Sulphur Mountain: 18th May 2016
At the top station of the Banff Gondola, there’s a great view of Banff and the surrounding mountains and valleys and possibly a chance to see some wildlife. There’s an easy boardwalk to the top of Sulphur Mountain; we saw some Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, foraging for scraps … of which there weren’t many, for this is bear country, and people tend to be careful with their trash.
Not that we saw any bears … probably because of the number of visitors, but we did see a fair number of little rodents scurrying about. But what were they?
‘I think they’re marmots’ said a Ranger I asked ‘but don’t quote me; I’m more into birds!’
Then, someone came along with a dopey remark about the sanitary habits of bears and woods, and the Ranger suddenly felt a need to be elsewhere. And, I don’t blame him; I’d have probably done the same.
Anyway, I made some enquiries. A chipmunk was one suggestion … a Ground Squirrel said someone else. No, said a third. A squirrel has a bushy tail. However, a Ground Squirrel has no need of one, as it’s used for steering and balance when climbing trees, or jumping from branch to branch. A look at an authoritative Rocky Mountains naturalist’s site nailed it.
So, let me introduce:
The Golden Mantled Ground Squirrel!
After we’d descended, we rounded off the day with a walk along the banks of the Bow River as far as the Bow Falls, which is not as spectacular as some others we’ve seen … and nothing like what we’re about to see next year … but still a part of a fine setting.