Wednesday, December 28, 2011

What's up on the Dr George

I took a moment today to take a stroll around the Dr George Trail (the 1 km trail) in the Sanctuary. It's a busy place, the Dr George, even in December. Here's a little of what I saw:

Squirrel tracks around the Sanctuary sign pillar

Deer track amongst the boot tracks

Snowshoe tracks. We rent snowshoes, if you've ever wanted to give it a try.

Like humans, when one deer makes a trail the rest tend to use it instead of making a new one. Deer aren't the only things that use deer trails -- they can be a good place to look for other tracks.

The tracks are a little melted out, but you can still see the loop this mouse or vole took around the deer tracks.

The frozen Gaetz Lakes become highways for all sorts of animals.



Click on any of the photos to see them larger.

If you have photos of any local winter animal goings-on that you'd like me to post here on the blog, feel free to e-mail them to us here at the Nature Centre (general@waskasoopark.ca). Let us know who you are so we can properly credit the photo, and tell us a little bit about where the shot was taken.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Hours

Di you know that Christmas Day is the only day all year that Kerry Wood Nature Centre closes? It's true. Here are our hours for the holiday season:

Dec 24th: 10:00 - 5:00
Dec 25th: Closed. Merry Christmas!
Dec 26th: 1:00 - 5:00
Dec 27th: 1:00 - 5:00
Dec 28th - 31st: 10:00 - 5:00
Jan 1st: 1:00 - 5:00
Jan 2nd: 1:00 - 5:00

And don't forget... if you're looking for a fun way to burn off some of those holiday calories, come down and join us for an afternoon of snowshoeing on December 31st. Call 403-346-2010 for details.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's the Film You've Been Waiting For



 It's Here. This is the 2012 Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour trailer. Click play and turn up the volume. Then, head on down to the Nature Centre, Valhalla Pure Outfitters or Purearth Organics for your tickets. Shows run January 12 & 13, 2012. Tickets are $20 + GST each night and $36 + GST for both nights.

These tickets make amazing stocking stuffers.

See you at the show.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One last look at our light recycling bin



That's a lot of copper wire that won't be headed to the landfill, folks.

As of mid-day Saturday we gave out the last of our LED lights, so this year's Christmas light exchange is officially over. We started out with 804 light sets to exchange, and they went a lot faster than we were anticipating. Great job, Red Deer!

Thanks once again to the City of Red Deer for funding and supporting the exchange, and to London Drugs for their support.

We look forward to seeing your new energy-efficient Christmas decorations up!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Christmas Light Exchange Update




Our bin (nearly) runneth over. As of 11:30 there were only 51 sets of LED lights left for the annual light exchange. We started out with 804. Way to go, Red Deer!

There's still time to get those last few lights. Bring down two or more strands of incandescent lights and exchange them for one set of energy-efficient LEDs. And remember -- those lights you see in the bin are all headed for recycling. What a great way to keep valuable copper out of the landfill.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's in the Woods?

I love walking through the woods - any woods - and imagining what's going on, just out of eyesight and earshot. Sure, you can hear the birds twittering and the squirrels screeching away at each other, and every once in a while you'll hear the crack of a branch telling you that a deer or moose is nearby. On special occasions you'll get to see the animals as they move through their environment, possibly unconcerned about your presence.

More often though, we're completely oblivious to the comings and goings of the larger animals with whom we share natural spaces. By virtue of their better-tuned senses of smell and hearing, animals are often more aware of us, than we are of them.
With that in mind and in an effort to record what's going on just beyond the tree-lines of the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary, the City of Red Deer Parks Department has installed a trail cam in the woods. Over the next few months, they'll move it around throughout the 300 acres and capture daytime and nocturnal images of the animals who travel through and who make the Sanctuary their home.

Here are the first images, captured over a 24-hour period November 16 - 17, 2011.





The three deer pictures are a perfect example of what I was discussing. The images were captured over the noon hour, within 50 metres of one of the trails, and people walking on the trail would have had no idea that the deer were in such close proximity.

As we get more images, we'll upload and share them. 

Keep you eyes peeled. You never know what you'll see on your adventures.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Christmas Light Exchange - Video Update

video

We know that you know how beneficial the Christmas Light Exchange is, in terms of power reduction and Greenhouse gas emissions. Here though, is a quick couple of minutes about the benefits of recycling the old strings you're bringing in to us.

Good job Red Deer.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Christmas light exchange update

Our recycle bin of old incandescent Christmas lights is getting pretty full, and that's fantastic to see.

There's still time to exchange your old lights for energy-efficient LED lights (one new strand for every two old strands per adult), but our supply is limited so don't wait too long!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Saving energy could save you money

Check out this web page for information on the City of Red Deer's Home Energy Audit Rebate as well as other ways you can save money by being energy-efficient.

First snowfall

Anyone here can tell you that I'm not a fan of winter. I have my reasons -- some of which are very justified -- but rather than go into them I'll just state outright that I'm not loving the idea of the next few months' weather. I do, though, like to get out on the trails after a snowfall to see what's up in the Sanctuary. Fresh snow reveals all kinds of things going on that we don't normally even notice. Here's a little of what I saw early this afternoon:

 
It's pretty common to see the tracks squirrels leave behind as they run from tree to tree.


 
The toe-dragging tracks of a browsing deer.



 
If you find yourself near one of the lakes, look for open spots in the ice. They could be feeding holes. And if you're lucky you may see what's been feeding...



 
These guys were a little too far away for nearsighted me to tell for sure whether they were muskrats or young beavers at the time, but looking at the photos has me thinking beavers. You can find both beavers and muskrats on and in the Gaetz Lakes.






Not too bad for a few minutes' walk, really. Just remember to keep your eye on the snow when you're out on the trails this winter. You never know whose trails you might find in Waskasoo Park.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Kids' Bird Feeding

Kids’ Bird Feeding Program:
Place: Kerry Wood Nature Centre
6300 45 Ave,  Red Deer
Sunday, November 20, 2011 2:00 pm

Bring your children aged 6 to 13 to the Nature Centre for this hands-on program. We’ll look at and identify winter birds and learn what and how to feed them. Kids will construct a bird feeder and be given bird feed to take home. The seed and the feeder have a retail value of $14.95.

The program cost is $7.00 per child for Friends of the KWNC members and $8.00 for non-members. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

To register call the Kerry Wood Nature Centre, 6300 45 Ave, Red Deer, telephone 403-346-2010.
Please register by 4:00 pm November 15, 2011.

For information call Bob at 403-346-2010 ext 103

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Take Me Outside



We were thrilled to be a part of Colin's journey. Colin spent a day in Red Deer giving talks at Annie L. Gaetz elementary, G.W. Smith elementary and West Park Middle schools. He also did a tour of the Nature Centre and had lunch with a couple of the interpreters.

Here at the Nature Centre we have been dedicated to sharing the outdoors with children, for 25 years. With all the new initiatives in preschool and kindergarten outdoor-classes, it is worth noting that the Nature Centre's Nature Nursery program has been an outdoor program for nearly 20 years. Our kids spend 1/2 of their time, each day, exploring the Sanctuary's forests, fields and ponds. In May, June and September, when the weather is a little more forgiving, Nature Nursery is an entirely outdoor program.

Kids need to be outside. There is a growing mountain of evidence to support the idea that the 53-hours/week of screen time that North American kids are getting (outside of school hours) is doing more harm than good. We're seeing increased rates of childhood obesity, increased rates of ADD/ADHD and a increase in the psychological distance between people and nature. Our own research - conducted by Jim Roberston as part of his Masters thesis - indicates that kids who are exposed to early nature-based education develop into more environmentally-aware citizens. They exhibit more empathy for nature and for natural environments.

So to Colin: Congratulations. We are inspired by your run and I am personally, proud to call you my friend. To the nature-educators around the world: Keep doing what you do. The children of today and the natural environments of the future are depending on you.

Friday, October 21, 2011

CSAs and our upcoming fundraiser

Todd posted about our Harvest Lunch fundraiser the other day, and I just thought I'd add a couple of links for those who might be interested in learning more about Community-Supported Agriculture, or CSAs.

Briefly put, CSAs are a fantastic way to enjoy seasonal, locally-grown veggies (and sometimes fruits as well, depending on the farm). By buying a share of the farm's crop for the season, you're helping to directly support a local farmer as well as ensuring that the produce on your table is about as fresh as it could possibly be. Most CSAs grow organically or pesticide free as well, and work hard to use environmentally sustainable farming methods.

Our lunch guest speaker, Mike Kozlowski of Steel Pony Farm, will be able to give lots more information on the workings of a CSA farm. And with a wonderful harvest lunch from Remi's Catering, I'm sure that everyone will have a fantastic time.

For more information about CSAs, check out this link. And if you'd like to find a CSA near you (yes, we have several CSAs right here in Central Alberta), you can find listings here.



For information on and tickets for our November 4th fundraiser, give us a call at 403-346-2010.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Late Season Visitor

There are animals we expect to see at this time of year. Moose, deer, foxes, the last few Coots, spiders and the year-round birds are all familiar sights in and around the Sanctuary. One of the things that we don't expect, is a butterfly; especially when it's clinging to the screen on the inside of a window.

Yet, that's exactly what we found this morning.


This Comma (we think - it won't open its wings to allow us to see the colours) Butterfly has taken up residence on the inside screen of the windows in the programmers'-space here at the Nature Centre. It's not surprising that it's still alive; Commas overwinter as adults. It is surprising that it's indoors and not hiding in a woodpile or buried under leaf litter somewhere. At some point we'll likely have to catch it and move it. While they will overwinter, they do it in hibernation.

If you have an interesting nature sighting, email it to us at general@waskasoopark.ca

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Our Fall Fundraiser

Join us at our Fall Fundraiser. This Heritage Lunch is being prepared by Remi's Catering and will feature soup, salad, main course and dessert with coffee/tea. Mike Kozlowski of Steel Pony Farms will be our guest speaker.

Tickets are $50. Please call the Nature Centre at 403-346-2010 or drop by for a visit and purchase your tickets.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Great green things happening this weekend in Red Deer!

Tonight, Friday, October 14, sees the start of a fun, green weekend in Red Deer. As I type, the Trash to Treasure Swap Meet is underway, here at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. We've been seeing great stuff come in all evening and still have the weekend left to go. There's no telling what wonderful items will show up and at a great price too: FREE! Bring it if you've got it, browse what's here, then take whatever catches your eye. We're open until 7 p.m. tonight, then from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. You don't need to bring something in to be able to take something: the idea is to find homes for all the still useful but unwanted items.

Following what seems to be Red Deer's theme this weekend, the City is urging you to Kick it to the Curb. This initiative encourages you to label your unwanted items "FREE" and put them curbside. Take a drive around town this weekend: you never know what treasures you'll find!

'Til next time...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Watch for Wildlife


Ok, while they aren't foaming at the mouth and racing around the Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary on a skateboards, it is that time of the year when the moose and deer in the area are more concerned about finding and attracting a member of the opposite sex, than they are about staying away from people, other animals and mostly-public spaces. While the picture above is funny, it is meant as a reminder that moose and deer - particularly the males - are aggressive at this time of year and should be avoided.

As the females come into season the males become completely fixated on finding them and, well, showing off. The objective of course, is to be the successful male who gets to mate.

So, as you are walking and riding on the Waskasoo Park trails and exploring the various park nodes this fall, please keep your eyes open for moose and deer. They aren't out to get you and they aren't going to try to hurt you. They're just really preoccupied with other things and the hormones racing through their systems makes them potentially more aggressive.

Just imagine what they'd get up to if they could ride a skateboard.

Our thanks to Joe Whitbread for the drawing. You can follow Joe on Twitter @joewhitbread. Find his ink drawings with the tag #twitbreadbyrequest

Monday, October 03, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend Happenings at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre

Thanksgiving is a weekend to enjoy time together with family and friends; why not add the Kerry Wood Nature Centre to your list of festive to-dos?

On Friday, October 7, we will be hosting a First Friday for the Red Deer Pottery Club and their exhibit titled "Aurora Borealis of the Earth". Join us between 5:00 and 7:00 p.m. for refreshments and a look at some amazing Raku fired pottery.

Saturday, October 8, is our Sanctuary Stroll & Social. This event is an adults-only evening out hiking the 4.0 km trail, followed by refreshments and mingling. Cost is $15 + gst/members; $17 + gst/non-members. It runs from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. and may even present us a chance for some nighttime wildlife encounters! Pre-registration is required.

Sunday the 9th brings October's edition of the Family Planetarium. Join us at 1:00 p.m. for a guided tour of the fall constellations. Show starts at 1:10, runs for approximately 50 minutes, and the cost is $3/person or $10/family at the door.

For more information on, or to register for, these or any of our fall events please call the Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 403-346-2010.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Peeking over


Jim shot this photo of the sunflowers at Fort Normandeau peeping over the palisade. Anyone who's visited the Fort and has seen how tall the palisade is can tell you that the sunflowers were a pretty impressive size this year.

The Fort Normandeau grounds close for the season in October, but we look forward to your visits in May 2012. In the meantime, there's always plenty to see and do here at the Nature Centre. Give us a call at 403-346-2010 for information on our upcoming events for fall and winter.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Why The Cougar Links Below?

I posted the Cougar links because there have been recent, unconfirmed Cougar sightings in Red Deer. While they are not common in Red Deer, Cougars are native Alberta wildlife. Use the links provided to educate yourself about Cougars and how best to stay safe while recreating outside.

Printed copies of the "If You Encounter a Cougar" handout are available at the front desk at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

As usual, if you have any questions, give us a call at the Nature Centre 403-346-2010.

Alberta SRD - If You Encounter A Cougar

Alberta SRD - If You Encounter A Cougar

Click the link to download an information sheet from the Alberta government.

Alberta SRD - Cougars & Outdoor Recreation

Alberta SRD - Cougars & Outdoor Recreation

Click the above link to download an information sheet.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Board Member Recruitment

We are looking for some new board members.

Both the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society (WEES) and our friends group, The Friends of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre Society are looking for energetic, committed and enthusiastic people to sit on our boards.

WEES is the organization responsible for running the Kerry Wood Nature Centre and Fort Normandeau. We take care of natural and cultural history interpretation, and environmental education, through the Waskasoo Park System for The City of Red Deer. We are looking for board members with an interest in these fields and experience with law, finance, education design and delivery and fundraising/development. These are two-year terms.

The Friends of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre supports WEES activities through the operation of the book stores in the Nature Centre and Fort Normandeau. Potential members should be interested in environmental education, retail operations and budgeting and light fundraising.

If you are interested in applying for a board position, please contact the following people:
  • WEES board, contact Jim Robertson, Executive Director, WEES (jim.robertson@waskasoopark.ca)
  • Friends board, contact Bob Kruchten, Bookstore Managaer, Friends of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre (bob.kruchten@waskasoopark.ca)
Please feel free to share this post with your friends, colleagues and social networks.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Fort Normandeau parking

If you're headed to the Fort on Saturday, August 10th, please be aware that parking will be limited. For more information, check the City of Red Deer's press release here.

Sorry for any inconvenience this causes.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Bird Blind Sentinel


The Barn Swallows at the bird blind on the West Gaetz Lake are on their second (rather late, I think) nesting and are currently busy keeping their little ones fed. These birds have been very patient with Sanctuary visitors -- I haven't heard any cases of dive-bombing -- but please remember to give them a little bit of space if you're out on the deck and you notice them trying to get to the nestlings. Less stress for everyone that way!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Jewel Spider season again

I've noticed that we've been getting some hits in the past few days from people looking for information about Jewel Spiders, also known as the Jewelled Araneus. These are large orb weavers for Alberta, and since they often tend to make their webs close to lights people may notice them around their homes and be a little worried that they're a problem.

The good news is, they're harmless. Well, unless you're an insect, of course.

This is a photo I took of one that was hanging around the soffit in my father's car port a few years ago. For a clearer photo and a bit more information about these entertaining spiders, I'll direct you to my earlier post about them here.

If you have more questions about Jewel Spiders, give us a call at 403-346-2010.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Comings and Goings - Ungulate Style


The Gaetz Lakes Sanctuary is surrounded on three sides by a chain-link fence. This leads to lots of questions regarding how the deer, moose and other animals get in and out of the Sanctuary. We know they go over the fence. There have been many many observations of deer jumping clear over fences as high as eight feet; from a standing start.

What we didn't know, was exactly where they were leaping over the fence. Well, now we know the location of at least one entry point.

I took this picture on the east side of the staff parking lot. As you can see the ground level is almost the same elevation as the top of the fence; meaning the deer don't need to jump as high in the air. They just need to "go long". On the near side of the fence there is a worn area that suggests it's the launch point. The far side of the fence has the landing pad and game trail leading away from it. The entire leap is 3 1/2 feet high and 7 feet long.

The upshot of this is that while the Sanctuary is fenced, animals have little trouble coming and going as they please. Given that the Sanctuary's deer and moose population fluctuates throughout the year we aren't terribly surprised. What we didn't know was that one of the entry points was right beside our parking spots and that if we arrived a little earlier in the day or left a little later in the evening, we'd probably see the leaping deer in action.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

More fun in the summer sun!

Summer's almost over, but there's still lots of family-friendly programming going on in Waskasoo Park. Here's a quick look at what's coming up:

Wednesday, August 17 is the ART&facts Biking Tour, a tour of public art via the Waskasoo Park trail system with guest speaker Pat Matheson. We meet at the Lions' campground amphitheatre for departure at 7 p.m., weather permitting.

On Friday, August 19, your family can Meet the Critter between 1 and 4 p.m. at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. The Medicine River Wildlife Centre will be bringing one of their critters for a visit.

Raft Tours are still running! Tuesday and Thursday nights from 5 to 8 p.m. are Raft & Roasts: a wiener roast and guided float down the river. Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. are our Scenic Tours: float only. Call the Nature Centre to book your spot; paid pre-registration is required as there are limited seats.

On Sunday, August 28, there will be an Edible Plant Walk starting at 2 p.m. Meet a naturalist at the Nature Centre to learn what's good, and what's not!

If you've ever wanted to learn how to preserve your own food, here's your chance! There will be a Canning Workshop at Fort Normandeau on Monday, August 29, from 1 to 4 p.m. There are limited spots available, so paid pre-registration is required. Call the Nature Centre for more details.

Hope to see everyone out and enjoying these last precious weeks of summer. 'Til next time!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Seen in the Park




The trails, nodes and gathering places that make up Waskasoo Park take walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, dog-owners and myriad other users through the City, in natural settings. It's quite amazing really, to look down over the City and realize that we live and work in a forest; that we've carved out an urban centre somewhat harmoniously with the local natural environment. Because we've kept so much of the river valley and the urban forest intact, we are fortunate to have many wild creatures in our midst.

One of those interesting critters, is the Grey Catbird. Catbirds nest in dense brush - which makes Three mile a great place to find them. They have a diet of about 50% fruit (berries etc.) and 50% insects and spiders. The really cool thing about Catbirds though, is that they are mimics; they'll appropriate the sounds that other birds make. This makes identifying Catbirds by ear a little difficult

The Grey Catbird in the picture was seen by friend of the Nature Centre Lorraine Oakes. She took the picture at Three Mile Bend and sent it in to us for identification. Thanks Lorraine!

We say this a lot, but the next time you're out on the trails, keep your eyes and ears open. You never know what wild animal is sharing the park with you. As always, if you see something interesting and want to share it, send us a photo via email to general@waskasoopark.ca or, head join the Kerry Wood Nature Centre's Facebook group and post it up there.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Today's Surprise Visitor


It's spider season! Albeit it's a little early for our first eight-legged visitors - spiders in cartons usually start arriving in September.

This one came from a worker at Dow Chemical.

While intimidating-looking, this female Marbled Orb Weaver is harmless. She (the round abdomen tells us it's a female) creates the large, circular webs that are often found in the early morning. Orb weavers are tremendously beneficial as they eat the mosquitoes and other insects that cause us grief. A yard with orb weavers, bats, and dragonflies is likely to be a pest-free zone.

If you've got a spider or any other critter you can't identify, feel free to send us a photo or, if it's not huge, bring it down. We'll be happy to take a look, give it a name and tell you all about it.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

An unexpected visitor

In early August, the Kerry Wood Nature Centre had an unusual visitor: a Bushy-tailed Woodrat (also known as a Packrat). It probably travelled with a family from its home in the foothills to their garage in Red Deer by hitching a ride with their RV. The family caught it, brought it to us for identification, and plan to return it to Kootenay Plains as soon as possible. It was a happy, friendly little guy but the family -- and the woodrat -- will be even happier when it’s back where it belongs.




Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Early August Happenings in Waskasoo Park

Hello there! I hope everyone is enjoying the nice weather that summer has finally bestowed upon us. These lovely evenings are perfect for getting out and enjoying time with family and friends; we're happy to provide some opportunities for you to do just that!

Tomorrow night, Thursday, August 4, is the ART&facts Walking Tour, a tour of public art and history downtown with guest speakers Michael Dawe and Pat Matheson. Meet at the Red Deer Museum and Art Gallery for a 7:00 p.m. departure if you're interested in coming on this very relaxing and informative stroll.

Friday night, August 5, is First Friday throughout art galleries in Red Deer. The Marjorie Wood Gallery will be open with refreshments for your enjoyment from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. as part of this event.

Next Friday, August 12, marks our third annual installment of the Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party at Fort Normandeau. Join us for some late night star gazing on the peak of one of the best meteor showers of the year! There will be activities, refreshments, and overnight tenting is an option. Call 403-346-2010 or 403-347-7550 for details.

The full moon that we block with trees on Friday will be our greatest asset on Saturday, August 13, for the second Full Moon Float of Summer 2011! We had a great time at the July float and are looking forward to another fantastic evening rafting the Red Deer river late at night. It's an experience not to be missed! Seating is limited and filling fast, so call 403-346-2010 for details or to book your spot.

I hope you've enjoyed this taste of some of our family-friendly programming. Keep your eye out for more to come and looking forward to seeing you out and about with us!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Rafting on the Red Deer River

We've had some great raft trips this summer, and there's still plenty of time this August to book yours! For information about our river floats, prices, and dates, call us at 403-346-2010.

For a rafter's-eye view of the river, check our YouTube channel here.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A quick note about Sunday's edible plant walk

For anyone wondering, my edible plant walk on Sunday, July 24th will be going ahead as planned. As of today the weather forecast for Sunday looks good, so we should have a decent day for walking.

Here comes the "however", though:

However, the recent rains we've had have flooded out a few parts of the trails we'll be using. It's not impassible, but if you're planning to come down I'd recommend wearing suitable shoes for wading.

The walk goes at 2 pm down here at the Nature Centre. Admission is by suggested donation of $3/person or $10/family.

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

What do you get when you cross a duck and a chicken?

I'm not sure, but it would probably look something like an American Coot (Fulica americana).

The little white-billed black "ducks" you'll see paddling through the cattails on the Gaetz Lakes right now are actually Coots, which are members of the Rallidae or Rail family. If you get a chance to look closely at a coot while it's swimming, you'll notice that its feet are lobed rather than webbed like a duck's would be. Because of their lobed feet, Coots (also known as Mudhens) are much better able to get about on land than most ducks can.

Coots are considered weak fliers, and their comparatively small wings mean that they need a real running take-off to get in the air.

I took the above photo of a Coot and her young a few years ago, and her babies were certainly in the awkward stage. There are few things on the lake as homely as newly-hatched, orange-headed Coots. I'm not sure they even qualify as "so ugly they're cute", to be honest. At the moment the young on the West Lake are past that phase, though, and busily foraging through the pond weed and algae with their mother. I took a bit of video of them this morning, and while it was too sunny today to get a really good shot of them, you can watch them feeding on our YouTube channel here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

12 Seconds of Deer

We had a bit of an unusual visitor at lunch today at the Centre. Not unusual because deer are rare in Sanctuary -- far from it -- but because we don't often see them out so casually in the middle of the day. This particular deer browsed a couple of the bushes up by the building and then headed off down into the trees.

You can see it right here, since I happened to be out with the camera at the time.

Don't forget to check out our YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/NatureCentre. I hope to be shooting video out in the Sanctuary regularly over the summer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

A rare rafting opportunity!

Rafting season is finally upon us! Now that the nice weather is making more of an appearance, it's time to get out on the river and have some fun. This coming Friday, July 15, will be the first installment of a novel and thoroughly enjoyable float we're running this year: moonlight raft tours. It will be a late night, but well worth it as we'll get to see life on the river after dark. Seats are $45 + GST/person for KWNCA members and $50 + GST/person for non-members. There are still a few seats left; call the Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 403-346-2010 for more information or to reserve your spot.

If you're not able to make the July run of the Full Moon Float, don't fret! We'll be running another one on Saturday, August 13. Registration is open now for this trip, as well as for all of our regular Tuesday/ Thursday night Raft and Roasts and Saturday afternoon 3-hour Scenic Tours. Or, if you prefer a more intimate trip with your family, private tours are also available. Call the Kerry Wood Nature Centre for more information.

Happy Summer, everyone!

Thursday, July 07, 2011

First'ish' Friday!

Join us in the Marjorie Wood Gallery (located in the Kerry Wood Nature Centre) as we are featuring Teresa Stieben: “Feathers and Flash, avian delights and the bounty of nature” a solo exhibition. Our addition to the First Friday calendar, starts at 5 and continues until 7pm. Or, stroll through the sanctuary and stop in to our 'meet the artist' reception Saturday, July 9th from 1-3 pm. For more information, please call us at (403)346-2010 or for information regarding Teresa and her works please click on the link: http://teresastiebenart.blogspot.com/

Happy First (sort of) Friday everyone! And thanks for your continued support to our local arts community!

Monday, July 04, 2011

One-eyed Sphinx Moth

I noticed this beauty hanging out at our front door here at the Nature Centre this morning. It's called a One-eyed Sphinx Moth (Smerinthus cerisyi). If the name seems a little odd, it's only because this moth has its wings folded. If the wings were spread, you'd be able to see black spots with bluish rings inside them, all surrounded with pink and beige.

The eye spots are a means of defence for this sphinx and many other moths. Suddenly flashing eye spots at an approaching bird may confuse the predator enough to scare it away.

For a look at the spread wings, check out the specimen here.

Summertime at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre



July is finally here and after a long wait it seems to have finally brought the sunshine. Summer is such a beautiful time of year to enjoy all the wonderful outdoor activities Red Deer has to offer; the hiking, rafting, biking, running and whatever else you enjoy.

To keep your children enjoying their summer we have 5 different weeks of Day Camps:

Week 1 - July 11-15 (French Language Programming) Ages 7-12

Week 2 - July 18-22 (English Programming) Ages 6-10

Week 3 - July 25-29 (French Language Programming) Ages 7-12

Week 4 - August 8-12 (English Programming) Ages 6-10

Week 5 - August 15-19 (French Language Programming) Ages 7-12

We are proud to be able to offer French Language Day Camps for any Francophone and French Immersion children. A big thanks to the ACFA and the Canadian Parents for French for supporting french language programming!

Our Nature Magic day camps are nature based and include hands-0n science, crafts, daily walks, historical and nature based interpretive programs. Camps run Monday to Friday from 9-4:30. For more information and to book please contact us at 403-346-2010 or by email at avery.acheson@waskasoopark.ca

We are filling up fast, but space is still available!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Canada Day weekend in the park

If you're looking for something a little different to do for the long weekend, why not join us out at Fort Normandeau for a Family Sleepover? The sleepover goes from 5 pm Saturday (July 2nd) to 12 pm Sunday, and meals will be provided. Bring your tent, and we'll bring the activities, games, and campfire. The cost is $35 + GST per family. Please preregister by 7:30 pm on Thursday, June 30th.

If you'd like something that isn't overnight, join me at the the Fort on Sunday, July 3rd for an edible plant walk. We'll be talking about some of the historical and modern uses of our native plants, plus I'll point out a few useful weeds that might be helpful on your summer camping trips. We'll be starting at 2 pm. The cost is by recommended donation of $3/person or $10/family.

For more information on this or any of our other upcoming summer events, give us a call at 403-346-2010.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Summer Fun in Waskasoo Park

Summer is almost here, and with it comes lots of outdoor fun with the many public programs we have coming up at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. Consider this your invitation to join us for one of these great events:

Environment Week has 3 Kinds of Green to choose from- June 6,7,8 from 3 to 5 p.m. each day. Monday- Meet at Bower Ponds for fun with water! Tuesday- Go to Waskasoo Crescent (off 45 Ave) for tree planting! Wednesday- It's Clean Air Day at Heritage Ranch!

Family Planetarium is Sunday, June 12 at 1:00 p.m. $3/person or $10/family. Drop-in.

Penny Stove Workshop- Tuesday, June 14 from 6 to 8 p.m. Learn how to make a super-efficient camp stove from pop cans! Pre-registration required.

Nature Play Day is Wednesday, June 15. Drop in for hands-on nature play all day!

Backcountry Essential Gear Workshop- Thursday, June 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. Bring your gear for show and tell and learn about some new gear and techniques. Free drop-in program.

And remember: the 25th Anniversary of Fort Normandeau Days is coming soon; Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19 from noon to 5 p.m. each day at Historic Fort Normandeau! It's a day full of food, music, dancing, black powder demos, archery and more, all for only $3/person or $10/family.

If you would like more information about any of these programs, or to register, please call the Kerry Wood Nature Centre at 403-346-2010. The fun doesn't stop there: this summer, look for:

  • First Fridays in the Marjorie Wood Gallery
  • Day Camps in English and French
  • Raft Tours on the Red Deer River, including 2 Full Moon Floats!
  • Family Sleepover at the Fort- July 2/3
  • ART&facts walking and biking tours exploring Red Deer's public art installations
  • Edible Plant Walks
  • The Roving Interpreter, bringing games and activities to stops around Waskasoo Park all summer long! Watch this blog, our Facebook page, and Twitter for upcoming stops and themes.
  • Perseid Meteor Shower Star Party
  • And last, but not least, the Kickoff Weekend for the Kerry Wood Nature Centre's 25th Anniversary year of celebrations, July 29 through August 1!
Registration is already open for many of these great programs. Call to reserve your spot today!

Until next time...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I never like to do this, but...

Hi everyone. I have some unfortunate news: tomorrow's Family Planetarium has been cancelled. There is a silver lining to this cloud, however. Not only do we run Family Planetariums every month (the next one is on Sunday, June 12 at 1 p.m.), we also have a free Bird ID program here at the Nature Centre tomorrow afternoon. Judy Boyd from the RDRN will be presenting on common birds in Central Alberta. Judy's talk will be a short slide show followed by a walk to see who's out and about. Still a lovely afternoon out with the family.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Catch us on video

If you look to the links section of the blog's sidebar, you'll see that Kerry Wood Nature Centre now has a YouTube channel. We hope to be adding both natural history and program videos on a regular basis as the spring programming season swings into gear. Be sure to check us out!

Friday, April 29, 2011

Our bats are back

If you're like me and are desperately looking for signs that our long-awaited spring is finally on the go, you might be interested to know that a day or two ago one of our resident bats showed up at its usual roost here at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre.

Since Alberta bats are dependent on insects for food, they can't hang around their usual summer territories all winter. Instead, they migrate to winter hibernating caves and only return in the spring.

If you're interested in seeing our "secret" bat roost or would like more information on bats and bat boxes, come see us at the Nature Centre or give us a call at 403-346-2010.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Dennis Moffat Prints

The Friends of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre has a special on Dennis Moffat nature prints. All of them are matted and framed. An example of some of them are as follows: 1. Canada Goose at Slack Slough 2. Hunter 3. Landing at Sunset 4.Canadian Peregrine Falcon 5.Minewa, the Gray Owl These Red Deer based prints would be great for an office or a den The price is $85.00 each. If you purchase 2 or more a special discount can be arranged. For more information , call Bob at KWNC 403 346 2010

Bird Homes

Now is the time to prepare your bird nestboxes for the 2011 season. The KWNC bookstore has a great selection of nest boxes for bluebirds, tree swallows, wren & chickadees. For information about our nest boxes, birds or books on nature, call Bob at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre 403 346 2010 email; bookstore@waskasoopark.ca

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A bit of the birds and bees for spring...

Public Programming has been given a rare opportunity this year. No, not an early spring (at least not by all the snow I still see around), but the chance to let loose a little, get a little naughty, and host a sure-to-be-entertaining adults only planetarium and mixer! It's called "Diabolical Deities: A Night of Murder, Lust, and Mayhem" and we're having it here at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre on Saturday, April 16, 2011, from 8 to 10 p.m. Costs are $20+gst/members and $23+gst/non-members. Paid pre-registration is required (due to planetarium size). There are only 15 spots left: you can drop in to the Nature Centre or call 403-346-2010 to reserve yours today! Diabolical Deities is sure to be a great night out for you and your fun-loving friends: wine, greek-themed food to go with the uncensored Greek myth star stories, costumed hosts, and togas are encouraged! See you there!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Seedy Sunday at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre

It's officially Spring, folks, and that means it's time to start thinking about gardening and sustainable food production. If you've decided that this is the year you ramp up your green gardening practices, you're in luck! We have two events coming up this week, all about food and how to grow your own.

There's still one day left to register in our Green Gardening Workshop, running this Wednesday, March 23. Call 403-346-2010 for more details.

Sunday, March 27, is Seedy Sunday. ReThink Red Deer and the Kerry Wood Nature Centre have teemed up with Seeds of Diversity and a host of other groups and individuals interested in sustainable food production to present an event full of informative talks, seed exchanges and sales, kids' activities and more! Check it out between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. this Sunday. If you'd like more information on speaker topics, you can also check out the poster- just click this link.

See you Sunday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

World's oldest banded bird a mom again

Follow this link to a neat story on Discovery News about Wisdom the Albatross, who was first banded in 1956, and her latest chick.

Amazing what a good diet and exercise can do for longevity, eh?

Owl Cam

Our friends at the Ellis Bird Farm have just turned on an Owl Cam. The webcam is trained on a pair of nesting Great Horned Owls and has infrared capabilities in order to capture the birds' nocturnal activities.

For complete information about the webcam check out the story in today's Red Deer Advocate. For more information on the Ellis Bird Farm and the important work they do, check our their website.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Celebrate Carnaval this Friday night at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre

Join us this Friday, March 11, 2011 starting at 6 p.m. for a bilingual planetarium and nature walk in celebration of Carnaval. The walk will be first with the planetarium show to follow. Please be advised that the planetarium will be first come, first served as it has a maximum capacity of 25. (We will run more shows if needed.) This event is free to attend.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Birdhouses with Bob

Dates & Times; Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 2:00pm
Location: Kerry Wood Nature Centre
Kids ages 6 to 13 can learn about the birds of Spring and build a bird house to take home.
The program is about 1.5 hours. An adult should accompany each child .

All materials and instructions are provided

Fees: $7.00 /child for KWNC members;$8/child for non members

Preregistration is advised.
Telephone 403 346 2010

Monday, February 14, 2011

Would you like to contribute to knowledge? I'm conducting research for my Masters thesis. I'm pursuing a Master of Arts in Environmental Education through Royal Roads University. The Nature Centre has agreed to assist by posting my request for assistance and link to an on-line survey. If the text below describes you, I would appreciate 15 - 20 minutes of your time to fill out the survey.

Many thanks to the Waskasoo Environmental Education Society for their assistance.

Todd

---------------------------------------------------------

Hello,

My name is Todd Nivens. The Waskasoo Environmental Education Society (WEES) agreed to post this request on my behalf. None of your personal information, including your name, has been forwarded to me and I have no way of collecting personal information from you.

I am a Masters of Arts (Environmental Education and Communications) student at Royal Roads University studying the relationship between peoples’ on-line environmentally-positive behaviours and their real-world environmentally-positive actions. I am investigating the effects the internet, particularly web 2.0 and social media outlets, have on a person’s environmental behaviours in the real world.

As a reader of the WEES blog, facebook groups and/or twitter feeds. you are potentially someone with views I am interested in. Particularly I am looking for people who read or write environmental blogs, belong to environmental-themed Facebook or MySpace groups, sign on-line petitions or take part in environmental email campaigns; or give to environmental charities, through on-line campaigns.

If you feel that I’ve described you in the previous paragraph I would invite you to participate in the study by clicking the link and taking the survey. Here is the survey link: http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/428307/Environmental-Beliefs-and-Actions

If you have any questions about this study your participation in it or anything that concerns you, please email me at Todd.Nivens@gmail.com or phone me at 403-505-1864. This study is under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Good, Associate Professor in the Social Sciences faculty at Brock University. You are free to email her at jgood@brocku.ca. You can also link to the Royal Roads MAEEC program and to Dr. Good’s listing at Brock University.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Todd Nivens

MA(EECO) Candidate

Royal Roads University


Monday, February 07, 2011

Help Us Help Hayley Help Gorillas

I would like to tell you about a remarkable 3rd grade student, who is

passionate about creating positive change. Her name is Hayley Cartwright and

she attends Ecole Mountview School.

After attending a zoo camp in Calgary, last summer, Hayley learned, that the

habitats for gorillas were endangered because of mining for an ore called

coltan (columbite-tantalite). This ore is a source of the element tantalum

which is an essential coating for components of cell phones and is found in

the Congo in the middle of endangered gorilla and elephant habitats.

She wanted to know what could be done to help the gorillas, how she could

make a difference. Hayley started asking questions and with her mother's

help found a contact at the Calgary Zoo that provided them with the

information to get her 'project' started.

Reducing the demand for coltan will aid in the preservation of these

habitats, and this could be done by simply recycling cellular phones.

Due to their small size and rapid replacement cycle, cell phones often end

up in the waste stream contributing a mass of toxic materials in our

landfills.

Cell phones and their accessories contain a large number of hazardous

substances including heavy metals which may linger in the environment for

many years and have adverse effects on human health.

By recycling your cell phone, you are keeping toxic chemicals out of

landfills.. You may also preserve vital animal habitats by reducing the

demand for coltan. When people realize that recycling their cell phones

(most homes in North America have 2-3 lying unused in a drawer) can help

gorillas they're very enthusiastic to pitch in.

Eco-cell pays the zoo 60 cents per phone recycled. They collect the phones

at the Calgary Zoo, strip the batteries from them (to be recycled locally)

and ship the phones to Eco-cell. They will accept cords, chargers-everything

that comes with a phone. The money from the phones goes to the Zoo's

conservation fund where it is put towards gorilla conservation in the wild.

They can't assume responsibility for cleaning information off phones, so

they ask that donators do that in advance.

Hayley's drive to be successful at collecting cell phones, was more than

just setting up a collection point within her own school. She started

talking to her friends and family about how many more cell phones could be

collected if more people knew about the gorillas. Now, there are more kids,

from other schools who were more than excited to be part of Hayley's

collective project. Recycle boxes have been compiled with a poster for a

drop off box in several schools, and we have even compiled an information

newsletter to accompany the small blue boxes, for each school to send out in

their email notices and newsletter systems.

Can you help us?


Drop your old cell phone or smart phone at the Kerry Wood Nature Centre. We have a blue box set aside for this project. All the funds will go to the Calgary Zoo Cell Phone Recycling Program.

Friday, February 04, 2011

birdhouses


Now is the time to start thinking of setting out homes for the summer birds that nest in bird boxes. The Friends of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre Bookstore has a great selection of nest boxes at very reasonable prices. It will provide you with information about bird homes to make them successful this summer.
Come to the Friends of the Kerry Wood Nature Centre Bookstore for your bird homes and bat homes. For information ask for Bob or telephone him at 403 346 2010


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

HOME



Spend an hour or so with us and immerse yourself in HOME, a film by Yann Arthus-Bertrand.

Click this link to be taken to HOME on Youtube. Unfortunately we couldn't embed it right here.

Yann writes: "We are living in exceptional times. Scientists tell us that we have 10 years to change the way we live, avert the depletion of natural resources and the catastrophic evolution of the Earth's climate.The stakes are high for us and our children. Everyone should take part in the effort, and HOME has been conceived to take a message of mobilization out to every human being. For this purpose, HOME needs to be free. A patron, the PPR Group, made this possible. EuropaCorp, the distributor, also pledged not to make any profit because Home is a non-profit film.

HOME has been made for you : share it! And act for the planet."

We echo Yann. Share this incredible film amongst your friends and family.


kids bird feeding workshop

Kids ages 6 to 13 can learn about some of the birds of winter , how to identify and feed them and build a bird feeder to take home.
Date: Saturday, February 5
Time ; 2:00pm
Location ; Kerry Wood Nature Centre

6300 45 ave , Red Deer
Cost; $7:00 per child for KWNC members, $8:00per child for non members.
An adult must accompany the child for the program

Telephone for preregistration 403 346 2010, or register in person.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Ice-Box Galavanting

Living in Alberta, one gets used to the continual shifts in the weather. Much like a two year old in a grocery store, the moods of the weather go from mild and gentle to a tempestuous howl in moments. As Canadians, and furthermore, as Albertans, the snow is like a visit from an obnoxious relative; we curse it's coming, we roll our eyes at it's staying, we celebrate its departure, and when its all said and done, we reflect on how much fun we had complaining about it all.

Maybe its because of our proximity to the snow that we slander it so much.Familiarity, at times, breeds contempt.

I write this because I went snowshoeing today. Oh yes, I voluntarily left the warmth to strap some criss-crossed sticks to my decorative moccasins (which aren't supposed to get wet. Ha!) and brave the trails. Well, trail. Having walked a whole kilometer using nothing but a will of iron, I came back feeling as though I'd done something to blog about.

Somehow though, I don't think the deer who packed that trail before I got there are triumphantly blogging about it. I would even go so far as to say that in passing a squirrel, they didn't even thrust out their little deer chins with unadulterated pride. Why the lack of gloating? Well, its just another day, and they take it as they come. This season has something to offer them, just as every other season does. Though it is leaner than the summer months, the bounty of winter is not lost on them. With bark to chew, twigs to nibble, and grasses hidden by the blanket of snow, the woods still have what the deer need to survive.

The seemingly unconnected moral of this story? Go outside. Tuck your long johns into your socks, throw on a sweater underneath your coat, layer on two sets of mittens, and head out into the great white yonder. It is simply fantastic. Follow some animal tracts to watch where a coyote chased a hare. Find where a herd of deer spent the night. Watch the waxwings, drunk off fermented berries, swooping and careening madly through the air.

The woods aren't dead; they aren't even sleeping. Grab a friend and go see what there is to see. Then, once you re-enter your house, exilerated, follow the great Canadian tradition of curling up with a warm cup of something and complain freely about the cold. It'll be fun, I promise!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

The Great Migration of the Plastic Bag



We really enjoyed this and felt there was great value in sharing it with you. We'd like to remind everybody the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not fictitious. It exists as a vortex of trash in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, trapped in place by the currents.