Wildlife surprises

Over the past month we were traveling to Lac La Biche so my husband could have his dialysis treatments after a massive flood in the city caused water issues at our local hospital. It’s a three and a half hour drive to get to Lac La Biche through countryside, most of it wooded. It’s a beautiful drive, though I am glad we no longer have to make it three times a week! I always take my camera because you never know what you might see. Most of the wildlife I have been fortunate to see disappear quickly into the brush. But on a couple of drives I was lucky enough to capture a few shots of deer and a coyote. I was pretty excited and the quality is not top notch. Nevertheless here they are:

These deer were in a farmer’s field near Lac La Biche and it was such a joy to stop and watch them for a while
A doe, a deer, a female deer
There was a group of maybe a dozen deer, but this one was less alarmed by my presence as others
Such beautiful animals
Wile E. Coyote
This guy wandered out of the woods and loped along seemingly undisturbed by my presence
Lots of swampland and small ponds where beavers have been at work
Duck and geese have returned to hatch their eggs before returning south again
Although I waited patiently there was no sign of the beavers who built the dams

I have been hoping to capture an image of a black bear but have yet to see one this year. When I do I hope it will be while I am in the car and not while I am walking the nature trails that crisscross the city. In the past I have also seen red fox, but again not yet this year.

Spring blessings of birds

I took a little walk this morning and captured a few photos around a pond not far from home. I was a little disappointed that were not more variety of ducks and birds but I did enjoy what I did see and hear. I especially love listening to the song of red-winged black birds, although I love them all. Thought I’d share these for your pleasure (at least I hope it is a pleasure for you all).

This little sparrow was very active flitting among the reeds around the pond
So quick and so busy on this windy but warm spring day
I love the sheen of colors and he had lots to sing about too
Grackles were plentiful around the ponds
Red-winged black birds seemed to be in competition with the grackles
Their wings are so vibrant!
Mr. blackbird added his harmonies to the cacophony of song
While a pair of ducks took in the symphony and grabbed a bite to eat now and then

Serenity Sunday: Guelph, Ontario

Riverside Park

These are photos I took at Riverside Park back in 2012. If you happen to be in Ontario this is a really pretty park with an antique carousel and a miniature train as well as floral gardens with a floral clock. The Speed River flows through the park and the gardens include a waterfall feature. The park is a delight for the young and young at heart alike.

Can any child resist a carousel, even today?
A floral clock is one of the features of the gardens
Flowers of many varieties bring color and splendor to the park
A scaled down model of the first house built in Guelph in 1827 by John Galt
Flowers, flowers, everywhere
Stone pathways lead visitors through serene surroundings
A variety of shrubs and trees add to the beauty
Waterfall features add to the peace and calm
Side view of the waterfall
Strange and beautiful tree roots add interest
A miniature train carries visitors on a tour around the park
Personally, I prefer to walk the paths through trees and shrubbery
Or visitors can cross the bridge that crosses the river and feast their eyes on another vista
The Speed River flows through the city of Guelph and through Riverside Park
People are not the only visitors, water fowl seem to love the park as well, like this Canada Goose
Beauty everywhere since 1955 when the park was first created for the enjoyment of citizens and visitors alike.

Serenity Sunday: Fort McMurray, AB a.k.a. Fort Mac a.k.a. HOME!

Today marks the fourth anniversary of the horrific wildfires that swept this city I call home. It is also a week since the horrific floods caused another evacuation of approximately thirteen thousand people from their homes. I live in an area of the city that was, by and large, not affected by the floods, except for things like a boil water advisory and the inconvenience of having to leave home in order for my hubby to receive dialysis treatments. So, today, I have chosen to feature the beauty of this city.

Fort McMurray is criss-crossed by five rivers where water fowl and shore birds build their habitat. Sand pipers are common along the Snye, an area downtown where float planes land and the people launch boats for a trip down the river.
Ducks are frequent migratory visitors, returning home every spring
A Common golden-eyed with her brood, taken June 2016 just after we were allowed to return to the city we call home
Murals and artwork are common in the parks
Downtown on the Snye
Water pumps enabled fire fighters to save the downtown core during the wildfires. Unfortunately these same waters that once saved homes ultimately destroyed many when rivers overflowed banks just a week ago. Thankfully the waters have receded and damages are being slowly assessed.
There are many park benches for people to rest and enjoy the beauty of nature
taken in the subdivision known as Wood Buffalo Village after the wildfires in June 2016
Leading back downtown, thankfully the bridges that cross over the rivers were not damaged in the flooding – thanks to brilliant engineers!
Another river scene near downtown – this is actually not far from where I work
It’s hard to believe looking at this photo, but large chucks of ice on the rising river came up just a foot or so below the bridge
The Snye is a busy place, as you can see, it is a well-loved feature of this city
Saprae Creek was one of the areas hit hard by the wildfires. taken June 2016
A view of the Clearwater River taken from Draper, an area hard hit by flooding
Besides rivers there are several walking trails through Fort McMurray, this one is in the area called Thickwood and is part of the Birch wood trails system
A bridge across a creek on the Birch Wood Trail
Nature is a wonderful healer
Despite road blocks, the city continues to face the challenges it faces, whether fire or flood; pandemic or economic travails
Sometimes the journey is all uphill, but it will make us stronger, and hopefully even more resilient
In Wood Buffalo Village nature bumps up against the city and seems to thrive
The Fort McMurray Golf Course lays nestled in the hills along the Athabasca River

Fort McMurray is facing many challenges as I write this: a downturn in the economy. a pandemic, and the clean up of all the devastation caused by the recent flooding in many sections of the city. I have no idea what lays ahead for us as a city, as a province, as a country, but I know the tenacity of fellow citizens and the strength portrayed through the wildfires will be much needed as we move forward and keep on keeping on.

Down by the pond the ducks have returned, a nice surprise

I was so excited to see a pair of common golden eyed ducks in the pond a few days ago. Unfortunately by the time I went down to try to get better photographs they had disappeared. They came back today!

The black and white one is an adult male, the one with the brown head is a female

The little devils started swimming away and I had to walk around to the opposite side of the pond to get more shots. They’re pretty hardy creatures, the pond still has a fair bit of ice.
Couldn’t resist grabbing a shot of a Raven in the grass as I walked around the pond.
Apparently the golden eyed duck breeds in boreal forest areas, which is where the city is located: smack dab in the middle of a boreal woods.
I guess you can tell we’ve come to the end of this “tail”.

Serenity Sunday: Port Harmon in Stephenville, NL, Canada

My daughter-in-law sent me a Newfoundland classic for supper today: cod and potatoes with drawn butter. It made me think of back home, the place where I was born and raised. I live in Alberta now and there is much to love about this place that I now call home. Still, I get reminiscing about the island I still love. I do miss the ocean with its constant changes and moods. These were taken at Port Harmon, the deep port in Bay St. George, and part of the town of Stephenville on the island’s west coast.

This anchor has sat at the harbour for many, many years. I remember my Dad taking us to Port Harmon to see the ships docked there. This anchor looms large in my memories.
We could see these limestone cliffs across the bay in Port au Port, where I grew up. The stone is quite light and shimmers in the sun.
Driftwood of all sizes line the beaches
A long stone jetty reaches out into the bay at little Port Harmon
There is beauty as the seaside, even in the foggiest weather
I loved walking along the rocky beach and listening to the waves crash ashore
The power of the ocean waters can uproot trees along the seashore, especially where erosion takes place
I really wanted to drag this piece home for the yard. It had such interesting form.
Small fishing boats come into harbour with their loads of fish, shrimp, crab, lobster and more…nothing like fresh seafood!
Right before a storm, the skies were a rich variety of hues of blue and grey – it was amazing to see and to hear the waves crashing upon the beach. Nature is so awesome to witness….
While the skies were darkening quickly in one direction, looking the other way it was almost serene in its beauty and majesty
Where the sky meets the sea there is always, always magic

Small disappointments, but hope prevails

I was so excited to catch sight of a pair of Common Goldeneye Ducks down on the pond last evening. It’s a sure sign of spring and I had been looking forward to their return. I snapped off a couple of photographs from our balcony, unfortunately they’re not the best quality as I was soooo excited to see them.

Hearty pair of Common Goldeneye visiting the pond, even with ice still in evidence, one had dived under water, looking for food, perhaps?

I went out for a walk around the pond this morning to see if I could get better shots, alas I was disappointed – they were nowhere to be seen. But they may have been hiding in the long grasses and bulrushes that surround the pond.

Bits of ice and snow on the pond, but the weather is warm today so hopefully it will all be melted by day’s end.

However, I did chance upon a raven having a chat with his friend the magpie:

I think Raven was throwing his head back and laughing at something Magpie had told him

I am hopeful of seeing the ducks return again. Last week I saw a pair of Canada Geese flying overhead so spring is definitely underway and I am grateful. It’s been a long winter!