A visit to Fort McKay to see the Wood Buffalo

Our eldest daughter does not live nearby. In fact she lives too far away for my comfort, but that’s just the worrier in me. She lives in Newfoundland, while, we, in comparison, live in Alberta – many hundreds of miles away. During each visit we have driven to Fort McKay to see if the buffalo are out and until this visit went away disappointed. It was a lovely summer day and the time we had together was growing short. So, the day before she left, we decided to try once again – with success! The animals were laying in a field not far from the fences that keep visitors out. They mostly had their backs to us but not long before we left a few of them began moving about.

The wood buffalo are well looked after and guarded from over zealous tourists

I stood there with my daughter watching them and wondering what it would be like to see hundreds of these animals thundering across the plains. The small herd here is a subspecies of the American Bison and seem very placid and calm. Try as I might I cannot imagine these animals thundering anywhere! Plus, these animals, wood bison, are heavier than the plains bison, which were all but wiped out by the early settlers. These guys seemed quite content to loll about in the sun and seemed more like the herds of cattle I am more familiar with. Still, I am glad we get to see them from time to time.

One shaggy beast was a bit more active than his fellow buffalo
Sun bathing seemed to be all most of the animals were interested in
If a person is fortunate, you may catch a closer glimpse of these magnificent shaggy beasts when they come out for a cool drink of water on a hot day. This photo was taken on a previous visit. They did not venture to the pond this time around.
This one seemed at least a little bit interested in the humans beyond the fences…

I am grateful to live a mere 54 km (34 miles) from this place where the buffalo roam. And I am grateful that after many years and several trips, my daughter could experience these beautiful animals as well.

Sun on Snow

There is a beauty to winter, however much I dislike the cold – and this past week has been brutally cold! Yet, seeing the sun rise on my way to work is a sight I am blessed to see, and I would battle the cold for such a view. The evening sunsets are also beautiful as the sun turns the snow on the hills a delicious shade of pink. These are a couple of photos I took with my phone trying to capture the magic, the majesty, and the wonder….

The sunset was spectacular and even made the parking lot at work a place of beauty

Even though the winter is cold the sun promises warmer days ahead and I am grateful

Alberta Birds

Here I go again with photos of birds – this time all photographs were taken in Alberta, Canada. Some breeds are very common, others were a complete surprise and a lovely treat. Taken over a couple of years in various places in the province, and in all seasons. I love birds!!!!

The magpie is a common sight to see and can be mischievous. I’ve heard tales too of it’s thievery. One person told me of a magpie stealing burgers off the grill…this one was visiting the back deck last winter.
I do not know what breed this is. While I thoroughly enjoy watching and photographing birds, I am far from being an expert. This little guys was eating the berries from the tree in the yard. Thankfully there were some to keep our feathered friends alive through the cold winter months.
March brought quite a few different birds to the yard. this Cedar Waxwing pair were a delight to see – they provided many hours of entertainment.
This woodland Grouse spent more than a week in the yard – perhaps it was hiding from predators?
The little juncos were so fund to watch – there was a flock of them taking advantage of the birdseed that others had dropped on the ground….
I think this one is called an Ovenbird – please correct me if I’m wrong. At any rate it sure brought smiles of delight to my face….
I never knew how pretty the song was of the Red-winged Blackbird. I spent many joyous hours listening to their songs….
The Redpoll is a common sight in these parts of Alberta – such pretty little birds and a blessing to have them visit the yard and grace the branches of the tree in the front yard…
A Fox Sparrow? Not sure if I am correct or not, but these common, but very cheerful little birds are a joy to observe….

This woodpecker carved quite a decent-sized hole in the tree and made sure we knew who the carpenter was
this guy made a stopover in the yard…he didn’t stay long but his plumage was beautiful…I’d hoped to see him again and capture better images….sadly it was not to be
The purple sheen and shiny black of this common Grackle is so pretty – but their cry is not!
I was so excited to see the Gray Jays…my first sight of them….notoriously difficult to capture a decent image though…they are so swift of wing!!!

In the spring there were quite a few water fowl visiting a nearby green space…the plumage was so vibrant and the eyes really are red – quite a sight to see
It’s always sheer delight to me to watch hawks soaring overhead, but, again, very difficult to photograph – most of the time they are so far above me and my zoom lens is not strong enough to catch them….still, pure pleasure to watch and to listen to their cries…

If you enjoy nature and are a bird watcher, I’ve learned that Lac La Biche, Alberta, is one of the best spots in the country for bird watching. I am hoping to take a trip there this summer to see what I can see – and hopefully capture new (to me) breeds with my camera…. hope you have enjoyed these. Cheers!

Farewell to Winter

Spring 2018

Spring is in the air, even though there is still a couple of feet of snow on the ground it is days like this that lend me hope that summer is not too far off. The sun is shining, birds are visiting the bird feeders, and it’s good to be alive. You’ve got to love the end of February with its hope of winter’s end when you live in the north. Unless, of course, you are a lover of skiing, skating, snowboarding and other winter sports. I, however, enjoy none of those activities. I prefer the feel of spongy green grass under my feet or the sensation of toes curled in sand at a serene and quiet beach.  Farewell to winter. I wish I could say I will miss you, but I won’t!

Winter walk


Today is the first day of the Alberta Winter Games 2018, with each community planning their own activities to celebrate winter play.  It is a perfect day. The sun is shining. It is relatively mild with just a touch of a breeze – perfect weather to get out and enjoy winter sports. I am not much of a sports fan, but I do enjoy a walk in the woods. I am posting a few photos I took this morning – nothing spectacular, but I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.

Giving thanks this Thanksgiving



Where to start and where to begin? I have so much to be thankful for…first of all for my husband and my family (of course) and for my lovely little Callie-cat who brings so much joy to my life; for sisters and brothers, aunts and uncles, cousins, nephews, nieces and more. I am thankful for friends near and far and for the wonderful people I work with.  I am forever grateful for fire fighters that saved the greater part of our city when “the beast” came roaring through.  I am thankful for the sincerity and kindnesses of strangers both at home, across the nation, and the world during that time of fear, stress, and anxiety. You helped me realize anew just how good people really are.

I am thankful to live in this beautiful province in this beautiful country in this beautiful world. I am thankful for the wonders of nature that beckon to all of us to sit and be still a while…to embrace the changing seasons and to celebrate all wildlife, all flora and fauna…it truly is a wonderful world.  For little blessings and for large, for kindnesses extended to me and mine, for love in all its wrappings…today I give thanks from a full, nay overflowing heart…my cup runneth over

Hardhats on fence posts: a memorial and a warning


I had read news stories of fatal accidents on Alberta’s Highway 63 long before I saw the long line of fence posts balancing coloured hard hats.  The safety helmets displayed on this rural highway captured my imagination and I wonder about the men and women who may have worn them – many of whom worked in the oil fields north of Fort McMurray.

Highway 63 is also known by many nicknames, chiefly “highway of death”.  It is the one and only route into and out of Fort McMurray – a 443 km stretch of highway that winds through an agricultural countryside.  According to the Globe and Mail, there were 2,457 accidents on that highway between 2008 and 2012 and public pressure to twin this two-lane highway became intense; after a fatal accident that claimed seven lives in 2012 the provincial government made the commitment to do just that. Work to twin the highway is ongoing.

But driving by the line of helmeted fence posts statistics are the last thing on my mind. Each hard hat represents a loved one who would never return to their families:  A worker who would never show up for a shift again; a parent, child, sibling, relative, or friend who would never celebrate life again.  Whatever the cause of each accident the fence post memorial stands as a tribute to those who died and serves as a reminder to passers by that life is fragile and can be cut short in an instant, a warning to drive with care.  May all who died travelling down Highway 63 be remembered and may they Rest in Peace.