Swans on frozen lake

Half frozen or half melted? Not a trick question, or a philosophical pondering on half full or half empty. The answer is factual. By mid October, the lake was frozen already. But by the end of the month, it began to melt. So there you go, beauty in double measure, not half. As for the birds, they can handle both.

And on that half frozen, half melted lake I saw them. Thanks to some fellow birders alerting me. Who would have expected to see swans stopping by here? They must be migrating from the Tundra, flying south to the US. And we’re their midway rest stop. Just a few days of respite here in sunny (most of the time) Southern Alberta.

The following pics are from a long distance, so quite blurry. I think I saw a Trumpeter here with a juvenile. Ice on lake? No problem. It’s Nature’s dance floor. Let’s just call it a father-daughter dance here:


Here are several Tundra Swans, noting the yellow edge of the bill:

A couple of days later, I saw this solitary juvenile swan at the Pond some distance away from the lake. Not sure if it was lost. Even though just by itself, I could sense its calmness… eat some, swim some, preen some, always congenial, thoroughly enjoying the environs there. How do I know it’s a juvenile? From its greyish plumage, pink bill, and yellowish tan feet:

While I was taking its photos, I saw in a distance a group of large birds in the sky heading my way. What an opportune timing! I quickly snapped these shots as they flew over me. When I uploaded the pics, lo and behold, I saw they were Tundra Swans. This time quite clearly. The yellow patch by the edge of the bill is the distinct difference from the Trumpeter. And learned a new word to call them: a wedge of swans (in flight).

I don’t have a garden, so no canning of harvest for the winter. But these photos and sightings will be my canned treats for the frozen months ahead… yes, something like Proust’s madeleine dipped in tea.

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Related Posts:

Proust’s madeleine? Here it is.

One duck at a time

Two Trees Make a Forest: A Book Review

Parable of the Migratory Birds

Fall is migration season. The Pond is a stopover for avian migrants enroute to coastal NW United States, or further south to the Gulf Coast and even Mexico. This year, for some reasons, the traffic at the Pond and the adjacent lake is particularly busy, all to a birder’s delight.

October came in like a lion and out like a lamb. We had heavy snow by the middle of the month when the leaves had not all fallen off from the trees and the grass was still green. The lowest temperature reached was -18°C, that, my friend to the south, is 1°F. The water at the Pond was frozen by the third week. But after that premature winter, we were blessed with warmer days towards the end of the month, and even breaking a one day record high on Nov. 2, reaching 23°C, or 73°F.

But it’s not the temperature that interests me. What I find amazing is the variety of waterfowl converging here on their way to the south and the way they come together.

Here are some photos in the past couple of weeks. Mallards, Mergansers, and Ring-billed Gulls side by side. I think I heard Lady Merganser say: so what if my Lucille Ball hairstyle or its colour is different from yours, just let me be and swim to my heart’s delight. Whether you dip or dive for your food, these diverse avian species know how to get along and enjoy the warm sun, fresh air, and clear water:


What does it matter that a female Goldeneye is leading a flock of Buffleheads:

From the front of the line: Female Goldeneye, Male Buffleheads (wearing white hoodies), followed by two Female Buffleheads (white patch on cheek).

At a lake nearby, more migrants converged. It was a pool party of diversity: Canada Geese, Goldeneyes, Mallards, Coots, Gulls… those were just the ones I could see from afar. Only when there’s peaceful coexistence can they conserve energy for the long haul, and leisurely soak up the sun, preen their plumage, do yoga stretch, and of course, fuel up on nature’s buffet.

Thanks to other birders alerting me, that’s the first time I saw Swans here. From a far distance, I sighted several of them on the half frozen lake (or, half melting lake):


I can’t decide even after researching online whether they were Trumpeters or Tundra Swans as I was unable to see their bills from so far away, not even from the enlarged photo later. The two on the right in the picture above are juveniles as they’re greyish in colour. The one in the middle in the foreground standing on one leg is a Canada goose. Note the difference in size.

That day, I had my fill of avian sightings, albeit just watching from the shore far from the activity. The swans stood out in their sheer physical impression among all the ducks and geese, yet they were gentle and not bullies.


Maybe the migratory birds know that they’re only here temporarily, as they’re all in transit. As time is short and their presence ephemeral, might as well be at peace with each other and indulge in what they are given: Nature’s bounty, and enjoy their fill of common grace.

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The Colours of Fall

About this time last year, I had a post entitled “Golden Fall”. Yes, the title says it all. We don’t have much reds in our fall, no maples, but we have foliage like gold.

Here are some photos I took after returning from Toronto a few days ago, just in time to witness the changing of the seasons and catch the last remaining songbirds before they fly south. This is ‘my Pond’, home at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

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An Orange-crowned Warbler in the golden foliage. It’s goodbye until next Spring, my avian friend:

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Here’s another one. Olive against red.

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A ‘Where’s Waldo’ puzzle for you:

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The White-breasted Nuthatch against a watercolour backdrop:

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Two-frame capture of a shy subject. See it in both?

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Home is where you know every path and turn, where to shoot with the sun at your back for the best light, and where to look for your friends whatever the season, to wave goodbye as they leave, and then welcome them back for another new lease.

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Golden Fall

Two years ago around this time, I drove across four New England states searching for fall foliage. Red was the colour I was looking for. It may surprise you, we don’t have red here in Alberta, no real Maples here. We might have some red from certain trees or shrubs, but not on a large scale as in Eastern Canada.

But what we have is gold, different shades of gold. Red can make the landscape more adorable, but gold is purity. Here’s the scenery in the past two days by the Bow River in my usual birding sites:

The Bow

Trees by the Bow

Trees 2

The scenes of a golden fall near the Pond, where layers of autumn foliage and evergreens make up the ripples of a boreal forest:

Golden fall

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Golden 1

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Even the path under my feet is golden:

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I know, nothing gold can stay. Even as I type, a Winter Storm Warning is in effect. We’ll have snow overnight, and “Hazardous winter conditions are expected”.  So when this post is up on Monday, all the gold will likely be white, which makes these photos all the more precious. They could be the last of the fall memories of 2017.

But then again, if we can have winter in the fall, we can have summer in December. At least, that’s what I’m dreaming of…

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Related Posts on Ripple:

My New England Road Trip Starts Here

 

Saturday Snapshot Dec. 3: Late Autumn

After I came back from London in mid October, the Pond already looked deserted. Suddenly in the last few days my Air (Avian) B&B was buzzing with activities again. The Pond had become the meeting place of waterfowls making their last stop before heading south.

Here are some of them on a sunny, cheery afternoon. So glad to see signs of life before the big chill. Forecast for next week’s lowest temperature: -24C (-11F).

late-autumn

riverview

Pardon me for not showing my regulars the Mallards, but it’s the infrequent guests that I treasure more; although still ‘common’, there are just less of them than Mallards. Here are the Buffleheads. Like they’re right out of a Monet painting. No colour alteration here:

buffleheads

 

bufflehead-couple

My favourite has to be Mrs. Merganser. No matter what time of day, she looks like Lucille Ball just out of bed. Her uncombed, red hair stands out particularly:

lucille-ball

 

lucille

Up in the sky, more Canada Geese getting ready to land on the Pond, joining the late Autumn sendoff party:

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Less convivial on land, I’m afraid. Why, it’s all brown and barren. The white-tailed deer filling up in the evening sun. Yes, it looks desolate. Dry shrubs are all that’s left for food.

autumn-brown

 

deer

And -20’s C. next week? Good time to tackle the piles of books on my bedside table.

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted.

Finally, Fall Foliage

This was a fall foliage road trip after all, albeit I must say I’d thoroughly enjoyed the coastal scenery in Maine.

New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest offered some magnificent sights. Last heard, there’s snow in NH and Vermont. So I’m all thankful for even getting a glimpse of maybe just 40% of fall foliage before the white stuff cometh.

The trees were lovely at the White Mountain National Forest Visitors Center:

WMNF Visitors CenterThere, I learned that a portion of the Appalachian Trail passed nearby. I told myself, I must experience that.

Appalachian TrailI stepped onto the path of the relatively difficult trail (for me anyway), just to have a taste and to see how challenging it was. To make a short story even shorter, I only stayed for a little while. Here’s a view looking upward while there:

Looking UpwardI’d asked for recommendation for an easy walk to a scenic point and was given instructions to the 64 ft. drop of the Glen Ellis Falls at Pinkham Notch; now that’s much better. I’ll leave the Appalachian Trail to the adventurous, like Redford and Nolte:

Glen Ellis Falls

To continue on westward to Vermont, I’d read that I must take the Kancamagus Highway for the magnificent views. And so I did. Driving the 34 miles on the scenic route from Conway to Lincoln, NH, is one of the highlights of my trip. Here are some views of the foliage along The Kanc, as the locals call it.

Kancamagus Hwy

The KancCar-stopping view:

Car stopping viewsOnward to Vermont, some picturesque country roads as well:

Scenic Dr

More about Vermont to be continued…

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Follow my New England series:

Orange is the Primary Colour

Driving from coastal Maine westward to New Hampshire, the foliage colours began to change a bit more. Even though I was totally enjoying myself along the coast, I did look forward to seeing some fall foliage as I moved inland.

I drove from Rockport to Maine’s capital Augusta, then continued on some small country roads towards Bethel and Gilead before crossing the State line to Gorham, New Hampshire. It was a pleasure driving through these more remote parts of the country, for the routes offer some gratifying scenery:

Driving thru MaineCountry road in MaineBut it was the colour orange on the ground that caught my eyes. From afar, they were tiny orange dots in the field:

Tiny orange dots on the groundA bit closer I knew, of course, that was a pumpkin patch. And it was orange that would be the predominant colour everywhere, in towns and in the country.

On flatbeds and wagons:

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wagonfull

Or laid out neatly in arrays on grass:

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arrays

In various shapes and forms:

DSC_0508At door fronts, entrances, in hanging baskets and shop windows:

EntrancesHanging Basket

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Or in the form of pumpkin people:

DSC_0552DSC_0784Or as pumpkin elves like these two sitting outside Elf Academy:

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No wonder there’s a shortage of pumpkins in the U.S. as the demand is so high. With recent crops diminished by record rain, there arose a pumpkin shortage. Help is on the way though. Here’s a recent headline on CBC News Business section:

“Canadian pumpkin patches poised to fix U.S. lack-o’-lanterns problem.”

What are neighbors for?

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This is my Saturday Snapshot October 17 entry. Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted.

Follow my New England series:

Saturday Snapshot Oct. 11: Shades of Yellow

In last week’s Saturday Snapshot I mentioned that yellow was our fall default colour. Sure I’d like to see more spectacular red, but yellow is by no means a uniform colour. Recently I’ve been savouring the various shades of yellow, a sumptuous visual feast.

A lighter shade of yellow:

The Lighter Shade of Yellow

Rusty yellow against solid blue:

Shades of Yellow 8
Wabi-sabi yellow, see the half-fallen tree on top, aftermath of the snow storm:

Wabi-sabi yellowFaraway yellow in the morning mist:

Faraway YellowClose-up yellow back lit:

Close-up Yellow

Yellow against dark green coniferous:

Yellow Against ConiferousLuminous deciduous delight:

Luminous Decidous Delight

Everywhere I turn, I’m seeing yellow… even kayaks and canoes rise to the occasion:

Yellow Kayak

Yellow Kayak 2

Yellow Kayak 3As a birder, I was delighted to spot a yellow rump amidst yellow leaves:

Yellow Rump among Yellow Leaves

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted.

ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY ARTI OF RIPPLE EFFECTS

DO NOT COPY OR REBLOG

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Saturday Snapshot Oct. 4: Autumn

Living in the Prairies, I don’t get to see the kaleidoscope of Autumn colours as the East or the West coast. The fall plethora of fiery red foliage remains only a longing. Indeed, an Autumn road trip through the New England states has yet to be realized.

The default colour here is golden yellow with a dash of rusty orange. While less dramatic, I do feel a personal connection. I’ve learned to appreciate our Autumn… simple, crisp and clear, minimal glamour, not ostentatious. Above all else, we always have the big blue sky.

After attending TIFF in Toronto, I came home to the aftermath of a debilitating snowstorm. Power down, trails closed, thousands of trees destroyed. That was only the first week of September.

Broken…

Broken

and bent. A Wabi-sabi moment:

Bent

Autumn eventually shows its beautiful side… golden leaves spread like wild fire:

Wild fire

Blue and yellow go well together:

Blue & Yellow 1

Blue & Yellow

Canada Geese take their leave:

Canada Geese

This young buck feels right at home:

Young Buck

But a most delightful find for me is spotting a host of Yellow-rumped Warblers still lingering at the pond, albeit the next day when I went back there, they were gone:

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Here’s one munching on a bug:

Warbler munching on bug

This one a little camera shy:

Shy one

How do I know they are Yellow-rumped Warbler? Here it is… the yellow rump:

Yellow rump

With this my first sighting of the Yellow-rumped Warblers—albeit hard to capture in photos—I’ve had a fruitful harvest.

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted.

ALL PHOTOS on this post taken by Arti of Ripple Effects.

DO NOT COPY OR REBLOG

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Related Posts:

The Yellow Warbler

The Mountain Blue Bird

The Western Tanager

Saturday Snapshot Nov. 2: Cool Blue

Blue is the most cool color for a photo background. Note: not the ‘coolest’ like in temperature, but just real cool as in awesome. We in southern Alberta are blessed with a clear, blue sky most of the time. Here are some photos I’ve taken in the past weeks. No color alteration have been done on them.

On a clear day, you can see the Rockies… like a mirage:

On a clear day you can see...Different shades of blue:

ShorebirdsThe sparrows on the roof enjoy the cloudless blue too:Sparrows nesting on roofCrab apples look more colorful:

CrabapplesSo’s the Northern Flicker:

Northern Flickerand the Pelican, more startling white:

Pelican overheadWe can even live with the snow when the sky is so blue:

God Is LoveWords on the frame of front door: “gud er kaerlighed” (Danish)… “God is Love”.

Which blue is most cool for you?

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Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy Reads. CLICK HERE to see what others have posted.

All photos on this post taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, 2013. Please do not copy or reblog.

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Looking for “Intrusions of Grace” in Nature

This may be the easiest to find, especially with our glorious fall this year. Not intrusions, but infusion of common grace. I’m amazed because everywhere I turn, I see beauty that’s out there and so accessible to me. Like their raison d’etre is for me to behold and enjoy. From the macro scale like these scenery at Banff National Park:

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To the medium range, nature in our city streets:

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To the micro scale. Last long weekend, I walked the Douglas Fir Trail. Again, I’m grateful for our urban parks:

And what an apt occasion, Thanksgiving Day, for me to discover all these minute wonders on the Trail. First, the colours:

Nature in the miniscule… the varieties of berries. Black against red:

Red against green:

And these pure whites like pearls in the undergrowth:

And the vibrant lives on two fallen twigs… I was mesmerized:

If we’re intruded by grace, I’m more than willing to give in.

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All photos taken by Arti of Ripple Effects in the fall of 2011. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.