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

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

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There are a lot of forest fires in B.C. and some in Saskatchewan as well as in my home province. Before we were isolating because of Covid-19, now it is because of the smoke from the forest fires. the air quality report is 10+(out of ten) These pictures are of downtown Edmonton. I can smell the smoke in the hallways of the high-rise I live in. I have asthma and needless to say I am not going out today. Fire crews are coming from Mexico and Quebec to help fight the fires in B.C.

There has been very little rain in the past couple of weeks. You can see the green trees but the grass is colourless and dried out in many places. We have had temperatures in the mid 30’s degrees (high 90’s in fahrenheit) for the past three weeks, but don’t misunderstand me, I do not miss winter. Today is is much cooler, 20 degrees(68 F) and it would be great to throw open the windows for that cooler air, but, no, not a good idea. It is extremely smoky and may stay this way for a couple of days. The temperatures are going up again next week.

Looking west from downtown Edmonton
Looking east toward downtown Edmonton.
A few hours later, I can’t see the buildings at all. took the photo lower than before in order to get a focal point. The top of the school is at the bottom of the photo above this one.

This smoke will travel across the country and into the United States. I feel for the people, birds and animals that are living in the middle of it. I am hunkering down with my puffers and staying quiet.

Swimming Lesson

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I went to the urban lake today with a friend-not one pelican in sight although others had seen them yesterday. I was wondering why there were no baby Coots . Well I saw them today some older, some just about a week old. Get ready for a dose of cuteness.

One of the parents leading the chicks into the water.
I would guess that these are just over a week old.
Approaching the big jump.
Mustering up the courage…
A great jump! And off you go!

Take Off

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These photos are from last week when I went to an urban storm run-off lake. I was going to go back to the lake yesterday to shoot more photos but upon awakening felt very apathetic so put the fan on, stayed inside and edited for most of the day.

I got some shots of a lone pelican taking off so wanted to share them. That is a Red-necked grebe in the background.

Doing a bit of a run
i thought it was going a short distance and maybe that was its intention , at first
Lift off!
I think the ones at this pond are not breeding , did not see one bract on the top of the bills
Last big push of the wings
Now it’s airborne.

We are entering a heat wave and it will be roughly 32 (90 F) today and going up to 37(98.6 F) by Wednesday. I have stocked my fridge with jugs of water and ice (and lemonade for flavour). Last night it cooled down and there was a bit of a breeze so it was good for sleeping. That may not be the case in a couple of days.

Fledgling Heaven and Pelicans

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I went in the morning earlier this week to an urban storm run-off lake, hoping to see great Blue Heron, ducks and ducklings and American White Pelicans. The water was smooth and the light great. Missed the Great Blue Heron but lucked out with a sighting of a Black-Crowned Night Heron.

The first thing I saw was this Mallard Hen with her brood of ducklings.

I heard a “swooshing” sound as I was taking a photo of the duck family , looked up and guess who was coming in for a landing?

American White Pelicans coming in to fish. these must be first year youngsters because no breeding bracks
A chance sighting. I moved to get a better shot and it flew away, so I cloned out the branch that was poking into the picture.
A first for me. A father Red-winged Blackbird feeding his fledgling. i love those eyebrows! I had read the fathers never help with the young. Not true.
Male Hose Sparrow with fledgling. Is the feather stuck, or is he taking it back to the nest?
Female red-winged Blackbird searching for insects to feed to her young
Canada Goose family getting up to go for a swim. they came back later to sun and shade. There are actually four goslings, one is just out of the picture range.
American Coot on the rocks. Check out those feet. I did not see one chick.

I am still editing and also plan to go back to this lake at the end of this week or the beginning of the next. Maybe I will spot some Coot chicks or the Great Blue Heron. I thoroughly enjoyed my time here on the first day of Summer.

One Curious Gosling

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The forecast was for rain but I decided to take a risk and catch a bus to an urban park that has a little lake and is notorious for goose poop. I knew it was fairly late in the breeding season but was hoping to see some young ducklings and goslings and I was lucky to see both.

The longest part of the journey is the walk from the bus stop to the lake, but I actually walked around the lake with the aid of my newly-acquired walker. I love the freedom it gives me to be able to get out in nature. It did not rain for a few hours until I was a block away from home. It was worth it.

Half way around, near the shore was a Mother goose with her goslings. One youngster got up from the family unit and walked toward me, its head turned to one side and locking eyes with me. Mother noticed this and got up , with her head stretched out and headed toward me. I said to her, ” your child is approaching me, but its okay, I am going to leave.” and I turned away. She relaxed and went back to her brood.

It was a special moment and I got three photos of this cute character before exiting peacefully away.

Mother Goose with her brood
I loved this little one’s open curiosity.
Was it already learning the habit of begging or was it curiosity?
Mom has noticed and is approaching . This is the point I excuse myself and leave, reducing any chance of escalation.

I was so happy to see them this young in mid June. There were a lot of gangly teenagers walking with their parents who are cute, too, but seeing the babies bring me joy.

That in-between stage when the adult feathers are coming in but mixed with a bit of down.

Moody Prairie Skies

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Though I live in the center of a city, I like being high enough to observe the prairie skies, especially when it gets stormy. It is a different viewpoint from usual in which to observe nature.

The windows can obscure the view somewhat because they are bay windows and when it rains the water makes it difficult, but I love the sun rises, sunsets, and the storms.

Here are some photos I took the other day when the clouds were gathering and a storm broke out.

Earlier in the day when the sky grew dark
i found the yellow horizon interesting, perhaps it was dust? Rain is falling from the clouds.
Dark clouds were moving quickly
Clouds are tumbling and the colour has changed.
Very blurry shot but later that night caught some lightning
It wasn’t what I call a “big banger” but the lightning went on for a couple of hours. I hope to get better at capturing the lightning.

Geese and Ducks

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Wow! the last day of May. It was a warm to hot day out, and I went for a walk in the neighbourhood to the local park. The park is nicely treed and has an ornamental pond, a favourite place for local people to hang out and relax. We have some feathered friends that like to come to visit, a pair of Canada Geese, and a pair of American Wigeons. The geese seem to be the smaller variety.

Two geese, quite relaxed and preening.
Maybe he will go into the water but I captured the image just at this moment.
Drake American Wigeon who has lost some of his green breeding colour on his head
Hen scouring for something
Two of them preening, a perfect way to spend the day and close off the month.

Scenics from Chickakoo Lake

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I enjoyed my walk there last week. This week I am on the computer while resting after my Cortisone shot in the knee on Friday, so it is a good time to go through photos.

I like Chickakoo Lake recreation area, it is familiar to me and though I can’t go as far as a few years ago I can still cover some of the trails

Here is the terrain from the Indian Ridge Trail where I went last week:

Lots of Warblers and Flycatchers in these birch and poplar stands.
Near the parking area there is a playground and a few benches and picnic tables with scenic views of the spring Greens. These can be found in various places on the trails, too.
There is more Spruce at this part of trail. I saw a Robin here and heard a Red-eyed Vireo.
Close-up of a birch bark tree.
Marshy area on Dog Leg Pond. The trail on the opposite side from me is called Nature’s Way.
Back at the parking lot, I took a close-up of the blossoms.

Chickakoo Lake

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Went with a friend to this pleasant recreation area with a few trails about an hour away from the city. As soon as we got out of the car we heard Yellow warblers everywhere and I thought I heard a Robin, but it was a faster cadence so I looked around and there it was, a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. I haven’t seen one in quite a few years so this was a thrill.

I have a walker now, something I stubbornly resisted until I was offered one for free from a woman who had one but it was not a good fit for her. I decided to accept the offer and realized it didn’t make me into an older woman but gave me more freedom. I took it with me on this trip and the person I went with had been slowing down to my pace, but after a short stint she wanted to walk further and faster, so we agreed to go our separate ways and meet back at the car in a couple of hours. I could go birding and take my time while she got a good, brisk walk and we both could enjoy the sights along the way at our individual pace. I still use my cane, but it is great to have a walker because I walk straighter, and can sit down when I get tired without having to find a bench or stump.

Here are some of the birds I saw that I could get an image of:

First Bird we saw was a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak
A Flycatcher? Made a Che-bek! sound.I will try to ID it later.
My first male Yellow Warbler this year-a little cropped. It was a challenge to capture because it moved all the time.
Sat on a bench at this small lake and had a lunch while listening to all the bird songs.
A somewhat closer shot than in the above photo. What I thought may have been a Merganser turned out to be a Common Loon
Next to me was an inlet and a pair of Blue -winged Teals
I heard a familiar song and patiently followed the sound until I saw movement . Delighted that this White-throated Sparrow came out into the open , save for a twig in front of his face.
A Robin flew ahead of me so I got a quick shot.
The trail was very pretty with spring green, sometimes totally enclosed by forest and sometimes open with views of the lakes.
Near the end of this trail was some marshy area.
At the edge of the marsh I was awarded with a visit from a Friendly Black-capped Chickadee with a juicy meal. Maybe food for a nearby family?

I enjoyed the quiet immensely, except the songs of the birds which are so plentiful and singing their hearts out. One song I heard but never spotted the bird was that of a Red-eyed Vireo. My friend and I both got back to the car about the same time and shared our stories about what we saw and heard. I also met a woman who, seeing my camera, shared information about a near-by site that is loaded with birds. Hmm, maybe next time.

In Full Bloom

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I have checked a couple of times to see if the Crab Apple blossoms are in bloom and two weeks ago they were just coming out . With a couple of rainfalls and time last week they were in their glory. I usually think mid May and I was not disappointed. On the 17th I went to a nearby look-out and took photos-lots of photos along the promenade of two kinds : red and white.

Last week just opening.
This week, in bloom
A favorite, the Double-flowering Plum shrubs which only last about a week, so catch them when you can because they are a sight to behold.
Walking down the promenade you get to breath in the scent of the red and white blossoms
The white blossoms that grow right out of the trunk.
A great place to go for a stroll because there is always a bench to rest on when you get tired.
I enjoyed being outside with all this colour.

Alas, in typical Alberta style, we got a spring snow storm, so it was white mixed with green, pink and white. I was crushed. A messy photo showing the snow.

Looking out today, all the blossoms are still there so they survived. Feeling grateful, mixed with a little trepidation as the forecast calls for more snow. Sigh, enjoy it while you can.

My first Blossom this year

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It is a double something-or-other. I went for a walk on the promenade yesterday overlooking the valley and saw this yesterday and that is when I captured the image. This evening I went for a walk again after a light rain, but without the camera, and the blossoms are coming out on the pink and white flowering crabapple trees. I will get back to take photos tomorrow, but for now enjoy this one!

Lots of Scrapping

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I went to a lake in the city with friends this week and we were quite entertained by the geese. I think there was a nest down the hill from where we gathered because as I started to walk down the hill to see more, two geese walked toward me, not hissing, but staring. I took the hint and changed direction.

From the bench I saw lots of action which was a good opportunity to capture some action shots.

Just stay away!
While one partner calmly watches the other gives chase.
Other times the pair of them work together to cover both directions.
On guard. they came out of the water and chased another couple a short distance.
They just chase others far enough to set a boundary.
Quite acrobatic feats of flight.
There are longer periods of time times when the scrapping settles down and the geese go back to eating.
There is also time for preening the feathers and they don’t seem to mind my presence, though I am mindful to keep a respectful distance and use a long lens..

Courting Gulls

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I found the courting behavior of these Ring-billed gulls to be very quaint. They alternately dipped their heads into the water then dipped simultaneously. At one point they looked at me (third image) and obviously acknowledged my presence, then ignored me the rest of the time. I like the reflections of them in the water as well as the reflections on their chests.

I wonder if they see their reflections?
Lots of head-bobbing, looking around
Am I interrupting?
Such a refreshing drink!
Taking Turns
Drinking Together