The don’ts of bird photography, part 2.

This black-capped chickadee clearly wasn’t ready for his close-up.  And neither was I.  😉

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See the first Don’t here….

Warm thoughts.

I headed out to Nose Hill and Whispering Woods shortly after sunrise this morning and spent a couple of sun-filled hours meandering on the trails…I am so thankful I had the forethought to put my ice cleats on my boots or I would have had to turn back right at the gate to the Hill.  Even with the extra grip, I was still skidding all over the place.  (Who needs to go out to the mountains for an ice walk experience when there are such excellent opportunities at home?).   😉

Yesterday was humid and cold and so the trees were all caked in frost, but as I walked I could feel the warm air currents slip down into the valleys, and the sunlight quickly burned off the ice.  The aspen were so strongly scented they made me think of spring thaw.   And that’s a very pleasant thought, indeed….

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Frost…no frost…. 

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Very green aspens in Whispering Woods

IMG_0789Thistles may be annoying, but boy, do they have winter interest! 

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Wildflower consolation.

This is what our local news station posted on its Facebook page last night:

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Seriously…frost warning?  I really don’t think I can handle this…and I know my garden DEFINITELY isn’t ready!

While we weren’t quite in the frost zone here in Calgary, we’re currently sitting at a (balmy!) 5 degrees Celsius (41 degrees Fahrenheit) this morning and I know I’m going to need to wear my jacket to work.  And maybe my mittens, LOL!  I’m a tad worried about my zucchini plants, as our community garden has some nasty frost pockets.  Last year, in early September, a not-quite-frost came through and blasted all of the squash plants to blackened mush.  I’m right in the middle of Zucchinipalooza and it would be sad to see it end so soon.  (Speaking of which, does anyone have any favourite zucchini recipes to share?  I’m having such fun trying out new ones!).  🙂

Despite (because of?) the vagaries of our weather, the wildflowers are still blooming merrily away.  I recently took a walk up to my favourite neighbourhood haunts, Nose Hill and Whispering Woods, to enjoy the sights:

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Wild Bergamot – Monarda fistulosa

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Prairie Coneflower – Ratibida columnifera 

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Fireweed – Chamerion angustifolium  Sigh…this just reminds me that I didn’t get around to making fireweed jelly again this year.  It WILL happen in 2014! 

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Northern Crane’s-Bill – Geranium bicknellii

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Smooth Blue Aster – Symphyotrichum laeve

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What wildflowers are blooming in your part of the world?  Which ones are your favourites?

Whispering Woods.

Just a few blocks from where I live, the students of a small elementary school called Dr. E.W. Coffin have adopted a park called Whispering Woods.  What makes Whispering Woods so special is that it is an outdoor learning facility, directly tied in to the students’ classroom curriculum. Through interpretive signs and nature walks (there’s even a seating area built for lectures), the children learn science and language skills, and explore concepts such as the stewardship of nature and the interconnectivity of ecosystems.

Whispering Woods is a small gully filled with aspen trees and native prairie grasses, a piece of land calved off of nearby Nose Hill (which you’ll recognize from my many mentions on this blog). The area was long ago isolated by the construction of a major road and it is surrounded by houses, the school, and a baseball diamond. Yet, when you get right down into the heart of this tiny copse of trees, you can actually forget about the rest of the city – you can’t see the buildings or fences, and the noise of the traffic seems to completely disappear.

I love heading over to Whispering Woods in late June, when the wild roses are still blooming – you can find a ton of them there. Apparently, it’s also a good location to spot crocuses, so I’ll have to make a trip in early April to see for myself. I took a walk into the woods early this morning, when everything was quiet (extra-nice-quiet due to the Family Day holiday here in Alberta). It was a chilly, grey morning and the only sounds were a couple of magpies chattering softly at each other in the trees (I think they were half-asleep) and the sizzling of the nearby power lines in the cold humid air. So beautiful!

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Entrance sign (John Laurie Boulevard side, southwest of Nose Hill).

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The interpretive signs incorporate the letters of the alphabet.

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I’m thinking these belonged to a magpie….

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And here I thought I was alone!  🙂

Where are your favourite places to go walking?

Find out more about Whispering Woods at NatureGround.