May 5, 2015

The Sights and Sounds of Spring

When you live in Lake Louise, spring comes into existence slowly, almost painfully so.  A week ago we had a warm day, and there were flocks of swallows overhead.  Then it snowed and the swallows disappeared, not to return until today.

Prairie crocus.  Photo by Doug McKown
So, we thought, “if spring won't come to us, we'll go to spring,” and went looking for some early season hiking on the weekend.  We found it east of Canmore, on a sunny trail to Windy Point.  All the snow was gone, and the prairie crocuses were blooming everywhere.  We had great views of nearby snowy peaks, and enjoyed a welcome hit of sunshine.

But in the mountains, nothing says "spring" more than finding some animal out there in the mountains trying out its pickup line for the first time in almost a year.  It's the the wildlife equivalent of “hey, baby” at the bar on a Saturday night.  We found our pickup artist right near the top of the trail: a male dusky grouse, hidden just behind some brush, was puffing itself up and hooting out these amazing, low frequency notes.  It was positively symphonic.

My little camera recorded a pretty good video of the booming grouse, but the microphone couldn't pick up the sound, so I've attached a sound file of the dusky grouse's coastal cousin, the sooty grouse, so you can enjoy not just the sights, but also the sounds.. of spring!