Friday, August 25, 2006

Spiders, spiders

I came on just now intending to post about Jewel Spiders, but then I remembered that I posted about them at around the same time last year.

Sure enough, a little poking around the archives led me to this post (complete with picture, even), so rather than type the same information again I'll encourage you to have a look there instead.

If you have a question about Jewel Spiders, other spiders, or even non-spiders, be sure to give us a call at 346-2010.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Seen in the Sanctuary

This is a photo of Coyote scat found on the Wishart Trail in the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary this afternoon.

Some concerned visitors spotted it earlier in the day and were wondering if a bear had indeed done what bears are reputed to do in the woods.

At this time of year it's an easy mistake to make. Coyotes in late summer become very omnivorous; consuming berries, leaves, decaying animals and prey they themselves have killed. This combination of foods, especially the berry content, makes scat that very much resembles bear droppings.

The keys to identifying these souvenirs as being left behind by a coyote and not a bear are the shape of the individual scats and the size of deposit. This sample is much smaller and better formed than anything a Black Bear would excrete.

Coyotes, foxes, moose, deer and other mammals are all consuming sugar-rich berries at this time of year. This means that almost everything is leaving scats that resemble bear droppings.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Seen in the Sanctuary:

Ripe Chokecherries on the trail to the bird blind.

Female Thin-Legged Wolf Spider camouflaged beside the edge of the path.

Kerry Wood Nature Centre from the Dr. George Trail.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Walking McKenzie

I was down at McKenzie Trail Recreation Area for a little while this afternoon. For those of you who aren't familiar with the park, it's the next one down the bike trail from the Nature Centre and is quite a nice picnic spot. McKenzie Trail park consists partly of a reclaimed gravel pit which has been turned into a nesting pond that is very popular with the local goose and duck population.

McKenzie's a favourite place with those who enjoy feeding geese, but I'd ask that you consider feeding them something other than bread. Bread's actually pretty tough for those birds to digest in large quantities. If you're looking for alternative foods, you might try dried peas or cracked corn. The Nature Centre Bookstore sells small bags of corn for a dollar.

Across the road from the pond is one of the lesser-known trails in Waskasoo Park. The loop at McKenzie isn't very long (it can easily be walked in twenty minutes), but it winds its way through some very interesting plant communities. My favourite is one of the few old growth White Spruce forests in Red Deer. The forest is quiet but not as dark as a younger conifer stand.

As you walk through McKenzie, see if you can spot the traces of last year's flood. McKenzie ended up as part of the river last June, but it's amazing to see how quickly the river silt is being covered up by new plant growth.