Monday, April 28, 2008

Recent bird sightings

Jason Rogers, a Red Deer birder, walked around the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary on Sunday April 27th. Here is what Jason reported. (He didn't bring his scope, so there are no totals for most of the waterbirds.)

Greater White-fronted Goose - 20
Canada Goose
Gadwall - 1
American Wigeon
Northern Shoveler
Northern Pintail - 1
Green-winged Teal
Canvasback - 2
Ring-necked Duck
[Lesser Scaup?]
Common Goldeneye
Common Merganser
Red-necked Grebe - 1
Osprey - 1
Cooper's Hawk - 1
American Coot - 20
Franklin's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
[Herring Gull?]
Rock Pigeon - 1
Downy Woodpecker - 4
Hairy Woodpecker - 1
Black-billed Magpie - 1
American Crow - 1
Common Raven - 1
Black-capped Chickadee - 9
Boreal Chickadee - 1
Red-breasted Nuthatch - 13
White-breasted Nuthatch - 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - 1
American Robin - 6
American Pipit - 3
Bohemian Waxwing - 40
Song Sparrow - 1 along river
Red-winged Blackbird - 1
[Brown-headed Cowbird?] - 1
Purple Finch - 4
House Finch - 2
White-winged Crossbill - 2
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch - 1

While you might not see all of these yourself, you get the idea: this is an interesting time to be out in the Sanctuary!

Friday, April 25, 2008

25 and 50 Years Ago

On Wednesday April 23rd, the Red Deer Advocate posted a couple of brief stories worth repeating here. (

50 years ago
• Red Deer author Kerry Wood won his second Governor-General Award for literature in three years. Wood’s book, The Great Chief, won the medal in the class of books for juveniles.
(Kerry Wood's first GG award was for ‘The Map Maker’, the story of David Thompson, written in 1955. Kerry Wood wrote ‘The Great Chief’, life of Maskepetoon, Peace Chief of the Crees, in 1957.)

25 years ago
• At an expropriation inquiry, former city councillor Ron McCullough argued the city was trying to take his Glenmere Farms primarily so it could build a bridge over the river at 67th Street as recommended by a consultant. Parks planner Craig Curtis insisted the expropriation would protect the Gaetz Lakes sanctuary and allow room for a nature centre. “The sole purpose for acquiring this property is for parkland. Any other inference is incorrect and misleading.” The Kerry Wood Nature Centre was built in 1985; the bridge was built in 1987-88.
(The land that makes up the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary was assembled in part from provincial land in the southeast, part of the Red Deer Public School District #104's land in the southwest -- each purchased for $1.00 -- and the McCullough land, including the Allen Bungalow, which was expropriated.)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Ode to Recycling

Last week was Spring Break for my kids so, naturally, we went to Grandma's. Grandma still lives in the same house I grew up in, so I took my kids to one of my favorite old haunts : the tire playground. It was there that I had a epiphany.

I can remember when town council first decided there was going to be a new playground, and that it was going to be made of old tires. My friends and I were so excited: we'd go and watch the workers getting the space ready, then hauling in the tires. We couldn't believe the size of some of them: up until then, tractor tires were the biggest ones we'd ever seen! We would spend countless hours imagining what the tire playground would look like. Would it have a fort? Would there be swings? How were they going to hold all those tires together? Our little minds were buzzing.

Finally it was finished and it was great! There was a fort, with two draw bridges and a triangle of two-storey compartments to crawl in. The workers had made us a little boat/car shaped sculpture, a giant four-sectioned sandbox, and a bumpy three tire thing that resembled a sea serpent, but was made of tires big enough for us to actually crawl inside. And to top it off, three tire swings on poles so long that you could practically reach orbit before coming anywhere close to your neighbour. It was a child's dream and only now, sitting in my favorite spot reflecting on the fun I'd had there, did I realize what else it was. The tire playground was an ode to recycling, a fantastic use of resources at hand and a desire to make something useful out of what might have been considered junk. Tire playground, I salute you! You are a beacon of the right way to recycle, to reduce, to reuse.

The tire playground looks almost the same as it did 20-odd years ago, another testament to what a great idea it was. The only things missing are the tire swings and the climbing wall. I have found a link, check it out: Click on "Community Centres" in the virtual tour menu to get the right picture.

First you will see the ball diamonds, then as the camera turns you can make out the three bumps of the sea serpent-like structure off in the distance. Still standing, still well-loved, still a great idea.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Earth Day Ecology Lesson

It's Earth Month, and I hope that everyone's as excited about the impending Earth Day as I am! We have a special treat here at the Nature Centre on Earth Day: Abrah Arneson, a local Certified Herbal Therapist and owner of The Green Clinic, will be presenting on the Ecology of Herbal Medicine. It will be an enjoyable evening of ecologically-friendly refreshments and conversation, with all proceeds going to support the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and its many environmental initiatives.

Sounds like something you'd like to go to? Here are the details:

The Ecology of Herbal Medicine: Plants for the Health and Well Being of All, Tuesday, April 22, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. Admission is $20/person + GST, in advance or at the door. Call 346-2010 for more details or to register.

No matter what you do this Earth Day, remember to keep in mind why you're doing it. Our planet is important, not just for our own offsprings' survival, but for that of every species' offspring, and their offspring, and their offspring ad infinitum.

Make every day Earth Day!