More Bird Stories from Lac la Biche

A kaleidoscope of images still tumbles in my head after our recent vacation in Canada: the soaring sculptured masses of the Rocky Mountains, outsize rivers and lakes, rainstorms sweeping across vast skies, farmlands that roll on forever. Images of small things jostle there, too, like the midges I’ve already written about, and the wildflowers that paint the prairie roadsides with color. Although we went to Lac la Biche for the fishing, I loved watching the birds. Here are some of the images I caught with my camera.
As we neared a beaver house at the edge of the lake, a flotilla of baby Mallard ducks cruised by. Frantic quacking erupted above us as their distraught mother flew to the rescue. The babies immediately heeded her warning. They couldn’t fly, but they could run. Flapping their little wings for all they were worth, their feet barely touched the water. 
A safe distance from us, their mother settled down among them. Still vigorously churning the lake’s surface, the family sailed off together.
The shallow waters of Lac la Biche supply feeding and nesting places for many kinds of birds. American white pelicans like the shallows, where they can stir up crustaceans on the bottom with their feet, then scoop them up with their big bills. Both cranes and pelicans catch small fish, salamanders, and crayfish.

We boated to Cucumber Island, so named because at one time a man had settled there, built a home, and cleared land to raise cucumbers.  We approached slowly, because the spit that trailed into the lake was covered with Franklin’s gulls, densely packed in the sunshine. As we landed,  hundreds of black heads turned nervously.

Then, one after the other, the birds took to the air crying alarm.
Some of them flew to the end of the spit which was already occupied by a pelican.
William, reconnoitering

While Allen boated back to camp to get the rest of our party, the first group explored. The birch thickets were full of biting mosquitoes, but before they chased us back to the breezy shore, we discovered two depressions in the vegetation where something big had been resting. Then, in the wet sand along the margin of the lake, we found fresh moose tracks.

The young men in their camouflage gear hiked across the island to reconnoiter and found the cucumber farmer’s house foundation. But the rest of us were happy to stay out in the open, away from the bugs and where we could see and be seen if the moose were still around.

As we left the boat,  a killdeer with a “broken” wing fluttered away from us with loud cries. We knew she must have a nest nearby. Later, Allan discovered this little guy neatly camouflaged among the rocks.

Each time we boated down the Owl River to Lac la Biche, a female lesser scaup would rise from the cattails edging the water and fly ahead  as if trying to get us to follow. One evening we found the eggs she protected. We didn’t disturb them, knowing she’d come back and lay the rest of her clutch if we left them alone. 

 I’ve enjoyed sharing these observations of God’s amazing creatures. Hope you liked the pictures!

One thought on “More Bird Stories from Lac la Biche”

  1. Dear Miss Husby

    My name is Ignacio Azocar a birdwatcher of Chile and I like very much your pictures of Franklin gulls. Now I am working in a documentary of this migratory gulls (my first amateur film), but It will be imposible go to USA and to record this bird. May I use one picture of this gulls?. I only need the 4º picture(from up to down).

    thank in advance
    ignacio Azocar
    ignacioazocar@gmail.com

    Like

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