When visitors come to Banff it is always the Bear, Moose and Elk that they are eager to see. I always just let them know to keep on the lookout out for the smaller animals that are just as magnificent to encounter.
For me they are the birds of the park, namely the Bald Eagle and the Osprey. Every spring as I drive home daily from Sunshine Village I look across to the Vermillion Lakes in anticipation. Then one day it will be there, a little white head that can be seen from across the highway. This white head belongs to the Bald Eagle and signals for me the beginning of a new season, with new landscapes, new wildlife and definitely warmer weather.
I then begin my shifts at the Canoe Docks and everyday I eagerly await the return of the Osprey. I will look across the glistening Bow River to eventually see an unsteady looking nest balancing atop a sloping tree. As I rush into a canoe I keep a watchful eye for the Osprey hoping he is out for his morning fish. Out of nowhere he will swoop above your head and dive for the water. Once he knows he has an audience he engages you with opening his large span of wings and diving and gliding across the water, displaying his acrobatics. He moves with such speed and yet so much grace as he glides through the clouds.
On a recent twice-yearly mundane visa trip to the US Border a friend and I shared a magical moment with an Osprey that captured our hearts and made us fans of the bird forever. It was 6:30am and we were the only vehicle on the highway, suddenly a large Osprey swooped down and hovered by the passenger window, and then flew along side us as we drove along. The bird was so close that we could see the fine bones within his wings and the detailing on his head. Too captivated we could not bear to look away to grab our cameras. Eventually the Osprey flew across the front of the car and stared straight at us through the windscreen before flying off high above us. I felt like something had just looked straight into my soul.
We did not speak for at least a minute too flabbergasted by what we had just experienced. We then began cheering like children at the excitement of what we had witnessed. For me the Osprey signals power, grace and wisdom and each encounter for me is a treasured memory.
If there is one thing you do whilst visiting or living in Banff it should be to go canoeing on the Bow River and out to the Vermillion Lakes. It is almost guaranteed that if you look hard enough for that little white head it will be clear through the trees. Early mornings are the best for the Osprey, buy your ticket, strap yourself in and watch the best acrobatics show you will ever see!
Submitted by Katie Mee