Thursday, June 26, 2008

Seen in the Sanctuary:

Prickly Wild Rose (Rosa acicularis) flowers

Male and female Ruddy Ducks on the West Gaetz Lake

Our "abandoned" river channel looking not-quite abandoned

Monday, June 23, 2008

Seen in the Sanctuary:

Mating Damselflies

Wood Frog hiding among fallen poplar leaves

Click on either photo to enlarge it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Update to bird sightings

Over the last few days, these following species have been seen:
  • Ruddy ducks
  • Coots
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Western Wood-Pewee
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Common Grackle - heard
  • Red-necked Grebes and American Coots on nests
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch nest with young
  • Two Red-winged Blackbird nests with young
  • Phoebe nesting under one of the viewing decks
  • Pileated woodpecker continues to visit the suet log outside of the bookstore windows

Let us know what birds, butterflies, blooms, and beasts you seen in and around the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Construction zone

It may not look like much at the moment, but this pile of mud and sticks next to the boardwalk on the Dr George Trail might be worth watching if we get more rain. It seems that our beavers are tired of the water overflowing into the forest on the other side of the boardwalk and have decided to dam things up a bit.

I wouldn't expect this to become a very elaborate dam -- beavers generally do only as much work as is necessary to maintain the pond -- but if the water should rise you might notice that they start to reinforce their mud push-ups with sticks and cattail leaves.

It's also worth keeping your eyes open for the beavers themselves and not just their handiwork. Todd was out with a school group the other day and they were lucky enough to get a good look at a large beaver munching away on a branch, seemingly unconcerned about the excited Grade Ones standing nearby.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Jason Rogers, a local birder, reports the following species in/near the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary:
- Common Goldeneyes with broods.
- Alder Flycatchers and Red-eyed Vireos have returned since my last report.
- Possible Philadelphia Vireo along the paved loop trail near the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.
- Tennessee Warbler at the nature centre.
- Ovenbird and Mourning Warbler at old Woodlea ski hill just south of sanctuary.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Feeder visitor

This Pileated Woodpecker has become a regular visitor to our suet feeder in the past couple of weeks. The lack of a red "moustache" shows that she's a female. I haven't noticed a male coming to feed at all, but that could just be because I don't keep a constant watch on the suet.

The Pileated Woodpecker is Alberta's largest, and it's pretty obvious when you see one come to a feeder that is usually frequented by the (much) smaller Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers.

The suet feeder is located right outside our bookstore. Be sure to have a look for our woodpeckers the next time you come shopping.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Our New Neighbour

On Thursday last week Diane and I were out taking pictures of the building for new banners, web-images and other uses. I've got the camera nicely mounted to the tripod and totally locked into a position that, while great for taking slightly upwards-facing images of the building, was totally useless for what came next.

From behind me I heard Diane exclaim "That's the oddest looking Ground Squirrel I've ever... wait a minute... that's a weasel!"

I turned around and sure enough, there, sitting up like the world's skinniest-looking Richardson's Ground Squirrel, was a Long-Tailed Weasel.

We are trying to get a picture of it but it's a quick little critter. The best either of us has so far is a black-tipped tail & rear-end zipping off through the bush.

You can find more information about Long-Tailed Weasels here.

We'll do our best to get a decent photo posted. Watch this space.


In other news.

Our thanks go out to Community Savings Credit Union and Sobey's Eastview for sponsoring Fort Fest at Fort Normandeau this past weekend.

The Red Deer Aboriginal Dance Troupe and the Waskasoo Bluegrass Society both put on great shows. The Red Deer Archery Club taught dozens of kids how to safely shoot a bow & arrows. The 65th Mount Royal Rifles and the Firestick Living History Society recreated their annual "Battle that never actually ever happened but it's fun to shoot at each other skirmish". The employees and volunteers at the Fort cranked and served gallons of ice-cream and the 78th Field Artillery Unit from Red Deer gave folks a chance to meet the new army and send messages to our troops overseas. Add to that an antiques show and sale and you've got a very full weekend.

If you happen to be at the Fort over the next few days, forgive them their exhausted looks. They all put in a huge effort.