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Anne Elliott
Common Raven
back/side view
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southern Alberta
S of Calgary
near Canada-US border
Calgary to Waterton 264 km
159 miles
driving time roughly 3 hrs
© Anne Elliott 2017
24 June 2017
Corvus corax
Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton town

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Common Raven in the sun

Common Raven in the sun
At least, I think it's a Raven, not a Crow! Either way, I just liked the setting. Taken in the town of Waterton, southern Alberta.

To have the chance to visit Waterton Lakes National Park the day before yesterday, on 24 June 2017, was such an absolute treat! This was an annual bus trip arranged by Nature Calgary, with the destination being different each year. To visit Waterton for just one day makes for a very long day - takes about 3 hours to drive each way, for a start.

"Waterton Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also an International Peace Park, and a Biosphere Reserve. No other park in the world has these three designations. Waterton Biosphere Reserve as it is officially called, was designated in 1979 under what is called the internationally recognized "Man and the Biosphere program" of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), that sure is a mouthful. Biosphere Reserves are designed to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature."


We had two main stopping places in the park - the lookout at Maskinonge Lake and a longer stop at Cameron Lake. The views from both places are spectacular. Luckily, we had beautiful weather all day.

Actually, we weren't too sure if the road going through the mountains to Cameron Lake was going to be open. It was due to reopen the day before out trip and, fortunately, the gate was open. Once at Cameron Lake, we found an empty picnic table right near the beach, and ate our picnic lunch. We were able to walk along the forest trail that followed the shoreline on the right edge of the lake. At a certain point, one has to turn around and go back along the same trail. Cameron Lake is one of my favourite places in the park, with a beautiful view of the lake and a pleasant, flat walk through the forest.

There didn't seem to be a lot of forest wildflower species in bloom - maybe we were just a bit too early for them. However, the huge, creamy white flowers of Bear Grass growing along the edge of the road up to the lake had everyone in absolute awe. The road is only narrow and our bus was huge, so on the drive there, all we could do was gasp in amazement, with no chance for taking photos. We asked our excellent driver if there was any chance he would be willing and able to stop at one of the very small pull-offs at the edge of the road on the return drive - and he did! He was expecting maybe five or six people would get off, but I think almost everyone wanted to get a close look at these amazing plants. Even the driver himself got out to look and take photos. He had apparently never been to Waterton before and had never seen Bear Grass. We noticed tiny Crab Spiders on two of the flowers; one was lying in wait and the other had caught an insect. These spiders don't construct webs, but camouflage themselves by changing their colour to that of the flower they are hiding in, and then they wait. We also saw several stems of Striped Coralroot orchid in the ditch by some of the Bear Grass.

After spending a couple of hours at Cameron Lake, the driver took us back into town, as some people had said they wanted to eat there before the long drive back to Calgary. Others, including myself, would have preferred to have spent the time somewhere else, seeing nature and taking photos. However, we were able to walk to the lake's edge, from where we were able to take a few scenic photos - something I had been hoping for. On our way back to the bus, some of us called in at a very popular ice cream shop - we all agreed it was the best, tastiest ice cream we had ever had! A huge, single scoop of wild cherry in a waffle cone - what more could one want?

Penny, you did a great job of organizing this wonderful trip for us all! I know a lot of work goes into setting up an outing like this, and we all appreciate the time and effort you put into planning this. Such a perfect destination for this year's annual bus trip! Pam, thanks for your company on this long drive - helped make it far more enjoyable!


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