It is a delight to watch the white pelicans fishing, at first calm and upright, sometimes a slight lean forward, then leap forward and down into the water at what they see. My friend Diane and I had the good fortune to see not just one, but four pelicans today at a man-made lake in northeast Edmonton. Great fun!
Birding at a Lake in the City
I like going to this lake in the city because there are Red-necked Grebes here, but today there were a few surprises. The lake has a walkway around it and houses surround this, with a lot of the people putting up birdhouses and feeders in their yards which makes this a bird-friendly zone. It was a lovely day sunny and cloudy, but quite the glare off the water.
Another photographer and birder alerted me to this fledged magpie which is the first that I have seen. I think the term begins with “L”.
I decided to walk around this small lake and saw many sights and many feathered families.
Saw some brief displays, with the pair calling loudly , coming together and stretching their necks up with crests raised then swimming away.
At one curve in the lake a pelican circled and landed. No time to check my settings, i tried panning as it landed.
it happened too quick , there was nothing I could do about the sign but keep following.
Happy about that, a short way further along the path I saw a large bird coming into view. Not id-ing it yet, I tried to focus on it.
A great Blue heron! What a treat! It landed near the pelican and stayed to fish.
The damsel flies were prolific so got my first shot of the season.
She is a beautiful blue. Speaking of blue, there were many blue ribbons on posts all around the lake , paying tribute to fallen officer Const Daniel Woodall. His funeral is tomorrow, so I will be present at the procession.
i explored further than Windy Point and stopped at Preachers Point and though I took a photo with my zoom lens, i recognized the mountains that I had shot in the winter a couple of years ago. Ironicly , my friends were coming back from Vancouver and were in this same area the same day. We may have even passed each other!
Here are the photos from the winter when i was here at sunrise, obviously with a wider -angle lens.
I dropped into Two-O’Clock Creek, so named because the creekbed will flood with water from the run-off from the mountains in the afternoon. I noticed there are notices on the signs to submit ticks because Alberta health want to test them for evidence of Lyme disease. This is new to me so had me worried about more than bears. Thiss campground is a beautiful spot with an energy that draws me back ever since I first discovered it. i was thrilled to find a Western Tanager here although I apologise for the lousy shot.
i did some walking and stopped to say hello to the campground managers. See why i like this place so much?
The weather changed again and it FELT like snow was coming. up to then I was in a t-shirt and light jacket. The clouds rolled in and the mountains were almost covered completely. Time to go home.
One Day at a Time in the Mountains – Day One
Although I started my little vacation on Monday of last week, visiting with friends in Lacombe, I did no shooting there, it was visiting only, which I really enjoyed. On Tuesday morning I set out west after picking up groceries and filling up my gas tank. I got to Nordegg in the early afternoon and stopped at the museum which was closed and being renovated for the tourist season which starts later this month. The May long weekend sees thousands head to campground and the back country so there was no homemade pie or bowl of soup at the Miner’s Cafe, but I will get back there later. I didn’t mind being ahead of the crowds.
I was too early for check-in time at Cheechacko Cabins where I was staying two nights so went a few miles down the road to Fish Lake. Previously called Shunda Lake this lake that has five loops of camping stalls, resident loons and an Osprey. As well as the visual treat it provides, I also like listening. I heard the loons calling, the coyotes yipping and the wolves howling. The song birds! There were so many songs, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.I was a big chicken which is a hindrance to hiking. I wasn’t sure of bear activity and although I would have loved to see one from the car, I didn’t want to run into one on the trail. I made noise as I walked then stopped many times to be still and listen. So quiet and so relaxing.
The lake waters were calm and good reflections were to be had.
The feel of the springy ground beneath my feet was so comforting.
i looked at the larger views as well as the smaller things. Getting Cloudy and a breeze is picking up.
Bark and Moss
Old Man’s Beard
The birds were plentiful but elusive, always flying ahead of me. I spotted a large bird slowly winging through the tops of the trees- the Osprey? I managed to capture a couple of images.
Yellow Rumped Warblers
After a few hours at the lake I back-tracked a few miles to Grouse Mountain Road just off of Shunda Creek Road north ofthe town of Nordegg and settled into my cabin, a spotless home with all the comforts. At the end of the first day, I took a quick shot of my surroundings., the trees in the yard and the sculptures on the trees, the Wood Spirits. It was just starting to snow.
Almost a Wild Goose Chase
Went on the Snow Goose Chase yesterday. The migration was early this year and we were late, as the chase often is held in April. however we saw lots of species, 57 to be exact.
The group was enthusiastic and we were rewarded with a smaller remaining flock of snowgeese.We all roared with delight when someone yelled to the driver, “Stop! Stop! There they are!” We were treated to snacks and a warm buffet in Tofield plus there were scopes, field guides and extra binoculars to share. A few companies sponsor this event but it is organized by the Edmonton Nature Club and we had spotters driving ahead of us and guides on the bus pointing out the various birds. it was a lot of fun. No lifers for me , but it was a thrill to see Black Backed Stilts and a Marbled Godwit through the provided scopes, unfortunately too far for my camera.
Here are some photos of some of the species-most are a distance away, to be expected on a bus tour. Kudos to the Edmonton Nature Club and its dedicated volunteers of expert birders. They will be having some walks in the upcoming season and I hope to join them.
American White Pelicans
Mountain Bluebird -Male
Mountain Bluebird – Female
A Gaggle of Snow Geese
Greater White- Fronted Goose
and a terrific sky that had me running back to the bus to change lens.
Rest and Relaxation
I gave a month’s notice to my work and am taking a much-needed break for a week. We have been short-staffed and over-worked for a long time while making money for the company and I am tired. On Monday I will be heading for the hills, either Jasper National Park or David Thompson country. When I come back I will hopefully have a whole bunch of new images. For today, I am resting, going to the advance polls to vote in the provincial election and researching options for accomodation in the days to come.Recharging batteries, figuratively and literally.
On Sunday I will still be in this area of Central Alberta but going on the Snow Goose Chase sponsored by the Nature Club. We will be bussing around the country spotting Snow geese on their migration north-a truly magnificent sight. Maybe we will see Bluebirds and owls, cranes…and huge flocks of Snow Geese.
Here are some images from the past as I think of which direction to go:
Medicine Lake, Jasper National Park
Abraham Lake David Thompson Country
Two More New Arrivals
Oh! I am getting so excited! Love to see the birds coming back. These are two more new arrivals this season. I only saw the males and the light was getting low but will get the pairs soon. Shot at the full 300mm.
Lesser Scaup Male
American Widgeon Male
Outdoors with the Birds
I went out a couple of times during the Easter weekend to shoot the birds with my Canon.Here is what I saw , including one “lifer.” Getting outdoors makes me feel complete and I am so grateful to be able to take photos, smell the fresh air and watch and listen to the birds and wildlife.
Did I tell you that I booked a seat on the “Wild Goose Chase” tour? We will be going to see the snow geese migration, possibly owls, cranes, bluebirds.. I haven’t done this in years so am looking forward to it. The trip is on May 3rd and of course I will be taking photos and posting them!
But back to the birds, etc. from this past weekend…
It is always a sign of spring to see the gulls return. Here is a resident Ring-billed gull.
I got a kick out of the Canada Geese lined up at the open side of the pond.
The House Finches are back in the neighbourhood. I like their songs, although my neighbour hates them since they nest right outside his window.
Here is a shot of a Handsome Canada Goose gander.
And you know who had to make an appearance, always helping himself to the spoils at the bird feeder.
I had been trying a number of self -portraits when this beauty showed up. I quickly grabbed the camera off the tripod and changed my settings from timer to bursts.
Both the male and female Downy Woodpeckers showed up This is the male.
This is the female Downy Woodpecker.The Black-capped Chickadees.
And my “lifer” the American Tree Sparrow. Yay!
A Ruckas in the Back Alley
It was quite noisy in the back alley this particular morning. The fighting between two couples was echoing off the buildings and was loud, attracting people’s attention from the surrounding apartments and condos.. I went out to investigate, taking my camera with me. Turns out that one couple is trying to set up house on the balcony of someone’s apartment (the owners must be thrilled) and the other couple were loudly protesting from the parking area.below. At one point, one of the mates flew up to the balcony but bounced off the wall, not quite hitting the mark.In the last photo the couple seem to be perplexed, maybe giving up. It has been eerily quiet since then and I wonder whether someone took the matter into their hands in a lethal way.
The Three Tenors
These three were very vocal in their expressions, now that they have come back to the province, always consider gulls a harbinger of spring.
They were resplendent in their breeding plumage and their three part harmony astounding. Take a bow, gentlemen!
They are Back!
I was out and about doing errands and took off to a nearby park since it was close to the mall where I had been shopping. Enough errands, it was a gorgeous day outside and the temperature was in the teens. My rubber boots were not in the car which prohibited me from going closer to the water. A man with a camera passed me and asked what I ‘d seen. I replied ” just Chickadees and Blue Jays”. He told me he’d seen about 60 Canada Geese in Hawrelak Park. Off I went.
They congregate in these large puddles where the snow has melted and there was a Pair of Mallards there which is exciting when it is the first sighting this year. I arrived in time to see a male fly in from the area of the pond which happens to be iced over, and a vicious fight ensued. When all was calm everyone went back to their eating and I sat down, watched and took photos.Now that’s a good day. I will show you what other species I saw in the next posts.
Will you Stay or Will you Go?
I was taking photos of the Black-capped Chickadees when I heard a similar call, softer with a pretty whistling sound. The Boreal Chickadee was back and I was delighted to capture a couple of shots.They are a rarity around here so when they show up all of us birding types get excited. It flew from low-lying shrubs into a nearby tree and was joined by another before the two of them flew away together.. Are they mates? Are they going to stay? Or will they go? Either way, I enjoyed the moment.That is what it is all about, right?
More Reviews from the Past Year
First, I chose my friend Lindsay’s orchids. She is very good at growing them and I like to capture their images. Secondly, I was capturing images of geese last April with not a lot of signs of snow.I wonder if these geese over-wintered? The pastels in the skies were pretty last March. Another “painting” of a gazebo in the central area of the city. a close-up of a house finch that nested in the area.Liked hearing its song which was a pleasant change from the house sparrows but I know my neighbour was NOT amused by the singing just under his window every morning.A magpie showing off it’s tail feathers. I wonder how the weather will be for the rest of winter, a lot has melted and the temperature is up-and-down like a yo-yo. One day at a time.
I got up close and personal with this red-breasted nuthatch the other day. I am sick and have no energy so this post is short but I like the photo. Enjoy.
I was listening for the Pine Grosbeaks but haven’t seen them since the last cold spell. Instead I heard the unmistakable high-pitched trill of the Bohemian Waxwings then noticed there were a couple of trees full of them. They were feeding in the berry trees, I think Mountain Ash and just roosting in a larger one. I found it interesting to watch one pair display apparent courting behaviour snuggling close and one fed the other.There was some closeness, then one flew off. Something distracted the group, either me or a magpie or maybe neither, and they all flew away. I wonder if there will be regular sightings of them. this winter. They were fun to watch , their gestures of the head and body sometimes comical. It was a treat to be able to watch them.
Blue Jays, Magpies and Downy Woodpeckers
Sunday was bright and sunny and had warmed up to minus twenty something with a light breeze. I spent less time swearing and put my energy into shovelling the wind drifts from behind my car and went to the park. No sign of the grosbeaks but was seeing blue Jays, Magpies, Crows and Downy Woodpeckers.
I find the blue Jays a little more evasive, coming from a distance staying in the trees in the safety of the branches and taking a quick dip to the food and retreating.The magpies are similar but a bit bolder until you get just about focused , then they take off. On this day they were used to the person feeding them and showing themselves more. I really noticed the change of behaviour in these birds while someone was feeding them. They start to compete and fight over the food which was some sort of bird feed that they obviously liked. There were about six Magpies, one Blue Jay and a pair of Woodpeckers. The chickadees were staying a safe distance away. I would have stayed longer but was losing light as well as the feeling in my hands and toes.It was good to get out again.
Birding Count for Today
There are many feeders in the park and I found one today that I had never stopped at before. There were two squirrels competing with the Black-capped Chickadees and a White-breasted Nuthatch, and even a Bluejay stopped in for a visit. The squirrels would take turns running up the tree grab a nut then go back down, but one did stop to give me some cheek.The grosbeaks were at a new tree across the road, a little higher up in the branches gobbling those berries but did not appear to be drunk. I haven’t seen any woodpeckers but have heard them a couple of times.The Nature Club sent me a letter announcing the annual Christmas bird count. I always find that interesting, more so when it isn’t minus twenty-something.
Female Grosbeak doing an acrobatic move for some berries.
He is stopping for a look at me, sizing me up.
White-breasted Nuthatch at a perch -they fly from far away then make very quick stops
Blue Jay likes to move around and hide in the branches
Giving me some Cheek
Black-capped Chickadee at its perch just before going to the bird feeder
More Female Pine Grosbeaks
it is interesting to approach the berry trees with no sight of a Pine Grosbeak, but quickly they come to the tree in twos and threes. it feels magical, how they start showing up. I only had a half-hour but took the time specifically to see and photograph the birds. In this time period I saw only the females but was able to get very close.
Some Stolen Moments-and a “Lifer”
A “lifer” is a term used by birders for a sighting of a bird that you have never seen before. I took time after errands yesterday to visit a pond north of the city. There were a lot of geese there, some mallards and a flash of white way across the pond. A Common Golden Eye? A Bufflehead? No, there were more markings. I took some photos of this dandy from a long way away, then walked around the circumference of the pond to try to get closer.People walking their dogs paid a visit and there were some photos of close-up branches but I just did not have the footing to get down an incline through fairly dense under brush. Returning to the viewing site, I was delighted that the Mallards and this Hooded Merganser were coming to me, probably to be fed.
I may have seen a male Merganser before but only due to another person’s claim, not close enough to really see it for myself. I was delighted that he paid me a visit and can add him to my life list.This is one of the first shots zoomed in at 300 mm, and shot in manual mode when he was far away.
These shots are taken when he came closer. Two are cropped but mostly no adjustments other than lighting.
No Shortage of Magpies
Here two magpies wrestling with a bone, possibly from a nearby food truck then another flies to join them until it seems that the whole family unit is there. You can see groupings like this in every city block. The tails of the young are growing in and new feathers coming in, although the process is not complete yet as they are a little “patchy-looking.”
Scenes from Summer
From a walk in nature the other day:
Some More Cuteness
It is a pleasure to go to this city pond, one of many, and see the young ducklings.Some are Lesser Scaups, some American Widgeons, and the Mallards.
Mother Scaup with her two balls of fluff.
A Big Swallow
No, I am not talking about a large size of bird species, I am referring to the large chunks of bread that was thrown to the birds at the park. The people were happily feeding their feathered friends but I wonder if they would have shown some restraint if they saw this one struggling with its bounty.This young Ring-billed gull got the prize but I am curious what it was thinking as it seemed uncomfortable with the morsel it caught.Bread is not good for birds, but tell that to the birds, or to the people who feed them.
This crow was by itself in the lower branches of the tree, observing the ducks, geese and myself. It was muttering under its breath, making all sorts of vocalizations as if talking to itself. Once in a while it cawed back and forth with its clan in nearby trees, even matching the number of caws, then there would be a lot of noise as they all excitedly called back and forth to each other.
I tried to capture this in these photos as I snapped happily away and it seemed quite obliging in the process.At one point when it was talking to itself, there was a scolding squirrel above it and the crow took this in stride but did did keep a series of mutterings going on with its head down and the eyelid semi-closed, perhaps protection from the debris that was coming from the squirrel.