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Welcome to My Heartsong!

My Heartsong came out of a desire to be true to myself and sing the song of my heart,to take the time to do the things that I love to do because I came to believe that to follow this call is to do the will of the Creator and it gives me great pleasure.(when one receives a gift,one must open it). An activity that feeds my soul is photography. I share with you my photos and a little bit about them. Enjoy!
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Another Surprise

This gal showed up briefly on this tree in a small urban park beside a very busy road. Keep your eyes open, you never know what you are going to see.

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Black-Billed Magpies Making Nests

Not too far from the path that runs beside the golf course i saw a lot of activity as magpies flew back and forth. They had sticks and were going deep into the valley and coming back uphill to one tree where a large nest was in process of being made. I read in a field guide that it can take 40 days to construct a nest, that both the male and female work together and the entrance is in the side of a dome. At one point they saw me watching and they disappeared for a while. I walked away so they could continue, and they did. A day later i watched them from the top of the hill where it was a good view and far enough away that they were not disturbed.

Here is the first day looking up at the nest.

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Here is the vantage point from the top of the hill. The partner is on the backside or has flown off to get more twigs and the one in the photo is going into the side entrance. The last photo shows the hole .

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Shot in aperture priority with a 300 mm lens at 1/200 sec to 1/800 sec f/6.3, 400 ISO

Ring-billed Gulls and a Surprise

The gulls’ voices were echoing in the sky for a few days so I went to the park to get up close. Here is  a nice photo of one proud adult in breeding plumage. I also took a few shots of the geese hanging out at a big puddle that temporarily serves as a pond. Something showed up in post processing that was not apparent in the initial scene. Surprise! It was the presence of a male mallard, maybe two.  Welcome back, ducks!

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1/1250 sec@f/5.6 ISO 400, 240 mm

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1/200 sec @f/7.1, ISO 400, 190 mm

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The House Finch has Returned

 

He is back this year but the house sparrows beat him and his female to the nesting spot in the cedars. He sits in the nearby tree and sings for hours a melody that drifts through my window and is pleasing to the ear.I shot these with my hand held , fully extended lens as he is a bit skittish-not good shots , but a celebration of spring.

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A Crow Gathering Twigs

This beautiful specimen has arrived in the city and is busy flying to a dead tree or seemingly so, to find some twigs for the nest.

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Oh, oh! Careful.

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Aw, too bad. He/she dropped it! It started over and success!

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At 1/500 sec shutter the take-off was a blur but it flew deep into the valley and came back a couple of times in an hour. It is not an easy job, it takes co-ordination of the turns and twists and careful footing.It was an impressive undertaking.The crows seem to gather in one area below some apartment buildings in tall trees.Maybe they nest in the dense trees in the bottom of the valley.

The Dome Exposed

  The dome at the Alberta legislature grounds has been covered for over a year and recently I noticed that it is exposed again. Apparently the workers took out the stones to examine for cracks and damage, then put them in place again.I think it was sand-blasted as well. What I saw for the first time was the copper lining, it was previously black.There is a crane to the left, which leaves its shadow across the surface. I look forward to taking photos without the covering but wonder if I bothered to take photos with  the covering on? Ha, think I should have.

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It Matters to Me – Thank You Survivors at TRC Event

I heard a lot of truth this weekend that was very difficult to hear. I was one of 30,127  connected via live -streaming to 36 countries around the world, and later attended in person, a historical event in Canada that took place here in Edmonton, Alberta within traditional Treaty Six Plains Cree territory.

This was the  final gathering of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC)  event where survivors of the Indian Residential schools shared their stories about a racist and inhumane system run by our government  and churches for over 130 years.

Stories were told by the survivors themselves, who, as children, were forcibly taken from their families, shipped to schools where they were not allowed to speak their own language, practice their own culture,  not allowed to talk to their siblings in the same school, punished for being who they were, punished for being children who were terrified and forced to adopt a culture that wasn’t their own, forced to stay in a school separated from family and forced to adopt a religion in order to to be “civilized” by a most uncivilized system of government and churches.

As if this was not abusive enough, add to that beatings, emotional, psychological, physical  and sexual abuse.

One exhibit that moved me deeply in the Learning room was the Missing Children project. At this time more than 4,100 children have been identified by the commission who died of disease or accident while attending residential schools.These, and many more were not returned home.

There was much raw pain and emotion.Many tears. It was  emotionally exhausting. There also was a balance of humour, talent, ceremony, love. Much laughter and wisdom was shared, the latter of which was the theme of this event which comes from the seven sacred teachings: love, respect, courage, honesty, wisdom, humility, and truth.All of these teachings were practised at this gathering.

It is very hard to describe the wealth of experience  gained by listening, sharing, talking and greeting others. I went because I could not “not” go. I was very nervous at first,  but felt welcome  with the people at this large gathering.It was an honour to be there. . .to walk in the march at the end of the event as a member of the human race. My intention is to do my part in sharing the truth to others about the residential schools  that existed for generations, to listen to the stories and teachings of the survivors and elders.

I want to express my deep gratitude and respect to the survivors, many of you who shared your stories for the first time here. Thank you for your honesty and courage. May all of us continue on our healing journey, be proud, be respectful and walk in reverence, harmony. . . and thrive!

All my relations.

 

I didn’t take my camera,  wanted to be fully present to the experience. I include here a photo I took in 1998 at the 25th anniversary of Poundmaker’s Lodge, a recovery centre outside of Edmonton . In the background you see the remains of the  residential school, which was destroyed by arson in 2000.

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Update on the Coyotes

I admit that in my last post “Getting along with Coyotes” I did not get the details written down, either because of my communication or because of what was reported. In the area where the dog attack took place,  it is a suburban area adjacent to the river valley and a larger wild  area. The woman was walking her three dogs in the evening, and it was assumed off-leash when a pack of coyotes closed in on the smallest dog.The woman ended up down the steep embankment, not because she fell , as I mistakenly said, but because she chased the coyotes after they chased her smallest dog that way .The small dog was bitten and chased onto the ice, which was too thin for her to go to the dog. She did chase the coyotes away and luckily had a cellphone to call for help because she could not get back up the embankment on her own. Both her and the dog were rescued. The dog was taken to the vet and was expected to recover but the extent of its injuries  was not reported, other than some “bites.”

This is considered an unusual incident, first because it was apparently, a pack up to 7 or 9 animals. and coyotes are breeding and finding their dens, so more territorial and aggressive at this time of year.We have encroached on wildlife as the city has grown along the river valley so we have always co-existed and the coyotes have been here for dozens of years. The city of Edmonton has the largest park land in North America which is a blessing as well as a problem such as in this case.We have had bears and cougars and moose wander into the city on occasion. There are a lot of deer here as well. This is a problem in every city in North America.The city administration has a pamphlet specifically on coyotes and what to do and what not to do. When there is a report of activity, trails are closed and signs are posted.

The problem  comes as a result of increasing population as well as access to available food.There is plenty for coyotes to eat in the river valley as we have a large population of mice, voles, and rabbits, birds. The rest comes from peoples back yards, either from pet food left outside , dropped fruit from trees or garbage not secured in covered containers.There are people who leave buns and slices of bread attached to tree branches along the trails presumably  for the birds but I am certain that the coyotes are feasting on this.Then there is the food left in the picnic areas. Apparently feral and loose cats compose 5% of a coyotes diet in the Edmonton river valley. I shudder to think of this, but how many people are approaching coyotes or even feeding them?

I am sure there have been more incidents that have  been reported. I met a young man who told me with some pride that his dog had a confrontation with a coyote but said the dog is calmer now and more in control. I am certain that there  will be more confrontations between dogs and coyotes as well as people and coyotes as the latter loses fear of people. I know when I am walking alone and hear a pack howling, I do not go to that area.It makes me a little nervous. I call that common sense.

There is a joint study by the University of Alberta and the  City being done called the Urban Coyote Project. I am so curious about this matter that I offered to volunteer with this project. My goal is to educate myself and others so we may live together in this great land without getting anyone or anything killed.

Getting Along With Coyotes

A woman’s dog was attacked by a pack of reportedly 7-9 coyotes in the river valley in Edmonton last week. It survived and so did she after being rescued by police after going  down a 20 foot  embankment when the coyotes chased her smallest dog down the hill and onto the thin  ice. She managed to chase the coyotes away but refrained from going onto the thin ice. She had a cell phone with her and called the police. Police responded as did Fish and Wildlife and park staff who rescued her because she couldn’t get back up the embankment and the dog. She was not hurt apparently, and the dog was taken to the emergency vet but no further news.Must have been scary, she certainly has my sympathy as does her dog.

I have run into a coyotes at another dog park myself a few years ago but just one that I was aware of. I called the dog I was with to me, then we both left the path.The coyote came through the trees on an adjacent path into the open. I yelled out to the other dog owners and a man picked up a big stick and chased the coyote away.  In the past I have seen them in different parts of the city, usually at night and from a car. I hear them howling across the river often in the past couple of years. My  most recent sighting was at dusk when I saw one last winter skulking through the trees near the bird feeders at the park.

I was listening to the news about this incident and heard from a wildlife officer that we have about 600 coyotes living in our river valley. There are trails that I have walked on that have signs notifying you of the fact there are coyotes in the area and to keep your dog close. But  the dog-owners don’t always take heed.They let their dogs loose all over the park whether they are on off-leash trails or not. I am sure that that woman thought it wouldn’t happen to her, either. Be forewarned.

I think we can co-exist here, in fact we have been doing so for dozens of years. I want them to stay wild and have a little fear of us and I want people, especially children, and pets to be safe.

Some of the advice from the city is to keep your dogs on a leash in  areas where coyotes are known to roam, do not let them run off alone. Do not approach coyotes but show that you are bigger than them by carrying a big stick, or yelling, then slowly detouring.Do not run. Do not leave food and water from your pets outside and clean up fallen fruit from trees as well as keep your garbage containers sealed. Coyotes will be attracted to the food and lose their fear of people. And don’t let your pet play with one. Often there is a pack a short distance away and the playful one will lure your dog to the pack where they will attack.

The best way to get along with coyotes is to be respectful and enjoy them from a distance. It is better for all of us that way.

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