Observed today….a pair of Ring-necked Ducks, not to be confused with the Lesser Scaups that I’ve seen during nesting season. Another first time identification for me.
Also, passing through, two very shy Hooded Mergansers (I may be incorrect on this identification) The males are very spectacularly coloured…these two are the cinnamon colour of the females or possibly juveniles…hard to get anywhere near this couple, especially with Max on umbilical. I would appreciate the help of others on this identification.
The following photograph gave me the most reference material I could capture…
There remains, a single Pied Billed Grebe…don’t know why this one hasn’t headed out. Very elusive and likes to go under at the first sight of me…I’m determined to get close enough to see the light in his eyeballs at some point.
I shouldn’t always apologize for my photographs. I’m not in the business of circling a single pond for the possibility of becoming a photographer, but I would like it if the images were focused. I am walking daily, however, in order to document what I feel, see, hear and experience. I am there to learn and to discover through all of my observations.
Well, today, I saw one single male Northern Pintail duck on the pond. While a very common bird, I have never seen one and I’m always excited to spot a new species. I find it funny that I’ve observed such a variety this autumn and usually solitary male birds. Please enjoy the link to the Northern Pintail that I have provided. It doesn’t get much better than Audubon!
Just after snapping these two photographs, a train thundered to the west of me. The Pintail took off, circled the pond and then headed south across the debacle that is the South West Ring Road, likely to the larger water body to the south. Grateful for this siting.
I should be out gardening. I am typically well ahead of the neighbours, but with owwies in the elbow this year, I’m lagging. That doesn’t stop me from feeling fired up, however, as I listen to the sound of the neighbouring trimmers, lawnmowers and the stchhhh stchhhh of their sprinklers.
It’s pretty nice getting outside for long hikes, without the lawn work, I’ve got to say.
Here are today’s birds…all at Frank’s Flats. I continue to hope that the pond on the other side of the chain link fence isn’t drained until the fledge happens. We’ve a lot of nesting water birds at the moment. We have one widowed Goose (female, I think), as well as a widowed Mallard (male). They were hanging out together for quite a bit today. However, as I snapped a photograph, the Mallard flew out of frame.
No smiling at the pond these days! If I smiled, I would eat my weight in bugs. Must be the reason for the excitement on the water. The gulls, laughing in a wild frenzy, are annoying the other birds. The Yellow-headed Blackbirds seem to be pecking away in the huge batch of blooming dandelions.
Giving me the Stare Down!
Black Headed Gull
More than a few…and Noisy!
One of the Male Grebes Having a Float
Overseeing his possibilities.
Female Blackbirds checking out the Men. So many visible, while for weeks, the men were out there doing the soft shoe on the cat tails on their own.
Widowed Two Weeks Ago
This must be my O’ Canada Photograph
Chain Link Fence and Wigeon
Gadwells and Gull
Male Red-Winged Blackbird Giving a Shout
One Photograph was edited today. Guess which one? (Not this one)
Calgary weather has been less than cooperative, this past week, for anyone trying to grab a photograph of birds. Rain and snow and biting wind. What happens with grey skies and water and birds? Everything becomes soft-edged. New birds making their appearances: Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Night Heron, Eared Grebe, several more pairs of Red-necked Grebes, many Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wigeons, many more Redheads, Lesser Scaups and Coots. The pond is alive with activity. The Common Mergansers feel the most regal and demanding of attention.
It amazes me that in a single pond ecosystem, over six years, I’ve learned and experienced so much!
Yesterday, after teaching grade twos for the day, Max and I enjoyed short breaks in the clouds and hope for a blue sky today. At one point, a very cold wind and system blew in, but left just as quickly. I was finally able to get close to a focused image of the Grebe.
But first, the reading of some Eric Carle. We read the lovely book, A Very Tiny Seed…but, I spoke to the students about my memories of A Very Hungry Caterpillar. (same story, really) A book about how one transforms, changes, grows…
I chose to photograph the female goose who has settled into a particularly public place because she was so different, from the back, from the male and looks as though she’s ready to burst! I continue to make efforts to get closer to the Buffleheads, Goldeneyes and Common Mergansers, but they are all camera shy.
I am becoming frustrated about birding photography because I am growing to recognize focused photographs and can easily determine that a lot of mine are not (focused, that is)! At times, my equipment IS holding me back and I’ve decided that, given that I am highly enthusiastic about taking photos of bird species, likely my point and shoot Canon Powershot will not always feel adequate. Today, however, I’m going to post some of those poor quality photographs because, as I’ve said before, I’m trying to archive my sitings as my interest lies primarily with my observations and encounters and only as a sidebar, the photography.
I can not share with my readers what utter joy I have been having exploring this one pond ecosystem and it seems as though every season, I’m discovering more. My eyes are wide open, that’s for sure! Read Birds, Art, Life by Kyo Maclear and you will find me inside those pages!
The nesting platform that has been for four years, attended by a pair of Osprey, this year, has been occupied by a ‘sitting goose’. Damn! How could this happen? Surprisingly enough, I’ve witnessed it happen before at the more westerly platform location and watched as the Osprey family violently fought the goose away. This year, the Sikome Osprey couple arrived just a week ago, to learn that it was impossible to inhabit their familiar platform with such a stubborn, however, unusual bird already well-moved-in. You know, dear readers, and I know that this is going to lead to a certain fate for the large numbers of goslings that will fall crashing to their deaths, not long after hatching.
However, Enmax, who DID respond to my call for help in very short order, was unable to reach the nesting bird in their long armed bucket yesterday, due to the changed drainage ditches and rock retaining systems that were constructed before fall of this past year. They wrote to tell me that the Osprey would have to wait until the gosling hatching and then, mayhaps, they would reclaim the nest. I just wondered, after this response, why they can not erect a new platform in the meantime…and so…more drama today!
As I drove to Frank’s Flats, Maxman in tow after Mass this morning, I noted that Mr. and Mrs. Osprey were sitting on two different light standards staring, with evil eyes, in the direction of the platform. The goose sat, indifferent. I sent off a post to social media once I arrived at the pond.
Returning home, the first stick was set down.
“Uh oh,” I thought to myself, “by end of day, this, a nest will be!”
Sure enough, after Pow Wow dancing class (you should try it!), I drove down to check on progress! A full nest is well engaged on the top of the sign that appears east 22x just before the bridge. This nest edges the bike path directly and has a view of a bustling and particularly noisy traffic area. Oh dear!
Yes, I HAVE let Enmax know….but, what saddens me is that, at the destruction of this nest, the Osprey will have to sort out a new location…and there just isn’t one that makes any sense. What makes sense is for Enmax to grow some determination, get that goose down, and let the Osprey nest.
I’ll keep you informed…and in the meantime…this is all for the birds!
People are now out and fishing on the river.
I watched as a Bald Eagle and the two Osprey did the work of negotiating their way around these wires that cross over the Bow River…in the name of advancement.
The Black-headed gulls have returned to the south…I noticed this first when I was in my neighbourhood park at dusk last evening and hundreds of them flew overhead…pure magic!
First time for everything…I watched Mr. mount Mrs.(not posted here)
At Frank’s Flats…the past couple of days…The male Loon appeared yesterday and fished the pond for the entire day. Today, he was gone.
Since chopping down most of the trees and leaving this single deciduous tree just on the other side of the fence, the crows are at a loss for where to build new nests. They gather together these days, in far larger groups than this…but, I’ve noticed a change in their activities.
My favourite image captured today was a simple one of three geese. They seemed to be suspended or floating on perfectly calm pond water. Obviously just as curious about me, we spent about five minutes exchanging gazes, alternating with times looking at the environment that surrounded us.
I spent a great deal of time enjoying the antics of the Goldeneyes, also, but, at their preferred distance from me, very little again, in the way of successful capture.
Likely 50 male Goldeneyes at Frank’s Flats today and a continued effort at capturing their ridiculous courting rituals.
I think this little girl is a female Wigeon. (Thank you, Miles…I’ve had a ‘real birder’ let me know that this is, in fact, a Gadwell.) I had seen a male at the pond on April 11.Today, I also spotted a single male Bufflehead. He was unobtrusively wandering through the Goldeneye chaos.
Multiple Male Canvasbacks and 2 Females
The documentation isn’t great because I was such a great distance away.
These are fast swimmers and in their mating rituals, they do a lot of diving and showing off. Shy birds, they, like the Mergansers, crossed the pond each time I came around to their side. This is very annoying for me, and when I lose patience, I just put the camera down and watch. I feel more excited to be closely observing and learning from these spring romancers.
I have been very interested in the mating rituals of the Mallards…just ‘ordinary’ ducks…but, I have developed quite a respect for the tremendous resilience and determination of the female Mallard. I’m watching her more closely this spring, in terms of her attempts to hold off the aggressive drakes. I caught a really lovely photograph today of one of these ladies.
Only the past two days, the songs of the Red Winged Blackbirds have returned to the pond and while I haven’t sighted any females yet, the males are calling in a very determined, if not impatient way.
It seems that as large groups of birds are sighted, with the disruptive activities around the extension of Stoney Trail, the waterbirds, for the most part, are moving on. The Goldeneyes were here in large numbers, as were the Common Mergansers, but today, they seemed to be replaced by the Lesser Scaups and the Canvasbacks. The Geese look hunkered down for the long haul, although on the south side of the fence, I fear they are bound to lose their youngsters this year. The Mallards are also nesting in the tall grass along the slopes to the pond…but they will also be in harm’s way, either through the marauding populations of displaced coyotes or the extensive and dismissive nature of human activity.
Magpies are watching on from the cheap seats.
I hope to get some good photographs of the Lesser Scaups this year, but they did manage to avoid my efforts last year. We’ll see. I love their powder blue beaks and the lovely patterning on their backs. Their eyes are the most luminous gold colour. They are just lovely to watch. Also, shy.
I have to admit, I’m not at the top of my game lately. A person can be confronted by and, possibly, absorb a lot of gut-wrenching stuff via the media, daily. (the state of Syria, regional economics, pipelines, the American debates and election, unemployment and the economy, involvement of Russia in global agitation, the status of North Korea regarding armaments, the state of our environment and the care for dwindling species…these are just a few concerning factors that spewed out the tips of my fingers at the keyboard…free flow) If that ‘removed’ material isn’t enough, then there are also the daily stressors that one must face, sometimes alone, and these can really nail a person down, both in body and spirit. The important thing is to do something about it by changing patterns and practices.
This past weekend was one of those weekends for me. Not really ‘into’ any interactions with my wider circle, I focused on ‘being’ with smaller groups, staying closer to home and eating good food. Quality time with my daughter and my ‘real life’ friends was very healing. I am grateful for that sense that the rest of the world can motor on at warp speed while I take a little vacation from the nonsense that becomes my whirling life. What we’re trying to prove, I don’t exactly know. What I’ve been doing, I do.
The weekend began with a gathering of my hiking YaYas and our ritual gathering photo op with prop. Thanks to Cathy for hosting. What a relief it is to talk and talk and talk and laugh. And wow…those hugs at the end of an evening!
Walking the circle of the pond at Frank’s Flats…always calms me and makes me live more deliberately or consciously. Walking, itself, causes the lungs to fill up and with ‘real’ air. The light filters in and replaces worry or dischord.
Contemplating my closest companion…our friendship…activity. There are many funny moments created by my Max-Man. This weekend, I was grateful for my fur-boys, both dogs, Laurie-Dog and Max-Man and cats, Piper, Edgar and Peanut.
On our Saturday afternoon walk, a flock of fourteen Trumpeter swans flew overhead. There is nothing like their sound pulling out of a blue sky. I didn’t care about zooming or panning, obviously, but I can not look at this patch of blue, without remembering what that was like. I always consider these events to be Holy events and I have been graced with the blessing of many such moments.
On Sunday morning, I went to early Mass. For me, the peace that comes with this celebration can’t be replaced with anything else. I was also very grateful to be embraced by the MacDonalds in the parking lot, afterwards. Such good people.
Sunday offers the opportunity for people to recline and have a little snooze, or as my Dad calls them, a Sizz under the Fuzzy. I had one of those and then…
I drove to Hull’s Wood…a part of my life, here, in Calgary’s fringe. Jess has begun her teaching of this semester’s Pow Wow dancing. I highly recommend this practice to all of my readers. We began with the peacefulness of a smudge ceremony and the blessing of sweetgrass and sage. Then…cardio…then practice. This week, some basics in handling a single hoop.
I decided, on the way home from Pow Wow dancing that I would stop off at the Queensland Community Center and spend some time with Mark’s mural on the building. On a perfect autumn day, it was a wonderful option for viewing art and giving one of my peeps, some support.
At home, Cayley and I made Cannelloni together. It was fun to share the kitchen and I’d like to do that more often. The process of cooking can be a very relaxing thing. When I went to my room in search of my bedroom slippers, I noticed that my daughter had also folded my clothes from the dryer. Kindness from others is likely the best medicine out there, for anything that might ail you as an individual…it is also the best medicine for the world.
I would like my readers to share what it is that they do to relax, to find their center…to be at peace. We don’t have to control everything all of the time. But, how do we let go of that need to control everything?
At the pond today, I wondered about the fragility in nature. Only yesterday afternoon, I was admiring the reflections of the clouds in water.
Today, the clouds were ominous and pounding rain drove down in the SE from eleven o’clock in the morning and on into late afternoon. The two Ruddy ducklings are all that seemed to have hatched. I have no idea what happens to the population of eggs as tended by all of the other Ruddy partners that edge the pond. Are they all lost?
I captured a marvelous series of a red finch feasting on one of the plants…the red was very intense, given that the bird honestly seemed to be soaked through. I’ve taken some photographs of the edge of the pond to show it’s evolution over the past week…if my readers look at the cat tails, they will get a good idea of how high the water is today.
Mr. is trying to find a place to hide. There are no fewer than 15 male and 15 female Ruddy Ducks that edge the pond. Only one female has been seen the past week, with two little guys and they are successfully diving and having a grand time, even through all of this unreasonable amount of rain.Mrs. with soccer ball. It’s atrocious, now that the water level is so high, just how much human waste and plastic floats on the water. It made me sad today.
This is the Grebe nest as it appeared today. I’ve posted several photographs of this nest this past spring. The other nest, on the opposite side of the pond, is completely submerged today.
Well…the rain brought these two around again today. I’ve never had my camera with me when I’ve spotted them and while these aren’t great photographs because of the conditions, I’m glad I have them documented.
This is a very distinctive black and white shorebird. It has a long, thin black bill and either pink or red legs and feet. This bird is common in the marsh environment.
Here is one female Ruddy Duck with her offspring. These two youngsters are so much fun to watch because already, they make wonderful divers!
His feathers, plastered against his body, I could not help but document the process this male House Finch went through to pull apart segments of this plant. Surprisingly, he wasn’t concerned about my presence and just worked feverishly.
Site occupied by another of the Coot families and the successfully hatched Ruddy Ducks. Much plastic floating on this corner of the pond.
The cat tails are submerged, as is the rock shoulder of the pond. The bush that I have documented since October 13 is partially submerged in water.
The sky is growing very dark. It is a bit past noon on Friday. The long weekend looms ahead of me. I’ve got lists of arts events on my calendar, ones that I began skipping last night and will probably continue to skip through the weekend. I have no idea why, apart from the fact that I feel so content…since the broken foot, the forced recovery period, the slower Max walks, the stopping and looking at birds, the filling of the bird feeder, the moving out of clutter. The process has made me peaceful, but I’m not sleeping.
Today, Frank’s Flats looks like this.
Autumn is definitely moving in…my favourite season. I even delight in the chill of the air, the kind that leaves your nose dripping.
I think the papa osprey is pushing his kids out of the nest. (I just learned recently that the female leaves the nest experience first, so it must be papa who has been teaching the kids to fish). This morning, one of the kids (female) was crying on this side of the highway, from atop a pole…no sibs at the nest as I passed by, on the other side of the highway….no sibs fishing the neighbour hood pond. I think Dad’s saying, “Adios”. Now what’s a kid to do?
It’s an unbelievable thing that this family will begin an epic migration and that the monogamous couple will reunite again, barring any tragic events. This map illustrates known migration routes…so for those of you who grew weary of my amazement by these raptors this past season, know that these lives are miracles…one couple, three juveniles. I can only wish them well. It looks like they are heading for South America.
For the past two weeks I’ve been given many opportunities and moments to observe the Great Blue Herons and it seems that this would be every where I would go, even a siting while visiting my dear friend out in Chestermere.
I thought that I was in amaze-butts-ville because one lone heron was hanging out at Frank’s Flats, that is until two days ago. I observed at least five in a marshland area that I could only catch from the highway. I’d have to do a hike down into that space, probably next year.
The truly remarkable thing is that in a single day, I saw hawks soaring and learning to fly, ducks, mergansers and coots running on water for their experiments in flying (circling the pond at low level as though they were playing) and then seeing them take flight, fourteen pelicans, flashing white black white black in a triangle overhead…and then finally, observing the spectacle of two great blue herons, dodging one another in the wind, flying…weaving…playing…skimming water…reaching up…I’d never seen anything like it. The camera just sat against my chest. I love moments when, in today’s archive-focused-world, the camera is put on the shelf because the world ‘is your oyster’.
I’m going to post the crazy bad photo that I DID take…because I wanted to have an image that said, September 3, this happened. “Two great and fragile giants with huge wing spans were given to me to watch and enjoy.”
September 3, 2015, I watched two herons in flight for approximately five minutes…dodging one another…staying in flight…a wonder!
It’s not that I know anything about totemic animals apart from the fact that a huge number of cultures listen to, speak to and are impacted by the creatures that share this planet with us…whether they fly or creep or roam or swim…but I do know that all of this and them, are grace…holy…
We have not taken very good care of any of this and these.
Whether in July, you notice and think about the Dragonflies that hover at your feet or in August you are looking at the Great Blue Herons, it all has a significance to your life, your heart and your mind. Nature has taught me much these past two months and I am filled with gratitude for her lessons. God is manifest and all is Holy.