By Kay Knox
Always on the lookout for wildlife as we drive to appointments in Kamloops, John and I are pleased if we see more than ravens and magpies. Eagles, deer and coyotes are good; hawks and sandhill cranes are better; otters in the North Thompson River near Little Fort and sandy-coloured marmots near Barriere evoke excited comments. But occasionally, something happens that really tickles our fancy.
In late March, on our way south, we were first in line being held up between Little Fort and Barriere where BC Hydro had been changing poles all winter. On the move after being stopped and approaching the flag lady at the other end, I had to slow right down again. In our lane, sauntering unconcernedly, were two “wild” turkeys, one just behind the other. Reaching the middle of the road, the leader performed a “sexy” wriggle then sat – on the double yellow lines. Her companion responded with his sexy wriggle, and snuggled down beside her. Traffic behind us crept forward toward the flag lady during this birdie manoeuvre. What else could we humans do except laugh out loud? With a shrug of her shoulders and a wave, the gal sent us on our way.
Our entertainment that day continued at the start of the four-lane section beside the turn off towards Sun Peaks. Here, a pair of swans flew towards us from the river, turning me into a distracted driver! They set their wings into glide mode and gracefully banked, came lower and soon settled with the comparatively smaller Canada Geese gleaning in the farmland beside us. No doubt it is a mutual agreement that these huge birds are all members of the clean-up crew, and their leavings will promote better pickings for those farmers when potatoes and onions are harvested this fall.
Last year, in mid-August John and I were returning to Clearwater from Little Fort, approaching the intersection of the old Highway 5 and Sunshine Valley Road when a charming family caught our attention. Mama deer and three young-uns, still wearing light-coloured spots, were dining in the field beside us. Ears pricked up and all eyes turned our way as we stopped and backed up slightly; the littlest skittered to safety behind her mama. After a moment or so, at a signal unseen by us, all abruptly turned their backs to us, and, with four white “flags” flying high, leapt away. Soon they had disappeared into the bush, but we’d felt as if we were part of their world long enough to feel a kinship.
Our jewel, Dutch Lake, is a haven for many kinds of local inhabitants. Last summer, as I emerged from the water at the beach, two Great Blue Herons flew nearby. They landed on trees just beyond the crowds, but did not stay. One circled out, low over the lake, past a fisherman in his quiet craft, and over three swimmers. All glanced upwards to see this magnificent bird, wings outstretched, not far above their heads.
Loons commonly swim close to the beach and swimmers. Once, with friend Sandra, my lifeguard on her paddler while I swam across or along the lake, we approached the lily pads at the east end of this pristine lake. A family of loons, comprised of ma, pa, and a couple of well-behaved “teenagers” watched our approach but did not leave. Sandra “sang” to them in loon-speak, and one of the adults responded softly. Talk about being welcomed into the world of our so-called wild neighbours.
Trekking Tales, by Kay Knox is published on a regular basis in the Clearwater Times.