Note from Kerri: Thank you to my fifteen-year-old niece Sam for offering to be a guest author for this blog post. Sam is both a talented writer and wildlife-lover (just like her aunt ;)) and happily accompanied me on a road trip to the desert-like region of SE Alberta in late August.
Having recently relocated from Calgary to Lethbridge (my home town), I am now about two hours closer to this environmentally diverse area, home to an assortment of wildlife including various birds of prey, deer, pronghorn, badgers, weasels, coyote, fox, skunk, prairie rattlesnakes, bull snakes, garter snakes, mountain short-horned lizards and more.
Read on to hear about our SE adventures, as told by Sam Forsyth. (P.S. – I am Kiwi)
It was the cool, crisp Summer morning of August 21st – my aunt (aka Kiwi) and I made plans to explore an ‘Eagle Hotspot’, in the South-East region of Alberta. Hoping to find and photograph Bald and Golden eagles, we began our adventure by grabbing breakfast and heading SE on the rural highway, which was covered by a thin vail of fog.
The sun started to rise behind the clouds, causing the dew-drenched spiderwebs among the vast fields to glisten a fiery white, while the low fog wove its way through the fields, turning them a misty grey.
Our adventure started off well as we recognized tons of House Sparrows and Horned Larks flying across the road. As we ventured further SE, hoping to spot other means of wildlife along the route, we kept our eyes peeled. As luck would have it, we saw many herds of pronghorn and deer along the roadside – they raised their heads, intrigued by the lone car driving through the foggy prairie.
Golden Eagle, SE Alberta.
As we passed through one of the few small towns in the area, we made our way through a thick fog wall, blocking out the surrounding sights, and dimming the light from the high sun.
The fog wall gave a sense of security as we wove off the main road onto the gravel road leading to our destination. Once the fog started clearing up around us, we spotted a beautiful, juvenile Golden Eagle, perched on a fence post.
Juvenile Ferruginous Hawk, SE Alberta
The light was working in our favor as it starred off into the golden prairies. Managing to get some generous photos of the large bird of prey, we continued down the road, spotting numerous Swainson’s, Red-Tailed, and Ferruginous hawks perched on various fence posts along the road.
Ferruginous hawks in this part of Alberta was quite a treat, as they are an at-risk species in Alberta. We passed by dozens of Badger holes, hoping to spot one, but came out empty handed. Off in the distant part of a field, we spotted a couple of Prairie Falcons flying around, possibly looking for a snack.
By 10am, we decided to loop around to see if we missed any other animals along the route before we made our way home. After driving up a small hill, we spotted another Golden Eagle sitting on a fence post, with hawks and smaller black birds surrounding it. Once Kiwi got her camera set up, the eagle flew away.
Sitting on a post in an abandoned cattle-housing area, we spotted our eight Golden Eagle of the day. He sat still, allowing us to take a couple photos before continuing on once again.
Juvenile Red-tailed Hawk, SE Alberta
Approaching a telephone poll, we thought we spotted another eagle, until we noticed it was a large Swainson’s Hawk, watching her fledglings from above. Before we could roll up the driver-side window, the hawk swooped at the car, threatening to enter before she pulled up. She did this once more before we drove off in a hurry.
Making our way onto another gravel road, leading to the highway, we approached a cattle-drive, in which one of the leaders let us pass through all the brown cows.
Before long, we were on the highway heading home, when we noticed a small shape waddling in the empty field. Badger!!! We made the decision to turn around and park on a small gravel road beside the field, hoping to spot the Badger again before he disappeared underground. Staying still for another moment, we lost sight of the small creature.
Turning back around to the highway, things took a weird turn when we made our way through the small town of Taber. We drove by a black truck with signs and stickers that read; “Radioactive”, “Hazard”, and “Danger”.
Out of our confusion, we made jokes about getting superpowers and growing extra arms while we drove behind it. Nearing home, we continued talking about the animals we discovered, although we didn’t find Bald Eagles, it was a successful day of Eagle hunting.
Thanks Sam for joining me on this adventure! Until next time, continue loving life and everything wild 🙂