Moose, Elk, Sheep and Deer

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On the evening we went on the Discover Jasper Wildife tour with Sundog, someone so wanted to see a moose. She must have manifested it, because while driving we found this moose and calf just off the road.

Saw Mom first, then the calf.
If one has motion blur then the other does not. Can’t win.
Not a moose, but a Bull Elk we happened upon. actually they were three of them. See the antlers just above the neck? His rack was easily five feet across.
Two Bull Elks
Mule Deer in the woods
Young Rocky Mountain Sheep living precariously
Hoary Marmots hang out on the rocks just before Medicine Lake. they remind me of the two old men at the theatre on sesame Street. It is hard to say who is watching whom.

I no longer have Covid, but even doing a few photos is tiring. It will be a while before I am back to normal, but it does feel good to feel better.

An Adorable Bear Family

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We hit the jackpot on the evening Discover Jasper Wildlife tour. I went with Sundog Tours and our driver knew where to find the animals. We got off the bus a couple of times to take photos of scenery and each other, and hear from our well-informed driver the history of the park but never when there was wildlife in close proximity. We observed wildlife from the safety of the bus.

We were lucky to observe a Momma Black Bear and her two cubs. Momma was focused on eating while the cubs cavorted around the grass close by. It looks like she needs to gorge herself in order to get enough fat on her body to sleep through the winter.

Our presence on the bus did not bother the bears one bit, so we got to watch them a long time. Sometimes she would tear a strip off a log and show one or the other youngsters how to take advantage and get some good treats. I took lots of photos.

Mom finding bugs and sap on logs while the cubs cavort just like human toddlers.
That little patch of brown to the right of the cub is the other cub.
I believe there is some teaching going on here.
Always time to explore between bites.
The family eating together. A modeling moment.
This experience taught me how easily it would be to run into a bear in the woods. they are usually obscured by bush and grass, so remember to make some noise and avoid surprises.
Lots of exploring to do.

Floating on the Athabasca

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I so enjoyed seeing Jasper National Park from the perspective of the Athabasca river courtesy of Jasper Raft Tours. Not a whitewater trip, but a float, which allowed me to bring my camera as well as a bag for when we hit small rapids and got some splashes.

One person does the navigating on these trips and while we go along for the ride. Brad was our guide.
We start north of Athabasca Falls and get get out at Old Fort Point. there is Mount Edith Cavell in the distance.
A bit of rocking and rolling with the water that was actually soothing to the back. It was nice to see Canada Geese in their natural habitat.
Whistler Mountain with the Gondola ride
Maneuvering under bridges-how did the graffiti get there?
Some wet bums and happy faces here! Lots of squeals and laughter!
Love the rocks here at Old Fort Point
The photographer on the bridge lining up our group shot as we pass under the Old Fort Point bridge. We will dock on the other side of the bridge. The photographer develops the photos in the back of the van and they are ready almost immediately.

One of the Highlights

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On the Maligne Valley Tour, just barely started, our guide Samuel stopped the bus so we could all observe this king of bears, the Grizzly.

Hard to get a good shot as he was moving through grass, shrubs and trees.
A better shot as he moves into the open

No energy right now, I caught Covid on the trip. Total fatigue and mostly sleeping.

Time for a Get-a-way

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I have been lucky the past two years and taken a mini vacation in my own province for three to five days each. I have surgery this fall, September or October, and will be laid up for a bit, so it became very important to get away again this summer and I spontaneously responded to an e-mail ad from VIA Rail and booked a train to Jasper. Guess what! I missed the train-got mixed up on day and time-imagine my shock and dismay! Re-booked another train and now I have it clear in my head that I go to the station tonight, Friday and board the train at 00:01 Saturday morning. The ticket agent was very kind and accommodating and I was not charged any fees for the re-booking. I cancelled the return trip because I still wanted 5 nights away and managed to book a shuttle home with Sundog Tours next Thursday. I had to change to two hostels, instead of one, but did get accommodation! That is a near-impossible feat in high season in Jasper.

Young Rocky Mountain Sheep

I do not have a car and it was too late to book one, so I signed up for three tours, two of which I had to change days due to missing the train. One tour company will pick me up at my accommodation and the other one will meet me downtown, not far away.

Destination Spirit Island

All photos in this post are from 10 years ago, let’s see what I come up with this year. Packed batteries, charger and an extra SD card. More to be revealed.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

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The difference between a watch and a warning, is that a watch is a “possibility” of severe thunderstorms with a “possibility” of heavy rain, hail, and even tornadoes. A warning means it is coming and that you should take cover. Tonight and last night we had notifications of a severe weather watch. In the middle of the province the land structure seems to lend itself to wild weather and further south, in Calgary, they get more hail than anywhere in the world. The weather people even sow the clouds to reduce the size of hail from tennis ball size to smaller than golf balls. It still can cause millions of dollars in damage.

The town of Sundre did get a tornado last night and there were reports of funnel clouds and touch-downs in a couple of places further south. It is that time of year when we get severe thunderstorms and I am going to share some photos that I took after looking outside my window last night that made me take notice starting around 8 p.m. and clearing after 10 p.m.

The clouds moved in quickly and got lower You can see the old red and white airport tower just right of center..
Very dark now. Lightning and pouring rain. The white mark in the middle in the sun starting to sink into the horizon in the west.
Clouds are moving and lowering with some light still in the sky. Do I detect a greenish tinge? Not good.
Looking north the clouds are going east and the airport tower is one the left side.
Now it is pouring rain in the north as the clouds head downtown..
The contrast between clearer sky and dark clouds moving further east toward downtown.
Now it is raining where I am and just grey.
This is when I thought it might hail, it was pouring so hard. The window on the left side of picture is coated with running water.
Lightening up but still raining heavily and downtown buildings are starting to be swallowed up.
Looking north the end of the clouds as blue sky is revealed again with some great lighting..
There are still some dramatic effects but the storm is over.

Outing to Peaceful Valley

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The building that I live in sponsored a day trip to Peaceful Valley Guest lodge. The lodge overlooks a beautiful valley which the Battle River snakes through, southwest of Edmonton and is for day use only and exclusively for groups of seniors and/or disabled people. It is owned by Parks Alberta and first bought by a senior couple who left it for other seniors to use. You must book ahead to come here.

It was a great trip on the private bus from which we saw huge ominous-looking thunderheads but we evaded a real rain other than spitting a couple of times. While there, we had a BBQ.

As soon as we arrived, some went inside the lodge to chat and visit while a few of us went outdoors to explore and go birding.

Peaceful Valley
Peaceful Valley and the meandering Battle River
taken from the top
another view of the valley
The day lodge with outside porches where the burgers were cooked. To the left overlooking the valley are rows of bird feeders that were well visited much to my delight.
It is the time of year when the Wild Rose is in bloom, the provincial flower of Alberta
Field of Hawkweed (invasive species) and Buttercups
Bumblebee with swollen pollen sacs feeding on a wild Vetch flower.
Two male Red-winged Blackbirds feeding while a female Red-breasted Grosbeak awaits her turn
Female Red-breasted Grosbeak with a view from her high perch
Here is the female red-winged blackbird
A family of Blue Jays just down the hill from where I was standing
Hairy Woodpecker
Very pretty birdfeeders and bird houses , this one with a visiting female Red-breasted Grosbeak
Bird House
Another pretty birdhouse

I heard and saw some American Gold Finch, White-throated Sparrows and a Common Shrike but could not focus on them. Great Grey Owls and Red-tailed Hawks have been spotted here, as well.

One of many benches to rest on
Had to include this visitor to the feeders, this red Squirrel looks used to posing for the camera.

The caretakers, who are volunteers, give free tours on a large golf cart on the loop around the property, stopping to explain a species of plant, or catch a view, which I also went on shortly before we departed for the return trip home. That was a day to remember, my favourite outing!

A-aw-w-w…

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I missed these the other day, but discovered them last night. According to another concernd birder, they have been at the pond for 5 days. So cute! There was no sign of Momma last night, so I worry about their survival. This other woman was circling the pond, guarding the ducklings, chasing off any potential predators. I do hope that they haven’ t been abandoned. There were 7 at last count, with a couple already being picked off by magpies and dogs.

It’s a big world out there for such a small youngster.
Such independent creatures, these Goldeneyes.
My friend called these “Baby Bobber Birds” because they jump up and dive, then pop back up to the water’s surface like a fishing bobber.
Making a Dive

New Neighbours

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I like going to the pond, it is only 2 blocks away. I discovered a new pair of ducks there, apart from the Mallards, These Lesser Scaups come regularly but I do not think that they are nesting here. Like me , they like to “hang out” once in a while. I have also seen a pair of American Wigeons, but only once.

Here is the Lesser Scaup Drake
The pair were sleeping on the water then woke and the drake spent time preening.
Here is the Lesser Scaup Hen, showing her blue bill during mating season. she stayed by the edge of the reeds while the drake was swimming around.
Here they are swimming the pond together.

The resident Red-winged blackbirds are still here. the male has his perches around the pond, keeping guard. The young ones must have hatched by now or close to it.

Male Red-winged Blackbird on one of his frequent perches
The female has a different call, maybe notifying the male, and flies low to different spots, perhaps to distract intruders from the nest and to feed. I was happy to capture this shot.

I have seen a pair of Mallards here too, but no recent pictures. When I was driving by with a friend one day, we saw them on the sidewalk beside the road. There are visits by the bachelor boys too.

Now that I have my mind on them as I write this post, I may meander over to the park to see who is there.

Sunrise/Sunset

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I know we have passed the mark of the longest day of the year, when we got 17 hours of daylight, but there are still some glorious sunrises and sunsets to be seen. I can’t believe I wake up this early, but even before the light hits the drapes, I am savouring the sounds of first, the Robins, then the Gulls and finally the Crows, reminding myself that they will not be here for much longer, and I will miss them when they are gone. The orange glow on my drapes inspires me to get up, find my camera and take photos of the sky. Then I have a choice whether to stay up or go back to cuddle under the covers.

First, the sunrises:

Sun rising in the northeast
Same sky, a few minutes later
Raised my camera to catch the light through the clouds
Same morning same time, looking toward downtown Edmonton. there is lots of building going on.
Taken this morning, that is the Commonwealth Stadium on the horizon on the right

And now for the sunsets…

Earlier this month, looking northwest
Looking west just after sunset. I really appreciate my bay windows so I can get such a wide view of northeast, north and northwest.
Same night one week ago
Same night , one week ago.
one minute later! looking north
A few minutes later looking west and higher up

It is not hard to become a sky watcher when there are so many amazing displays to see. I can’t believe that I am up so early in the morning, but the glow on the drapes is irresistible- I must get up and see what is going on outside. Hope you enjoyed these images.

Clouds

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I have been singing Joni Mitchell’s song of the same name ever since I started focusing on the photos for this post. I got busier than usual over the weekend and am just now finishing my edits. All my friends have been saying that they love the big puffy clouds at this time of year whether it is a sunny day, or a menacing-looking prelude to a storm. I agree.

My favourite image was one of huge towering clouds down the street with sunlit edges lit from behind- absolutely stunning! I can still see it in my mind but I didn’t have my camera with me.

Here are images that I did manage to record:

The big puffy clouds most of us think of when it comes to the warmer weather.
I love all the layers with the sun rays shining through
Usually clouds are part of a composition but I also like when they are the main subject.
A typical day at this time of year with mixed sun and cloud. Makes the world below look small in comparison.
I like seeing the rain come down. We got a good drenching from this one.
Different shapes and types all mixed together.
Clouds can make a sunset. Here the whole sky is lit up with reflections of the sunset.
This is taken the same time, looking west. The sun set at 10:04 p.m. this image was taken at 10:13 p.m.
This was taken just before 11p.m. and there is still light. Sun rises at 5:04 a.m. and doesn’t get too dark all night long.

Hope you enjoyed my few photos. Maybe you saw certain shapes in the clouds. Enjoy your day.

First Ducks and Songbirds this Season

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I went with friends to a nature Sanctuary outside of Edmonton a week ago and thought I had written about it, but only in my mind. Sometimes this place is so dry that the ground is cracked but this year brought healthy rainfall and the waterfowl with it. So good to see because south and west of us some bush fires have started.

Saw my first pair of Ruddy Ducks plus sighted two other males.

Ruddy Duck-Drake
Female Ruddy Duck
Happy to see this pair of Ring-necked Ducks
Profile of the ring-necked Drake
Profile of the Ring-necked Hen
There were a few American Coots around the lake but no hatchlings yet.
A few Red-winged blackbirds and the first time in a few years, a Yellow-headed Blackbird
We stopped for a bite to eat on the water and a pair of Mallards jumped up beside us to preen and maybe score a hand-out. but we didn’t oblige.

As we were leaving, I spotted a Pied -billed Grebe and got this shot. Gorgeous colour on the bill.

Pied-billed grebe.

I also spotted Black-capped Chickadees, White-throated Sparrows, Ring-billed Gulls, Black Terns, Lesser scaups, Buffleheads, Brown-headed Cowbird and Aspen Flycatcher. Going out tomorrow with some friends to look at birds on a storm-fill lake in the city, will share the results soon.

Better Late than Never: Beautiful Blooms

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I have been waiting for the Crab Apple trees to bloom and they are about a week to a week-and a-half later than usual but did not disappoint. When I took these photos they were at their peak and will last a week or two if the showers and breezes don’t blow the blossoms off.

I went to my favourite promenade where the trees line the street. There were a few extra traffic signs to contend with and a few walkers coming into the photo at the wrong time. Don’t get me wrong, I like people in the image, but preferably at a distance and there were some that were walking up and down the promenade and appeared a few times in my images. I have dropped my camera a couple of times due to arthritis in wrist and thumbs and don’t know if that is the reason , or what, but my camera mode settings change on their own without warning, for instance, switch from aperture priority to shutter priority. As well, I am sometimes playing with a different lens Canon EOS 10-22mm so never know how sharp or over/under exposed an image will be. Sigh. thank goodness it is digital and I can try again (learning is fun!) though it may be time to buy a new camera (and harness).

But this is about the blossoms, right? I hope you enjoy the following:

At their peak and lovely to look at and smell
Victoria Promenade, Edmonton Alberta
From the other side of the street
Close-up with some still in bud
No luck cloning out the traffic signs so just let them stay.
Close-up of the red blooms
It is a favourite for walkers and browsers
Like the shots with Curves-endless benches to sit on and read or people-watch. It sure smells nice.
Another shot of the white blossoms

One bush that didn’t do well this year is the Double-flowering plum. There were hardly any florals there, but I zoomed in on a couple.

Double-flowering Plum Blossoms
Double-flowering Plum
Similar to, but not Lilacs

It is time for me to get away from the computer and enjoy the outdoors, wish you a great day.

The Blooms are Coming

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I love this time of the year, when the spring Season shows its best. It got cold for a couple of days then rain for a whole day since my last post and now it is looking so pretty!

Soon to be pink blossoms
A row of white -blossomed trees and a row of pink. It is fun to check every few days to see their growth.
They look so fresh-of course, they are!
Yes, it is beautiful!

First Blush

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I went to the promenade to see if the blossoms are out. Not yet, they are just peaking out of their buds. The tree leaves are coming out in that first blush of spring green, chartreuce. It is new life, and it gives me a boost after the dullness of the in-between season. I don’t want to rush Spring, no, I prefer to savour every minute, because it passes so quickly, though I am a bit of a hypocrite, because I am guessing ahead when the blossoms will be out. I am thinking another half-week to a week, especially after the rain showers we got yesterday.

For now, this is what it looks like:

The leaves are out on this flowering crabapple tree!
Tulips are one of my favourite flowers and are in bloom in many gardens and flower beds.
First Blush of Spring green in the golf course in the river valley. I like the mix of the coniferous and deciduous hues.
Maybe a cricket game is getting started in the field below.
Not all the poplars are leafing yet but it gives me a chance to focus on the bark and limbs.
the Promenade, with it’s rows of trees.
Taking a closer look, the blossoms are barely peaking out.
The Double-flowering Plum bushes are starting. Hope that web doesn’t take over the growth .
another white flower starting its debut.
A black-billed Magpie, showing off its breeding colours. They started working on their huge nests weeks ago.

These images portray all that I love about Spring, the fresh air, the smell of the green and woods, the song of the birds, It inspires me to get outdoors and walk. I will return in a half week to record the changes.

Reflections on the Local Pond

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My friend and neighbour informed me that city workers were filling the local pond with water, and that “some randy ducks were busy chasing a hen”. I went later in the afternoon and discovered it was peaceful and one Mallard pair remained. I could smell the water before I got there, and enjoyed the ripples, the reflections, and the sound of the water rippling from the fountains and down the path. This is such a pretty restful spot.

Leaves emerging after an afternoon shower
Last year’s Cat tails line the ponds, with new growth starting.
Reflections and ripples
A magpie came to strut and drink
The vertical rectangular object at the right edge is a fountain and the water flows from there to the pond. a perfect respite from the clutter of the surrounding high rises.
Looking through the reeds at a Mallard Drake caught in the afternoon light

It was quiet with three other people but later in the season it will be packed with families , their dogs and music from passing musicians. This is why it is my favourite time of year.

Government Hill Park

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Went here with a friend on Sunday and enjoyed the views from the top of the hill and even spotted a Robin and a Blue Jay.

One entrance of government House

This is where the Government House stands. It is called Government House because this is where Alberta  Lieutenant Governors lived in the past. The house is now used for conferences, award ceremonies, receptions and special events hosted by the Lieutenant Governor. I saw Her Royal Majesty, Queen Elizabeth on these grounds a decade ago and the Lieutenant Govenor has had a greeting time with the public around Christmas or New Year’s. The grounds are a favourite place for wedding photography.

Entrance that opens to the gardens. Behind is the old Alberta Museum.
Right below is Groat Road with access to Oliver Area via 116 St. up the other side of the hill
A totem Pole carved by hereditary chief of the KwaGulth people of the Northwest Coast
there is a Pagoda on the grounds, a gift from our twin province of Harbin, in China.
Detail of corner and roof.

With all due respect, my favourite sighting was this Blue Jay in full breeding plumage with Cerulean blue Secondary feathers and bushy eyebrows!

Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Pileated Paradise

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I struck a gold mine about two weeks ago when I went to my favourite park in the city, Hawrelak Park. there is a plethora of bird species here, but this day as my friend walked to the bridge and back and I walked to the small lake, I heard the laughing sound of Pileated Woodpeckers on both sides of me, then almost immediately saw a pair in the trees beside me, slowly approaching each other, then mating. That is a first for me.

It is consensual, The female has lowered her front end close to the branch as the male gets closer.
He mounted her, then was flapping his wings for a couple of seconds.
After copulation they separated and both preened themselves before flying to the ground.
The male flew to a nearby tree. i was happy to get this shot because most of my images are of females.
Here is the female in the woods before both flew a short distance to a clearing just a few feet away.
A minute later they are both on the ground, feeding.

I had the joy of a leisurely half-hour of watching them feed on the ground, look up at intruders (another one of a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers that were feeding on the ground about 50 feet away. I just sat down on my walker and observed and shot away. It was wonderful!

I thought this was the original pair, but now it is two females, both looking up while another one(the male?) is flying into the tree above them.
Now the male is chasing away the intruding female. Poor photo with motion blur but I wanted to record the behaviour.
After the chase, they continued to feed, a short distance apart from each other, and keep an eye out. The male has a red moustache and a larger top knot that starts behind the bill.
The pair sticking together, on their guard. You can see the difference in the markings here. Male with the larger top-knot that starts behind the bill and a red moustache, and the female with a black moustache and smaller top-knot. Tricky high-contrast lighting.
that other female was hanging around still, What you can’t see is fifty yards down the trail is the partner of the intruder feeding at the edge of the woods.
Soon both pairs were separate, eating with their partner, but still on guard.
I was not an issue to them, as they were fighting for their territory, but I did leave so they could be in peace. One of my most exciting times with the Pileated Woodpeckers!

Strathcona Wilderness Center

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This center east of Edmonton has a small lodge for people to stay over night and there are quite a few trails to walk on in the warm weather and ski cross-country in the winter. I came here with two other friends recently, it has taken me some time to download the pictures and edit them, so I am sorry to keep you waiting.

We walked on the wagon loop beside the lake and saw a couple of Wood frogs getting back to the water. They crawl into the ground and go into a very deep hibernation for the winter, slowing their breathing and heartbeat to almost nil, then come up out of the ground in the spring. Some years the ground is just crawling with them. I like the blue outlines around their eyes. they are about 2 inches in length. I used to think I was hearing ducks , but it is actually the wood frogs croaking.

Wood Frog
American Robin gathering grass for its nest

There is a small lake that dries up some years, so it was good to see a lot of water. Motors are not allowed but there are canoes here.

This is an eared grebe because it has a black neck and back. Couldn’t get any closer, but did see a small nest floating in the water that the pair were still working on.

Pair of Eared Grebes making nest together.
Fungi on a birch-bark trunk
I like how the light filters through the bark of this tree.
My first butterfly, I suspect a type of Fritillary on a Quaking, or Trembling Aspen.. I was surprised to see a butterfly so early.
Interesting dead tree with sapsucker holes and human graffiti. Must we do this?
This is me, posing behind the “Canadian-Plaid” Adirondack Chairs

That was a pleasant walk, with long sit-breaks to feel the sun on our backs and faces, smell the aspens and the earth.

I’m a Rock Girl

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I have always liked rocks, their textures, colours, often bringing them home from travels in my very heavy suitcases. In later years in reverence to their spiritual value and location, I would return them to where they came from. Now I take photos of them and leave them be, for the most part. I admit to slipping a pebble or two into my pocket every once in a while.

At the retreat that I went to a couple of weeks ago, I paid attention to the boulders so here are photos I took of them:

Nice mix , I am guessing, of granite and quartz.
Lines, textures and lichen
Spruce on the Rocks
Blue and Red with a touch of Yellow

That is all, these rocks, boulders actually, stood out to me the most. Have a great week. It is finally feeling and looking like Spring.

Trees and Their Textures

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There were lots of different trees at the Retreat Center and I was inspired to focus on the textures of parts of them as I walked along the winding paths sometimes stopping to sit on one of the many benches and just be still. Sometimes I felt inspired to sing- so not always a silent retreat.

I loved these trees with the split bark and lichens. They make great subjects for photography , but does this mean they are thriving or dying?
Fungi growing in a broken stump of a tree.
A bench to sit on at another time. I like the changing colour in the branches as the sap starts to flow. Didn’t see the Robin until after I took the picture.
This one looks more dead than alive, but leaves a great impression. Oh, the stories you could tell…
Lichen -covered Bark
Pine Bark
Broken but not Beaten – Massive poplar, I think. I did sit on this bench and marvelled at the thickness and texture of the trunk

I like trees so much. I like that the benches are nearby so you have the option to stop , be still and reflect on what tough beings these are, surviving damage by people, lightning, animals and the like. how they can house birds, squirrels and even people. They draw water to their roots and even draw water to a neighbouring tree’s roots. They give us shade on a hot day and protect us from the wind and pass oxygen into the environment. Worthy of great respect.

A Retreat During Holy Week

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I decided to come on a personal retreat at Providence Renewal Center in the south side of the city for a few days during Holy Week and oh, it did me so much good. I spent a lot of time in silence but admittedly broke it to ask questions or share something I had seen. I have come here many times but have not been here in some time due to Covid, so I had a feeling of ”coming home”. Because some restrictions are being observed, I would pick my meals up in the cafeteria , then take them to my room, so had a lot of time to contemplate, and pray. I also had access to the library, chapel, lounge areas, kitchenettes with coffee and tea and the grounds outside.

It was cool and breezy the first day so mostly stayed inside but later I did take the time to walk around the spacious grounds and commune with nature. I took my camera with me and saw a few birds mostly in pairs , and enjoyed the textures of the trees and rocks in various settings throughout the grounds. I also walked the outdoor labyrinth, so it was a wholesome time for me. Here I will focus on the birds and the Alberta Hare. Do you think he could be the Easter Bunny?

First bird that I saw was the black-billed Magpie, such a handsome fellow with all his new colourful feathers..
I saw one of a pair of Crows flying with a stick in its mouth to build a nest. These two carried on quite a conversation in the trees. See the buds breaking out.
One stayed in the poplar while the other stayed in the pines, I did not see a nest but knew it was somewhere and did not want to be too intrusive.
Saw a pair of Downy woodpeckers, though they kept flying ahead and they were hard to capture.
Wherever I walked , they would go ahead of me.
There were a pair of robins and like the others they would mostly keep ahead of me.
Here is a Red Squirrel starting to change colour. It chattered at anyone who came remotely close.
Another one changing colour is this Alberta Hare , also known as a White-tailed Jackrabbit.
He looks a little miffed. Time to back off and give him some space, though took this from a distance, then cropped the image. The eyes give me an uneasy feeling because the irises are opaque.

I saw these critters every walk I took. Next post I will share the textures of the trees on the grounds. So many textures!

April Weather in Alberta

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We have had all two seasons this month, see-sawing back and forth. Snow, then Spring, today I looked outside and saw big fat white flakes falling from the sky. I looked at the weather forecast and there is a snowfall warning posted with up to 10 cm of snow predicted. We shall see.

Mostly so far it is melting at this time, oh, no , starting to stick around, the rooftops are white.

April 19-snowfall warning. That rooftop is white now five minutes after I took this photo. good for the water table.

Here are other photos randomly taken this month.

A sunset earlier this month.
Last week the grass was showing with patches of snow still visible. At the same time you could see the sap was flowing and buds were appearing.

Newcomers to Canada observe that we talk about the weather a lot. That is because it changes so much, especially at this time of year. It has been chilly but next week we could be wearing shorts.

Next I will write the post that I originally intended to write, with photos from outdoor walks at a Retreat Center. I enjoyed communing with nature.

Geese and Ducks

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My favourite park for birds will be closing next spring for three years, for a total overhaul of the sewer system, trails and roadways. I plan to go there as much as possible this year. I went with a friend last week and stopped at a puddle where the geese come until it dries up and before all the snow leaves the lake. It was noisy as the pairs grabbed their territory and warned off other intruders.

One lone Canada Goose having a drink.
One of a few pair that stay at a puddle until the pond opens up.

From here we walked to the pavilion, and found a nice spot outside at a picnic table where we could take photos as well as have a game of Cribbage. Oh, I was rusty, but managed to get across the skunk line.

I did a little better with photos at the edge of the pond, where it was not fully unfrozen.

One of the Ring-billed gulls on the shore where there is a yard-wide circumference of open water around the pond. love their breeding colours.
a pair flying over the pond, they just do a running stop then will sit on the ice. We were still getting occasional snow flurries this week.
Always nice to see the Mallard Ducks back. despite this flooded area, where snow has melted, the land looks pretty dry in a lot of places.

This was the first day seeing birds, and there will be more to come. I look forward to that, and maybe I can even improve my crib game.

Flying Canoe Volant Festival

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I came here on Friday night with a fellow photographer to visit the festival that celebrates the cultures of French, Metis and First Nations peoples. It takes place at the Edmonton Ski Club where they have Canoe races down the hill(really!) and all along the Mill Creek Ravine with stops for Indigenous, Metis, French camps. The paths are lit up with lights and hundreds of people and dogs came to enjoy the outdoors. It was a joyful atmosphere.

We parked on the street and walked to the trail that leads down a hill to the Metis Camp in Mill Creek Ravine to start and wandered along the colourfully-lit trail that wove up the hill and down again. My camera is not so suitable for this dark, but I did the best that I could with a Canon Rebel XS and a 24-105mm lens. I brought down the highlights when I edited and that brought down the overall light. I envied my friend’s ability to capture great light with his top-of-the-line smart phone. I enjoyed being in the dark with all the people, music and fires to warm up to. There are people that go through the crowd dressed as French voyagers with canoes around their waist but I saw them out of the side of my eye and missed a shot. Here are some photos that I took during our 2.5 hour visit.

A beautifully-carved ice sculpture near the entrance to the camp
The Metis camp, rather dark but I loved it. I darkened the highlights to show off the light in the tipis and lost overall light. The lights in the distance up the hill is the trail we went on and is a stop with fire pits and crafts.
Love the lit-up tipis.
I was attracted to the texture of the snow on the tipi and how some of it had fallen away.
One of the drummers by the fire. There were a few men and women and they drummed and sang well.
Close-up of the snow-filled boats at the craft tent sponsored by ATB (Alberta Treasury Branch)
Lots of lanterns and colourful lights on the path that led uphill through the ravine.
Of course I had to take close-ups of the reflected light on the ground
A warm fire is always welcome on the trail and they were spaced out along the way. It was -6 to -10C and I was glad that I had my layers on.
Looking down through the trees at the Metis camp
There were series of lanterns along the trail. I think they are tin cans with nail holes.
Intricate attractive designs.
Coming down the hill from the upper trail back to the camp.

I had great doubts about going to this event because it had been snowing steadily and I was not sure how well I could travel through the snow with a walker, but thankfully the walkways had been somewhat cleared and trampled by the crowds.

I had my walking sticks with me but I never used them as there is no way I could have walked that far. I am glad I brought the walker so I could sit down when I needed to. The hardest part was walking back up the hill to the car and I took a few sitting breaks. I was grateful for a patient companion. I was very sore when I got home and a while the next day but am glad that I went, then went for a walk again which is featured in the previous post.

It sounds like I am all about fun and games (it is good stress relief) but I am not ignoring the plight of the people of the Ukraine. I am holding them in prayer and praying for all leaders. This whole situation saddens me greatly and I hope that people can hold out and find happiness, safety and peace again. I am sending money through my church because they will allocate funds wisely for relief. It seems like we are not doing enough, but I do understand that we are doing our best to help the people of Ukraine as well as avoid another World War. I just want to be part of the solution, not the problem.

Winter Makes a Come-Back

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Some of the people I have talked to or written to via this blog and theirs wished me warm days. I replied I was open to snow for the sake of the water table and to save us from forest fires that are starting weeks earlier than they used to. Well! We got snow!

I went out yesterday afternoon to capture images of the white world. It sure looks cleaner than the days of brown slush, but that is making it’s way back, judging from the the brown puddles accumulating inside my front doorway.

There is a surprise for me, which I will share with you at the end of this post, something that gave me great joy!

We had some snowfall,, but with temperatures rising, it will melt fairly quickly. I walked around the neighbourhood and got some shots that I am pretty pleased with.
the resting place at the corner church. I see someone made a spot for their self to sit on.
I found this before the dogs did.
Fence post with a starburst of light and snow just barely hanging on to the rails.


Snow-capped bunches of Mountain Ash Berries
My favourite shot as the light and untouched snow were working to my advantage.
A close-up of snow on the ground. You can see some of the individual patterns of the flakes.
Trees and benches in the park behind the church.
An arc of elms lining the street

At the beginning of the post I mentioned a surprise. During my walk I heard a familiar sound, but not one that I have heard recently. I stopped and listened carefully. I heard some scolding and a song as well. I followed my ears and this is my first Robin for this year. So exciting!

My first Robin siting! A little early, but delighted to see them, There was a small flock of eight, with the females barely having any colour and looking quite patchy.
A little closer but only had my lens of 105mm. the males are looking handsome with their bright colours.

Here I am, taking pictures of snow scenes and I spot my first Robin. Not just one, but eight! Usually I spot my first Robin closer to late March or early April after hearing them occasionally for a couple of weeks. Maybe it is a good year for birding. This day is a good incentive for more walks, taking my longer lens next time.

The Everyday Things

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I forgot to post these photos and just getting to it now. The outdoor temperature has been up and down like a yoyo, and this walk was spring-like with old snow and things peaking up from the melt. The air smelled good and brought to mind thoughts of Spring, but I know better than to think that far ahead. I try to enjoy the moment and record the little surprises that I see.

A view of downtown from the promenade
There are buds appearing early and I wonder how they manage to survive the deep freezes that are sure to come.
I love to walk on this type of ice to hear the “crunch”. I like the textures and shapes in the photo.
I like how the snow and ice seem to “pull away” from the rocks. and how the grass stems poke through. On second thought, should I removed the grass-is it a distraction?
A larger rock emerges from the snow
Someone wasn’t cleaning up. I laughed as I pictured a pooch backing up to make a perfectly-placed poop.
Shapes and Textures
Strong shadows in the golf course below me

I did not take a lot of photos this day. I have been indoors most of the time, but will get out today for a coffee with a friend that I haven’t seen in a while. I attended a couple of zoom meetings with the camera club, one hosted Mike Grandmaison, another hosted Freeman Patterson who talked about his process and then showed some of his photos-I am inspired!

Happy shooting!

Ice on Whyte

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This is a annual festival showcasing ice sculptures off of Whyte Avenue on the south side of the river that runs through the capital city of Edmonton. Vaccination passports were required, as well as masks. I went with 3 friends and we enjoyed the camaraderie of spending time together and seeing the artwork. This festival of Ice is small this year with artists from across Canada but who knows, maybe we will get back to international scale next year. Regardless, I enjoyed the ice and snow sculptures.

View from across the street looks inviting.
I think I enjoy anything with coloured lights.

A gargoyle? near the beginning of a trail that wound through the park.
I think this is a bear family.
The title was something to do with saying good-bye to Covid. I’m all for that!
This is a statue of the Pegasus, who is…
greeting the Griffen
Tried to get a more distant view of the two figures.
A nod to the Olympics
A cartoon-like figure at the Olympics
The trees in the park were lit up, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Detail of one of the sculptures

There was a hot-dog stand in the park and a tent where people could chip some small blocks of ice to make their own creations.

Deep Freeze: Byzantine Fete

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I went with two friends to an outdoor festival in Edmonton on Sunday afternoon just before it got dark and stayed for 3 hours. The Deep Freeze Byzantine Winter Fête runs for ten days and brings ice sculptures, cuisine, lanterns, light installations, live music, and workshops to celebrate Edmonton winters and Ukrainian, French Canadian, Inuit, Métis, and Indigenous cultures. I have heard of it before but this is the first time that I attended. This festival was shut down for three days after we went there due to extreme weather so our timing was very good for us. The paper exhibits had to be covered to protect them from winds, snow and rain, but will open again tomorrow. We saw only a small part of this festival but it was fulfilling. We walked along the trails in Borden Park amongst many exhibits lit by coloured lights. It was good to spend time outdoors with friends, and keep safe by wearing masks and spreading out. There is entertainment, workshops and food along 118 Avenue a few blocks away but this was plenty for us.

Fire pits were lit for people to get warm and even saw one family roasting marshmallows.
A nicely sculpted Mastodon
Very popular with both children and adults with a projector and a large sheet so people could create images with their shadows
Volunteers lighting candles for the lanterns that lined the paths through this park.
Looked like a jumpy castle lit up from within.
The back -side of an exhibit of northern lights and stars. You can see people in the gazebo on the right, where stories were being told through an amplified speaker.
We were trying to figure our the identity of this sculpture until a well-knowing parent informed us that it is “Olaf” from “Frozen”.
A permanent metal sculpture in the park named “Vaulted Willow”, lit by changing-colour lights for the festival. My favourite!
Closer study of the large metal sculpture with lights underneath.
At first I resisted travelling down that path due to deeper snow, but just could not resist the lure of those colours and shapes.
A giant moth or Butterfly.
Close-up of some of the lanterns
So pretty once it got darker with lights reflecting on the snow. I took this imaged on the return to the parking lot.

What a joy to have a festival during a pandemic! People were requested to socially distance and wear masks. It turned out to be one of the warmest days in a true deep freeze and was free with free parking. It was great to spend time with two friends after being so isolated so long, Though the pandemic is not over, it was a welcome reprieve.

First Photos of 2022

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I said I was going to go out for a walk, but didn’t actually do it until late afternoon. It was beautiful. Much warmer and dressed for the weather. the snow was falling and I went by a park and two churches.

This Anglican church is not far away, and has a lovely large yard, a great place for outdoor concerts and just relaxing on the benches.
I liked how these blobs of snow perched on the upper branches of the hedge.
I did not want to miss the snow on the trees. No worries, it was snowing when I went out. about 6:15 p.m.
A small entrance to a neighbourhood park via a driveway where the snow is piled high.
You can see the snow in the lights but just streaks here.
Looking across the now-empty pond with apartments in the distance.

After being cooped up so much last week, it was a joy to get outside. I will buy some extra clothing before the temperature drops again in a couple of days. glad to wear my spikes on my new boots, which fit perfectly and kept me upright!

Oh, it’s Cold! and Happy New Year!

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The past couple of weeks have been cold but this week is breaking records, Highs in the -20 and 30’s and lows at night are -45 to -55 with wind chill. I would love to bring you some photos from the wonderful outdoors, but in the past week or two I only went out for Christmas dinner and to put out the recycling. It has been a week since I stepped outdoors. It will be much warmer tomorrow, so hopefully I will get out and get some photos of the snow.

I did take photos from my window, so here they are:

When the smoke goes horizontal you know it is very cold. Nice and sunny , though! Not all windows are frosted.
The frost on my window the other night was catching the sparkle from the outside lights. I grabbed the camera, but not the tripod. The best I could get without UCM.
Frost on the window in morning.
Another part of the window
New Year’s Eve 2019 at Alberta legislative grounds

Since activities are at a minimum due to the Omicron variant, I went back to photos from New Year celebrations two years ago. Word from Alberta Health is that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg but the numbers are doubling every couple of days. More are getting sick but not as sick and we are just trying to ease the load on the healthcare system, because our first responders and those most at risk are getting sick too.

I will stay at home tonight and ring in the new year with Rick Mercer on TV and hopefully go outside tomorrow.

Have a Happy New Year, everyone!

Black and White with a Touch of Red

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That is what I have seen, sometimes recently, sometimes in the past, with a little red to brighten things up.

Female Piliated Woodpecker- black moustache, and the red starts at the top of the head rather than the bill.
Pileated Woodpecker-Male-Red starting just behind bill and red moustache.
Downy Woodpecker, male.
Downy Woodpecker, female both downies have spots on their tail feathers
Hairy woodpecker, female, no spots on tail feathers
Hairy Woodpecker, Male longer bill than Downy and red at back of head
Red-breasted Nuthatch
I do believe that this is a type of apple tree with cherry -sized apples because there are no pits inside the fruit.

If I don’t post soon, do have a Merry Christmas everyone and celebrate the return of light as we pass into winter. The omicron variant virus is becoming dominate, and doubling every couple of days, so stay safe, mask up with proper masks, keep your distance and wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and use hand sanitizer. Most importantly, count your blessings and please be kind to one another.

A Visit to My Favourite Park

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When I was house-sitting, I had access to a car and used it to drive to Hawrelak Park, an urban park just south of the river where the Heritage festival is held in the summer and the World Triathalon, concerts by the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra and the Blues Festival amongst other events. It has great x-country ski trails , picnic areas and I love it for the birds and trees.

It was a quiet sunny day last time I was here, with a good fall of snow. Let me show you:

One of the x-country ski trails that goes all around the park and leads to other parks along the river.
It may be a cherry tree or an apple, but It is my favourite tree. I have taken photos of it in every season for decades. It is the lines of the branches that first caught my attention.
Same tree from a different angle. I often wonder how long it will last with the split in the trunk.

Once I was taking a photo of this tree and a person stopped to asked me what I was taking a picture of . I told her it was the tree and how I liked the lines of the branches. She looked for a moment, then said, “Thank-you. I never noticed that before.” Her statement gave me great satisfaction. It is very gratifying to see things, as well as bring objects or birds to another person’s attention.

One of many views of the same tree.

On another day I met a friend at the park and we walked her dog along the trail. I heard a call, looked for the location of the sound and saw this female Pileated Woodpecker.

Female Pileated Woodpecker
This Black-capped Chickadee briefly stopped on the way to one of the bird feeders.
Also saw a pair of Downy Woodpeckers at the feeders. This is the female. I was shooting through branches which partially obscured my view, thus it is out of focus.
On another day, I saw this coyote coming back from the lake, walked in front of a couple about 30 feet away, then eyed this fence where it crossed into the golf course.

It was great to make a few visits to the park that week and check up on the residents there. It is my favourite place to go to, I heard the city is closing it for 3 years, which will be a huge loss, but that won’t happen until spring of 2023 so I have some time to enjoy it. But really, spring! What a time to close a park!

I will share more photos from the park in my next post.

A Surprise Visitor

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I will have to check on my next count to see if someone is missing. My neighbours called and said there was a raptor in the tree in the back yard. I got a couple of shots-poor quality due to lack of light, but it may be either a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Cooper’s. Unfortunately I cannot upload so will post at a later time.

I examined the ground and found grey feathers while a Chickadee came close . When I blew up the photo, I could see a chickadee in it’s mouth. Sad, but they do have to feed themselves. when I get the photo, I will post it.

Update: I managed to download these photos from my e-mail.I also realized that I reached my WordPress limit so deleted all photos from before this current year. Now I have a lot of space to write further blogs.

Can anyone I.D. this bird?
The shape of the tail may help in I.D.ing this bird

Feeder Counts

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I was going to post the birds but ran out of room. Since I have more time since the dog died, I am spending a couple of hours per day counting birds at the feeders at my friends place. The picture quality is not great, because I am taking photos from inside the house through the window. Here is a sampling of the birds I have seen while staying warm and sipping coffee. It’s a tough life.

There were a few male and female House Finches
Female House Finch
I did see a pair of red-breasted Nuthatches.
Can’t have a count without the black-capped Chickadees

Well that was short. WordPress just informed me that I have reached my maximum amount of storage. I have never taken so long to do a blog, only to find out that I can’t get it done. I guess I will do some culling of old posts. This process is getting tiring. Regardless, enjoy the day!

In Memory of Dakota

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I was going to be dog-sitting for a few days, but sigh, sadly the dog I have known for 10 years died at the beginning of the month. I still came to take care of the plants and the house and it has given me a chance to grieve. What set me off was the big cozy blanket on the bed. During the night Dakota, the dog, would tug at it and start to pull it off my bed so she could burrow into it on the floor. I compromised by making sure I was covered then left the excess hang onto the floor and she would crawl underneath the blanket and sleep beside me on the floor. I miss her.

Dakota-she sure has left a hole in my heart.

Now I have more time to watch the feeders and send counts into Birds Canada. More to come, I had the bird s posted but lost that draft, as WordPress said my pictures are too big. Sigh. another quick job taking far too much time.

Snow! Snow! Snow!

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It is blowing enough to form some deeper drifts, which slows down any walking progress and puts a walker to a stop, so it is a good day to stay indoors and work on some photos, editing some and culling others. At some point the sidewalks will be cleared and I can get around easier.

I had my camera on Monochrome so kept it that way and took a couple of photos from the window.

We have been lucky because the snow can come as early as September, with the average fall being in October.
Did not use the “dehaze” slider because this is what it really looks like outside.

Trees

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I love a big photo of the trees in a woodlot, as well as more intimate shots that get closer to the subject. There images are from Elk Island.

What attracted me was the contrast in colour as well as the contrast in vertical lines and horizontal lines.
A stand of aspens gives one many choices in composition.
Right in the middle , but like it this way. Maybe it works for me because of the diagonal tree leaning to the right
Ripening Rosehips
I enjoy the fall colours, not only in the leaves of the trees, but also in the grasses and shrubs.

Thanks for checking out my blog, it is that “in-between season” before the snow falls and the leaves are mostly off the trees. I will get out in the fresh air with my camera, playing with a new lens that I really like, that has some macro/close -up abilities as well as wide angle.

Fall at Elk Island

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There is a Park Bus that acts as a shuttle between Edmonton and Elk Island National Park on weekends during the summer, something that gives me great joy since I do not have my own vehicle. Because of Covid, the Park Bus was cancelled last year as well as earlier this year, then I got an e-mail that it was running for a few days in September and the first weekend in October. I was delighted and quickly booked a day in September. I was happy to see the same bus driver as two years ago-yes, it has been that long since the bus went to the park!

The colours were great this particular weekend. Let me share with you the following images:

Taken on the “Living Waters” boardwalk at Astotin Lake. Lots of dried trees at the water’s edge, which was very flooded.
Another view beside the Boardwalk
Nice to see these fall flowers.
Black-eyed Susans
There were a few ducks on the ponds. mostly far out in the water but these two Mallard Drakes and a Red-necked Grebe were a bit closer.
Lots of colour along the lakeshore of Astotin Lake.
A huge flock of Sandhill Cranes flew overhead-I zoomed in on a portion of them. Love the sound they make.
More colour and reflections at the beaver pond
More ducks at the Beaver pond-female Mallards
Mallard Duck Preening-love those golden fall colours!
Where some of those golden reflections are coming from.
Saw no beavers but did see this muskrat busy eating until I rudely interrupted him with the click of the camera. He was swimming back and forth across the pond.
On the way home we saw a bull bison grazing beside the road.

As you can see, there were a few ducks and animals in evidence and I enjoyed just being there. I met a new friend on the bus who was keen on conversation (which I did not always reciprocate) and did not “get” why I was taking so many photos. I hope that I did not insult her, but the reason that I go to the park is to bask in nature, get rejuvenated, take photos, as well as to just listen to the sounds of the birds and ducks. It was a great day!

Goldeye Lake

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Goldeye Lake is 8 km west of Nordegg on highway 11.There is an education and retreat center here as well, and it can be very busy with camps and retreats but after the Labour Day weekend, it was peaceful. I walked a little bit around the lake where I heard and briefly saw a pair of Osprey and heard some loons.

The view from the loading ramp. No motorized craft here but saw people fishing from kayaks and row boats.
Canoes and dock across from the loading ramp. the stairs lead up to the center and the trail goes all around the lake about 2.5 km.
Raft is a good place to dive and it invites me out to swim. Maybe next year.
The view from the canoe docks. The previous evening, I saw an Osprey land in the water right off that dock where people are fishing and come out with a good-sized fish.
There were a couple of picnic tables beside the lake next to the parking lot.
A family in the distance.
Pathway through the woods
A whole world in this stump
Found my first capture of a Tortoiseshell Butterfly
I liked how the light drifted through the trees.
The view looking west from the turn-off to Goldeye.

Early fall is a good time to travel without the crowds. There are more mountains to the west as you can see in the above photo about two hours to Saskatchewan Crossing on the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Some Neat Things at a Pull-off Stop

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We found this place where I had stopped a few years ago. You could pull off the road but there was a gate that stopped vehicles from going to the lake, so we walked a short bit to get to the water. There has been camping here but maybe the gate is to dissuade people from doing so.

Nice to see the rosehips are ripening
A neat Heart-shaped rock that I left behind for others to see.
A curious but shy Chipmunk came to inspect us
Catching a wave
A bit hazy across the lake this time it is rain rather than smoke
This is a good spot to view Windy Point from the south. Yes, this is the same photo from my Windy Point post.
Closer to where we are standing, the water is high.
Before we left I stopped to take a photo of this critter. I have no idea what it is.

Stop at Cline River

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Further along the highway beside Abraham Lake is a bridge that goes over Cline River. It is a nice stop , but watch for oncoming cars. I liked the combination of fall foliage and turquoise river. I was going to go back another day to take photos from the middle of the bridge, but a 44 km drive each way did not appeal to me.

Loved the colour of the river here. There were camping sites beside the river, which, like the lake ,is high.
Pretty, and pretty flooded.

One more shot peaking through the trees, as the rain was picking up.

The other thing that captivated me here were the rays of sun coming through the clouds. We were getting a bit of rain, but not enough to stop us from getting out of the car.

Ominous sky starting to clear, letting the sun stream through.
Looks like a heart to me, a promise of things to come.
It was amazing that we weren’t getting soaked.

Reflecting Ponds

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We had to stop to take photos of these ponds-great reflections. We did not see a bird but heard some sort of a whistle that we both thought could have been an eagle. Just a little way north of Cline river

A ghostly quiet except for the call of a suspected unseen eagle.
The beginning of fall colours framing the side of the pond
Roadside Calm
More reflections-worth the stop.

Windy Point’s Nooks and Crannies

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There are big views, and small views. I love coming here to play, and appreciate. First, some of the big views.

Michener Mountain to the left looking south to hazy skies
Often I have walked on the rocks that are now under water.
Looking southwest where we will be heading after this .
Lots of rocks and textures to explore.
rocks and gullies
I like the little compositions within the bigger compositions.
Trees that hung on in the wind and flooded islands in the distance
Peninsula now half-submerged
Tree hanging on by the roots. A true survivor.
Close-up of the tree above
Tenacious Cinquefoil
Hare’s Bell or Blue Bell
A Lone Tree
Water on the Rocks
Miniature Rock Scape-a scene within a scene

Do you see why I keep coming back? We continue on down the highway beside Abraham Lake.

Abraham Lake

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The first time I saw Abraham Lake in 2011 I was amazed at the rich turquoise colour. The colour changes according to the silt, the light in the sky and the time of day. We noticed at every stop the water was a different colour.

Abraham Lake is man-made, 32 km long with a dam at one end and comes off of the North Saskatchewan river from the mountains. It is named after Silas Abraham, of the Stoney tribe. It is the largest water reservoir in Alberta. It can get vey turbulent and is not safe to swim or boat in. It is famous for the bubbles in winter time caused from methane gas from vegetation.

Abraham Lake Methane bubbles taken Feb 2011

Now it is warmer and no ice cleats are needed. our first stop along the lake was at the pull-off at Michener Point . Here I am facing northeast where you can see Baldy and Coliseum Mountains. A lot of trees are under water. I heard that the people in this area opened the dam to let some of the water down stream. It sure was the highest level I have ever seen.

Abraham lake created when Calgary Power built the Bighorn Dam.
Michener Point named after a past Governor General of Canada 1967-1974
The highway from Michener Point pull-off. Getting cloudy, probably rain ahead. Next stop is Windy Point, to the left just before the cut rocks
Abraham Lake from Windy Point

One of the people we met said ” Not much to see here” but this is where we spent most of our time, exploring the lake scenes from three sides of the peninsula, the wind-blown trees, textures, the water hitting the rocks, and the plants. The Rocky Mountain Sheep did not show up here today, but often do. Sometimes this location lives up to its name, so windy that you have to hang on to the rocks for dear life to prevent yourself and equipment from being blown over but today was relatively mild. Next post will be all about Windy point.

First Evening at Fish Lake

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First, I want to start this post with a note of relief that I went on my little vacation when I did, because as of yesterday, restrictions have returned to Alberta. Our Covid numbers, specifically the Delta variant, have sky-rocketed and restaurants will be only doing take-out, so moving around, gathering in groups and travel may be a lot more difficult. The province regrets that they will be issuing vaccination cards as proof of vaccines to give those who have been double-vaccinated a little more freedom and perhaps give those who are not vaccinated a little more incentive to do so. God bless our front line workers and healthcare staff in hospitals who are dealing with burnout and a surge of patients while being under-staffed. 70% of surgeries in Edmonton have been cancelled as ICU space is filling up to capacity and beyond. Be kind, people. Now, back to the vacation.

After we checked in to our rooms we drove 6 kilometers west then south to Fish Lake Recreational Area at about 7:30p.m. There are four loops of camping spaces but we went right to the lake which has a few camping spots and day use area. There is a dock here right beside the parking lot and a boat ramp for non-motorized boats. A lot of people, go figure, like to fish here. I asked one gentleman what he had caught , and it was a rainbow trout. I have swam off the dock in the past but it would too cold now.

Days are getting shorter and the light is pleasant at this time of evening. Looking toward the south side of the lake.

We crossed a small dam on the north side of the lake to follow a path that goes all the way around. We were chased by some curious company. I used my walker and had little problem negotiating the trail on this side.
Nice reflections from this side at this time of evening. That is the T-shaped dock, ahem, that is blown out, with 2 benches. Another benefit are the benches on the trail, a nice spot to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds. As a person with mobility issues, I love those benches.
Nice hues coming out.
Two geese flew overhead. There are a pair of resident Osprey and a Loon with a younger offspring. but my images are not good.
The view of the other side of the lake from one of the benches.
Looking down the path we are on,
A Common Loon swam by not too far in front of us. A real treat.
8:13 p.m. Watching the colours
Nice sunset.
Last shot of the evening

After taking a few photos of the lake and sunset, we returned to the hotel dining room to have some fish and chips. well-cooked crisp fries, tasty coleslaw and 2 pieces of battered fish that was a tad cold in the middle but instead of complaining, I ate around the middle. I was tired after 4 hours of driving and it was good to have a warm bath and cuddle under a thick comforter while thinking about where we were going the next day: Cresent Falls and Abraham Lake.

Beaver Pond

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After leaving my friend’s house, this was our first stop. Just a little place off the road but pretty, and peaceful.

I did take photos here and also took the time to “fire” my bear spray, which was way beyond its expiry date. I pointed downwind, and it was forceful sounding, but sprayed for only about ten feet feet. Hmmm, will get some new spray but at least this is the first time I ever used it and think it is important to practice. I feel less fearful now about using bear spray but would rather not see any bears at all other than from a car.

I did take photos here as well as had a snack and drink. You can see the rolling hills and mountains in the distance.

The view from the parking lot. Fall colours starting to appear.
There was a little path leading to the right. and this is what I saw.
Path to the left to a tiny waterfall.
Lovely trees and reflections
A bit challenging shooting into the light, but moving a few feet one way or the other helped.

It wasn’t too much further to the town, where we checked into the hotel, had a bite to eat and in the early evening we took a quick trip to Fish Lake a few minutes down the road.

Intimate Landscapes

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As I shared with some of you previously, I was due to go on a vacation, maybe overdue. I tried to go on a vacation in August but could not find a car to rent anywhere! A lot of companies has sold off some of their fleets and it was hard for them to buy new cars due to a lack of computer chips, as well as the fact that cars had been booked by people on vacations from out-of-province.

It was extremely hot in August , or rainy and cold, so I didn’t miss much not being able to go at that time, but I hit a good week in September, weather-wise, car-wise and hotel-wise. I had considered going to Jasper again, as I did last year, but the prices had tripled at most locations, so decided on another favourite spot in Central Alberta, the town of Nordegg. Nordegg is an old mining town in the foothills with three restaurants, horsebackriding, museum, beautiful lakes and rolling hills. Not too much to do in town but there are gift shops and lots of hiking trails in all directions.

A bonus was when I wrote a friend to ask if I could drop in to see her on the way there, or if we could meet, and she replied that the timing was perfect as she had been planning to go to this area, was free and decided to rent a room for two days. I met her at her place and she led the way as we both drove our own vehicles. Of course there was a stop on the way. I had never been to Beaver Pond so was happy to see this place for the first time. It was a pretty, peaceful stop just off the road with a small lake and picnic tables.

We had a glorious two days of exploring, photographing and catching up on news, as well as enjoying the food at the two restaurants in town.

Stumps intrigue me with their lines, the new environment that grows from and around them, including the grasses, lichen and moss.

Here, I liked how the trunk was highlighted by the back light at Beaver Pond. A pleasant peaceful rest stop with picnic tables.
Seen at Fish Lake, I liked the composition here, with the grasses and plants with their fall colours.
Fish Lake again, I liked the starkness, the reflections and contrast.
We walked a little way around Fish Lake in the early evening where the light was right and there were lots of intriguing little settings.
Again, early evening and an old rotting trunk with lichen and moss.
The longest day was spent travelling along Abraham Lake where we stopped at many points. I saw this stump at Windy Point and loved the lines in the wood.
The morning after my friend Maxine returned home, I visited Gold Eye lake about a half hour drive west of Nordegg.
Great stump on the trail at Gold Eye Lake.

These spots are all in David Thompson Country, named after an explorer, on Highway 11 which leads west into the center of the Rockies, with Banff to the south and Jasper to the north. I have made the loop from Edmonton to Saskatchewan Crossing to Jasper then back to Edmonton, which is a phenomenal trip, but I was content to hang around the country in Nordegg and area this time.

In the next post I will start with one of the stops we made, then go on from there. I am excited to share this with you, as I love this country.

Green Spaces-A Godsend

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I feel blessed to live close to a couple of green areas a block from where I live. I am close to the river valley and a large yard at a church, as well as a little park with an ornamental pond. It is known that green space in cities increases mental health. I can vouch for that.

The spacious yard where you are invited to come in and rest.
Immaculate gardens tended by volunteers make this a delight to visit.
A perfect place for weekly evening concerts although expect the occasional sirens from firetrucks, barking dogs and local transit briefly interrupting the peace.
The water at this park runs out of a fountain then down a runway to the pond. There are Red-winged blackbirds here and a Pair of Wigeons and Lesser Scaups.
The view from the other end of the pond. The tall grey rectangle is the fountain where the water comes from.
There are walkways, trees and benches all around the pond. Often musicians will play on this platform ahead to the right.

I am very happy that I live where I do, surrounded by green, and cafes, as well as a garden in my own back yard.

This shows half of the back yard with fountain, grass, benches and lots of flowers. Also the vegetables that I am growing in the planter box on the right.

Yes, I feel blessed to have all this pretty well at my doorstep.

Bees and Blooms

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While I am still interested in birds, I am also enjoying taking photos of bees on flowers in my friend’s garden while I stay at her place dog-sitting.

No bees yet, but I do love these colours of the Geraniums and Bachelor Buttons.
Bumblebee on a Bachelor Button
Orange-Rumped Bumblebee on a Lythrum
A Trio of Day Lilies
Echinacea
Big Blossom; Big Bee, maybe a Queen? 17 mm
Clematis