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.

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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:

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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:

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500 Pelicans

Makes me think of Degas’ ballerinas:

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

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Spring Birding at the Pond

Here at the Pond, that is, the real, literal Pond, Spring is a busy time. I know, for some of you, Spring is so far behind as you’re deep into Summer already. I caught the following pics early this week while it was warm and sunny; yesterday was a downer, a chilly 5C (42F). But then the high came last night with the NBA game. We The North, Arti watches movies, birds, and basketball.

Now is a wonderful time to greet migrating friends coming back to nest.  Even if you’re just strolling in the woods near the Pond without intention to spot birds, you’re bound to see some beautiful creatures amidst the cacophony of chirps and songs. 

If you spot a furry ball like this up on a tree branch, don’t pass by without pausing:

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Wait a bit, and you’ll see what it really is. A baby owl preening:

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A big yawn… nice, no teeth to brush:

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Here’s looking at you, kid.

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A ‘Where’s Waldo’ exercise: All in the family. Well, not all, some. How many owls can you see here:

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Alright, enough spotlight. Somewhere else, a Yellow Warbler is singing his heart out in the bright sunshine:

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And further away, silently perching on another tree, a Great Blue Heron. I seldom see one high up on a tree and not in the water. A bit blurry pic cause it’s so far away:

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With song birds, it’s ‘hear before you see’. By their calls, I know they’re around. Finding them is another matter. Taking a photo of them is a challenge. I can hear two Baltimore Orioles calling and responding to each other from two trees some distance apart, airmailing each other.

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Closer to the water, a Yellow-headed blackbird is posing for me:

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Enjoying a swim is Mr. Merganser:

Mr. Merganser

I always think of Lucille Ball whenever I see a female Merganser:

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How’s your Spring exploration so far? Birds, wildlife, Nature finds?

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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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Summertime… and the feeding is easy

No matter where you stand in the food chain, in the summer woods, everywhere you turn is a ready picnic, nature’s smorgasbord. Just look at all these flies:

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Yummy appetizers for the Yellow Warbler:

The Hungry Warbler

Or this succulent fruit. I’m sure the bee knows he’s an item on the smorgasbord too.

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But for the moment, indulge:

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Not so lucky for this dragonfly, securely locked in the beaks of a Song Sparrow:

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Robins are clean eaters, they swallow berries whole:

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But not the Goldfinch:

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Eat to your heart’s content, no need for etiquette here:

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This baby Oriole in its high chair waiting for lunch. Be patient, junior, mommy’s coming:

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Take it easy, my Deer friend. I wouldn’t want to do the Heimlich Maneuver on you:

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What’s your summer smorgasbord like?

The Colour of Summer

To be technically accurate, here are some photos I took after June 21. Not that I’m partial to the colour yellow, but that’s mostly the colour of our summer woods, greenish yellow.

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Sometimes you can see dots of pink, the Alberta wild rose:

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or tiny red fruits:

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Golden cattails by the water before they ripen into brown candlesticks:

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The Pond in summer is quiet. In contrast, the woods host a cacophony of songs and calls, like the tuning of strings and woodwinds before a symphony concert, albeit finding the actual sources is difficult, let alone taking photographs of them. The blurry pics just show how hard it is to find them staying still in the clearing for more than 2 seconds.

Migratory songbirds too are mostly yellow here, like this Wilson’s Warbler with his black cap. You might be surprised, but we don’t have any red birds like the Cardinals:

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The Baltimore Oriole:

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The American Goldfinch:

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In the tree, there’s a tiny spot of silvery blue… the Tree Swallow waiting for lunchtime:

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Some can’t wait, like this hungry Robin:

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or this Yellow Warbler. Whatever’s in your mouth, mosquito or fly, I’ve to say, ‘Thank you for eating!’

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What colour is your Summer?

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Spring Baby

They’ve come back, the Great Horned Owl couple.  Their perennial arrival to nest is as predictable as the grass turning green and the leaves bursting out from the bare branches. They even check into the same abode.

After a long wait since April, I finally got to see the new addition last week. This time, an only child.

Here’s baby peeking out to feast on the sights and sounds of spring:

Baby in nest

A close-up of this spring baby:

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Mom or Dad is always watching close by, here basking in the evening sun:

At dusk

Yesterday, it’s baby’s day out. Where’s Waldo?

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Look up, there he is, at the top of the tree trunk:

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Trying out wings:

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and showing off a downy coat:

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As always, Mom is nearby, ever watchful:

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Posing for all the nature paparazzi below, here it is, the feat of turning your head 180º:

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Enjoy while you can, soon you’ll be an empty nester, too soon.

 

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First Spring Visitors to the Pond

They brought me out of hibernation.

It’s been a long winter, not record temperatures, but record snow, all the way into March and April. The Pond started to melt just last week. Then they all came, so fast. I’m amazed at the varieties, some I haven’t seen before.

One evening last week:

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American White Pelicans in the evening light, welcome back!

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And then from a distance, some I wasn’t familiar with:

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A white hood, not a Bufflehead. The sun was setting quickly, and I must say goodbye, not for long though.

Went back next morning and saw them. I wouldn’t have known if not for another photographer who told me they were Hooded Mergansers, rare visitors to the Pond. Only the male is white-hooded. The female looks like the Common Merganser female which always reminds me of Lucille Ball for some reasons:

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The Great Blue Heron, frequent visitor to the Pond, a bit shy as I approached:

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The Lesser Scaup:

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Northern Shovelers playing catch:

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Just as I was leaving, I was stunned to see these beautiful creatures flying above. I wasn’t ready but still able to snap a couple of photos. Not until I went back home and did some search did I realize I’d just seen a ballet of Trumpeter Swans in the sky:

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Swans 1

Don’t fly away, stop by the Pond next time!

 

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How Many Weeks Till Spring?

Who’s counting?

We’re having fun and really, enjoying ourselves.

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Indeed, considering the flooding problems some of you face south of the 49th, I’ve come to appreciate our snow, and the never-ending winter.

Here, makes me think of a Bruegel painting of winter scene, except replace the people with ducks and geese:

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Until then, we persevere.

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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

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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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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

 

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:

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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.

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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:

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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?

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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

 

 

 

 

 

August at the Pond

Our summer is short. After a few weeks of record high temperatures, as August arrives, I can feel the cooler air creeping in.

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At the Pond, August brings a harvest of berries and edible delights for the birds:

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Here are some of the guests relishing Nature’s feast.

Forget about worms, these succulent fruits are tastier. The young Robin learns fast:

The Robin

The American Goldfinch, bending over forward:

Bend over forward

The Cedar Waxwing knows her etiquettes, always graceful and poised:

 

Wax Wing

 

Among them all, I must say my favourite is the Yellow Warbler. They are not fond of berries, but there are lots to eat around here. I’m most grateful for their taste. Here’s why: Mosquitoes eat me; warblers eat mosquitoes. Simple as that.

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What more, it’s no simple feat to sing with a mosquito in your mouth:

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In a few weeks, the Warblers will be gone, and I’ll be capturing scenes of Autumn. Yes, that soon. But for now, I’ll feast on summer sights. So, eat to your heart’s content, my Warbler friend.

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10 Years

WordPress tells me I’ve been blogging for 10 years now. It’s been a life-changing decade. From a film lover writing reviews just for personal journalling, I’ve developed into writing to share. Hundreds of movies later, I’m now an Arts and Film Writer for Asian American Press. In recent years, I started covering Film Festivals; my appreciation for cinema art and independent films from all over the world had grown deeper.

Books, I’ve read a few, but then again, too few to mention. My TBR piles is expanding much faster than I can tackle. To manage them, I use the simplest method: deleting them from my memory. Many I’ve bought from the annual Book Sale (several posts), but I’ve since donated them back. There’s one on my Goodreads ‘currently reading’ shelf for years now which I don’t want to give up just yet, and that’s Proust’s In Search of Lost Time Vol. 3, The Guermantes Way.  Some day.

Other than books, movies, and my special interest in the transposition of one into the other, I’ve also become an avid birder. Arti of Ripple Effects has turned into a nature paparazzo. I’d thought of starting another blog just for nature photography but thought, hey, everyone needs a respite even from books and films. The Pond is open to all to throw in their two pebbles, make some ripples while enjoying a piece of natural beauty.

WordPress tells me in the side bar that I have 6,843 followers. Simply amazing, considering the number of comments I receive in each post. No matter, commenting isn’t a requirement when you visit the Pond. I’m just glad to know you’ve enjoyed your stay, even if it’s a short minute or two. And to all visitors and followers, a hearty thank-you. You’ve made my presence in the blogosphere meaningful.

To celebrate 10 years, to say goodbye to Spring (already) and welcome Summer, I’ll leave you with a few photos I’ve taken in the past few days.

The forest by the Pond:

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They may be the most common bird, but every Robin is a welcome sight against the blue sky:

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The well-groomed and handsome Cedar Waxwing, always camera ready:

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True to their name, the Yellow-headed Blackbird on a cattail:

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The female Red-Winged Blackbird. Nature endows with different features:

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Up in the sky, an Osprey is busy transporting his building materials:

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And a touring group of Pelicans, looking for my Air BnB?

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More to come.

 

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