We stopped at various scenic lookouts to check for the bird life and got a couple of lifers: Clark's Nutcrackers* (above) at the Bow Lake Lookout, along with Pine Siskins and Common Loon (on the lake). Along the route we saw a Raven in flight, and Northern Harrier swooping low over the valley bottom. The next stop was for a picnic lunch at the
Saskatchewan River Overlook
, where some cheeky Gray Jays* (lifer) almost stole our lunch while we had our backs turned looking at other birds! They obviously hadn't read the signs that said "Don't feed the Wildlife in the NP"! Other birds seen: Yellow-rumped Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets and Pine Siskins. We stopped for gas at the Saskatchewan River Crossing Motel complex, where there were lots of Barn Swallows swooping around the buildings.

We made a stop at the scenic Athabasca Falls, a very popular tourist spot (photo at top of page). We saw no birds and certainly couldn't hear any due to the thundering of the water passing over the falls! We continued on to Jasper, where our first stop was the Tourist Office to check for a B&B. We were fortunate to meet with a proprietor who had just come in to advertise his vacancy. He told us that in Jasper there was some sort of regulation whereby they could offer private home accommodation, but not breakfast! However, a small kitchen was provided, so all we had to do was stop at the grocery store. We followed him home, got settled in and then went out to take a late afternoon walk at the Jasper Park Lodge vacation complex by Lac Beauvert, which our host recommended. This proved to be a lovely scenic walk, and we picked up 3 lifers here: Violet-green Swallows*, nesting in the roof structure of the hotel chalets, Mountain Chickadees* alongside the lake and a White-winged Crossbill* feeding on pinecones. This particular section of the walk at the SW corner of Lac Beauvert was very birdy, and here we also had a good response from some pishing, which brought in about 6 Red-breasted Nuthatches and 10 Mountain Chickadees. Also seen here, were: Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Pine Siskins. Also in the area were: 2 Ospreys seen flying over the lake, an
American Crow
feeding a juvenile on the edge of the lake, about 45 Canada Geese on the golf course, American Robin, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco and a Common Loon diving on the lake.



CALGARY TO BANFF

Day 3  Wednesday, 11th July 2001

Today, we left Calgary and headed for Banff in the Rockies, a drive of about 80 miles. We hadn't pre-booked any accommodation and found a B&B through the local tourist office, on our arrival. After leaving our stuff we drove along the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) to Johnston Canyon for an afternoon's birding. We had heard that Black Swifts and American Dippers might be found here, but we had no luck with either species! Apparently the swifts leave the canyon at dawn, flying great distances to feed and do not return until late afternoon. They leave the single nestling alone all day and consequently, it grows very slowly, taking 45 days to fledge in early September!  The best find of the day was an
Osprey
, which we spotted on the top of a pine tree, after hearing it's kek-kek-kek call. The only lifer we found was a
Dark-eyed Junco*
in the parking lot at the Canyon Trailhead, where we also saw a Common Raven. The canyon walk is interesting, following the course of Johnston Creek, upwards through the woods and in some cases it extends out over the rushing creek on steel walkways (see photo below). Other birds seen were: Golden-crowned Kinglets, American Robins and an unidentified thrush, which we just couldn't get a decent enough look at!

Driving back to Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway, we stopped at several pull-ins to check out the birds. The first one looked over an area of meadow and wetland, and here we found another lifer: 2 Pine Siskins*, behaving as all the Carduelis family do. Amongst the shrubs at the edge of the wetland we saw: Western Wood-Pewee, Yellow, Wilson's & Yellow-rumped Warblers, 4 Brown-headed Cowbirds, American Robins & House Wren. In the distance we saw a Great Blue Heron.

13 species with 2 lifers

Canadian Rockies Trip
part 2
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CALGARY TO BANFF

Day 3  Wednesday, 11th July 2001

Today, we left Calgary and headed for Banff in the Rockies, a drive of about 80 miles. We hadn't pre-booked any accommodation and found a B&B through the local tourist office, on our arrival. After leaving our stuff we drove along the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) to Johnston Canyon for an afternoon's birding. We had heard that Black Swifts and American Dippers might be found here, but we had no luck with either species! Apparently the swifts leave the canyon at dawn, flying great distances to feed and do not return until late afternoon. They leave the single nestling alone all day and consequently, it grows very slowly, taking 45 days to fledge in early September!  The best find of the day was an
Osprey
, which we spotted on the top of a pine tree, after hearing it's kek-kek-kek call. The only lifer we found was a
Dark-eyed Junco*
in the parking lot at the Canyon Trailhead, where we also saw a Common Raven. The canyon walk is interesting, following the course of Johnston Creek, upwards through the woods and in some cases it extends out over the rushing creek on steel walkways (see photo below). Other birds seen were: Golden-crowned Kinglets, American Robins and an unidentified thrush, which we just couldn't get a decent enough look at!

Driving back to Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway, we stopped at several pull-ins to check out the birds. The first one looked over an area of meadow and wetland, and here we found another lifer: 2 Pine Siskins*, behaving as all the Carduelis family do. Amongst the shrubs at the edge of the wetland we saw: Western Wood-Pewee, Yellow, Wilson's & Yellow-rumped Warblers, 4 Brown-headed Cowbirds, American Robins & House Wren. In the distance we saw a Great Blue Heron.

13 species with 2 lifers

We stopped at various scenic lookouts to check for the bird life and got a couple of lifers: Clark's Nutcrackers* (above) at the Bow Lake Lookout, along with Pine Siskins and Common Loon (on the lake). Along the route we saw a Raven in flight, and Northern Harrier swooping low over the valley bottom. The next stop was for a picnic lunch at the
Saskatchewan River Overlook
, where some cheeky Gray Jays* (lifer) almost stole our lunch while we had our backs turned looking at other birds! They obviously hadn't read the signs that said "Don't feed the Wildlife in the NP"! Other birds seen: Yellow-rumped Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets and Pine Siskins. We stopped for gas at the Saskatchewan River Crossing Motel complex, where there were lots of Barn Swallows swooping around the buildings.

We made a stop at the scenic Athabasca Falls, a very popular tourist spot (photo at top of page). We saw no birds and certainly couldn't hear any due to the thundering of the water passing over the falls! We continued on to Jasper, where our first stop was the Tourist Office to check for a B&B. We were fortunate to meet with a proprietor who had just come in to advertise his vacancy. He told us that in Jasper there was some sort of regulation whereby they could offer private home accommodation, but not breakfast! However, a small kitchen was provided, so all we had to do was stop at the grocery store. We followed him home, got settled in and then went out to take a late afternoon walk at the Jasper Park Lodge vacation complex by Lac Beauvert, which our host recommended. This proved to be a lovely scenic walk, and we picked up 3 lifers here: Violet-green Swallows*, nesting in the roof structure of the hotel chalets, Mountain Chickadees* alongside the lake and a White-winged Crossbill* feeding on pinecones. This particular section of the walk at the SW corner of Lac Beauvert was very birdy, and here we also had a good response from some pishing, which brought in about 6 Red-breasted Nuthatches and 10 Mountain Chickadees. Also seen here, were: Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Yellow-rumped Warblers and Pine Siskins. Also in the area were: 2 Ospreys seen flying over the lake, an
American Crow
feeding a juvenile on the edge of the lake, about 45 Canada Geese on the golf course, American Robin, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco and a Common Loon diving on the lake.



BANFF to JASPER

Day 4 - Thursday, 12th July 2001            

Early morning while having breakfast at the B&B we saw a Blue Jay in the backyard, which was remarkably lacking in species, but no backyard bird feeding is allowed within the boundaries of the Banff National Park, apparently. 

Our 291 km (109 mile) drive today, followed the course of the Bow River, northwest from Banff on Hwy 1, joining Hwy 93, just past the Lake Louise turnoff. We didn't have time to go into Lake Louise, with such a long drive ahead of us. The scenery was spectacular, especially along the Icefields Parkway section, after which the road follows the North Saskatchewan River into the Jasper National Park.

     Athabasca Falls, near Jasper                                      Bow Lake                             Upper waterfall in Johnston Canyon
One of the steel walkways in the lower part of Johnston Canyon, near Banff
A Common Raven seen in Johnston Canyon
Columbia Icefield seen from the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), Banff National Park
Athabasca Glacier viewed from the Columbia Icefield Centre
We finished off the day with a lovely dinner on the terrace of the Jasper Park Lodge, enjoying the beautiful views over Lac Beauvert, in the evening sunshine, and watching a Common Loon diving on the lake.

22 species with 5 lifers

The host at our guesthouse lent us his copy of the "Handbook of the Canadian Rockies" by Ben Gadd, a native of Jasper. It was such a good book, covering wildlife (with a comprehensive bird section), plants, geology, history and recreation, that we went out and bought our own copy. The ISBN is: 0-9692631-1-2

A Clark's Nutcracker, a bold member of the Corvid family, checking out the area at Bow Lake Lookout for leftover picnic crumbs.
Lac Beauvert at Jasper Park Lodge vacation complex
Canada Geese on the golf course at Jasper Park Lodge
© 2002 Helen Baines                Comments or for more information: