Friday, September 21, 2012

Cattle Egrets Today

This morning I went out to check on the egrets northeast & northwest of Estevan.  The nights are quite cold now, the days getting shorter, and I am really curious to know about when all these Cattle Egrets will suddenly decide it is time to move on.

Not yet...

There are approx. 150 birds in this group - a few stragglers on either side, plus 8 across the road. 

Oh, and THIS is also going on across the road.

It's the Bakken Field - there are no quiet, secluded places around here anymore.


M51 or the  'Whirlpool Galaxy'

The image is by Martin Pugh who won the Royal Observatory Greenwich's Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2012.

From the Royal Observatory link above:
M51 or the Whirlpool is the archetypal spiral galaxy and for centuries astronomers have studied it in order to understand how galaxies form and evolve. Here the photographer has made use of exceptionally stable atmospheric conditions, minimising the twinkling or ‘seeing’ caused by air turbulence to produce a sharp, clear image in which every detail of the galaxy is visible.
M51 has been drawn and photographed many times, from the sketches of astronomer Lord Rosse in the 19th century to modern studies by the Hubble Space Telescope. This photograph is a worthy addition to that catalogue. It combines fine detail in the spiral arms with the faint tails of light that show how M51’s small companion galaxy is being torn apart by the gravity of its giant neighbour.

What the judges say:

Melanie Grant says: The depth and clarity of this photograph makes me want to go into deep space myself!  A breath-taking look at the Whirlpool Galaxy.
Will Gater says: This is arguably one of the finest images of M51 ever taken by an amateur astronomer. It’s not just the detail in the spiral arms of the galaxy that’s remarkable – look closely and you’ll see many, very distant, galaxies in the background too.

Monday, September 17, 2012

It's Fall

The days are getting shorter.  The sun isn't up until after 7:00 a.m. and sets all too early in the evening.  We had the first frost last night.

I love the glory of autumn colours that we get to enjoy for a little while before the long, cold white.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Cattle + Egrets

Some cattle and some Cattle Egrets

I'll post more about Cattle Egrets shortly

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Canadian Geese, eh?

Let me just say that the plural of Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) is 'Canada Geese', not  'Canadian Geese'....of course, if I happen to be wrong on this, I will apologize. 

Canadian Geese, eh?

And while it is true that many of us, perhaps, act like geese, we don't ALL say "eh?" or "aboot".  Nearly all of us do say "Sorry" a lot - and I personally think that is a good thing.   Nothing wrong with being nice, eh?


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Activity at some Prairie Sloughs

The on-set of Fall is always bittersweet for me.  It is my favourite season yet it is also a very lonely one watching the flocks of migratory birds gathering here in southern Canada, soon en route for their warmer Winter locations.  

What a perilous journey they are gearing up for!  The older birds know what to expect; many of those have already left.  It is the flocks of youngsters, not quite grown yet, obeying their natural instincts.  I wonder if they feel a kind of excitement?

Mostly Blue-winged Teals
How strange it must be for these young ones, born in the north, having only known a single slough for all of their lives - the taste of that water, the taste and texture of the food available at that one place.  Of course, they fly around the area, stretching wings, gaining flight muscles; bit by bit experiencing a little more of the world.  

100+ American Avocets
But soon, should they survive the barrage of hunters, guns and dogs...they will find themselves in a completely new environment.  Maybe salty water, certainly different tasting and feeling water; strange kinds of food, and warm, humid weather so foreign from what they have known. 

A Cattle Egret, photo taken through a dirty windshield - why are birds always on the wrong side of the road???
So, in these next 2-3 months, I shall be visiting my favourite locations, watching the birds gather, making notes of departures, wishing them well, hoping to see them return in the Spring - and I'll be making plans for my own trips to warmer climates, to break up the long, dark Winter.