Tag Archive | banff

Banff: A National Treasure Part 3

Continued from Part 2.

For our final day in Banff, we went to Johnston Canyon, just minutes away from the Johnston Canyon campground. We packed up our trailer under sunny skies and prepared for the hike. As we went along our hike more and more clouds started to roll in…

    Johnston Canyon is one of two places in Alberta where Black Swifts nest and is also home to American Dippers, North America’s only truly aquatic songbirds. We started our hike, looking for Dippers and admiring the rushing water as it raced by us.

We continued on our way until we reached the Lower Falls, where a small tunnel gave us a closer look at the waterfall; spray from the water jumping about.

From the Lower Falls, we hiked up to the Upper Falls, looking for our target birds but failing to see them. We heard some Townsend’s Warblers, a difficult bird to see and we did manage to see a Pacific Wren, a race of the Winter Wren that was recently split and became its own species.

Common Ravens, which are readily seen in the mountains, were seen in several different places along the hike.

By this time, we were almost to the Upper Falls and now a steady drizzle was falling; it became heavier and heavier until it was raining quite hard. We made it to the Upper Falls, enjoyed the view and then beat a hasty retreat to our car, trying not to become wetter than we already were. We made it to our car, wetter than we would have liked before driving down the road several kilometers to the Castle Mountain chalets and stopping in a parking lot for a quick lunch. By this time, the rain had stopped (how convenient) and we stopped to admire a pair of Osprey’s and their nest as well as a Flicker nest right beside the road.

Our trip to Banff was great and I would readily do it again!

Posted by Matthew Sim

Banff: A National Treasure Part 2

Continued from Part 1.

After visiting Peyto Lake, we headed to magnificent Bow Lake, which has views of two glaciers; Bow Glacier and Crowfoot Glacier as well as views of Wapta Icefield, Bow Peak, Mount Thompson and Crowfoot Mountain.

We were at Peyto Lake in search of a small, cute mammal at home on rocky slopes: the Pika. Giving high-pitched alarm calls when they spot danger, the Pika, also known as the ‘rock rabbit’ or the ‘whistling hare’, is always alert. After waiting a dozen minutes or so and getting eaten alive in the process, we found Pika on the scree slopes at Bow Lake.  The sight of these short-limbed creatures was well worth the bites though.

As we walked around the lake, we also saw a family of Barn Swallows and a group of Clark’s Nutcrackers.

The best bird sight however, was a White-crowned Sparrow drinking water from the lake’s edge right next to us.

By the time we had finished our walk, it was early evening and we headed back to Johnston Canyon Campground. On the way back, along the Bow Valley Parkway, we spotted a family of black bears; a mother with two young by the side of the road. The bears were contentedly munching on grass and gave us only the occasional glance. It was definitely a beautiful sight to behold.

We arrived back at the campground and I did a short walk beside Johnston Creek as the sun began to set and the thrushes began to sing with renewed vigour before the night closed in.

The third and final part will come on Thursday.

Posted by Matthew Sim

Banff: A National Treasure Part 1

Banff National Park is a hotspot for just about anything; birds, mammals, flowers, scenery, recreation, vacations; the list could go on for a long time. Canada Day long weekend, I visited Banff with my family, eager to explore this local gem a little bit more. Saturday, July 2nd, we made our way up to Johnston Canyon campground, in hopes of finding a spot despite the busy weekend. We got lucky and got a spot, set up our trailer in a lot dotted with dandelions and heart-leaved arnicas and then left for a short hike at nearby Silverton Falls.

The Heart-leaved arnica is a pretty yellow flower that can be found in Banff.

Silverton Falls, not as well-known as Johnston Canyon, is a scenic, short hike with a waterfall as a climax. As we did this short hike, we were serenaded by both Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes and we caught glimpses of several Yellow-rumped Warblers.

 The scenery was great at Silverton Falls and we ascended a trail littered with Indian’s Paintbrush and offering a scenic view of the mountains in the distance.

 Indian’s Paintbrush

Then came the falls themselves…

We finished our hike and then headed to Castle Mountain chalets where we stopped to grab some supplies before eating our lunch there. We met a fellow photographer who was looking for some Rufous Hummingbirds; we all saw one brilliant-colored male. After lunch, we headed up to the popular Peyto Lake. On the short walk up to Peyto Lake, we saw  some local flora and fauna; Grey Jays and Western Anemones.

Peyto Lake was brilliant and I highly recommend anyone who has not been there to visit this stunning lake (visit in the morning and in the evening, when it is less crowded).

While at Peyto Lake, we observed a young family of Boreal Chickadees foraging in the spruce trees. Our first afternoon was great and we had high hopes for the remainder of our trip.

I will post the rest of our journey highlights after this one.

Posted by Matthew Sim