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.

Double-crested cormorants


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


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.

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

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.

Buffaloberry in fruit








Wood Lily
Wood Lily

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.

“I see you, Bill.”



Red-winged blackbird


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






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.

American widgeons


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




Female wood duck
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.

Common Mergansers (male)


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







European Starling
European Starling










The Urban Birdscape

I must admit that I have gone most of my 41 years without hitherto paying too much attention to our urban avian friends.  I’m pretty good when it comes to appreciating and identifying native flora, but bird watching has never been a compelling interest of mine… until recently.  Taking up the challenge of trying to spot, and then identify, these delightfully frenzied creatures has opened up a whole new realm of urban wilderness fascination and adventure.

I now finally get why people spend bazillions of dollars on fancy schmancy lenses and stake out positions for hours in boggy mud banks patiently waiting for the ideal shot of a ibis or an avocet or some other bird that I had never heard of prior to a few weeks ago. Note: this doesn’t mean I will now be shelling out hundreds of dollars for camera equipment I’m not qualified to use – but it does perhaps mean I may need to work on suppressing a wee pang of envy every time I see a photographer sporting a telephoto zoom lens as long as my arm, covered in camo.

On a recent junket to Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, I had the opportunity to snap a few pics of ubiquitous Canada geese, and a few other feathered critters.


Canada Goose





Common Goldeneyes
Tree Swallow
Tree Swallow

Tree Swallows

New Year’s Day Respite

img_1616My 2017 started with a ride in the snow – several inches of it – making for some epic cardio.  The impetus behind the ride wasn’t exercise, however, it was for a mindful escape from my relentless to-do list, a list that is ready to quantify my worth as a human being dependent upon how much of it is actually attended to prior to the end of the holiday season.img_1622

I found a quiet spot with a bench, and sat for a few minutes to view the river at its best: when it is frigid and slow, the surface as smooth as coffee table glass.

This cold morning will be complemented by a warm evening: there is a roast in the oven; a fireplace to be lit; and a bottle of red to be savoured.