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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - May 29, 1973, Lethbridge, Alberta May 29, 197) TH6 UJTHMIDGE HMALO 3 Binoculars help naturalists to enjoy outdoors My jves focused on a minor reflection of a rare hauj ed sp-o !es with eyes in black ci-clcs that were ovei- shadowc') only by a red beak Was specimen reiHy me or had a rare bird followed me bonif- from m> two-d >v bird watching expedition wi'h the Lelhbudge Naturalist So- ciely Afi" bumping my head on the medicine cabinet, it sud- denly became apparent thdl the tl.mg birdy about this one- of-a kii'd secies was its brain My had black and blue riugP fiom hours of binoeHar viewing and my nose's eo'or was the rinial product of ten too many hcvrs of exposure to the sun's A ball of fire at 7 s m fol- lowing tv o days Of camping, I was not Foin quick breaths upon the reflective glass fogged out the sorry looking sight and old ine readv for another day In hhe co1 crete jungle Escape bustle Look'iui at the positive side of thin-fi- forces me to admit the did allow me to escape bustle of life's rou- tine ard travel into a woild prev'ouilv i iknown to me The first impressions of na- ture in Southern Alberta cer- tainly don t send a newcomer sera mi i ling a camera After all, most people simply don't consider rattlesnakes go- phers, thistles and cacti to be photographic gems This first impression is not al- tered in the least by residents in this aiea Most of the South- ern Alheilans I have talked to don't know of the abundance of wildlife residing in their envi- ronment The big finger of blame shouldn't be pointed at these people for their apparent lack of knowledge about their emiron- ment because who would believe the seemingly barren praitTie actually provides a sanc- tuary for an enormous amount of plant and bird life The weekend expedition be- gan a.s any other off scamper out Of the city, with tens, camping gear and a lot of grub but that's wheie sim- ilarities ended. Nature ramble Instead of a speedy bee line drive to a specific destination, it was a nature ramble down back-roads and over fields in- cluding several stops at ofleiv- ignored sloughs. The trip had more stops than a country freight train All five vehicles on the expedilion would suddenly pull over to line load simultaneously upon spoiling several fine feathered friends at a loadside water pot hole "Look it's a cinnamon teal someone shouted from behind a pair of binoculars. What followed resembled rhe bustle of a Navy crew piepar- Ing for an air attack Some people darted out of cars with binoculars and cam- eras in hand while others scramMed to set up tripods so as to mount high scopes For no) so avid bird watchers like myself, the cinnamon teal spotting was a first No doubt T probably saw before but this was the first time anvone put a latel on it for me Prior to the tnp. like people, I tended to everything feathery into we group undor the bird tt'.s a simple case of ignor- ance because who would point to a moose or a bear and vo- cally label it After several hours of inten sive viewing the biids (there I go again) give a peison a sense of liberty and fne-Xjship Even the colr'e-t heart could warm to a strut- ting grebe as it irises its way down the length of a floating log. As the cars vured by behind us I couldn't help but think high-speed ci using enthusiasts would enjoj the unique seren- ity of wildlKe if they would just take a few mimrtes to ob- serve their surroundings. My watch indicated two o'clock, but time wasn't im- portant to the natuialists as we stopped at another small body of water called Lost Lake To sav tlw least, I war as- tonished at the number of woli out vondei It was merely expressing its acidic anger at my failure to send food its way during the day With challenges of who could set the tent up faster being thrown around in gest. camp made Next, the chopping of wood echoed across the lake as a hungry crew began food prep- arations Like most simple-minded food dishes it takes an artist of rare merit to produce a meal that mingles the outdoor cooking A touch of suet from the fire, a pinch of camp dirt from one's hands, several bugs and the lard from the mornings' bacon are all necessary ingredients for a mouth-watering campet's twilight feast Sauerkraut in the can, pot- ato chips with peanut buttered pup and two adults into a four by seven foot area? Somehow it worked out and while my wife and dog were fighting for the second pillow, I rolled over and immediately blacked out. To some ears the song of the birds may be sweeter than rock music, but at six o'clock in the morning I swear the decibel output of a bird's vocal cords is equivilent to a rock groups' amplifiers on full volume Worse still, one wou'dn t dare yell verbal profanities to t h e noisy little creatures when sur- rounded by several tents of avid bird lovers After slipping in and out of consciousness over the next hour and a half, I fin-all} woke to the sounds of the chopping of wood and the crackling of a fire Some of the mote ambitious Duck eggs at Lost Lake ferent species of birds in this wildlife haven To hardened bird watchers the location is a paradise To be honest, I wouldn't have even thought to at it and probably couldn t find it again on my own however, I did spend a couple memorable hours there The more knowledgeable nat uralists busy pointing out the diffeicrA buds to me as I admired the individual charac- teristics of each bird Butls are most often distin- guished by then colour legs, beak and shape However, some look-a liko birds can onlv be identified V Ineii song, hab- itat or flight Excitement moiints when knowledgeaWe naturalists dis- agree on what bird they're viewing A scramble for a ''Birds of Alberta" book sometimes fol- lows the disagreement as high- powered scopes are zoomed m on the unknown species in an attempt to spot some identifi- able trait on the unconcerned creature From Lost Lake the expedi- lion went ard to Kimtorook Island Provincial Park on tlie eastern edge of Lake Newell. 14 miles south of Brooks The gradual decline of the sun below the horizon something to rhe brain and stomach of a camper as hun- ger and fatigue seem to thrive on the diminishing natural light The howl in my stomuch w-asn't m reply to lota toast corned beef ard himbur- gers were a few of the gommet meals endulged b- om distm- quished compam Tired and a bit after spending several houi-> behind the wheel of a cai and tlw lenses of a pair of binoculars, I was ready to sack out However, what hard} camp- er would even dare consider sleeping prior to spending a few hours shooting the bull around a blazing camp fiie After a few minutes of chal- tmp it became obvious natur- ahs's and differ when it comes lo pos' dav con- versation Fishe: men ttsuallv spend nvwt of theu time talking about the fish that got awaj or the success of a particular hook Bud-watchers spend very little tune talking abwrt the past day's activities, instead they look forward to tonrvrow and the birds they hope to spy on To no surprise of mine, some of us got into semi-heavy con- versations about the environ- ment, the growth of cities and favorite camping spots we had hequented in the past. Rebellious Wten our eye lids became rebellious and our thought pro- cesses began to recess my wife and I begged our pardon and we oiowded into our two-mdia pup tent The pup tent may have been of sufficient size for a four- month old German shepard, but how does one fit a 55-pound campers were up and at it but somehow the icicle hanging fiom the top of the tent made my Arctic sleeping bag feel mighty comfortable When my nerve-o meier reached its daring point I crawled out of the confines of my sleeping bag and made the exist from the crowded tent into a world of na- ture Sparkling The sun's rays were just be- ginning to indicate then pres- ence as Lake Newell was glint- ing and sparkling with the pres- ence of anotlier day's light Ehops of dew dangling from the fiesh buds of tone old camp- site trees silently indicated an- otlier moist Ma> morning was ours to enjoy The wet grass glowed as tt waved its pleasure with the abundance of it was able to absorb and distribute to its thirsty roots The soft puir of a damp wind highlighted by Bie cheerful caill of a myrtle or an Audubon be- st-owed a feeling of belonging Such is the magic of nature Even the neighborhood sour puss couldn't resist becoming a httlee chucMy and bubbly with the grace notes and smells of a lakeside spring morning in Southern Alterla. After' our nature ramble took us to a burrowing owl colony just west of Kmv- brook Park. There weren't msnv to be seen, leading us to believe the burrowing owl was indeed bur- ied. When we were about ready to give up hope and head to the lake to view the waterfowl, the cry of "there he is" cut the air and we all scrambled for our binoculars and tele- scopes so as to zero in on the stern-looking creature. Unconcerned The owl appeared to be un- concerned and probably wiote IB off as being insane as he stood head and shoulders above the old gopher hole he now calls home After failing to out-stare the owl, we moved on to the shal- low west end of Lake Newell to view the shorebirds, water- fowl and praiile singers. The trails we took were made by fisheimen and were only suited for five miles-per-hour vehicle traffic but they led us to an unbelievable abundance of wildlife Who in then city armchairs could even have imagined the dried out old prame was the habitat for this nature spectac- ular The whole shore1 He echoed with the sounds of buds sing- ing their and accept- ance for a terrain so often ie- jected bv h'irrans A small island in the lake covered with sea gulls oc- casionally [lapping their wmjs to cool their wing pits Closer b> were grebes show ing off their red-necks while floating as softly as a sail boal in a light breeze Accompany mg them were ducks bovbing their heads m and out of the water I even found myself s'aring at a yellov -1 eaded black bird as it sang a song with a pleas ant pitch that it was ahle to throw hitlKT and yon with very little A couit one learned natural- ist described as being "a black ducky-looking thing with a white was busy diving for fish Several sea gulls were also busy dismay fa. their aeron antic capabilities while geese off in the distance were send- ing their basey toned honks re- verfjerating across the lake Conversation We stopped for lunch where the birdhfe was most plentiful and while some of the natural- ists quietly observed the wild- life. I struck a conversation with Frank Harper, chairman of the Lethbridge Naturalists Society He says the society Is a self- education group with a major interest m bii-ds and plants Tlie naturalists are also in- terested m geology and ai-e hoping knowledgeable people ui other areas of the environment will joint be society to share their expertise He claimp pollution scares are only effective for a short period of time and soon people will be polluting again without concern unless they develop an appreciation for nature K a person has an aware- ness of the environment he will do his utmost to make sure it doesn't disappear, lie sugge.st- ed "If a conti actor appreciates nature, he'll be a bit more con- cerned about the environment wi'Aout some-body else having to tell him to he added According to Mr Harper tho federal and provincial govern- Continued on Page 5 ;