This time of year offers us one of the best opportunities to get out and enjoy the natural environment. After a long winter of dormancy, hibernation, and migration, we are welcoming a late melt with open arms and noticing as things “spring” back to life.
Here are some seasonal opportunities that we can all enjoy in the outdoor environment.
Wildlife is everywhere and readily viewable if we open our eyes and look with intent.
- Drive, walk or bike on Airport Way to the end of the pavement. Look along the roadside, look out onto the flats, look in the fields beside the road. Best opportunities are early morning or late evening.
Avoid scaring the deer. Do not stop when you see them. If you see deer look, enjoy, and keep moving as this will prevent them from running to hide.
- Drive to 6-Mile and use binoculars to look across the reservoir to the mouth of Begbie Falls. Many deer can be seen feeding on the grasslands at the mouth of the creek.
Otter, muskrat, beaver
- Look as you pass Montana Slough or park in the pullout by the mailboxes. If you are discovered they will swim away. Stay near the road for the best opportunity without scaring them. These animals are very rare near Revelstoke due to the fluctuating water levels of the reservoirs.
- Drive to Albert Canyon. Sometimes you will see them right next to the highway licking salt from the side of the road. Look up on the cliffs on the north side of the highway.
- Drive to Greeley and look along the banks of the Illecillewaet River, along the banks of the highway and in the fields.
- Drive to Shelter Bay and look from Cranberry Creek bridge to the ferry.
- They can be viewed along Hwy 23 S especially near Cranberry Creek bridge after the banks of the highway green-up.
- Can be seen in Glacier National Park on the avalanche paths near the highway after they start to green-up and before the shrubs leaf out.
- Westside road and unfortunately sometimes in town. Secure your garbage.
Eagles, Osprey, Hawks and Turkey Vultures
- Check the trees and sky along Airport Way to the end of the pavement.
- Look near the Airport Wetlands, 6-Mile, and Cartier Bay.
- Look for Turkey Vultures soaring on thermal air currents along Westside Road to the Revelstoke Dam.
Blue Heron and Swans
- Check the Airport Wetlands, Montana Slough, and Cartier Bay
- Swans can also be seen in the Eagle River near the Enchanted Forest and Skytrek, the Thompson River to the east of Kamloops also has swans at this time of the year.
Waterfowl, Ducks, Geese
- Upper Arrow Reservoir, Airport Wetlands, Downie Marsh, Montana Slough, 6 – Mile, Cartier Bay. Bring binoculars and a bird book. Stay near the road to prevent scaring them away.
- Yes we can all see that the robins are back but can we see the thrushes, the sparrows, the chickadees, the warblers, the juncos, or the swallows. Which ones can we hear? The best time to listen to birds is in the early morning before the sun rises. Even if you don’t know the bird, we can all enjoy their song.
Seems like a boring topic but now is the time to enjoy the new growth. Ferns have unfurled, Maple and Ash trees are displaying their foliage, fruit bearing trees such as cherry, plum, and apple have flowered, even pollinators like lilacs have blossomed! And although they may seem like a nuisance, dandelions are adding a splash of yellow, and a convenient resting spot for bees and other pollinators.
- Bike, walk or drive south on Airport Way especially before the sun rises. Breath deeply and enjoy the sweet and savory smell of the new cottonwood leaves. The One Mile Hill (south of the Illecillewaet Bridge) and along the road before the airport are great places to put your nose to work. Check out the Illecillewaet River trails in a couple of more weeks to see the “cotton” fly!
Birch, Alder, and Hazelnut
- Finding the shrubs and trees in the forest means you need to know the differences. Look now at the deciduous shrubs and trees Which ones have catkins? A plant book will help to distinguish between the different plants. Catkins will soon fall and leaves will bud out. Enjoy this seasonal event while it lasts.
- Look in the Airport Wetlands and along any roadway where there is surface water in the trees. Highway 23 South from the Tum Tum south is a great place. The large bright green leaves and huge flowers are some of the first signs of spring. They smell skunky but not stinky. Enjoy this seasonal aroma.
- Drive up the Three Valley-Mabley FSR (west on Highway 1, just past 3 Vally Gap) to see them blooming in the ditches.
- The creeks flowing down around CPR Hill and Track St. are a great local spot to check them out.
Words of Caution
Wildlife can be dangerous
- Respect them and keep your distance so they can feed without disturbance. Remember they have been starving all winter and need all the food they can eat at this time of the year to rebuild their strength, give birth, and perpetuate their populations. Use a zoom lens instead of getting closer. A fact worth remembering – more people are hurt or killed by deer each year then by bears. Respect them and they will respect you.
- Don’t become a traffic problem while walking, biking or driving. Remember that other traffic may not appreciate what you are doing and speed differences could cause traffic problems. Stay out of the way, keep an eye on the road and on your mirrors. Pull over before stopping.
- Keep your dogs under your direct control so they don’t chase wildlife or disturb the birds. It is illegal for dogs to harass wildlife and once it occurs, your opportunity to view them has been lost.
Respect Private Property
- Just like your own home, everyone has the right to their privacy. Do not trespass on private property. Know where the crown land and private properties are. Just because there is no driveway, no house, or no signs does not give the public the right to enter onto private property. It is your responsibility to know before entering land. Ask for permission before entering private property.
More To Come
Stay tuned for more seasonal observations and opportunities. Enjoy, and please share your photos with us!