April 29, 2014

Spring Break, Bow River Style

Every kid looks forward to Spring Break, and we got to enjoy two of them this year in Lake Louise. Schools were out for the official break at the end of March, but the Bow River is doing its "spring break" right now: the snow and ice cover is falling into the main channel, leaving behind beautiful, chunky works of art along the river banks.

This morning, we'd had a hard overnight freeze, so it was possible to walk right on top of the snow -- no snowshoes required!  The early morning sun was illuminating the bright hunks of snow and ice, and the water was as clear as glass. And we weren't the only ones out to take it all in.  The first osprey and kingfisher of the year put in an appearance as well.

The water should run super clear for another week or so, and then the snowmelt will begin, and our works of art will be washed away by the silty runoff.

April 21, 2014

Name That Tune

It's still early spring in the Rockies, but the first birds are starting to show up, so we are clearing out the cobwebs in the parts of our brains dedicated to identifying bird songs.

Today we heard the first evidence that one of our favourite "regulars" is back in town.  If you've been to the Rockies between late April and mid-July, you've probably heard this sound:

Although there are a lot of bird songs out there in the park, most often they go unnoticed.  However, in our time here, we've observed that lots of people are curious about this one.  They'll say, "Who's blowing that whistle?" or "What the heck is that, anyway?"

Male varied thrush singing his heart out

The answer is the varied thrush, which is a relative of the everyday backyard bird the American robin. It's an absolute gem of a bird, with exotic orange and black patterns.

What's singing outside your bedroom window today?