Saturday, October 18, 2008

Western Canada by Train - Day 1

A portion of our trip to Canada included a two-day train trip from Vancouver to Banff. We were in a "domed" car, which means that we sat at the top of a two level car (the dining area was on the bottom). The top part of the train car was domed glass which, combined with the height, allowed for excellent views. Unfortunately, it did not necessarily make for excellent photographs.

There were several reasons for this. One was the glass -- reflective and curved. A more common reason was that we were constantly moving, and along the tracks were old telephone (or perhaps even telegraph) poles and of course trees. I took over 500 shots on this trip -- here is an example of what a lot of them looked like.

OK, I'll try not to show too many of these, though there is one more below.

If we were to count up how many birds of a given species, probably the two that would come to the top are Bald Eagles and Ospreys. (OK, and Canada Geese and probably Common Mergansers.) Along the train tracks, however, we were able to see a lot of nesting Eagles and Ospreys. Take a look at this Eagle's nest -- when you compare it to the length of the pine needles, you can get an idea of how huge it, and the bird on it, are.

This next shot is one of my most disap- pointing shots of the whole trip, and I plan to inflict it upon you, regardless. [grin] This had the potential to be a great shot, even through the telephone wires. Unfortunately, because we were moving, and I was trying so hard to take shots quickly, I used autofocus on my camera (something, I usually avoid). Well -- you can see the results with this Bald Eagle.

The Osprey is a "fish eagle" much like the Bald Eagle, though they are often listed as a separate species. I heard once on a PBS nature program that fish eagles are usually black and white. Like the Bald Eagle (ok, it's really a dark brown), the Osprey is mostly "black and white" in coloring. I especially liked this nest with all the colorful strings hanging down -- even ospreys and eagles like colorful, soft bedding for their chicks!

This next shot gives an idea of the territory we were going through. Transportation -- both trains and vehicular, travel through the lowest parts of the mountains. So you will often see a stream to your left or right. Here you get the tracks, the road and the stream all in one shot.

In my next post, I will include a lot of "geology shots" for all my rock-hound and geologist friends. But suffice to say that there are some areas in the mountains that were difficult or dangerous to put a track through, so tunnels were often necessary. Here's a spot where we had a nice curve coming up to a tunnel ahead.

All through the trip, we would travel along a stream and sometimes come to a wide spot, where there were lakes. I kept seeing these black and white birds floating in the water. It took me a while to identify them as common mergansers -- another bird for our life list.

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