New Year's Day Roadkill on the highway from Vernon

New Year's Day Roadkill on the highway from Vernon

Roadkill is usually defined as animals hit and killed by cars and left dead on the road or highway. 

On my drive today from Vernon BC, on my way back home to Vancouver, I was amazed at the unusual road kill today.  We expected New Year's Day to be heavy with traffic – but did not expect the sights that we saw.

MJokinen-Snow Shoeing (Goshawk).jpg (165160 bytes)
Goshawk eating a winter white rabbit – picture from www.albertadirectory.net
 
There was a hawk on Hwy 97, alongside Kalamalka Lake.  Very unusual to see a hawk as roadkill.  The outstretched wing was large – too large for a raven.  Hopefully it wasn't one of the eagles that I had seen partaking in a mating ritual earlier in the week.  This past week I had also seen a goshawk, recognizing it immediately because of its speckled plummage.  But this roadkill hawk had brown feathers.  It could have been a red tailed hawk or even an eagle.  This raptor had  probably been scavenging on some rat, squirrel or racoon that was already roadkill.  It was probably so happy having fresh food that it didn't see the oncoming car.  Bye-bye Mr. Hawk.

My second thought was to grab some of the feathers for my friend Suzi, a wildlife biolgist.  Suzi collects roadkill.  It's actually her nickname.  Fresh roadkill can actually be eaten.  It's usually a healthy animal, and hopefully free of disease.

My next thought was to take a picture of it.  Very unusal to see a large raptor bird as roadkill.

The weather grew blustery as we were leaving Kelowna and Westbank.  As we climbed the Okanagan Connector  Hwy 97C, heading west, the snow was falling heavily.  The snow plow was out.  Cars drove carefully, as only the right line was cleared to the asphalt.  Flashing lights greeted us up ahead.  A white sedan had spun out of control and was now facing backwards against the snowbank beside the road.  Definitely a reminder for safe driving.

Heading south from Merrit BC, down the Coquihalla Hwy, the snowbanks were tall on the mountain road, about 3 feet high.  The trees were covered with snow like frosted icing on cakes.  A shiny red pick-up truck was turned upside down.  Maybe it was somebody's new Christmas present, and they went too fast on the icy snow covered road. 

The driving conditions got worse as we passed the Coquihalla toll booths.  Icky slushy brown snow on the road.  It was raining heavily by the time we got to the snow sheds.  The windshield wipers couldn't go fast enough to clear all the rain. 

Just past Hope, Chilliwack was still 10 km aways… And the traffic slowed down to a crawl.  We were expecting a busy New Year's Day traffic rush back to Vancouver – but not this far up the Fraser Valley.  Uh oh… flashing lights up ahead.   A Police car  was parked by the side of the road.  Just past it, were the charred remains of a small 4-door sedan.  It looked like a VW Jetta.  The car hood was open.  Steam was rising from the car.  It was all one colour – charcoal grey.  Not a good way to start off the new year.  And again, we had driven by too fast for me to grab the camera.


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