A Columbian Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus) watching from a burrow at Lightning Lakes in Manning Provincial Park in British Columbia, Canada.
I always tend to stop at the day use area of Lightning Lake in Manning Provincial Park when driving to the Okanagan. Not only is it just off the Crowsnest Highway (map) it provides a nice view of the lake and is a good place to pause for a pit stop. The field and lake by the parking lot boat launch are home to many species including the Columbian Ground Squirrel (Urocitellus columbianus), Grey Jay (Perisoreus canadensis), Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica), Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and the occasional Common Loon (Gavia immer). I am sure there are a number of other species around, but these are the ones I’ve seen myself. So far.
In a post last year I shared a few of my photographs of the Columbian Ground Squirrels. Though all the ice was off the lake last week and the grass in the field was greening up quite well, their behaviour was no different this time around. I had thought that with more plentiful natural food sources they would be a bit less audacious in their approach to my backpack and other equipment, but they were just as bold. I put my backpack down and it wasn’t too many minutes before two of them had clambered up onto it. I was thinking of photographing this but chewing had started, and I chose the bag over a photo opportunity.
Near the shore of Lightning Lake there were a pair of Barrow’s Goldeneye swimming and diving for food. Not nearly as tame as the Ground Squirrels, I had to sit and wait for them to swim back past me in order to make this photograph. This also makes photographs of them more satisfying than those of the “tame” Ground Squirrels. The female Goldeneye kept diving while the male watched me so it was a bit tough to get a good photo of the both of them on the surface at the same time. They were certainly more interesting than the ubiquitous Mallard ducks I see around Vancouver.
Many years ago I camped with my parents at the Lightning Lakes Campground and heard the Loons on the lake but never saw one. This Common Loon was swimming past the shore just beyond the Goldeneyes and was the first one I’d ever seen. Much more wary of me than the Goldeneye pair, however, and chose to return to the other end of the lake via the opposite shore.