July 20 2016 Monck Provincial Park, Nicola Lake Nr Merritt BC. Sunny 31cWe, the wife and I found Monck Provincial Park by accident. Motoring along the 5A to Kamloops with no particular place to go and no plan we decided to follow a sign toward the Monck Provincial Park. Located on the south-eastern shore of Nicola Lake the park sits on a volcanic rock cliff and protects a pristine ponderosa pine and bunchgrass ecosystem. There are 120 campsites, most of which are close to the water, more importantly AND if I had taken to the time to check eBird beforehand, an excellent spot for birding.
We rolled into the campground sans a reservation and found at nice site overlooking the lake. After the three hour drive from the Fraser Valley it was time to have a well deserved cold beer. No sooner had I settled down with a good book when a few hundred feet away I spotted an osprey coming toward me. By the time I had my camera ready it had landed in a tree near our site. Moments later I see yet another osprey coming into sight, this time with a large fish. According to the brochure we were given there are twenty-six species of fish in the lake but it sure looked like the osprey was carrying a trout. One beer later I set off to see what I could hear coming from the wooded cliff face. I was surprised to find three osprey nests within a short distance of each other and three sets of adults bringing fish to their eager young, most of which were already taking their first tentative flights from the nest.
|I climbed up the hill from my campsite to get a little better view and found two more nests.|
The ponderosa forest was alive with the sound of Western wood-pewee and Cassin's finch.
|This Osprey spotted me and circled around the nest until I hid behind a tree. Then and only then did it land and feed its offspring.|
|An osprey glides toward the nest with a sizeable trout. Note the dorsal fin or perhaps it's Kokanee, a type of landlocked salmon.|
|Another cagey bird checking me out.|
Back at the campsite I settled down to eat. A few bites into the meal the silence was interrupted by not one, not two but four merlin screeching around our heads, an acrobatic display of some beauty.
I missed the shot of course but no sooner had I finished the meal than it was time to follow the merlins which could be heard down by the lake. The two youngsters squeaking incessantly while the parents hunted sat patiently in a snag awaiting their return
|Any thoughts whether this Merlin is from the Taiga or Black race?|
|A pair of Juvenile Merlin waiting for their next meal.|
|The vocalization of the merlin is a ki ki ki ki ki.|
|I am not too sure what rodent this merlin has caught but the tail doesn't look like a tree striped chipmunk, the most common rodents the park.|
Next morning before we left I took a quick walk down to the beach where I found a fledgling spotted sandpaper and nearby the adult.
|Fledgling spotted sandpiper. Note the lack of spots.|
|"The parent" keeps one eye on the photographer and the other on the chick.|
In the amongst the ponderosa there were some female finches but it wasn't until I came across this colourful Cassin's that I could positively identify the birds in question.
Before leaving there was time to walk back to the Westfalia and from nowhere a Clarks's nutcracker took flight from the trees around the campsite. We camped at the lower numbered sites 5 through 12 but anywhere could provide good birding.
We were at the site less than eighteen hours and soon we were off to Douglas Ranch, a half million acres of open grassland, lakes and mixed forest. We saw plenty of birds, stunning scenery and met a number of friendly people. We'll be going back in the next spring to do some proper birding.
"It's never late to start birding"