Vaseux Lake

I am a bird nerd.  

I didn’t start out this way.  At one point in my life, I would have been hard pressed to name a single bird that wasn’t a Magpie or Mallard.  

Then came digital cameras and suddenly, I was a bird-watcher.  At first, that was a bit distressing to me.  I had this mental image of khaki shorts, a matching vest with lots of pockets, and a hat. Bird-watchers were NOT cool.  

Then I found out that we call ourselves “Birders” now, and I thought, “Okay, so maybe we’re not THAT uncool.”

Then I found out that we refer to hummingbirds as “hummers” and I thought, “No…No. We’re definitely NOT cool.”

Then I reached a point in my life where I just didn’t give a *&%@ what was cool anymore which, in itself, made me cool.  See?  It’s a process.

Chances are pretty good that no one uses the word cool anymore.  Don’t care about that either – and some people look good in khaki.

Back to birding.

I did a lot of birding in Alberta.  Some of my photos were included in Nature Alberta’s “Important Bird Areas” brochure, and one of my photos graces the cover of their checklist.  I knew lots of local hotspots for the peak migration periods.  I knew weird things like the fact that Snowy Owls are usually only found East of Deerfoot Trail.  You know, bird nerd stuff.

I admit, I’m a little lost here.  I don’t know where to go during migration.  I don’t even know for sure WHEN peak migration occurs here.  But I do know about Vaseux Lake.

Vaseux Lake is a Migratory Bird Sanctuary, located just south of Okanagan Falls.  It’s a popular spot for camping and fishing, but I was there for the birds.

There were no vehicles in the parking lot, and very few on the road, either.  But it was Canada Day and I was on the road by 7:00 am.  Most Canadians weren’t going to be up for another three hours or so.  I was kind of happy about that.  The last time I had visited Vaseux Lake, there were children running down the boardwalk, screaming with excitement and dogs running loose.  Not exactly ideal conditions for bird watching.

As I wandered down the boardwalk to the lake, there were plenty of things for me to look at.  

Ponderosa Pine Bark

I could hear lots of birds, but they were difficult to see in the thick canopy of leaves and branches.  I did spot an Oriole, a Waxwing and some Chickadees.  

Faces in the Wood – how many can you see?

There were huge dragonflies with black and white spots – 8 Spotted Skimmers – and of course, wildflowers.  

Showy Milkweed

There was also Poison Ivy, this time a bit of a concern as, even though I stayed on the boardwalk, at times I had to push through the vegetation that crowded it.

Poison Ivy

I reached the lake and the three storey bird blind and observation deck, where I was greeted by a curious little dude – a Bushy-tailed Wood Rat.  I’d never seen one before and this one was quite accommodating, sticking around long enough for me to shoot a couple of dozen photos.  

Bushy-tailed Wood Rat

I climbed to the top of the observation deck and looked out over the lake.  This is NOT a peak migration period, and most of the birds were out too far for me to get any clear shots.  I did see something interesting, however.

At first I thought I was looking at a few Ravens and Turkey Vultures hanging out on the shoreline.  It wasn’t until I zoomed in that I realized that there was another bird there – an immature Bald Eagle, and he was being attacked by the other birds.  I couldn’t determine how injured he was, but he was, in a way, saved by an errant kayaker who happened to come close.  The attacking birds flew off, and the eagle relocated to an island in the middle of the lake.  

I spent a good amount of time at the top of the observation deck.  I was trying to get a shot of a Marsh Wren that was flitting about the shoreline, plucking fluff from the cattails and taking it back to what I assume was the nesting site.  

Marsh Wren

The journey back along the boardwalk was pleasant.  The sun was getting hot and I was thankful for the shade of all those lovely trees.  

Unidentified Lepidoptera – if you can help me out with this one, I’d appreciate it!

I spotted a bird and lifted my camera.  To my delight, it was a Yellow-breasted Chat, the first one I’ve ever seen, a lifer.  Or so I thought. According to an early riser, this is actually a photo of a female Bullocks Oriole – but still a lifer! Thank you, Lois!

Female Bullocks Oriole

Could this day get any better?

Well, yes, it could.  There’s a Tickleberry’s on the way home.  Ice cream, anyone?

Author: Featherstone Creative

Sally Quon is a photographer and writer living in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. When not out enjoying the splendors of nature, she likes to spend time cooking, reading and painting. Her photography has appeared in Canadian Geographic Magazine and in Nature Alberta’s various birding brochures. Sally was recently awarded a Judge’s Choice Award in the Ontario Poetry Society’s Ultra Short Poem Competition and has an essay coming out in Chicken Soup for the Soul - The Forgiveness Fix. One of her photos was chosen for inclusion in the Photographer’s Forum “Best of 2018” Collection. She has two beautiful, almost grown children.

3 thoughts on “Vaseux Lake”

  1. This is great! I enjoy your bird nerdiness! I saw a hummer at Lake Metigoshe the other day and two Bald Eagles while kayaking! I only had my cell phone camera, not as good as yours, lol, but it was super cool! My neighbor in town has a bird feeder and it is enough to keep the Orioles, Sparrows, Black Birds and whatever the other ones are around, and I love it! Thanks for the cool post!

    Like

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