Thursday, March 30, 2017

Lethbridge

I spent a few days down in Lethbridge during my last set of days off but didn't get around to posting about it until now.  I also took a ton of photos, so narrowing them down for a post was another reason I'm so late in posting this.  My decision to go was a little last minute which is a bit out of character for me but with the weather slowly warming and wanting to get a jump on some bird-watching I decided to explore some new territory.  Lethbridge has been on my radar for quite some time now and I had plans to go last summer before the forest fire threw a big wrench in to my plans.  I would like to have gone a little later on in the summer in order to see more bird species but but in the end I decided to give it a go.  As it turned out, it was a great trip.  Lethbridge was scenic and I saw more than expected.  

Through a stroke of luck, my bus out of Calgary only had 4 people on it (including the driver) so I had plenty of nice views of the Rockies in the distance.  

                                

I arrived in a very windy (70km/hour winds!) Lethbridge late in the morning and killed a bit of town before checking in to my hotel by doing some birding in a small downtown park.  I didn't see anything all that interesting other than Starlings, which is something I haven't seen since way back when I was a university student in Windsor.  At any rate, other than the wind, it was turning in to a decent day and the park was a nice little warm up for what would come later.

The next few photos are from the river valley.  I will freely admit that I still hold a stereotype of southern Alberta as monotonously flat.  I knew Lethbridge would be scenic but it turned out to be even better than I expected.  Here we have the river valley as seen from the tops of the coulees a short walk from my hotel.


This is Indian Battle Park which turned out to be a gold mine for wildlife.  You can also see the rail viaduct which made an appearance in many of the photos I took.





This trip was also my first experience with coulees.  Great views but rather than backtracking in order to get around the crevasse separating the one I took the above photos from in order to get to the next one, I decided to head down this little trail off the end of the coulee to get the the valley below.  I didn't realize how steep these things were and about halfway down it began to dawn on me that I was making a mistake.  Luckily  the ice and snow was long gone leaving only loose dirt and I gingerly made my way down.  Needless to say, I found an alternative route to get back up.


Viewed from below I couldn't hep but be reminded of the Old West.





Eventually I found myself at the river and spent a couple of hours wandering Indian Battle Park.






 Since I visited a little early I didn't quite see the variety of waterfowl I would have liked.  Canada Geese and Mallards predominated, but I did see a lot of them.  One critter I also saw a lot of were prairie dogs...


...a lot of prairie dogs.


Toward the end of the afternoon I inadvertently spooked a couple of Ring-necked pheasants out of the brush.  My camera was tucked away at that moment (story of my life) but it was nice to be able to make an addition to my Life List. 

This little guy let me approach a lot closer than expected.  No doubt used to seeing humans.


This guy was a bit more wary but as things turned out, I was to see many more deer during my trip.


Mallards and Canada Geese across the river round out the afternoon.



As I mentioned at the beginning, I took quite a lot of photos compared to what I usually take, something approaching 200.  I spent two more days in Lethbridge and was able to see a few places I had not originally expected to on the west side of the river, so I will share all this in the near future.

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