39 Columbian Ground Squirrel collecting nesting material
Photo taken on 10 July 2016 and posted on Flickr on 15 July 2016.
Another day of black skies and pouring rain today, 15 July 2016. We are certainly making up for the very mild winter and summer-like spring! Hope nowhere gets flooded again today.
These little Columbian Ground Squirrels are seen only in the mountains, not in Calgary, where we have the Richardson Ground Squirrels (commonly known as Gophers). A few of us watched this little creature while it collected dried plant material around the end of a small bridge near the camp where we were staying for two nights in Waterton. Not sure if it already had babies and was perhaps adding some clean grass to the den/nest.
This walk was a result of hearing a few people discussing at breakfast a strange plant they had just seen in the woods by the Canyon Church Camp in Waterton Lakes National Park, where we were staying for two nights. After breakfast, I went with them to see and sure enough, it turned out to be what I had guessed from their description - wonderful Pinedrops. This is a rare, LISTED S2 plant. A year ago, I had seen some on the hiking trail to Blakiston Falls in the park, and a bit later on 10 JUly 2016 found more of these plants at the same location, shortly before reaching the Falls. After this exciting find, we continued our walk as far as the small bridge that leads to the Camp, where we saw this busy little Ground Squirrel.
I always think of these animals eating grass and plants, so I found the following information interesting.
"Diet includes a wide variety of vegetation: roots, bulbs, stems, leaves, seeds, and berries. Also eats some animal food (e.g., insects, mice, dead fish). May climb into trees and shrubs to obtain buds and fruits. Spends about 70% of year in hibernation."
Five days ago, late afternoon, (I think around 5:15 pm), on 10 July 2015, I arrived back home from my holiday of the year - a two and a half day trip to Waterton National Park. It was wonderful to again be surrounded by such magnificent scenery, go on a few pleasantly slow walks/hikes with plenty of time to look for, and photograph, wildflowers, insects, and a few birds and animals. Lots of great company with (22) people, some of whom I already knew and lots of new faces, too. The trip was organized by Nature Calgary. Everyone was free to go wherever they wanted each day, but for the two nights, we stayed at the very basic Canyon Church Camp, off the Red Rock Parkway. Dorm-style cabins (about which I will say nothing, lol!), but they do have showers and even flush toilets at the camp. We were fed so well - lots of variety and good food. We were given two breakfasts and two suppers, plus a packed lunch for the two days. Our thanks go out to the lady (can't remember her name, sorry, but she was also there for us in July 2015) who cooked and prepared these meals for us! They were so much enjoyed and greatly appreciated!
"Waterton Lakes National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is also an International Peace Park, and a Biosphere Reserve. No other park in the world has these three designations. Waterton Biosphere Reserve as it is officially called, was designated in 1979 under what is called the internationally recognized "Man and the Biosphere program" of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), that sure is a mouthful. Biosphere Reserves are designed to promote and demonstrate a balanced relationship between people and nature."
Thank you SO much, Janet, for driving your friend and me to and from Calgary and around the park some of the time, too. Thanks to Debbie, too. To say that I appreciated it is a huge understatement!! Our thanks, too, to Andrew for organizing this trip so brilliantly, as usual! A great time was had by all. Andrew, I am SO happy and relieved that you were finally able to find a bear (and her cub) on the last day - yes, we came across the same ones shortly after you saw them. Not sure if they were two of the three I had seen at more or less the same location the previous morning, 9 July 2016. If it was the same female, then her second cub must have been really well hidden in the tangle of bushes and trees yesterday. We didn't get a good view, though I did take a handful of photos, including when the cub looked towards us for a split second. I had never seen such a young cub before, so I was thrilled to bits. Can't forget to add my huge thanks for finding me a Lazuli Bunting, too, at some unearthly hour (well, 7:30 am). No idea how on earth you managed to spot such a small bird from so far away - just a tiny speck in the far, far distance. Also was delighted that you found two Nighthawks flying high overhead at the Nature Conservancy area. So, I guess you and I both returned to Calgary feeling really happy : )
AlbertaCanadasouthern Albertanear CanadaUS borderWaterton Lakes National Parkapproximately 3hour drive from CalgaryCanyon Church Campbridge leading to Campnatureanimalwildwild animalwildliferodentColumbian Ground SquirrelUrocitellus columbianusFamily Sciuridaeadultcollecting dried grassesmouthful of dried grassesstanding uprightside viewoutdoorsummer10 July 2016FZ200FZ200 number 4annkelliottAnne ElliottAnne Elliott, from
Photos added to Flickr, 1 July - 30 September 2016