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.

Summertime and missing the ocean


I was born in Newfoundland and lived there until Dad moved our family to Ontario. Every summer I get homesick for the island. I have so many wonderful memories of playing in the woods or on the beaches. My husband and I would later move back there to raise our own children.

Summer in Newfoundland is beautiful, there are loads of trails to hike, and of course bonfires on the beach as well as swimming. It is a nature lover’s paradise. Recently my brother gave me this wonderful aerial photo of the old house, which, sadly, is long gone. Looking at it takes me back in time. There have been many changes since we were children.

Port au Port West, NL, Canada – photo by Barra Studio

Our house looked over Bay St. George, a wild, tumultuous bay – unlike the quieter Port au Port Bay. This photo was taken on one of the rare calm days. The beaches on Port au Port Bay are mostly sandy beaches whereas Bay St. George beaches are very rocky. It was awesome on a stormy day to watch the waves crash loudly on the shores. It was also the lullaby I fell asleep to.

As a child we often visited our grandparents who lived just a little ways up the road, or to play with our cousins who lived nearby. I also remember going often to Mr. Martin’s house across the road. He had built wooden stairs down to the beach – the steep banks would have been difficult to navigate even for agile children. I don’t know why we addressed him as “Mister”. He was actually our great-grandfather’s step brother – but that’s another story. My husband insists we don’t have a family tree, we have a family forest – easy to get lost in it. But I digress, yet again.

You will see I labeled the photograph. “The old homestead” was built by my grandparents. At that point in time they did a lot of farming, as well as fishing to feed their large families.

“The pond” was formed when Port au Port Bay flooded the area during a storm. After that a breakwater wall was built to keep the bay at bay (pun intended). We used to go skating on the pond in winter – in more recent years it has been used for snow mobile races.

We had a barn on the property where we kept a cow and chickens, and, from time to time, a pig. I remember what fun it was jumping from the hayloft down into the hay below. It was not an easy life for our parents. There were a lot of chores to do from cutting wood for the wood stove to making home made bread to hauling water – we did not have indoor plumbing – that was a task my older brothers especially detested on laundry days. Everybody had chores to do from eldest to youngest. Still, I am so grateful to have been born there and to have these memories to treasure.

More birds, more blessings


It is a cold, frosty morning here. It is nice to think of spring, which, really, is only a few weeks away. I will be glad to bid goodbye to winter, especially this year. Here are a few reminders of what’s in store for us in the months ahead – perhaps not these exact birds – these were taken in Newfoundland by a friend who has graciously agreed to allowing me to use them here. There will be more birds, and more blessings as the days roll by into spring. For today, I will do my best to count the blessings this day brings and look forward to the arrival of our feathered friends. I hope these photographs cheer you, as they do me.

Pine Grosbeak (Male) – Photo by Kathy Marche
Red-breasted nuthatch – Kathy Marche photo
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 – Kathy Marche photo
Ruby-crowned Kinglet – Kathy Marche photo
Savannah Sparrow – Kathy Marche photo
Swamp Sparrow – Kathy Marche photo
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher – Kathy Marche photo
Yellow Throat – Kathy Marche photo

To walk in the woods and see such beauty and hear such song is a blessing. If you like bird watching and happen to travel to Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada I hope you chance to see some of these little beauties. My sincere thanks once again to Kathy Marche for her generosity in sharing these lovely photographs.

The blessings of birds


The blessings of birds are many from their importance to ecosystems to the joys they bring with their songs. Here is another installment of photographs to help cheer your day. As always I am grateful to Kathy Marche, the photographer and the soul with a big heart. Thanks again, Kathy.

American Goldfinch – Kathy Marche photo




American Redstart – Photo by Kathy Marche








Black-backed Woodpecker – Kathy Marche photo
Black-bellied Plover – Photo by Kathy Marche
Cedar Waxwing – Kathy Marche photo
Common Yellowthroat – photo by Kathy Marche
Downy Woodpecker – Kathy Marche photo
Golden-crowned Kinglet – Kathy Marche photo
Hairy Woodpecker – photo by Kathy Marche
Kildeer – photo by Kathy Marche
Lincoln Sparrow – Kathy Marche photo

Northern Three-toed Woodpecker – Kathy Marche photo
Olive-sided Flycatcher – Kathy Marche photo
Pine Grosbeak – Kathy Marche photo

If you ever visit the province of Newfoundland & Labrador you may want to take a walk on the many trails through the woods – you’ll be glad you did!

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

Winter’s Songsters


Winter can seem so unbearably long, especially when the temperatures dip to -40 Celsius and sometimes lower in this neck of the woods. In the early morn it can be as cold as -50s with the windchill factored in. It has not been fun driving to work in an ice haze, which is similar to a thick fog. Added to this is the frozen exhaust fumes from vehicles in front of me as I drove white-knuckled to work. These cold snaps do not last long – usually not more than a few days.

I joke that I cannot think straight because I am experiencing brain freeze (is that really a thing? It feels like it might be). At any rate, my friend Kathy enjoys winter. She is an avid skier and an outdoor enthusiast through all the seasons. Her collection of winter nature photos are every bit as wonderful as those she’s captured at any other time of year. She very kindly consented for me to use her photographs on my blog. This is the second installment. If you visit the island of Newfoundland in Canada you, too, may see some of the birds featured here. Without further ado here are some of the images captured by nature photographer, Kathy Marche.

Visitors to bird feeders include Redpolls – Kathy Marche photo
This little Redpoll must have been foraging for seed under the snow – Kathy Marche photo
What a treat to see Goldfinches in winter. – Kathy Marche photo
White-rumped Sandpipers like the seashore. – Kathy Marche photo
Black-capped Chick-a-dees can be seen at all times of the year. – Kathy Marche photo

The Boreal chick-a-dee is also a frequent visitor – Kathy Marche photo
Siskin in the snow — such a pretty little bird! – Kathy Marche photo
Newfoundlanders are always happy to see the return of the American Robin – one of the first signs of Spring! – Kathy Marche photo
Blue Jays stay year round. – Kathy Marche photo
While their cry is not exactly music to the ears, Blue Jays are quite pretty birds. – Kathy Marche photo
Snow bunting – so aptly named! – Kathy Marche photo
Another shot of a Snow Bunting – love the color in its cheeks! – Kathy Marche photo
This Willow Ptarmigan is well disguised to avoid predators, my friend has a good eye! – photo by Kathy Marche

Once again, sincere thanks to Kathy Marche for allowing me to showcase some of her beautiful photographs here. I hope you enjoy them.

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!