Alberta snapshot: American dipper.

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“Come on in, the water’s fine!”

It always amazes me to see American dippers hunt in freezing water – and it’s even more amazing to think that during our crazy cold winters, there are tasty tidbits in there to feed on!

(Photo taken by R. Normandeau in January 2018, Beaver Flats, Kananaskis Country).

What birds are currently making their appearance in your area?  (Feel free to link to photos/posts on your blog or social media if you wish!).

Alberta snapshot: Ice falls at Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary.

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No need to leave the city to find ice falls! A quick wintery stroll in Fish Creek Provincial Park in early March yielded this frosty view.  (If you live in or are visiting Calgary next winter and you’re looking to check these out, head to the ranch house off of Bow Bottom Trail SE and hike across the first bridge you see from the parking lot.  Follow the river to see the falls, or climb above them to reach some cool caves).

It seems that the big spring melt may finally (!) be on its way, so this area will be taking on a more liquid form very soon….

Alberta snapshot: Sawmill snowshoe.

Although it is *technically* spring in this part of the world, we’re still pretty much in full-on winter mode, so to show you some photos from a snowshoeing trip we took a few weeks ago seems sort of appropriate.  Nothing “flowery” here, not at the moment.

But we have mountains! This is Sawmill, just off the Smith-Dorrien Trail close to where it intersects with Highway 40. It was a new snowshoe jaunt for us, a 5.3 kilometre loop with very little elevation. The most recent snowfall had occurred the day before, and the wind had blown hard, crusty dunes over much of the broken trail.

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And in other parts, there were tracks. We think these were from a bobcat:

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We figured we could rule out a cougar because the tracks were too small, and we decided a lynx could also be slotted into the too-large side of the scale. (I know, we ought to have placed an object for size comparison, but we didn’t think of it at the time). The tracks were slightly larger than those of a domestic housecat, which also lends credence to the bobcat ID. I’ve never seen one, but they are small!

We later found even smaller tracks running (but only in very brief intervals) in front of the larger ones and we believe the mother bobcat was likely carrying a kitten and set it down into the snow at certain spots.  I did some research and it seems possible that bobcats could have young at the time of year we were out, while lynx will supposedly birth closer to April or May.  Here are what we think may be bobcat kitten tracks:

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I would definitely welcome any input on the ID of the cat tracks – maybe someone reading this can offer more insight? Does our imagined mother-kitten scenario seem plausible, or could there be another explanation?

At least, this next set of tracks could be identified with absolute certainty.  My hubby offered the correct nomenclature: Polus pokysnowus.  😉

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And on that note…have a wonderful weekend! Hope there is a little less snow where you are….

Looking for some colour….

We’re in “dirty snow” mode here in Calgary, that eye-dulling time of year when EVERYTHING is grey and all the potholes and garbage buried for the past five months start materializing once again.  We are guaranteed to get a minimum of 16.275 mini-snowstorms yet before June – two before the end of this week! – so the greyness will be tempered by layers of fresh, sparkling white, but right now, my brain is absolutely crying out for some colour.

So, I turned to the blogosphere, and I am immensely comforted by the fact that there is a nice bit of colour going on elsewhere in the world.  For example:

Words and Herbs

Gardening Nirvana

Automatic Gardening and Real Gluten Free Food

Cynthia Reyes

Imagery of Light

Duver Diary

Natuurfreak

Garden in a City

A New Day: Living Life Almost Gracefully

Frank King Photos

….just to name a few.*

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And then at work, I noticed that all of the pink and red Pelargoniums that one of my co-workers has saved over the winter are blooming merrily away in the huge bay windows we have in the building. Overwintered P.‘s always surprise me with their transformations: they get so robust, it’s as if they’re working with a personal trainer, and they bloom like every sip of sunshine and speck of sugar in every single cell is bursting to get out. There are about eight of them in the library right now, part of a larger collection of both ‘Regal’ and the – ahem! – less regal (but just as delightful) P.‘s that are snowbirding in my co-worker’s home. It seems strange to me that these plants are so showstoppingly vibrant in this setting, yet the customers appear to rarely spare them a glance.  I would love to poll people and ask if they noticed the flowers.  Do you find you actually see the indoor plants in public spaces, like libraries, shopping malls, medical clinics, offices etc.?  Maybe most people don’t unless the arrangements are particularly bold.  Or maybe gardeners take notice more often because we’re keyed to look for plants?  What do you think?

*Please add your links to your “colourful” blog posts to the comments – the more, the merrier!  Share away!  

Alberta snapshot: Twin Valley Reservoir.

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Just the right combination of fog, cold, snow, and frost made for some striking scenery on a trip this past Tuesday to Twin Valley Reservoir, near Champion, Alberta.  The dam was built over the Little Bow River for use in times of water scarcity and the irrigation of farmland in the county, and although work was completed on it in 2004, this was our first visit there. Fishing was slow (that’s Anglerspeak for nothing doing) this go-around, but we’re looking forward to trying it again after spring arrives, bringing open water with it.

That distant view of the flat, open prairie is incredible in its vastness – it manages to be simultaneously mind-boggling AND remarkably soothing.

 

Alberta snapshot: Fullerton Loop (part 2).

 

FL2FPNormandeauAnother photo from our snowshoeing trip to Fullerton Loop, near Bragg Creek, Alberta, a couple of Sundays ago.  The snow and cloudy skies turned the whole world black and white…with just a hint of blue. The silence was magical.

Alberta snapshot: Fullerton loop.

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I don’t recall such a snowy February here in Calgary…we’ve definitely got good snowshoeing weather at the moment.  The thing is, the risk of avalanches in the mountains is massive right now and sticking to safe terrain is crucial.  Fullerton Loop, outside of Bragg Creek, fits the bill perfectly: it’s a no-risk snowshoe trek, fast and easy and short (just over 6 kilometres). It’s fairly heavily trafficked right now, so if you don’t have snowshoes, you can simply hike it (and at this very moment, you probably don’t need microspikes).

We headed out there last Sunday morning and it snowed the whole time; in fact, Highway 66 wasn’t even ploughed when we arrived at the trailhead, beating the crowds that arrived later in the day.  For us, it was snow…trees…quiet.  Blissful.