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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Yes, I feel blessed to have all this pretty well at my doorstep.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Spring is unpredictable here in Alberta. Many years , but not this one, we have a snowfall on the first day of Spring. It did snow today but melted when it hit the ground. Other years we have had a blizzard on April 1st. Ha Ha some joke. A lot of us are happy for the warm weather as well as worried about forest fires because it is too dry. We need more snow and rain. I have heard geese, crows and a robin in the last couple of weeks, just waiting for my first sighting of a Robin, then the Ring-billed gulls.
Here are some images of the first glimpses of more to come. I am savoring it.
We have been in this pandemic for a year now since the first case in Canada and we were invited by one of my church groups to share our pandemic story with one another by e-mail which a few of us have done. I thought afterward to include my story here with a few changes and added photos, as follows:
It was a bit of a shock that week in early March when there was no eating at meetings, then the next week I received notices from every place I ever went to , that all were cancelled. It has been a Godsend to watch church worship online or in person when able, and attend Scripture Reflections and Spirited Arts Studio on Zoom. It has kept me sane.
I stayed home a lot and did not go out much, except for walks in the neighbourhood. When Covid-19 case numbers dropped and the parks opened up in July, I rented a car and treated myself to a couple of nights at the Sunwapta Falls Resort in Jasper National Park while exploring the sites close by. Food was purchased in Hinton, just outside of the park and I cooked in my room as well as treated myself to a couple of delicious meals and afternoon tea in the resort’s dining room.
All the staff were friendly and wore masks, social distancing was practiced, plus there was hand sanitizer at every entrance so I felt safe. Another safety feature was Bear Spray that I borrowed from the front desk when I went out for walks.
I enjoyed sitting on the veranda in the morning while sipping on coffee and reading my daily devotionals.
I enjoyed driving the Toyota Corolla rental through the mountains and did go to a favorite stop and saw an eagle in her nest with an eaglet!
I stayed in Hinton one night outside Jasper National Park to see the Beaver Boardwalk with trails through the woods and over the water. The warning signs about bears, cougars and wolves sure kept me attentive but did not see any wildlife – there was an abundance of the Indian Paintbrushes and Western Lilies.
I joined one or two friends on hikes at Wagner Bog area, Strathcona Wilderness Center and Bunchberry Meadows. Wonderful!
I also went to Miquelon Lake with a friend for a weekend and stayed in a tent and cooked over a single-element gas stove. We were proud of ourselves because we got the tent and tarp up just as it started raining and we managed to stay dry throughout the night. We played Cribbage in the tent and survived one of the worst thunderstorms I have ever been in while camping… hours of crash and boom and rumbling, one storm after another. The next night we met up with another friend and we sat in lawn chairs on the beach until it was pitch black and watched the Perseid meteor showers and listened to owls and coyotes. That was a blast although the dark was a little scary!
Christmas was fun with a Zoom visit with 5 households in Ontario-chaotic and noisy, almost like being there while watching my great nieces open gifts.
Since then I go on occasional walks with a friend, both of us always wearing masks to protect one another . I have damaged lungs and she has cancer, but we have had good walks and talks throughout the pandemic. I have gained a lot of weight in the latter months so a friend helped me get a rack to mount my bike and ride it in my apartment, and I bought trekking poles from Mountain Equipment Company.
I miss everyone but am somewhat used to being alone and spend a lot of time on Zoom to keep in touch with people. Hope to get outdoors more once it warms up a bit, been -20 or lower for about a week. Stay well, everyone!
It was the right time of day, in the late afternoon, so I took photos of what I was attracted to, trying to capture the glow. I like the late afternoon when the sun is going down, leaving a warm cast of light and the shadows are long.
If you are squeamish, make your choice about viewing this or not. It is not something I have never seen before, so of course I decided to record it.
This Magpie poking at something and since it was fairly close, I started shooting with my camera. The object was hidden by a bump in the land and some snow, then the magpie was picking up a small creature, poking it, shaking it, dropping it. I was thinking, “What has it got hold of?”
The magpie had caught a vole and was poking the poor critter, maybe taking some bites and I thought I saw movement and even told the magpie, “C’mon, don’t make it suffer, kill it.” The light was strong from the setting sun and I was looking down from the top of the hill so the details are not very clear.
It is the first time I have seen a Magpie eating more than grasshoppers but have seen them eating meat out of a bowl at the zoo. I have never seen a Magpie hunting a vole before.
I love this section of my town (city, actually) because of the big decorations they have in the streets. It sure creates a festive spirit. I started off looking for the conjunction of the planets , but it was cloudy, so I continued walking around the neighborhood a bit and took some photos that I have been meaning to take. Enjoy!
I went the 5 Freedoms Ranch which is a rescue and rehabilitation ranch outside of Edmonton with my Camera Club and got my horse fix after being away from them a long time, petting them almost as much as taking photos. These people are a society of horses lovers who rescue horses from abusive and neglectful situations as well as from meat packers so they can live their final days in freedom and with lots of food and water and space to move.
5 Freedoms stand for:
freedom from hunger and thirst
freedom from discomfort
freedom from pain and injury
freedom to express normal behaviours
freedom from fear and distress
Some of the horses were very skinny, starved where they were previously kept. Others had a wild look in their eyes when they saw people coming near, and stayed away from us. Most were well fed and easy to approach. The staff and volunteers work diligently with them to build trust and nurse them back to health. We were allowed to go into the paddocks with a staff person. Quite a few members of the Camera Cub showed up and a couple of them brought carrots so a few horses were enjoying the pampering.
Here are a sample of photos taken that morning of the better-looking horses, I didn’t have to heart to share the ones who are skin and bones:
The horses, especially sorrels, looked very nice with the fall colours. The one above on the left had ribs sticking out, some were too fat, and there were others who were racks of bones, as a result of an owner, or owners who never bothered to feed them. I was so glad to go here, very appreciative of the staff and volunteers for what they do to restore the animals back to health and build trust with people. Our members donated our photos to help their cause.
5 Freedoms Ranch and Rescue Society is holding a raffle to raise money to feed the horses and care for their needs over winter. You can check out the webpage at https://rafflebox.ca/raffle//5frrrs
On a different note, I have not been too regular with posts or comments on other’s posts because I got a call to see an apartment in a senior’s independent living building and decided to take it. The vacancy came up out of the blue and I had little time to decide, but did decide to move there, signed the lease today and now I am excited. I am down-sizing and packing and hope to move before we possibly have more restrictions in our city due to the rise in new Covid cases. Back to the blog soon!
I took my friend’s car to my favorite local park and there were lots of geese. There were a few taking off and a few landing, so I had lots of practice at panning the camera to follow the birds. All were in pairs except for small groups landing or taking off. I wondered if they are just doing some practice runs, getting ready for the long flight that is to come.
It was very noisy, everyone honking wildly as they landed or took off, or when they were on the ground and someone else got too close.
This scene seemed relatively quiet, but with all the squabbling I wondered how they choose the leaders and get along for the long flight that is ahead of them.
I have spent more time reading other people’s posts and and have not been getting out and posting myself. It was a shocking reminder to get moving and maybe catch some birds during migration a couple of days ago when the temperature dropped to an overnight low of 3 degrees celsius. Weather should never stop me but I did get an extra blanket out of the closet and hunkered down for the night.
Today my post is about looking back at what I have seen in the last few weeks. Some may be new, and some may be repeats.
I am planning to visit a friend who has her family’s trailer parked at a lake south of where I live. This has always been a good place for birding and I am looking forward to our visit and shared photo shoots in a couple of weeks.
It has been years since I sat under the stars and was able to see them so brilliantly. I was with two friends sitting on a beach waiting to watch the Perseids meteor shower last week. Out of practice with camera settings and putting up a tripod with telescopic legs that need to screw open or shut and got nothing with my camera, but saw a few streaks across the whole sky and on the horizons. It was good having company in the dark, never would have had the nerve on my own. We were southeast of Edmonton in the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve where light pollution is at a minimum. Here are some photos of our view as the sun set.
The clouds did clear to some extent and we had a great view of the Milky Way and could hear the yipping of Coyotes and two great Horned Owls calling to each other along with our excited voices exclaiming, “there goes one!” ” I saw it!” “It had a tail!” “Did you see that??” ” Right across the sky!”
Upon arrival at the parking lot, the rain poured down so I stayed in the car and waited it out for about 10 minutes. Once it cleared I was good to go. It is a very short walk to the falls but the weather was still “iffy.”
I was soaked so went back to the lodge for a shower and nap, then had a bowl of cream of yam soup with masala spice, and a chai latte in the restaurant. Such luxury!
After supper it cleared up and the sun even shone, so I went to one of my favorite spots in the park, not far away, which is one of the reasons I chose to stay at this location.
The road to the falls is right beside the lodge and it is not far at all. I have been here before but am always attracted back – is it the energy? the roar of the falls, cascading over the rocks? Yes, and yes. I love the roots of the trees here, but it is very hard to step over them, was holding onto the trunks for dear life as I came down a slight grade.
Bear activity is up in the park with less people being here, and there is a big black bear in the area so I gladly borrowed some Bear Spray from the front desk(mine has passed the expiry date) and practiced getting the can out of the holster and pulling off the safety clip like a kid playing cowboy before leaving. It did rain and I kept my hood down so I could hear, and sang some of the weirdest songs as I walked along the trail. I had watched a video about how to use bear spray and one guy was singing “Roxanne” and that is what I did , as well as singing “How Great Thou Art” and “Old Dan Tucker” and “Teddy Bear’s Picnic.”
Sunwapta Falls Lodge is 53 km south of Jasper on the picturesque Icefields Parkway and where I booked my stay for two days. “Sunwapta” is a Stoney Indian word meaning “turbulent waters”. Before I entered the lobby, there was a bottle of sanitizer on a table beside the entrance. All the staff wore masks indoors and out and everyone was very friendly and helpful. My hosts had my information from the booking so there was no more transaction to carry out. They gave me a bigger room than expected with two double beds in a long building like a town house with a shared porch.
Off the lobby was a gift shop then the dining area. There were signs and markers that guided one to the entrance and exit in the dining room which was log style and decorated with animal fur draped over the rafters A couple had the table in front of the fireplace and there was another room off the main dining area if it got crowded and people were well spaced from one another. I felt quite safe with regards to Covid-19. The food was great and I also had brought some with me.
It is very expensive for my lifestyle but always wanted to come and treat myself after stopping here a few years ago. Only regret was that I did not book one more day. My plan was to stay on the parkway and visit some favorite spots that I have been to before, as well as go to places I hadn’t been. I lessened the list on my itinerary but drove shorter distances and relaxed more.
My favorite features were the microwave that I asked them to bring in, coffee maker, round table beside the window where I knew I would be writing, and a chair outside on the porch where I could have a leisurely morning coffee and do my reading. The latter feature was very important to me because I live in an apartment without a balcony. Here’s my view from the front door. Glorious! I didn’t mind the cars as the mountains were much bigger in real life. I enjoyed the constant chatter of Pine Siskins and even saw some Robins.
I explored the grounds and met the resident Ravens.
Time for bed and be ready to explore Sunwapta Falls and Athabasca Falls the next day.
I must apologize for the long pause after my last post. I was away and had only my tablet with me. I find the screen small for accessing all the features available on WordPress. I am back at home and comfortable(except for the heat) working on my desktop.
I left Hinton mid-morning and saw the Roche Miette in the distance, one of the first mountains you see coming into Jasper National Park from the east, a familiar welcome to the rockies.
The trail from the falls at the first bridge leads to the Maligne Wilderness Kitchen where there was hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit. I stopped for a hearty Vegetable Potage soup which was very satisfying. I was so thirsty and the water they brought to me was in bottles with a stopper on top. The servers sat me a safe distance from other guests , wore masks and brought stainless steel utensils that were wrapped. This was the first restaurant I have attended in months and I felt comfortable.
I decide to go up the road to Medicine Lake, so named because it empties in the fall to riverbed and fills up in the Spring and Summer. Of course this summer it is very high due to all the rainfall we have received. There was a forest fire there about five years ago and it is interesting to see the changes.
At this point instead of going further up the mountain to Maligne Lake, I decided to head to go down the mountain to highway 16 and go west then south on the Icefields Parkway to Sunwapta Falls where I was staying for two nights- a couple of hours drive.
When I decided to post some photos of stumps, I thought I knew where they were because I take photos of them. I did find some favourites that I was thinking of and I know there are more… somewhere. Regardless, this has spurred me on to start a new folder dedicated to that topic.
It is wonderful when you continually return to a favourite trail to observe the change in landmarks over a period of years. Some stumps certainly fit into this category and I have seen upright trunks totally disintegrate. For example the log behind the stump in the first picture is a small pile of wood chips now.
The next photo shows a mere skeleton of a stump that I have seen waste away over the years, but I think it has a lot of character.
Hope you enjoyed seeing some of my favourite stumps. I will going to Jasper NP tomorrow so hope to find some subjects. Ha! You know I will!
Getting out to Elk Island National Park for the first time this year was a joy after being locked down since March due to Covid-19. I took a lot of photos and did notice that I did not see as many birds as in May and June, which does not surprise me.
There were a few birds, and butterflies and other things that I want to share under the headline of summer moments. There are some moments that will stay in my mind for a long time, because I remember the excitement associated with it, as well as the beauty. I hope you enjoy the following photos.
Too many photos are too many, so will stop here. I like shooting everything in nature, first birds then Butterflies then dragonflies. I am tentatively starting on wildflowers, or maybe I should say “trying to ID” wildflowers. It is the same with butterflies, I mean, really, just how many Fritillaries are there!?
I had a photo with a stump in it a while ago and one of the people that reads my blog told me that she likes stumps. I haven’t forgotten and found a couple of my favourite stump photos, so that will be the topic of my next post. Have a great day!
I have been lucky to spot a few Cedar Waxwings this year so wanted to share what I saw the other day when I visited Elk Island National Park for the first time since it reopened, but must say they move around a lot and I found it difficult to get a good shot because of shadows and trigs, etc.
Thanks to a kind friend, I got a ride to the park to blissfully spend time with my fine-feathered friends and shoot to my heart’s delight. First I will share some photos of Canada geese and goslings , whom I am happy to report, were all ages from quite young to fully grown.
It was an interesting walk today. I approached the valley via one of the stairways and could hear the Yellow Warblers calling back and forth, “Sweet, Sweet, I’m so Sweet.” Everything has filled out so much , I had trouble seeing into the trees. I saw a flash of Yellow and waited and watched. This is as close as I could get , but happy to see it.
I walked down the path to look for another Warbler as well as keep my eye out for Coyotes, wishing I had my walking stick with me and planning to put my camera bag above my head to look “bigger”, if I needed to. I didn’t go far because the clouds were getting darker and I heard the distant rumble. I stopped to take some photos of the sky.
It wasn’t long before I turned around and headed home. I got wet, but found it refreshing and it was very nice to have a warm bath when I got home.
My friend and I came upon this bird in the middle of the trail, at the Strathcona Wilderness Center east of Edmonton which I supposed was a Grouse at the time. I checked my field guides when I got home , and to the best of my ability identified this as a Ruffed Grouse, based on the squared -off tail with a black band at the end, the black at the upper breast, the white eye line.
At we got closer, I brought my camera to my eye and took a picture. A few steps closer, I stopped for another shot. As we drew closer, taking a couple of steps and one photo at a time, it walked stealthily toward the woods where it disappeared. Luckily it wasn’t rushed out of sight and gave us some opportunity to observe it.
Following are some of the photos I managed to take.
Feel free to set me straight if I am wrong, it is certainly known to happen. I enjoy these finds when out for a walk in nature.
They have reached their peak and bless the neighbourhoods with their eye-catching beauty and pleasant perfume. Don’t miss them, they don’t last long. I seem to have misplaced a few images of blossoms-did I delete them from the camera before downloading? H-m-m-m.
In the immediate neighbourhood, it is the same: Magpies, House Sparrows and House Finches, though the latter are hard to spot. As well as being in the immediate vicinity, there are many flyovers of Canada Geese, Crows, Chickadees and Ring-billed Gulls. A lot to be grateful for.
Then just down the street, there is more. With May and June being peak months for breeding and raising young, I am itching to get “out there” and happy to find the regulars as well as my first sightings for this year.
This pair was found at a small urban pond outside of Edmonton. Their blue bills and animated looks made this a no-miss opportunity. A handsome couple, indeed. these are a medium sized diving duck that often dabble. the sometimes lay their eggs in other ducks nests. It is the first time I have seen them this close.
Seeing a Male Ruddy Duck for the first time in a year is always special for me, and this small urban pond pond had a pair. I first saw the male at the edge of the reeds, then the female. They were swimming close together then made a hasty retreat among the reeds where they quickly mated, then came back to open water.
It will be fun to come back to this pond and check for more Ruddy pairs and ducklings. Taken with the lens extended the full 300mm and then cropped.
Tulips are one of my favourite flowers, and I picked up these tulips at the grocery store. When I got home I realized these are Maple Leaf Tulips, designed with a shape of the maple leaf on the sides. They were designed for the 150th birthday of Canada, a gift from the Netherlands.
Gifts of tulips has been a tradition since Queen Wilhelmina sent 150,000 tulips to Canada after the war was over as a way of thanking Canada for the liberation of the Netherlands from the invasion of Nazi Germany. But before any of that happened, when the Germans originally invaded the Netherlands, Queen Juliana and Prince Bernhard were forced to flee to Ottawa to escape the conflict. Juliana later gave birth to her daughter Margriet inside the Ottawa Civic Hospital in 1943, after Canada’s federal government declared the maternity ward extraterritorial so that the birth could still technically take place in The Netherlands.
Tulips are not originally native to Holland, but were introduced from Turkey in the 1600’s.
The Canadian Tulip festival takes place in our capital city, Ottawa, from May 8-18th. You can go online and take virtual tours of the gardens.
Hundreds of coyotes live in the river valley and I have run across them while walking the dogs and often hear of encounters from others. One of my wishes has been to spot one in the valley and get a shot with the camera. While I was looking for birds, I spotted a shape at the bottom of the hill and thought, “Ah! it’s probably just some garbage.” I took a closer look through the lens and to my delight, it was a coyote. I used a 300 mm lens and cropped some of the images.
I took lots of photos of her as I watched her hunting in the grass. She caught about 5 small critters. I was blessed to be able to observe her for ten full minutes.
Having more time on one’s hands allows for more frequent checks on the change that is taking place this spring. The grass is turning green and the sound of lawn mowers echo in the neighbourhood. The leaves are growing and slowly filling the forest with a canopy to shelter all below. Yet if one is busy, all these changes happen and it becomes a new world rather quickly. It wasn’t too long ago when snow lay on the ground and the wooded areas were dull grey or brown. Don’t miss it.
Here is an update on the trails that were photographed last week.
The following images are not of bunnies, but are Prairie Hares, sometimes referred to as White-tailed Jackrabbits. I thought our neighbourhood had three regulars but I am probably mistaken. There may be many more, because they only live from 12-14 months. They don’t really hop as much as leap and can reach speeds up to 60 km per hour. They are probably a little safer here downtown from the coyotes. I enjoy seeing the Hares, as they lay on the lawns in between apartments or nibble on the grass in the park or on the boulevards. The mothers will leave the babies alone because they have no scent, but will come back to check on them. If you see a baby hare in the wild or even in the city, it is best to leave them alone.
The first hare in the photos was crossing the road to meet the second, I have seen them in relatively close proximity before at the nearby park. The second one still has a lot of white in its fur. In the summer they are brown or gray and in the winter they turn totally white, except for the tips of the ears. They weigh up to 3.5 kilograms and eat up to a Kilogram or 2.2 pounds of greens a day and twigs, branches and bark of landscape plants in the winter-not popular with the gardeners. They may have up to 3 litters in a year, with 4-6 babies each time.
I enjoy seeing them in the city and will observe to see if any are paired up or have babies.