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Bird Watching in Canada

Bird Watching in Canada

Bird watching in Canada is a favorite past time for thousands of people all over the world. It is no different right here in Merritt and the Nicola Valley. I Love birdwatching in Canada, and the Nicola Valley too. I do go out on occasion with some of our local Pros, like the great people at  Nicola Valley Naturalists.   When I do take that time, I am always amazed at the knowledge and at what they can spot and see! These nature and bird experts are amazing! 

Doing what I Love. Nature and Nikon

I just happened to be doing what I love, which is being outdoors and exploring and this happened! It is like a gift! This is the real deal bird watching in Canada!

I was sitting in my “Palace” my new to me, travel trailer (that I love BTW) and just outside on the lakeshore was this beautiful yellow, black and yellow bird! Camera time! I grab my Nikon and go sit in a chair close by waiting for the return! And “HE” did! This time with a baby! The baby bird started to sweetly  hop around, first on the branches of the berry tree, and then onto the ground and rocks just below! All fuzzy and cute as a baby bird can be, I start snapping away!

Bird watching in Canada is very rewarding

The little one was looking at me, looking around, waiting for daddy. Sure enough daddy comes back with some food! mushed up berries. Baby waits. Daddy hops to the ground and as you can see in the picture, this is what I saw! Isn’t this amazing?

Bird watching in Canada Western Tanager

Bird watching in Canada Western Tanager

Anticipating for the right moments to take pictures, I was once again rewarded!  Look who scurries over to see what is going on! The cutest chipmunk! He sits calmly on the rock, back turned to the baby bird as if to say “I know your there but I don’t care!” Baby bird stating right back at him also seeming to say, “I know your there and I don’t care either.” Then they looked at each other. Both caught in a stare. They both sat still for a moment both as calm as could be. 

The Western Tanager

Thanks to All About Birds I was able to learn more about the Western Tanager and so many other species. All the information you will ever need for Bird watching in Canada.  Here are some  cool facts and other information I learned about this bird.

A Male has an orange-red head, brilliant yellow body, and coal-black wings, back and tail. Females and younger ones are  similar to the males but have somewhat of a  dimmer yellow-green and black. These birds live in open woods all over the West, particularly among evergreens, where they often stay hidden in the canopy. Nevertheless, they’re a quintessential woodland denizen in summertime, where they fill the woods with their short, burry song and low, chuckling call notes.

Cool Facts

  • While most red birds owe their redness to a variety of plant pigments known as carotenoids, the Western Tanager gets it’s scarlet head feathers from a rare pigment called rhodoxanthin. Unable to make this substance in their own bodies, Western Tanagers probably obtain it from insects in their diet.
  • This species ranges farther north than any other tanager, breeding northward to a latitude of 60 degrees—into Canada’s Northwest Territories. In the chilly northernmost reaches of their breeding range, Western Tanagers may spend as little as two months before migrating south.

 

  • Male Western Tanagers sometimes perform an antic, eye-catching display, apparently a courtship ritual, in which they tumble past a female, their showy plumage flashing yellow and black.

 

  • Around the turn of the twentieth century, Western Tanagers were thought to pose a significant threat to commercial fruit crops. One observer wrote that in 1896, “the damage done to cherries in one orchard was so great that the sales of the fruit which was left did not balance the bills paid out for poison and ammunition.” Today, it is illegal to shoot native birds and Western Tanagers are safer than they were a century ago.

 

  • The oldest Western Tanager on record—a male originally banded in Nevada in 1965—had lived at least 6 years and 11 months by the time he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Oregon in 1971.

Bird watching in Canada photographs

It was fantastic! I know I had a big smile on my face as I sat and watched these three, and I knew I was capturing a great photos. Here is additional images I captured that afternoon. Hope you enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoyed taking them. 

 

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

 

  Birdwatching in Canada Western Tanager in Merritt BC Canada

 

Local Naturalist and Bird watching

I have been able to spend enlightening times with our local experts at Nicola Valley Naturalists. They have wonderful friendly experts, and some great programs for everyone. They started a new one this year called Merritt Nature Kids!  How cool is that? 

A major objective of  Nicola Naturalist Society is to provide education and information on the wild organisms and ecosystems of the BC interior. Especially those that are found in the Nicola Valley area.  They have regular meetings at the theatre at NVIT. (Nicola Valley Institue of Technology), and have all kinds of great field events like amphibian monitoring and the Christmas bird count.  They can count me in for that one this year.

You don’t have to be a birder to participate in the count. Join one of the best and historic bird watching in Canada events, just go. Bring a camera and binoculars and share with us what you see.

Happy Bird watching in Canada and the rest of the world too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Smoked Trout at Harmon Lake

Smoked Trout at Harmon Lake

Making smoked trout while camping is easy and fun.

So, would you like to know the secret to great Smoked Trout?

A secret about how to make the best smoked trout in all of the world? OK, at least the best in Nicola Valley? I am about to share it here! Keep reading!

Preparing for Smoked Trout

The Process

Teresa and Brad, camping friends I met last year here at Harmon Lake, have graciously shared their tips and techniques with me to share with you, the world!

Not only is this amazing to the tastebuds, it is a fun thing to do together with friends and family!

To make our Harmon Lake Smoked Trout you need…

  • nice fresh trout that you had fun catching.4-6
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 6-8 C water
  • 2-3 C ice cubes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup non iodized coarse salt, kosher salt, or just salt
  • paper towels
  • rubber gloves
  • cutting board
  • one strong large knife
  • 1-2 fillet knives
  • a good set of fishing bone tweezers!
  • containers and/or ziploc bags for brining.
  • Smoker
  • smoker chips
  • tray for air drying
  • plastic wrap

The Trout

First things first!  To make Smoked Trout, you need them! Catch them, buy them, ask your friends for theirs, it doesn’t matter. But you need fish! We happened to catch ours the day before! It doesn’t matter what size as you will fillet them and place them on the rack by size for best and even results.

The Process – Preparing the Trout

Filleting the Trout! Have the right tools to make this important part easy.  Having the right tools from the get-go will make your learning easier and you fillets clean cut and “pretty”.

I watched  as my friend masterfully filleted the trout and deboned them. She used a tool she purchased  specifically for deboning fish, and it worked great. You could use pliers, but she said this tool was worth every cent! 

Get started

Cut the head off first. then make a straight cut, across the fish, down to the bone near the tail. Starting at the cut. angle the knife on the fish and also angle the blade slightly up over the backbone and fillet away. Once you start to fillet keep the knife blade on the  angle above the bone. With a clean smooth motion, filet the fish, keeping the blade just above the bone.

Keep going!

It may take some practice but when I did it it just took a few times and I was sliding the blade right up to the end. It really wasn’t that hard, just practice and a feel for it.

I learned that there is a technique and once you get the hang of it it becomes pretty easy!

Once both sides are filleted, you can fillet out the inner bones.  This is a bit tricky to explain but I will try!  Take the tip of the blade and cut lightly under the bones about 1/2 inch in. Start over and repeat with smooth motions. Three or so cuts should do it. Cut that piece off the fish. Clean up the edges with a clean swipe down the edges. Voila! A Fillet!

Tips for preparing the Trout

  • A good filleting knife will make the task easy and make your fillets look PRO!
  • Use  a paper towel under the trout on the cutting board to help stop it from slipping & sliding.
  • Don’t leave your fish in water (in the cooler where they could sit in water for example) after they have been cleaned. they will get soggy.
  • Keep the knife at an angle about 45 degrees with the fish.
  • Once you start to fillet keep the knife blade on a slight angle above the bone on with a clean smooth motion, filet the fish, keeping the blade just above the bone.
  • Leave whole or cut into proportions that you would give away.
  • Practice.

The Process for Brining the Trout

This is simple yet tricky, the right mixture of the the salt (and what kind of salt), brown sugar, along with the right amount of water and then the brining time! My friends  secret sauce is 1 part salt to 2 parts sugar.

Dissolve the brown sugar and salt in 2 cups of water. Add about an additional 4-5 cups of water after you have dissolved salt and sugar. Taste test the brine. If you go “Echhhh! Too much salt!”, add more water and you could add some more brown sugar. You do want it to taste salty like the sea, but not so much that you can’t swallow it!

We used two extra large ziplock bags and and split the brine mixture in 1/2. Put the fillets into the bags. Seal the bags and refrigerate 2-3 hours. More time for larger fillets!

Tips for brining

  • You can experiment with different kinds of salt.
  • The brine should be ice cold to work the best so add some ice cubes about 2-3 cups.
  • Trout do not need to brine as long as other fish.
  • Put the fillets in ziploc bags to brine and make sure the bags are sealed. Get as much air out as you can.
  • Put the bags into a container that will fit in your fridge in case the bag leaks.
  • Do NOT brine in a metal container! Use glass or plastic.
  • The brine mixture proportions is the most important part and it will be different every time.

The Process – Smoking the Trout

Air dry the fillets on a surface of parchment paper or plastic wrap (never use metal) for about an hour.

Smoking time varies as does our weather! So you have to vary it each time. Wind and rain are not your friend for smoking fish. So let’s say its 70 degrees and no wind. Your smaller fillets should be ready in about 90 minutes. You can leave on the bigger fillets for an additional 1/2 hour.

We are using a Little Chief Smoker with alder chips, which pair well with trout!

The smoker is running from a 12 V battery and an inverter. We charged the battery with two 75 Watt solar panels. A generator works great too!

Tips for smoking the Trout

  • Keep the smoker out of the wind.
  • Keep the smoker off the grass as in the summer it can be too dry and dangerous.
  • Line the bottom tray of the smoker with foil. 
  • Use non stick spray on the racks.
  • Wipe the trout skin with a paper towel before putting on the racks for “less stickage”.
  • Do not over fill the racks as you need the smoke to get in-between each fillet
  •  If you’re smoking some glazed with brown sugar, put the glazed ones on the bottom racks.
  • Put the thicker fillets on the outside edges as the smoke comes mostly up the sides.
  • Start timing from the time you see smoke.
  • No 2 batches are the same ever!

How would you like your fish smoked? Mild, medium or well done?

  • 2 hours for mild
  • 3-4 hours for medium
  • 5 hours for well done

The more fish on the trays the longer it will take.

When the Trout has smoked enough

Air dry for about an hour before removing the skin and refrigerating. Make sure the fillets have cooled down first. Best to place them on a paper towel and in a container or ziplock bag The paper towel is there to absorb any excess moisture. So, if you take them out of the smoker and they seem a little too dry, don’t set them on paper towels.

Teresa and Brad’s Philosophy: Keep it simple for best results! Particularly with trout as trout is so delicate!

Share and enjoy!

Moister or dryer, it’s up to you! When the trout fillets are smoked the way you like them, loosen from the rack right away or they will get stick to the rack. Take a picture and share! You earned the right to brag!

Then quickly put them away or they may just go missing. AKA, eaten all up!

That is how to make the best smoked trout in the Nicola Valley.

Trout, and other fish, have been smoked throughout history. Click here for some more information

 

Do you have special tips and techniques you want to share?

I would love to hear them! And see you at Harmon Lake!

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Enjoy Camping in Canada – Nicola Valley

Enjoy Camping in Canada

Experience Lundbom Lake in the Nicola Valley!

You may never want to go home!

Camping in Canada! Lundbom Lake West Recreation Site, in British Columbia, is an awesome fishing, horseback riding, and camping location!  Add the surrounding area which provides excellent mountain biking and ATV/dirt bike riding and you may never want to go home! 

Check out some exciting ways to experience Lundbom Lake!

  • Fees:$12.00 Camping
  • Fee Applies: Apr 27, 2018 – Oct 8, 2018 All Days
  • Campsites: 37
  • Access: Road
  • Facilities: Boat Launch
                       Tables
                       Toilets

Come in the summer, come in the fall, this lake is fabulous any time at all.

Each time I experience Lundbom Lake, I fall in love with it all over again!  I know I’m just 15 minutes from downtown Merritt, but I feel like I’m miles away in the wilderness. Super easy to get to, it is just off Highway 97c on an easy-to-travel gravel road!  Each summer I spend many weeks there enjoying all it has to offer, and even travel back and forth to work from my campsite!

The occasional lightening storm rolls through as seen from the west campground

The short drive on the gravel road takes your breath away!  Rolling hills covered with wildflowers,  sparkling lakes, and  rich grasslands. Gorgeous! If you are planning on experiencing  Lundbom Lake, you can also take the the back road through pine and fir forests and grassy, open meadows. There are a few extra bumps on this road, but is it worth it!

Camping in Canada? Great camping in the southern interior of BC 

 Lundbom Lake camping will add additional camp sites this year, as the demand is growing! It is usually full on weekends and holidays, so reserve early.  It’s pretty easy to find a nice camping spot during the week. This is a forestry campsite so there is a small fee for camping.

Two areas to choose from – East and West

Camping in Canada

Even the horses smile at Lundbom Lake

Most of the sites are spacious and private, great for large RV’s, tents, and trailers! I have even seen motorcycle groups come and stay for overnighters. Several sites are right on the lake.  Others are nestled in the forest. There are two areas for camping at Lundbom Lake,  East and West.  Stay on the main road to access the East side or cut through the west campground and take the back road thru the forest! You’ll find the campground hosts, Cathy and Clint, on the West site.

Click here for a quick timelapse of the sun setting at Lundbom Lake! Beautiful!

Excellent Equine Camping Experience

Horse people love it here! The West campground includes horse corals. “Build it and they will come.”, someone said. And they do!

The draw? The never ending trail riding. And the trails really are never ending! Trails thru the grasslands up the mountains, by the lakes, and into the forests. Spectacular!

 

Experience Lundbom Lake Fishing

Camping in Canada

My friend Joanne caught a beauty at our site.

Be prepared to catch “the big one”! I have seen them as big as 9 lbs and  they can get even bigger!  The lake is stocked with rainbow trout each year and there are plenty of fish to be caught here!

Some days are a little tricky but when the bite is on, it’s on! Lundbom Lake can be challenging so the more fishing skills you have, the better your luck will be.  I don’t consider my self a “pro”, but I’ve had pretty good luck right off the shore!

Brian Chan  & Phillip Rowley are fish experts and can provide excellent information and details on fish and fishing

To get specific information on the types and quantities,  visit Freshwater Fisheries Society of BC.

Did you Know?

  • Fishing in the shoals on the west end of Lundbom Lake is a popular pastime.
  • Lundbom Lake at it’s deepest is about 80 ft.
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History of  Lundbom Lake

To find the history of Lundbom Lake, I reached out to Nicola Valley Museum and was thrilled with the response! They rock!!  Special thanks to Emmanuelle Dugas!

I had heard that the lake was named after a Lundbom. The lake is actually named after an early Nicola Valley settler, a Norwegian bachelor named Agustus William Lundbaum.  

In 1871, Lundbaum settled north of Nicola Lake.  He was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1880 and a judge in the Court of Revision and Appeal under the Assessment Act for Nicola 1n 1881. 

What did  Lundbaum do?

Camping in Canada

Overlooking Lundbom Lake

Lundbaum was a great fisherman and is credited with introducing the angleworm into the district. Lundbom Lake was mainly known as Fishermans lake.  It eventually became popular for just lazing around or hiking.  Early campers said it was crawling with all kinds of insects, snakes, frogs, moles and coyotes. They said the fish were “small, silvery and saucy”.

Sometime before Lundbaum left in 1885 or 1886, he declared the Nicola Country was “going to the dogs” and “the grass was about done”. He rode the range, with his rifle, shooting down his heifer calves so that as he put it, “ there would be enough grass grow” for those he allowed to survive. 

Lundbaum was so concerned about the overgrazing of the Nicola Rangeland that it is said he went out of his mind and was taken out of the valley, never to return. He apparently recovered and farmed in the Fraser Valley.

Lundbom Commanage

Ridley and Pooley staked a claim and  applied to purchase the open country.  This action resulted in the Stockmen from Nicola Lake signing a petition to the government to have the area declared a commonage reserve under the Commonage Act. 

The commonage bearing Agustus William Lundbaum’s name still exists as established in 1887 and is a fitting monument to this early environmentalist.  It is a commonage reserve to this day. 

Lundbom Commanage contains 100 acres.  Lundbom Head, sometimes called Sugar Loaf Mountain, stands in the Lundbom Commons.

Now visitors from far and wide enjoy the Lundbom Lake experience!

Turquoise waters at Lundbom Lake?

Camping at Canada, at Lundbom Lake! Lots of fun…

But always be careful and be safe! Wildfires are always an issue during the hot summer months.

Check the Fire Bans and Restrictions

I remember when Lundbom Lake used to be turquoise waters.

Anyone else remember that? And know why it’s not anymore?

And want to read about why I love living in Merritt? Read my blog

Julie

Camping in Canada

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Things To Do Merritt BC Canada – Guest Post ehCanadaTravel.com

Things To Do in Merritt BC

From mountain biking to horseback riding to fishing, are just some of the adventures in Merritt, BC in the Nicola Valley, Canada.

“Every great adventure in the Nicola Valley happens via the secondary highways, local streets and backcountry gravel roads. To enjoy Merritt BC activities one must exit the Highway!”

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada? Planning what adventures you are going to explore? Coming to the Nicola Valley, BC, Canada soon are ya? You have come to the right blogging website. You see… we here are local experts because we have experienced what we preach. I have explored the Nicola Valley on many occasions and I too asked myself, “where do I start?” Such little time and so many things to do in Merritt BC! That is the question, right? What to do when you get here. Well, lets get to it then. 

Highway #1 is not home to things to do in Merritt, BC

The Nicola Valley is guaranteed to inspire and impress when it comes to adventure but, to do so, to truly enjoy your experience, you need to exit Highway #1. Highway #1 is the “express lane” in Canada. It is the best route to get from A to B quickly, but it is by no means a route for exploring communities and Merritt BC Canada is no different. Highway #1, also referred to as the Trans Canada Highway,  is not the road that leads to Merritt  adventures and sightseeing bliss.

Every great adventure in the Nicola Valley happens via the secondary highways, local streets and backcountry gravel roads. And… to truly appreciate the Nicola Valley you need to know where to go and how to get there. That is where “moi” comes into the picture. I am honored to share with you the 3 things to do in Merritt BC which caught my fancy. 

Things to do in Merritt BC including Fishing
1.  Lakes Are A Top Things To Do in Merritt BC Hands Down

“Merritt is a fishing haven with 200+ lakes! Pick a lake, any lake, and stay for awhile.” ehCanadaTravel.com July 30th, 2017

The Nicola Valley is covered in lakes, both easy access and “far-flung” remote. Many are equipped with wilderness campsites so you can stay a while and camp, fish, hike and/or mountain bike. The saying around these parts is “A lake a day for as long as you stay.” Pretty catchy eh.  

Nicola Lake is the “Grand Daddy” of all the lakes in the region. It is easily accessed from Highway 5A just east of Merritt, BC.  When visiting Nicola Lake I have seen people swimming, fishing, water skiing, picnicking, and kayaking. Has to be a pretty decent lake right… and it is easy, easy access. 

Personally, I like the “far-flung” wilderness campsites located at remote lakes. No services? Fine with me. I am happy when I have my tent, camera and  lots of nature, wildlife and adventure. I too am a bit bias towards wilderness lakes. Here are a few lakes to check out which I have had the privilege to camp at –   Lundbom Lake, Lily Lake, Marquart Lake, Gwen Lake and Helmer Lake.

Things to do in Merritt BC includes mountain biking

2. Mountain Biking Is Definitely a Things To Do in Merritt BC

The Nicola Valley has 4 distinct areas designated for mountain biking enthusiasts. They include Iron Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Swakum, and the Coutlee Plateau area. They provide a good assortment of  easy going and challenging biking trails, some short and some are considered long haul. All provide some adrenaline and amazing sightseeing scenery.

Mountain Biking BC sums up the Nicola Valley mountain biking experience the best.

“… you will find fast and flowy singletrack, challenging steep and rocky trails, gentle riding classic grassland routes, and scenic forested pathways. Merritt has something for everyone!” Mountain Biking BC

You can find mountain biking trail information and rentals from the following local bike shop.

Breathe Bikes
1960 Quilchena Ave,
Merritt, British Columbia, Canada
Website: www.breathebikes.ca
Email: bikegeektrav@gmail.com
Phone: +1 (250) 936-9702

Things to do in Merritt BC Canada includes horseback riding.
3. Horseback Riding is a Nicola Valley Things To Do

Saddle up in the Nicola Valley and you will surely experience the cowboy life! You do not have to be a full-blooded cowboy or cowgirl either to enjoy horseback riding.  In fact, some say (including this blogger) horseback riding is best enjoyed when it is the first time. You will not fully appreciate how fun horseback riding is until you go sightseeing. Prove me wrong. I dare you.

“A great horse will change your life. The truly special ones define it…” BRL Equine Nutrition

The valley has ranches where you can bring your own horse or you can use one of theirs to explore the backcountry. Give these cowboys and cowgirls a phone call.

A-P Ranch Western Guest Ranch
P.O. Box 1148,
Merritt, BC, Canada
Website: www.apguestranch.com
Phone 250-378-6520

This list is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to do in Merritt BC during the summer months. I have not even begun to talk about the things to do in Merritt BC in the winter months. That will be another post down the line by our new team of bloggers.

If I may be so humble to make a request while I have you all hyped up about Nicola Valley adventures? Please follow the new  Experience Nicola Valley social media pages so you do not to miss our next blog post. While you wait with great anticipation you can also enjoy the posts from the other talented Nicola Valley writers who contribute to this blog. I am sure you will like them as much as me, but not more right?

For all of you out there who have been to Merritt, BC before I have a question to ask you,

What would your “3 Things To Do” be if you were writing this blog?” 

Go ahead, you will not hurt my feelings. Let me know in the comment section below. 

 Things To Do in Merritt BC Canada