Last week we took a short vacation, our first family skiing trip to the Rocky Mountains — known for some of the best downhill skiing in the world. We stayed at Hidden Ridge Resort just outside Banff. It was a real treat because skiing is such great fun and the setting is so incredibly beautiful.
I was also excited about the photography opportunities and birding. There were a few species I was hoping to see and add to my Life List: Mountain Chickadee, Boreal Chickadee, Clark’s Nutcracker, American Dipper, Stellar’s Jay, Northern Pygmy Owl (a slim chance for this species, but worth a try), and American Three-toed Woodpecker.
The first two days in the mountains, my brothers and I skied all day at Sunshine Village, a 20 minute drive from Banff. As we drove to Sunshine on the first morning, I was looking at the scenery and as we turned onto the Sunshine EXIT, there was a Northern Pygmy Owl sitting at the top of a tree! I saw it for only a few seconds but long enough to ID it. It was one of the first birds of the trip and certainly a special one.
I had only my iPhone when we were skiing and to the chagrin of my brothers would stop and get a few shots of the mountains on the way down the runs,
The mountains are breathtaking and the skiing was terrific. From one of the chairlifts, I saw my second lifer of the trip — Clark’s Nutcrackers below us in the spruce trees.
The second day of skiing I saw Mountain Chickadees and White-winged Crossbills on the mountains,
The final two days I went birding instead of skiing. My parents and I dropped my brothers off at Lake Louise and then drove to the Chateau Lake Louise. The last time we were in the mountains and visited the lake, I was 18 months old, so I don’t remember anything.
We pulled into the parking lot at the hotel and immediately saw Clark’s Nutcrackers at very close range,
They sit on parked vehicles hoping to get a meal from the visitors,
It was an overcast day, but the snow and vistas were lovely. It’s truly a winter wonderland,
My parents and I walked quite a ways down the lake, this is a view of the Chateau from the sleigh ride path,
The heavy snow blankets everything,
I believe this is black tree lichen growing on the branches,
Back near the Chateau, Clark’s Nutcrackers were everywhere,
I had to back up to get the whole Nutcracker in the frame, because they get so close,
There were also Grey Jays which weren’t as curious as the Nutcrackers and stayed at the top of the spruce trees,
An inukshuk made of snow outside the Chateau,
We took a swing through the Chateau were we stayed 17 years ago. My dad remembered that I called the mounted Caribou on the wall “bearabou” at the time.
Stay tuned for more posts and photos about my adventures in the Rockies!