Reviewing Summer Captures

Summer is not over yet but there is a definite feeling of Autumn in the air. I will be going out, need the fresh air and  to get away from the political gong shows that are going on in the news. But first I will post a selection of photos as I look back over some of my captures from the summer. Hope you like the slideshow.

 

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Nature Shots, Up Close and Personal

I enjoyed this walk, capturing images that required that I zoom in for a closer look, but not quite a macro by today’s standards. It is pleasurable to observe the smaller things in nature, like flowers and insects, as well as the bigger mammals and large landscapes.

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Thistle Flowers
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First Yellow Leaf
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White Wildflower
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Bull Rush
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Yellow Marsh Flowers
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Asters
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Cabbage White  on Clover
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Grasses
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Snapdragons
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Rose Hip
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Yellow Jacket on Paper Nest
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Clouded Sulphurs Mating

Two Kinds of Grebes (I think)

I saw two kinds of grebes last week and used a process of elimination to I.D. one of  them. The first was easy, an adult red-necked grebe with a “teenager.” The young one, quite developed in size, had the stripes still on the face  and was still being fed, albeit only occasionally. It made very incessant chirping noises, the kind that wear a parent down and make them “give in” just to get a break. I was facing into the light here and have a poor exposure.

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Young Red-necked GrebeIMG_0125-2

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Is that bald spot a give-away that it is a larger version of that young coot from last month, or is it a Pied-bill Grebe? The bill doesn’t seem right for a Coot. Feedback is welcome and I stand to be corrected.

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Bison in Late Summer

Visited Elk Island last weekend and saw some Plains Bison  in the fields and along the parkway. It is much cooler now so they are not hiding in the bush as a respite from the sun. The bulls are in rut now and can be very unpredictable and grouchy at this time of year. People often mistakenly think that they are so big that they only move slowly but they can go from 0-60 km in seconds.

We went around the Bison loop and saw these five grazing in the field. It was still hazy from the forest fires burning in British Columbia. IMG_0052-2

Further down the road we saw two lone bulls.I was glad that I was in the safety of the bus when I took these photos. The bulls beside the road were very close

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We were so close that this is all I could get in the viewfinder.This one’s eye is whitish-perhaps a kick from another bull? I liked the texture of the grass and his coat. IMG_0059-2

The colours of the grasses and the leaves are changing, a reminder that fall is just around the corner.

Lastly I would like to send my condolences to my American friends and family of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin.I bought one of her albums in my late teens and have always enjoyed her music. Though she has passed, her music will live on.

I also send condolences for the loss of a true American patriot and man of service: Senator John McCain.

May they rest in peace, free of their infirmities and may we continue to pray/think positive thoughts for bright outcomes for both of our countries, all of our peoples, our leaders and our environment.

Canada Geese are Gathering

During a recent visit to Elk Island National Park close to Edmonton, I noticed Canada Geese in small groups, flying short distances and preening and resting. It seems they are getting ready for the long journey south. Yes, it is still summer but the nights are cooler and I find myself wearing a jacket even in the daytime.

While at the beach, there were dozens of footprints of geese etched in the sand. I saw a gander on the far end  and while watching it, almost stumbled upon a pair nestled in the sand.

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Later in the afternoon I happened upon a gaggle busy preening themselves at the side of the road beside the beaver pond.IMG_0261-2

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This squirrel carrying an acorn is another sign that I should check my winter clothing and make sure I am ready. It is still officially summer but I need to heed the signs around me. Things can change fast around here.IMG_0081-2

Fires Make for Hazy City

I have been spending a lot of time indoors this week because the smoke from the forest fires in British Columbia has been drifting into Alberta and Saskatchewan, even into Manitoba.

Looking out my living room window, the sun was red although in this photo it looks orange. I wanted to get a few photos of the sunset from outside but when I went out at approximately 7:50 I could not see it. The weather forecast is sunny and the sun won’t be setting for another hour, 8:58 p.m.

The sun through the trees from my living room window 7:44 p.m.IMG_0041

Looking west with no sight of the sun  7:52 p.m.IMG_0047

Looking east toward downtown, 10 blocks away is Rogers Place.IMG_0046

Looking downtown, those sky scrapers are 11 blocks away.IMG_0048

The air quality index was 7 all day which is high risk and when these photos were taken were 10+ which is very high risk. I feel for those who living with the forest fires in BC (over 550 fires ) Ontario and California, at least those are the ones I am currently hearing about. Praying for rain.

Crazy Weather!

This past weekend  at the Edmonton Folk Music Festival brought a change of 20 degrees in temperature, starting with HOT days of 34.5 degrees Celsius and changing to cold, day-long rain showers with a couple of light thunder storms and temperatures of 12 degrees Celsius. Add to the hot days smoke that rolled into the province from the forest fires in BC and you have a lot of variety in four short days.

There was a lot of variety in the music which was magnificent although I missed a lot due to poor health and a necessity to go home and get out of the smoke and rain. Here are some of the highlights:

The first day, Thursday, the festival kicked off with the concerts at night on Main Stage. First up was Tinariwen from Mali, whom I heard more than saw.Next was the first time that I have seen DakhaBrakha from the Ukraine  despite the fact they have played here before and I was amazed at the sounds they created using their voices, and loved their energetic percussion. At first I thought they were weird then I fell in love with them and visited a session again during the weekend to hear them play with City of the Sun which created some  magical moments for me as they blended their voices and instruments.

DakhaBrakha on Main Stage on Thursday nightIMG_0027 (1)

 

DakhaBrakha with City of the Sun at Stage 5 on SaturdayIMG_0007 (2)

I am a big Buffy Saint Marie fan and have seen her three times, first time being a fundraiser in Calgary in 1987 then at the Folk Fest in 2007. She sang songs that covered decades, including Universal Soldier and Up Where We Belong to Skywalker and War Racket. She had a red dress hanging on stage to commemorate Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. Her singing was powerful and she still speaks out strongly against injustice. Everything is hazy from the smoke that has drifted in from the forest fires in BC.

Buffy and her band from high on the hill.IMG_0068 (1)I went up the hill to capture the sunset over the city.IMG_0050 (1)

The second day, Friday, I woke up after a nap after completing my shift and the air was so thick with smoke I couldn’t see across the grounds and having asthma and a lung infection, I went home. That means I missed all the concerts that day, and got no photos.

Saturday, wearing a mask, I attended Stage 6 for the Peace Train session. I liked the big strong voices of The War and Treaty and enjoyed John Craigie and Michael Franti. Here I have a picture of the crowd as I enter the area, then Michael Franti and his band stirring up the large crowd with their positive message.

This hill was packed with fans.
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The air is still smoky as evident in the distance.
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It started raining after this and I did not take my camera out for the rest of the weekend because I did not want to damage it, but had fun and enjoyed dancing to West African, Celtic and Blues despite the fact it was pouring. Honestly, it was such a relief to come home to a warm bath and cozy dry bed when it was over. Despite this year’s weather I look forward to next year when it will be the 40th anniversary of the Edmonton Folk Music Festival. I plan to be there both as a volunteer and a fan.

 

Edmonton River Valley

My friend and I decided to see the funicular that was built last fall beside the majestic Hotel MacDonald. It is like an elevator but instead of straight up and down, goes up and down a hill parallel to the hill. It was fast and afforded a good view of the river valley in all directions. The structure in which we travelled came to a stop three quarters of the way down the hill where there was a platform and benches that served as a lookout point and half-way stop where you can get an elevator that goes to the ground and accesses the trails that wind their way alongside the river. We didn’t go all the way down because the sky looked ominous, and sure enough, by the time we gazed at the panorama around us and rode up to the top of the hill it was starting to drizzle.

Here we are on the funicular as we go down the hill to the stop.IMG_0283-2

We went on the platform to look both ways and across the river to Gallagher Park, where the Edmonton Folk Music Festival will be kicking off on Thursday. Stage 6 is at the bottom right and those hills will be full of people and music despite the construction going on at he top of the hill. The city is building another light rail transit line there – it will be a handy way  to get to this location once the LRT is built and running.

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Someone purchased the Edmonton Riverboat and it is running again. You can have short tours up and down the North Saskatchewan River, distance depending on the water levels. They also serve meals.Here it is travelling away from the loading dock.IMG_0294-2

The view in the opposite direction where you can see the 105th Street bridge.IMG_0292-2

Looking up the hill you can see the MacDonald Hotel and Canada Place.IMG_0300-2IMG_0289-2IMG_0306-2On the way back we took a short walk past the art which I thought  represented the water and we could see the funicular again.IMG_0308

Then back up the hillIMG_0287-2

It was a pleasant outing. The funicular was built so that people who are not as able to get up and down the hill could access the river valley.

 

Water Reflections and Shadows

Reflections not only look like the subject but also can get very abstract, depending on the  light and breeze or lack of breeze. At the bay in Astotin Lake there were very intriguing lines in the reflections in the water. Where the water was heavily covered by duckweed, there were strong shadows in the bright light.See what you find appealing as you observe these photos.

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Some elements are stronger than others in reflections

 

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The water was so smooth and the lines in the reflection got very abstract
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Interplay of vertical and horizontal lines
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Strong lines from shadows
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two diagonal lines of lines, both of what is real and of shadow

 

 

Parents and Baby Coots of Various Ages

I never thought I would like Coots so much after first seeing them. I thought they were rather plain and the squawk they make isn’t very charming, but I love their ferocity in defending their territory and their tireless dedication to their young. I saw a few families at this bay at Astotin Lake in Elk Island National Park and there may be overlaps but saw three different stages of growth from newly hatched to almost adult.

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There were two parents who were very busy feeding their young.
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The parent seems to have a gentle look at it tends to the needs of the babies.
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There were more than what is seen here.
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A close-up.
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This coot chick had a loud (and persistent) voice and was still being fed by its parent.
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Definitely some autonomy but the parent was close by.
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Larger, with undeveloped wings and though not seen, big feet.