More Wood Duck Love…

… in a romantic October fallscape.

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Backcountry: the Power of Contrast

Early this week I had the chance to escape the city and do some camping and hiking for a couple of days. I knew this was going to be my one shot to get out of the city for any length of time this summer, so I was determined not to let it slip away.  In a frenzy, the essentials of survival were gathered and stuffed in (or lashed onto) my pack.  Tent. Water purification tabs. Freeze-dried meals.  First Aid Kit.  Bear Spray, bear bells, and wildlife horn.  Propane stove: I’ll be damned if I’m having cold meals (or foregoing coffee), even in the woods.  Mini bottles of rum and Bailey’s: for medicinal reasons.

2 days of my 2.5 day sojourn were cold and wet (cue violins).  No matter.  The discomfort made the positives that much more incredible by virtue of contrast.  No hot cup of coffee is ever as good as the one you drink when you’re chilled to the core.  No transient rays of sun are as glorious as the ones that warm your neck after hours of pissing rain.  No dram of rum as appreciated as the one that thaws out your frozen insides. And no stellar mountain views are as lovely as the ones you’ve truly had to earn to witness.

 

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Deadwood as Art
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Wizened, Wayward Pine
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Rae Lake
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Rae Lake
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Drying Out in the Sun
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Home

 

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Cheeky Red Squirrel
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Columbian Ground Squirrel
Stonecrop
Stonecrop

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Elbow Lake

The Urban Birdscape: Part 5

Even though I go there so frequently, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary never ceases to leave me enthralled.  We are so lucky to have this island of wildlife habitat in the city.   Today’s early morning junket revealed a tetrad of double-crested cormorants and a delightful interlude with a couple of spotted fawns and their mother.

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Cattails
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Double-crested cormorants

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Unidentified duck.  I would love to know who she is.
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And this guy.  Don’t know who he is either.  A house wren, possibly?
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Here he is with his eyes open.  He was singing his heart out.
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Catching up to Mom.

 

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Mom.
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An abundance of green.

Sunny Summer Single Track

On Saturday morning I revisited Bowmont Park to ride some lovely rolling single track along the escarpment. The wildflowers were striking; the skies were sunny; and the physical exertion was crucial after a long week pushing paper.

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Start of the trail
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Goldenrod
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Purple Prairie Clover
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Top of the Escarpment
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Rolling Single Track
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Aspen Grove
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Saskatoons in fruit
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Wolf willow and Campanula
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Heliopsis?
 

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Tranquil Pond

Wildflower Season…

… is now upon us.  All the more reason to get the hell out of the city and into the mountains.  Green remains my favourite colour – and foliage in dozens of verdant hues backlit by the sun thrills me the most.  But wildflowers are a charming complement: if green is the sentence, wildflowers are the punctuation.

Yarrow
Yarrow
Gaillardia
Gaillardia
Buffaloberry
Buffaloberry in fruit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wood Lily
Wood Lily
Paintbrush
Paintbrush

The Urban Birdscape: Part 4

I wanted to know what feathered beauties might be found at the bird sanctuary in the wee hours of the morn, before the arrival of most human visitors.  So up I got at 5:15am on a Sunday morning.  When I arrived at the sanctuary by bike, there were only four cars in the parking lot: two of them would turn out to belong to contemplative wanderers, seeking to immerse themselves in this fragile island of nature before the onslaught of families and other noisy intrusions.  The other two belonged to outdoor photography enthusiasts, looking for the ultimate nature shot.

The morning gifted me with more breathtaking bird sightings than my wildest dreams.  Apparently pelicans come through my city – who knew?  And I finally saw the wondrous male wood duck, whose presence I knew must exist by the repeated sighting of his mate.  It pays to get up early.

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“I see you, Bill.”

 

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Red-winged blackbird

 

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American pelicans
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The royal couple: King and Queen Wood Duck
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Well hello.

Wood Duck Love

I’m becoming fixated.  A subsequent trip to the bird sanctuary was rewarded with another viewing of the female wood duck we saw previously.  I love her.  I’m so glad she chose this tranquil, ethereal piece of Calgary to raise her brood.  I still haven’t seen her much flashier mate, and I wonder where he’s at.  Probably showing off his bright plumage at the bar, in a shameless attempt to garner free drinks, leaving her to rear the kids on her own.  No matter.  She’s lovely all on her own.

 

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The Urban Birdscape: Part 3

A recent trip to Inglewood Bird Sanctuary came with two delightful surprises: we saw a pair of American widgeons… and, wait for it… a female wood duck!  It’s a very good thing the male wood duck was not on display, because I damn well would have had a coronary – there’s only so much birding excitement I can handle.

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American widgeons

 

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Male mallards (left and centre) and female wood duck (right)

 

 

 

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Female wood duck
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Female wood duck and her ducklings

 

 

 

The Urban Birdscape: Part 2

I got up ridiculously early on Sunday morning and went to Shouldice Park, in the hopes of catching some cool bird life in the way of woodpeckers, house finches, and the like.  Alas, I couldn’t spy any of the aforementioned gems – it being the law of the universe that the really cool birds will not appear on the outings I have a camera with me.  I did, however, snap a few pics of some common critters with more humble plumage that are worthy of note in their own right.

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Common Mergansers (male)

 

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House Sparrow (male)
American Robin
American Robin
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House Sparrows in flagrante delicto

 

 

 

 

 

 

European Starling
European Starling