Birds, Buds, and Social Distancing

Haven’t been to the Pond for weeks. For one thing, March and even April we were still having snow, too early for spring birding. Another reason is the provincial park where the Pond is had been closed due to Covid-19.

It reopens this week and I take the first opportunity to head over there with my camera. The woods are lovely, teeming with life, cacophony of bird songs and goose calls. The deciduous trees are still bare, but buds are bursting out.

What a joy to meet my avian friends. May is a busy time for migratory birds to come back and nest. Social distancing is no problem. They make sure I stay away at least 30 ft. Hence, these blurry photos even with my 300mm tele lens.

First arrival is usually the American Robin. Here’s one relaxing among the buds:

Robin

Delighted to find the Yellow-rumped Warbler:

Yellow Rump Warbler

Warbler

Here’s another one. But when I get home and upload the photos, I see this one has a yellow throat, different from the one above with the white throat:

DSC_0740

Upon some digging, I learn that the white-throated one is called the Myrtle Warbler of the East and far north, and the yellow-throated one the Audubon’s Warbler from the West. Two different species of Yellow-rumped Warblers that meet at a small locale here in Western Canada. Right here at the Pond is where I’m fortunate to see both of them. Here’s a map showing their distribution.

A “Where’s Waldo the Warbler” puzzle for you: Where's Waldo the WarblerAnswer: Right in the centre of the photo.

By the water, a Northern Flicker:Northern Flicker
In another locale, the House Finch:House Finch 1

And from a much farther distance, another life staying close to its home. It has to be much bigger than a bird for me to see it among this environs from so far away:DSC_0714
And that’s my neighbour keeping the social distance, yet so amazingly close. An excited “hello,” my heart shouted, for this is the first time we meet:DSC_0716

No, it’s not a deer.

 

 

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We all need intermissions

… in between movies. Get out of the dark chamber. Off the snack-littered couch. Watch the large screen Nature has to offer.

480 Bike.jpg

Nothing is ‘just a sparrow’. Or, just some rocks. Here’s the true colour of the water in Lake Louise, Alberta. The famous, majestic lake you’ve probably seen on postcards or travel websites, but here you get to see the tiny sparrow by the Lake:

Sparrow.jpg

Blurry? Yes, so’s Monet’s paintings.

After a few days of rain, yesterday’s sunlight brought me out to the river. My heart leapt up when I saw these Pelicans preening in the morning sun:

500

500 Pelicans

Makes me think of Degas’ ballerinas:

degas

Blurry? You wouldn’t mind a bit, I bet.

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Wintry but not bleak

Extreme cold warnings greeted the New Year in Toronto. A record low temperature was recorded on January 5, a frigid -23C (that’s -9.4F). I’m happy to say that I was there to experience such a newsworthy occasion during my stay over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Here are photos I took on that very day, January 5, 2018, witnessing an awesome sunrise over Lake Ontario. Wintry but not bleak:

Sunrise

Sunrise over Lk Ontario Jan 5.jpg

 

Inside it’s always warm. And on a cold day, looking out the window can be a meditative respite:

IMG_6197.jpg

 

Artist and writer William Kurelek (1927-1977) knew how to find pleasure in the cold. Why of course, he was born in Alberta, and spent his childhood years on the prairies:

Kurelek

 

As well, Shelley’s positivism is always a boost for me. No need to wait for the groundhog. “O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

No matter what the weather, it can still be it a worthwhile year.

 

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The Last Days of Summer

It has been noted that the drive from Lake Louise in Banff National Park up the Icefields Parkway north to Jasper National Park is the most beautiful drive in the world. I spend a couple of our remaining summer days driving that scenic route and immerse in the other-worldly environs of pristine Jasper National Park.

The cold rain and wet snow in sections of the road remind me that, yes, autumn is at hand. But once I reach the boundary of Jasper National Park, I throw away any seasonal distinction. Wether it’s summer or autumn is immaterial. What’s captivating is the present. Here are some glorious sights of Jasper National Park.

The mysterious, clouds shrouded Medicine Lake in the morning light:

Clourds Shrouded Medicine Lake.jpg

Hurricanes hit Texas and Florida, here we’ve been affected by the wild fires from B.C. all summer. At the shore of Medicine Lake I feel the effects:

Wild Fire effect

But the natural beauty remains. The charred remnants of trees along the edge of the lake would become rich organic matter spurring new growths.

burned trees.jpg

A short 30 mins. drive from Medicine Lake is the picturesque Maligne Lake, serene and reflective:

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For those who must do something to seize the moment, there are canoes for rent and scenic cruises:

DSC_0122.jpg

Before reaching the townsite of Jasper, the 93 Icefields Parkway leads to Athabasca Falls, where one can witness the power of Nature in an aesthetic mode. Who had turned the mighty torrents into Nature’s sculptors, carving quartzite and limestones into magnificent art installations?

DSC_0164.jpg

Nature's Sculptor.jpg

 

Hardened Ripples.jpg

 

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The Gorge.jpg

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In the Jasper townsite, even the man-made locomotive matches the scenery in the evening light. Like a watercourse streaming through the landscape, The Rocky Mountaineer passenger train passes through Vancouver and across the Rocky Mountains into Alberta’s Banff and Jasper National Parks.

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Even a cargo CN train exudes poetry. I credit it to the spirit of the environs:

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Just like the animals preparing for winter, I’m gathering visual memories to feed the cold months ahead.

 

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Other Travel Posts on Ripple Effects:

New England Foliage Road Trip

Day Trip to Cambridge

Establishing Shot: A Visit to Toronto

 

 

 

 

 

A Movie to Celebrate Canada Day

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian readers!

To celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday, and pay tribute to the Canadian spirit, I’d like to recommend the movie Maudie, about the folk art painter Maud Lewis (1903-1970). Born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, Maud lived with her brother Charles in their family house until he sold it. In the movie, Maud overhears Charles telling their Aunt Ida he will pay her to accommodate and look after Maud in her home.

Maudie

Born with a small frame, disfigured facial features and deformed fingers, Maud suffers from severe rheumatoid arthritis as an adult. Such handicaps however do not cripple Maud’s sanguine spirit and fierce independence. While staying at her Aunt’s place, she answers an ad for a housekeeper posted on the bulletin board of the local store. She jumps at the opportunity as she sees it as a way to move out of her Aunt’s and strive for her own independence.

The house that needs a housekeeper is home to Everett Lewis, a fish peddler in the village of Marshalltown, on Nova Scotia’s northwestern shore. Everett’s abode is a cramped, one-room hut with no running water or electricity. With her arthritic hands Maud cleans the floorboards and tends to Everett’s daily needs, cooking on the wood stove and bearing with Everett’s demeaning outbursts. The rule of the house is, he first, then his dogs, his chickens, and lastly, Maud.

Does Maud feel defeated? Well sure, but just temporarily. Her resilient and cheerful spirit can move even a mountain of a misanthrope. Not long after, she and Everett got married. “A pair of odd socks,” she says of their seemingly incompatible personalities. We hear it often nowadays, “diversity is strength”. The Lewis’s household is evidence to that.

And of course, there’s the economic factor.

Maud turns Everett’s dingy house into a pleasant abode. She begins to paint on every surface: the walls, windows, door, stove, washbasin with lively flowers, birds, and whatever she sees in nature. She also picks up small, discarded wood boards to paint scenery and snowscapes. Not long after, a sign “Paintings for Sale” is placed outside their tiny house to diversify the household economy.

Deer painting

Maud is one successful entrepreneur. Her folksy paintings soon draw the attention of passers by; the cheerfully decorated little house on the wayside soon becomes a stop for designated shopping and repeat customers, a point of interest for visitors. Later, it becomes a converging site for news crews and journalists. Each piece of board painting is sold for about five to six dollars, a card, 10 cent. Everett is the finance minister and holds the purse strings.

The movie presents Maud’s story with beautiful and absorbing cinematography. The pace is slow, allowing viewers to immerse in the outwardly harsh life of Maud’s, in contrast to her vibrant spirit and life-affirming talents. A tiny window is a frame of the world outside. The last part of the film comes to a sad note as Maud succumbs to illness of the lungs.

Now, to the making of the movie. The subject is Canadian, Maud Lewis is very much a Canadian folk art icon, her works are in the collection of the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. The filming location is Newfoundland and Labrador. But note this: the movie is helmed by Irish director Aisling Walsh (BAFTA nom Fingersmith, 2005), Maud is played by the English actor Sally Hawkins (Oscar nom Blue Jasmine, 2013), Everett is played by American actor Ethan Hawke (Oscar nom Boyhood, 2014). If I were a protectionist ruler, I wouldn’t have let them come in to make it.

But then again, this is Canada, eh?

 

~ ~ ~ 1/2 RIPPLES

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RELATED POST ON RIPPLE EFFECTS:

Séraphine and the wrought-iron chair 

 

 

 

 

Out of Hibernation

You may have roses in your garden but we still have the remnant of winter. And in Lake Louise, about 58 km (36 mi) from Banff National Park, it is still winter in full swing. This photo was taken just a few days ago:

Lake Louise

People were walking out into the frozen lake, with the glacier in the backdrop.

A snowy but cheery welcome:

Snow Hat

40 mins. drive south to Banff, it’s much warmer, and spring has arrived. The best sign is when you see a grizzly bear coming out of hibernation. See her?

Out of Hibernation

When I first spotted the bear, I was going to quietly walk away until I was told a group of people were already there, well protected and with a park ranger interpreting her every move. So I gladly joined them:

Well Protected

The ranger told us that was a five year-old she bear, officially known as Bear #148, just out of hibernation a week ago. Later I found she had been in the news for trailing a woman walking her dog a bit too close for comfort.

Here she is, still in good shape after a long hibernation:

She Bear 1

Closer

Closer1

Closer2

I slipped away quietly when she got just a bit too close. What’s the first thing you’d wish for after a long, deep sleep? A hearty breakfast of course.

What an exciting herald of spring.

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Establishing Shot

What is a film buff, avid birder, and nature lover going to do in Toronto during TIFF, torn between so many attractions?

Well, one has to stay grounded first. So here’s the establishing shot. Indeed, it’s Toronto. And a memorable date it was when I took this photo of the early morning cityscape. My computer told me it was Sept. 11, 2016, at 6:38 am:

9-11-638

I was fortunate to be able to shoot these pics from a high-rise building with magnificent views. Here let me call this one Urban Canadian Sunrise. Yes, see the flag in the foreground? Can’t say it’s just another city:

urban-canadian-sunrise

And from the balcony above looking down, my birding instinct was gratified as I made my first sighting of a Mute Swan taking in the early morning air:

mute-swan

A stone-throw away was a park where I made this other first-time encounter. I had no clue what it was until I looked it up in a bird book after I’d come back home:

Juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron

Know what it is? A Juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron.

Several other first time sightings awaited me as I went on the ‘Marshwalk’ at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, 57 km (35 mi) southwest of Toronto a few days later. The Great Egret and some juvenile (brownish colour) mute swans:

great-egret

egret-swans

Yes, TIFF16 was a cinephile fantasy. And the people there were overflowing with enthusiasm to make your visit memorable:

tiff

More posts coming up on that main event.

Saturday Snapshot June 27: The Busy Beaver

It is on the face of our 5-cent coin, an emblem of Canada. And thanks to conservation and the lack of demand in the pelt hat, the Beaver – at one time endangered – is now safe in numbers.

the nickel

However, we seldom see one, definitely not an everyday sighting. As for me, I’ve never seen one on land like the image on the coin, busy with its chore. But they are around; surely we can see the aftermath they leave behind. Here are evidences of their presence:

Work of a Beaver's

Beaver's aftermath

That’s why we have these:

Wired protections

I’ve had the chance of seeing a beaver recently at a pond, taking a break from its busy schedule:

The Pond

 

Beaver in the pond

Sure looks like a bear is swimming towards you:

Beaver 3

Beaver 1

A closer look and you can see its long and robust body:

Beaver

yet agile, diving in and speeds away underwater:

Diving

But what I find interesting are the ripples it makes. Look back at the above photos and below:

The Beaver Close-up

 

More Ripples

 

Ripples 3

 

Ripples

Or is it just me, watching out for ripples everywhere?

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

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And Heaven and Nature Sing

In 2014, I’ve been very fortunate in capturing many wonderful sightings. Some may seem mundane, but once loaded onto my laptop, I was delighted at the results, everyone a unique experience.

Here are some I’d easily give 4 Ripples, like the glowing wings of Canada Geese overhead, flying into the sunset, or two dragonflies in their intimate moment, a squirrel in the morning rays, a Monarch sucking nectar, an Owlet spreading wings, a Pelican taking flight, a pure white weasel in the snow, or the very ‘ordinary’ sunset that recurs every twenty-four hours.

It has been a year full of natural beauty and exclamations. These photos were taken in different circumstances, some I’d to wait quietly for quite a while, others serendipitously, giving witness to the variance of life’s happenstance, the joy of seeing creatures that sing with their mere existence, and the awesome Creator that willed them all into being.

 

Geese Overhead

Pelican Takes Flight
Red squirrel

Western Tanager

 

Intimate moment

Owlet spreads wings

 

The Monarch Butterfly

White weasel

Ducks at Sunset

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And To All A Merry Christmas!

 

Saturday Snapshot November 22: The Woods are Lovely Still

How a couple of weeks have changed the whole landscape. The Boreal forest that’s my neck of the woods has turned into a winter wonderland.

The Woods are Lovely, Still

Snow-covered creek

Cattails in the late afternoon light:

Pussywillow Cattails

Snow may cover the ground, the woods are lovely still, teeming with life.

Official greeter, The Red Squirrel:

Red Squirrel

Winter’s friendly ambassador. Take a bow:

Official Greeter 2

But this baby deer doesn’t look too happy… of course, where’s mama?

Deer

A Red-breasted Nuthatch, beautiful against the evening sun:
Red-breasted Nuthatch

A seed in the beak is better than two in the snow:

Happy Downy

Seed or no seed, this Pileated Woodpecker is busy pecking up the right tree:

Pileated Woodpecker

Pecking up

But the most fascinating of all is my discovery of a Snowy Koala, a rare sighting indeed:

Snowy Koala

I’d rather be Down Under taking photos of his cousins, but this little tree hugger just made my wintry day more bearable.

The woods are lovely, still.

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

All Photos in this post taken by Arti of Ripple Effects

DO NOT COPY OR REBLOG

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Saturday Snapshot Nov. 8: Those that stay

Not everyone loves hot weather. Sure there are many who migrate to warmer climates, but there are also those who stay here above the 49th Parallel, at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

A walk through the woods in the last couple of days allowed me to check out who my winter friends are. I say friends because, for some of them, they would fly straight to me, greeting and calling. Yes, I know, they all want treats. But hey, not many choose to stay. So, for those that do, they deserve a free lunch.

Here are some of my winter pals. We’re in it together, come snow and storm in the coming weeks and months. The Black-capped Chickadee:

Black-capped Chickadee

The White-breasted Nuthatch, like the Chickadees, official greeters whenever I visit:

White-breasted Nuthatch

So, a treat for you all:

Free lunch

Female Downy Woodpecker:

Female Downy Woodpecker

The Red Squirrel:

Red Squirel Breakfast time

Of course, there are those who’d want to strike out on their own:

Male Downy

The elusive Blue Jay. Yes I hear their calls all the time, but very hard to actually get a photo:

The Blue Jay

Here’s a Red-breasted Nuthatch in the evening light:

Red-breasted Nuthatch

But my greatest catch is this. From afar, a gigantic furry ball high on a tree:

Huge Furry Ball

I thot I thaw a pussy cat, but when he turned his head 180 degrees, almost, then I knew what I thaw was a Great Horned Owl! I’ve followed an Owl Family for a few years now, always thought they fly to warmer places in the winter.

Great Horned Owl

Of course, he didn’t care for my free lunch of sunflower seeds. Looks like he’s captured his prey, keeping it close by his side, uh… looks like a squirrel. His look speaks volumes. I know, I should have brought a bigger lunch:

Looking straight ahead

I can see there are lots of winter birding adventures ahead.

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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

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Here are posts on the Great Horned Owl Family I’ve been stalking every Spring:

The Parents

The Babies

Saturday Snapshot November 1: One Fine Day

Yes, it’s still fall. Other than the snow storm we had in early September, we have been getting relatively fine weather, considering it’s November already.

Just two days ago, it was one fine, fall day. The temperature reached 13C (55F) when I took these photos, which is very warm for us, especially with the sun bursting in full force. Joggers were wearing shorts and T-shirts.

The glorious golden yellow has changed to brown now, and tree branches are bare…

Fall but not fadingbut the sun remains the unwavering source of light and warmth:

Sunburst

and the river as blue as ever, matching the clear, open sky:

Beautiful Blue Bow River

Gulls linger, who’d want to fly south with weather like this?

GullsAt the pond, these Canada Geese agree. Just hanging out for a while longer:

Canada Geese

Too comfy here, this Bonaparte’s Gull is not flying away any time soon:

Bonaparte's Gull preening

Bonaparte's Gull

Nor the Lesser Scaup:

Lesser Scaup

Mrs. Mallard is having so much fun here… I don’t want to go, she yelps:

Female Mallard skimming over the water

And I add my voice, don’t leave just yet.

We’re not going anywhere, Dear, Mr. Mallard assures her.

MrCool. Let’s get cold together.

*Note: The Mallards are some of the birds I still see in the colder months. With others who stay, they make winter a bit more enjoyable.

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

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ALL PHOTOS TAKEN BY ARTI OF RIPPLE EFFECTS

DO NOT COPY OR REBLOG