Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lake Audubon, North Dakota

Last week I packed up my little cat Freddie and went across the border to North Dakota (just a few miles away).  Destination:  the state capitol, Bismarck.

We went down via ND #5 and I-83.  A bit south of Minot, I-83 crosses the eastern end of the great reservoir created by the Garrison Dam.  The west side of the bridge is Lake Sakakawea.  The east side is Lake Audubon and the Lake Audubon Wildlife Refuge.

There is a new visitor's center.  What a fantastic place.

This sign made me smile.  My Tribute is not terribly fuel efficient, although not bad for a small SUV, so I didn't park there.

This National Wildlife Refuge, like all the others, relies on a vast network of dedicated volunteers for building, maintaining, recreating destroyed habitats, etc and what a wonderful thing to be doing with one's time!

The displays are beautiful.

Any place that has a Rachel Carson quote in a prominent place automatically garners my highest respect. 

The Center is all about education. 

Really, one cannot walk around this place and not learn something.

I learned that Redhead ducks sometimes lay an egg in the nest of Canvasbacks, the little sneaks.  I didn't know this sort of thing happened in the world of waterfowl.  Redheads and Canvasbacks are similarly coloured (red head, grey-white-ish body). 

John James Audubon spent a summer in this area, about 1843 or so.

Remarkably creative displays

A prairie profile:  grasses and a purple coneflower (Echinacea sp.) etc at the surface, root system, earthworms, Richardson's ground squirrel tunnels...

Oh, and this place was built Green and Sustainable.   Geothermal heating/cooling

An array of solar panels

And one of my favourite quotes ever.

Visit the website:  http://www.fws.gov/audubon/

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Reverting to Spring

We have winter now.  There is snow.  It is cold.  I haven't got used to seeing white when I look out my windows.

So...I dug around in my photo files and found some pix of my back yard.   June is a lovely month.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Blue Jays In My Yard

It's been a little difficult to find blog material lately.  Or, I suppose, more truthfully, I simply haven't been out and about with my camera very much the past few weeks.  It is the very end of the fall migration here.  We've still got a lot of Canada Geese - but since half of Boundary Dam reservoir stays ice-free, thousands of Canadas, Mallards and a few other waterfowl species stay for the winter. 

My attention has switched to birds in my yard.  I lined up one configuration of winter feeder stations a couple days ago as we were forecast to get some snow (we had some a week or so ago; most of that has melted and we did not get any of this last front moving past - north of us).

To my delight, four Blue Jays (Cyanocitta cristata) spent a great deal of time at said feeders yesterday.  Too bad I hadn't washed the windows - I had to photograph from inside the house. 

I saw five Blue Jays flitting between the neighbourhood spruce trees 8-10 days ago.  The way they were acting makes me think they are migrating birds rather than some locals expanding territory. 

I'm in the prairies.  No big stands of trees around here, only a few in old farm yards and here and there in the towns.  No oaks to speak of.

Blue Jays are uncommon enough to be a bit of a big deal when they come around.

Over the last few days, at least one announces arrival around 8:30 a.m.  with a last call around 4:35 p.m.  Darkness rolls in by 5:30 p.m. (come to think of it, the shortened day light is probably behind a lot of my current ennui).

A few neighbours and I are trying to keep the jays coming to our places all winter so there's no lack of peanuts, nuts and fresh water around. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Looking for Snow Geese

There has been a huge, I mean enormous, flock of Snow Geese gathering west of Estevan.  The numbers are easily in the 150K+ range - and the flock was growing as smaller flocks dropped down to rest and graze.  The parcel of land they were grazing had been seeded with a cover of what looked like a cereal grain and mustard.  (I seriously don't know my crops any more).  Anyway, it was fresh greens coming up.  Very alluring for hungry, migrating geese.

I tried to get photos.  This is maybe one-fifth of the flock, the ones closest to the road that rose up as I stopped my vehicle

Then I continued my drive to Torquay and north.  I saw four moose skulking around an abandoned farm yard.  They saw me as well.  By the time I turned around, the moose were at full gallop across a summerfallow field.

They look slightly out of place on the flatlands, don't they?

There is still so much water around here, as evidenced by this old stand of trees that's been drowning since April.

Continuing on to the Mainprize Bridge over Rafferty Reservoir.  A few fishermen were along the banks on one side.  The choppier side had a few Northern Shovellers and two juvenile Western Grebes

The shovellers were really liking whatever greeny, grungy, algal stuff is in the water. 

Onward to Midale.  A Common Raven (they were as uncommon in this area as moose  when I was growing up - now ravens are everywhere, especially in the winter).

A lingering Great Blue Heron at a farm dugout.

A huge Charolais bull

An oilwell - it's called Mixed Farming over here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I Love Where I Live

Sunday before last, I felt I needed to climb into my car and roam around the country to see what was going on.

Well, a cattle drive was going on a just a couple kilometers out of town. 

A move from community pasture to home pasture a few kms. away.

Up and onto the road to cross the floodway between Boundary and Rafferty reservoirs.

Back in the ditch and running along

Black Angus

And, down a gravel road....a prairie slough in Autumn

Another stand of trees and shrubs around a wet place.