Yearn to Wander
Approaching the Canadian Rockies
Heading toward the Rockies from Calgary early in the morning was one spectacular view after another -- too many to post. But here are my favorites.
A Bluebird Study
Mountain Bluebirds are fairly common in Central Alberta. The male's bright blue makes them a favorite to watch. Many farmers nail their birdhouses to fence posts along the road, and that helps the local population.
While driving along a farm road, I encountered a pair feeding their young in a birdhouse. As I arrived they became suspicious, and flew away for a couple minutes. The female returned to continue feeding. On her circuitous route, she flew past the birdhouse, landed on distant fence posts, and approached the nest's post with caution. The male helped with the feeding and flew circuitous routes, too. Both flew as much as 100 yards away, never directly to or from the nest, and not the same way twice, probably for safety as well as food scouting. It was another interesting experience watching nature.
Red-Necked Grebe Nesting Ritual
Watching the nesting ritual of a pair of Red-necked Grebes on Gaetz Lake in the Kerry Wood Nature Center in Red Deer, Alberta was fascinating -- to see and hear -- so I summarized the activities with some pictures below. Enjoy!
The Red-necked Grebe is a relatively common bird in the Temperate zone of the Northern Hemisphere. They form monogamous relationships in the Spring during migration or at the breeding site, which is usually fresh inland water in small, shallow lakes. Their courtship is loud, raucous and distinctive. Their many vocal announcements can be heard several hundred feet away. Gifts of weeds are frequently offered to the female to help build their nest. The pair meets at the nest several times a day for courtship and mating, which last five or ten minutes, or longer if predators are sensed. After their activities at the nest, they swim away together, only to return again and again.
Kerry Wood Nature Center
Kerry Wood Nature Center in Red Deer, Alberta has an easy 4km trail through Aspen, Poplar, Spruce woods and open grasslands. It passes Gaetz Lake and adjoining wetlands that host many migratory ducks, some breeding, others on their way farther north. This warm, sunny Sunday made the walk even more inviting.
Back to Lacombe, Alberta
Lacombe in early June is different from Lacombe in late August. In August, the crops were ready for harvest, so the fields were golden yellow. Now Spring planting is progressing, so the fields are green or soon will be. Spring wildflowers are in bloom at J.J. Collett Nature Center, but will have been replaced by different flowers in August. The sun sets about ten, so evening light is spectacular. Dinner hour seems early because the sun is still high in the sky. The dogs are another year older and calmer, but still good to have around. We're glad to be back.
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