Stinkin’ Hot

A Lesser Scaup, although I'm pretty sure he doesn't see himself that way

A Lesser Scaup, although I’m pretty sure he doesn’t see himself in that way

Took an ill-advised walk this afternoon to the fake wetland up by the mcmansions along the power line (she said, flexing her cartographer’s muscles). It was very hot, but fruitful, bird-wise. Not humid though, and I guess that’s half the battle. I still got burnt. YA BURNT, as Seth Meyers would say.

Lesser Scaup on the move

Lesser Scaup on the move

Even in the blinding, bleaching light of the noon sun, it was fantastically green everywhere, in spite of the lack of rain. The blossoms are past peak but summer is here. Also, lots and lots of ducks. There was even a mallard inside a yard behind a fence, looking a little confused.

Blue-winged Teal, which should have been named the Teal Winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal, which should have been named the Teal-Winged Teal

The rare 'Grass Duck'

The rare ‘Grass Duck’

12:30 to 2:00/26C

Peak Pink

Pink blossoms along the trail near 98th Ave

Pink blossoms along the trail near 98th Ave

Another incredible day in the city that favours blue skies over rain. At least, since the beginning of Spring (other than a few hail and snow storms). Had an early morning appointment at the university, so after it was finished around 10:00, I slid over to downtown via the train, and then walked a route I haven’t walked for more than a year. Maybe two years.

River Valley green river

After descending from the Convention Centre, I walked across the footbridge, and then up the trail that runs adjacent to 98th Avenue on the south side, and the river on the north. This is a trail I love, especially in mid to late May when the procession of fruit trees is in full pink bloom. It’s like paradise this time of year. There is a main paved trail, currently blossom-strewn, and a monkey trail just above the shore of the river. Either is great, but for most of the walk, I chose the paved trail because right now, and for the next few days, it is canopied by green and pink. Also, in June the worms will arrive, so it’s a small window between the apple blossoms and those god-awful green caterpillars that hang from the trees. I seem to have picked the perfect day. Blue sky, and a slight breeze wafting pink petals across my path.

The first of many pink trees

The first of many pink trees

It's my river

It’s my river

At the top of 98th, I followed the trail that loops around the hill toward McNally High School, with my usual stop to enjoy the spectacular, unobstructed view of the river valley and downtown, and then along the Riverside Golf Club sidewalk into Riverdale. Riverdale is a beautiful, retro community, very much like my beloved Mill Creek but with wider streets and fewer amenities (although it now has a coffee shop, The Little Brick). It always seems so peaceful and neighbourly down there. Lots of new construction. The old houses are being torn down or rebuilt, but it still has a kind of 1950’s feel about it.

View of Riverdale from McNalley HS Field

View of Riverdale from McNally HS Field

By the time I was back in Louise McKinney Park, I once again marveled at how deep emerald green the river has turned, and then realized how tired, hungry, hot and thirsty I’d become. A perfect walk.

Into the clear blue sky

Into the clear blue sky

The footbridge taken from the edge of Riverdale

The footbridge taken from the edge of Riverdale

The suddenly very green North Saskatchewan River

The suddenly very green North Saskatchewan River

10:30 to noonish/23C

Wild Clematis

Wild Clematis before bee

Wild Clematis before bee

A magnificent afternoon walk in Whitemud Ravine. Walked down the powerline into the ravine, and then as far as the third bridge. Back the same route. Soon into my walk, I came across a lone wild clematis growing inexplicably among the poplars and the birch trees. It was kind of weird to see theĀ  unmistakable purple bells of a clematis, just like the flowers in my sister’s garden. And if that wasn’t enough, as soon as I started shooting a few photographs, a fat bumblebee flew into the flower. I didn’t get a perfectly sharp photo of the bee, but good enough.

Wild Clematis after bee

Wild Clematis after bee

I figured that this would probably be the highlight of this walk, and it was, but I think I also saw a bald eagle. I heard a strange gobbling sound in the air, and when I looked up, two birds, both dark but one had a white head. Could have been something else, I suppose. They were high in the sky, and I followed them for awhile, but no eagle. I did shoot about 50 photos of a dark bird far away in a tree, which I thought might have been the other bird I saw, but when I zoomed in, I discovered that I had wasted a roll of film (figuratively) on a raven. No offense to ravens.

Some type of particularly beautiful tree shoot

Some type of particularly beautiful tree shoot

I love this time of year. For one thing, it smells heavenly. Also, the trees and bushes are foliating rapidly, but the monkey trails are not yet overgrown. Even in the summer they are passable, but sometimes hard to see. And so, I’ve been following these footpaths when they look interesting, and today I walked along a flat part of the creek bed for quite awhile before the bank rose up again. Reminded me a bit of south Mill Creek. We’ve had very little rain (other than the snow), so the Whitemud is very low and murky. We could use a day or two, or three, of heavy rain.

View from a monkey trail

View from a monkey trail

White apple blossoms

12:40 to 3:00PM/17C

In Praise of Dandelions

Dandelions powerline

This is one of two posts today. In my other blog 32 Pages, I just reviewed a book called Sidewalk Flowers, and because of the subject matter, I am inspired to take photos of dandelions, that much maligned but beautiful (and useful) weed that is everywhere at the moment. Like the kid in the book, I think of them as flowers, and I don’t quite understand the hostility they incur, especially among the generously lawned. I think its best if we learn to embrace the dandelion, since it is virtually impossible to eradicate. Also, they feed the bees before the rest of the slack-ass flowers bloom in spring, so for that alone, we should be appreciative. Here’s a few photos from today. More to come.

The powerline field is lousy with dandelions

The powerline field is lousy with dandelions

Dandelions fence

They're everywhere, they're everywhere!

They’re everywhere, they’re everywhere!

The Clifford E Lee Wetlands (Big Lake)

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yeah, we walked along this beautiful boardwalk/nature reserve in St Albert on Saturday (May 9), but I always end up with so many photos it’s a bit daunting to think about putting them up on the ol’ blog. This time, however, it was not quite as productive, bird-wise. Too late? Too early? Last year we were there in mid-June, and there were many more types of birds about. It wasn’t fruitless, however. The challenge is in taking clear, in focus, visually interesting photos, not so much in capturing new varieties of bird. In fact, I am just as happy shooting chipmunks. Can’t say that I took any outstanding photographs, but a few are worth posting.

Red-winged Blackbird surveying its territory

Red-winged Blackbird surveying its territory

We went early evening. Gorgeous light and the ever present cackle of Red-Winged Blackbirds. I saw a few ducks, but they were too far away for good photos. A lone goose followed us around the boardwalk. It was mightily impressive to watch her glide effortlessly along the water like a perfect objet d’art. Where was her mate? Once again, we saw the stunning Yellow-Headed Blackbird. Why is it we get varieties of blackbird but no actual blackbirds in this city?

Big Lake Yellow Headed Blackbird in reeds

I told myself I wasn’t going to fall prey to the mighty muscrat, so tempting to photograph and also ubiquitous in Big Lake, but I couldn’t help myself. As per usual, none of the photos were in focus, so I’m not going to post them here.

Big Lake Red Winged Blackbird taking wing

It was a very pleasant walk. A few nice birds, and not much by way of buggery.

Swallow nest on the way to the boardwalk

Swallow nest on the way to the boardwalk

Big Lake

Monday Afternoon

Whitemud Hill

A pleasant, unremarkable walk. Things are greening up, warming up, and the water is a bright copper brown. I was attracting all sorts of bee action this afternoon. With few flowers in bloom, I am probably quite attractive to the bees at the moment thanks to scented hand lotion and hair products. Also, my big white forehead which at times has been mistaken for a giant blooming flower. And yet, I wasn’t dive-bombed (which is common), just encircled.

Hey! It's a new bog!

Hey! It’s a new bog!

Found a bog I didn’t know existed just past the first bridge (in Whitemud). It will be entirely grass and bushed over in a couple of weeks, but from the trail, it has always looked like the kind of place a moose would like. And now I know for sure it is.

Whitemud Hill 2

2:15 to 3:30PM/14C