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January 2020

My Favourite Wildlife Sightings of 2019

Female grizzly #142 and one of her cubs

Some lucky locals got to see the Bow Valley wolfpack near the Lake Louise campground on New Year’s Day, and it reminded me that it was time to post my annual “favourite wildlife” stories. From the memory card of my little Panasonic Lumix camera, here’s what stood out for me in 2019:

1. #142 and Her Two Cubs

One of our local female grizzlies, named “#142” (researchers use numbers to identify some of the park’s bears), spent a lot of time near Lake Louise this spring, with her two yearling cubs in tow. She even put in an appearance on the lawn next to the Chateau Lake Louise! I was lucky enough to see her on several occasions, and she was always on the lookout for male bears, who will sometimes prey on cubs. I love her vigilance – she is a very conscientious mom.

2. A Thirsty Black Bear

This young black bear showed up during an early morning birdwatching trip I was leading at Johnson Lake in July. It was very well behaved, and just wanted to get to the water’s edge for a drink. I like the reflection just before the snout broke the water.

3. The Goat Gang

A big herd of goats right beside one of the trails at Lake O’Hara was a show-stopper in July. They were so close that we could hear them grazing. Amazingly, the adult goats were just moulting their winter fur. Remember, this was on July 20! Makes you realize how short summer is around here.

4. A Marmot Family Compact

Hoary marmots live in nuclear family groups, and everybody has got everybody else’s back. I interrupted this family (there were five of them in total) in the rocks near a little meadow beside Temple Lake, and they checked me out to make sure I wasn’t going to eat them.

5. The Humble Bumblebee

Everyone loves the bigger animals, but let’s not forget the little stuff, which makes the world go around. This glorious patch of “river beauty” (a relative of fireweed) wasn’t just a feast for the eyes, it was a feast for the ears: the patch was full of pollinating bumblebees, and this scene literally hummed. Check out the bright orange pollen on her hind legs.  This gal is making things happen!

Here’s to 2020, and whatever nature brings. My New Year’s wildlife resolution is to finally see a wolverine! Well, we’re all allowed to dream a little, right?