Saturday, July 28, 2007

Seen in the Sanctuary:

A flip through Alberta Butterflies has me thinking that the slightly beaten-up looking butterfly that I watched nectaring on goldenrod this afternoon is a Northern Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes cocyta). I freely admit to being no expert when it comes to butterflies, though, so if this is a wrong identification please let me know.

As always, click on the photo to see a larger version.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


We've had a number of questions about dragonflies lately, and no wonder. When you go for a walk on any of the Waskasoo Park trails, they seem to be completely swarming with dragonflies like this male Meadowhawk (probably Sympetrum internum, the Cherry-faced Meadowhawk. Males are red, while females are yellow). Luckily for those of us on the receiving end of the question of why there are so many dragonflies around, there's a pretty easy answer.

The high water levels this year led to a very high mosquito population. Dragonflies depend on mosquitoes as one of their major food sources, and the extra food supports more of the predators. The fact that dragonflies use mosquitoes for food both in their aquatic (nymphal) phase and in their adult phase has meant that they've been well-nourished throughout their life cycle this year.

The nice thing is that we're all benefitting from the high dragonfly population. More dragonflies eat more mosquitoes. It's natural pest control.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Important Email Service Announcement

If you have been trying to send us email for the last 3 or 4 days you'll notice that your messages are bouncing back to you. C.I.R.S., the non-profit that provides our internet service is going through a difficult and time-consuming server upgrade.

We apologise for any inconvenience. This technical issue will be solved ASAP. If you desperately need to get in touch with us, either phone the Nature Centre at 403 346-2010 or leave us a comment at the bottom of this post.


Back to our regularly scheduled program...

We have an exhibit opening and Meet the Artists Coffee Reception this Saturday, July 21 from 2:00 to 4:00 pm. Lyndal Osborne and John Freeman's exhibit Tidal Trace will open Saturday in the Marjorie Wood Gallery here at the Nature Centre. Click the link to get an idea of Lyndal and John's vision. The exhibit will be open for viewing during our normal operating hours. Tidal Trace closes September 9, 2007.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Trail flooding

Not to sound like a broken record (although I do feel like I've said this many times this year), but the recent downpours have flooded several sections of the Dr. George Trail again. This particular puddle, while it looks relatively harmless, is about running-shoe deep and can easily give you unexpectedly wet socks.

Plan on taking the grassland route if you're planning to walk the Wishart Trail.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Seen in the Sanctuary

The beavers are still busy taking down trees right next to the Dr. George Trail, as you can see.

I was pleasantly surprised to find this Western Wood Lily just off the trail the other day. I don't get a chance to see these beautiful flowers in the Sanctuary very often.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Out on the lake

If you're willing to brave the mosquitoes on the Dr. George Trail, you'll find that the high water levels this year have led to some interesting sights.

The beavers have recently started taking down a few trees in a normally dry part of the forest. I was sort of surprised that they waited this long to start feeding there, but I'm assuming that the high water has made lots of different trees more accessible to them and we just haven't noticed the busier areas yet.

You can find these chewed trees close to the Nature Centre as you first enter the forest on the Dr. George Trail.

One of the nicer things about the flooding has been that it's much easier to watch our muskrats at work on the West Lake from the viewing deck. Usually you'd need binoculars to see whether the brown thing swimming in the water is a muskrat or a beaver, but this year it's not uncommon to see muskrats feeding on cattails right beside the deck.

I thought I'd end with a quick note about the edible plant walk I mentioned below. The program is definitely a go, so if you're interested in learning the basics of safe grazing give us a call at (403) 346-2010 before July 14th to pre-register. We'll be meeting at Fort Normandeau at 6:30 pm on Saturday the 14th. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Weed control

Darlene from New Brunswick has started with us as our Sanctuary Maintenance person for the summer. Her main job will be doing weed control in the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary -- thistles, white cockle, black henbane, toadflax, etc. Smile and wave or say "bonjour!" to Darlene if you see her swinginig a scythe or lugging a weed eater when you walk the trails.