Closer areas still being snow-covered, a small group of us set off down to Keremeos looking for Spring. Our first stop was the turn off for the Red Bridge. We turned left and parked at the end of the old railway line trail that runs toward Keremeos. After a few metres, the roar of the highway traffic diminished sufficiently for us to hear bird songs.
Along the trail, we noticed the flowers on black poplar trees and the sweet smell of spring buds. After a few hundred yards, a couple of Audubon Warblers, Song Sparrows, Juncos and Spotted Towhees provided some interesting moments. Surprisingly, we saw no ducks on the adjoining wetland. We retraced our tracks and descended a trail from the old railbed towards the river. Hiking through the Black Poplar river lined habitat we discovered a Bald Eagles’s nest with a bird at home. Using Ken’s “spotting scope” we all took a bird’s eye view! We had earlier seen the other half of the pair sitting atop a snag across the highway. Again we followed the trail along the river until we found another prominent trail leading back to our vehicles, a beautiful scenic interesting and highly recommended stroll (allow 1 hour).
Next we drove through Keremeos past the main grocery store and to the concrete plant. From here, the rail bed continues down the valley, skipping the uninteresting downtown section. Again using Ken’s scope, we watched a kestrel on a fence post actually dining on a just caught meadow vole! On the power wires, we watched many tittering violet green swallows. We meandered, like the river, crossed its flood plain and perched on riverside logs and ate our lunches, admiring the mist, snow covered mountains and expansive river views. We chuckled at the California Quail running across our path. Back to our cars and off down the valley to the “amber lights” in Cawston. Turning right and then left and right again, we stopped at the road crossing of Ginty’s Pond, named after Ginty Cawston the founder of this village. This wetlands used to be more open water and early residents travelled by canoe to the post office and held winter skating parties.
Due to roadwork culverts the large pond is now mostly reed covered but we managed to see some American Wigeons and the ubiquitous Mallard before driving down to the end of the pond where we watched Hooded Mergansers. From here another short stroll took us to the riverbank and back; we sighted a Pileated Woodpecker in this area. All in all, a few pleasant strolls with 20 species of birds identified we felt fortunate to have four seasons of nature at our doorstep or car door!
Report by John Henry