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nature
Anne Elliott
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southern Alberta
Lazuli Bunting
top of tree
near Canada-US border
very distant
Passerina amoena
FZ200#4
Red Rock Canyon Parkway
uncommon in the Park
© Anne Elliott 2017
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Canada
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Waterton Lakes National Park
7 July 2017


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Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting
Yesterday afternoon, 9 July 2017, I arrived back home at 4:45 pm from a wonderful three-day trip to Waterton Lakes National Park. I had just been on a one-day bus trip to this beautiful park on 24 June 2017, so felt very lucky to be returning for a longer stay so soon. I travelled there and back with friend, Darlene, who had very kindly offered to take me, and we had a fun time, seeing so many interesting things. Thank you SO much, Darlene - I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciated being able to go on this trip with you!

Three days of 32C temperatures, and then I arrived home to find that my thermostat read 29C inside my home. I am not good at dealing with the heat and then to walk and hike in such temperatures was exhausting. Back in Calgary, we had already been having a heatwave and now, the forecast is for more hot days. This morning, it rained for a while and temporarily cooled a little.

It was wonderful to again be surrounded by such magnificent scenery, go on a few walks/hikes with plenty of time to look for, and photograph, wildflowers, insects, and a few birds and animals. Lots of good company with around 20 (?) people, some of whom I already knew and some new faces, too. The trip was organized by Nature Calgary. Everyone was free to go wherever they wanted each day, but for the two nights, we stayed at the very basic Canyon Church Camp, off the Red Rock Parkway. Dorm-style cabins (about which I will say nothing, lol!), but they do have showers and even flush toilets at the camp. We were fed SO well - lots of variety and good food. We were given two breakfasts and two suppers, plus a packed lunch for the two days. Our huge thanks go out to Jean Kennedy, the camp cook, who cooked and prepared these great meals for us! Jean was there in 2015 and 2016 when I attended this weekend, and it was really good news when I was told that she would be there again this time. The food was so much enjoyed and greatly appreciated!

Not sure just where to begin, so I grabbed and edited these three photos this morning - a little Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel that was seen on our first day in Waterton, when Darlene and I stopped at Cameron Falls on the edge of town. Also a very distant shot of a gorgeous Lazuli Bunting, and a close shot of a Pink Monkeyflower that was growing along the Cameron Lake trail. The cooling mist that came from the waterfalls felt so good on such a hot day! As usual, this little animal was doing what these cute animals tend to do - approach people, look cute, and beg for food! A little girl was feeding this one - not sure what it's eating, but I prefer to think it is nibbling on raw carrot rather than some kind of fake-coloured chip. I saw a number of empty sunflower seed shells scattered on the ground, too. Of course, WILDLIFE SHOULD NEVER BE FED!! However, I hope the children feeding this little animal will develop a love for wildlife and grow up to help protect any kind of creature.

On this weekend last year (2016), I saw my very first Lazuli Bunting. It was great to get more chances this July, though we were out of luck for any close views. According to the Waterton list of birds, Lazuli Buntings are "uncommon - seen each year but not necessarily during a single visit; numbers variable."

www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lazuli_Bunting/id

"The male Lazuli Bunting lights up dry brushy hillsides, thickets, and gardens throughout the West, flashing the blue of a lapis gemstone mixed with splashes of orange. He belts out his squeaky and jumbling song from atop shrubs to defend his territory. The softly colored female is often nearby teetering on tiny stems in a balancing act to reach seeds and other fare. This stocky finchlike bird is related to cardinals and grosbeaks and often visits bird feeders, especially those filled with white proso millet." From AllABoutBirds.

www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lazuli_Bunting/id

Our huge thanks to Andrew for organizing this trip so brilliantly! He has been organizing these annual weekends for a number of years now. A great time was had by all.

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