loon is saying with this display. Sometimes this means go away, but I was distant and probably unnoticed.

Here is an Osprey carrying sticks and brush. But it is the end of August, so there is no nest to be built. Up until now, it has brought fish to its nest for the chicks, but now it is trying to persuade its chicks to get out and catch fish on their own for it soon will migrate. The sticks are a message that says “the molly-codling is over”.

I rarely am this close to a Turkey Vulture.

From toad amplexus at the beginning of July, through eggs, to tadpoles, and now toadlets, this tiny fellow was migrating across the beach.

It is late August and the ghost pipe (previously listed as Indian pipe) is starting to turn black.

My favourite picture of August, was this White-tailed Deer cautiously looking out of a field of overgrown grass.


Posted in birds, bugs, herptiles, mammals, wildflowers | 5 Comments