Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
Autumn Skies Colour Palette
from Whitehorse, Yukon to the Rocky Mountains to northern Quebec
Autumn skies lure venturesome folks to the forests and streams and mountains and roadways this time of year. It is annual pilgrimage time and everyone is in search of colour. Nature dresses up the landscape for another showstopper season. Colours that pop with the post summer cool down when the autumn skies are bluest. Red, orange and yellow against azul skies. Even mother nature knows that complementary colours, opposite positions on the colour wheel, catch the human interest. Every day the blends evolve, meld, and transition into a new canvas.
Depending on where you live the experience may differ in palette but always thrills. Within a mere hours drive north of Montreal, Quebec lies a haven of lakes and streams with a multicoloured Appalachian mountain backdrop. In the east you can find the much sought after crimson reds. On the western prairies nature sticks to an analogous palette, primarily tones of yellow and orange with different values. On the west coast the big leaf maples wield the largest brushes. If you want to venture north where autumn takes on the coloured dress earlier look for brighter bluer skies to show off the colours. Even for those who prefer or can’t get off the beaten path most are accessible from the roadside. Midweek, you are in deserted territory. So what are you waiting for?
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All Creatures Great and Small
at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park
We know who the great creatures are at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Bucks accompanied by does and even fawns, the occasional coyote. And, flying by, the big birds, hawks, owls and osprey. But what about the far more secretive yet abundant small ones? A diverse group of songbirds make their home at the park in the summer. They migrate up from southern climes to breed and feed off insects and other northern hemisphere delicacies.
In Alberta, Clay-coloured Sparrows’ most common occurrence is in the prairies and parklands, not treed areas. A walk along a park trail can have them flitting out of the grasses every hundred feet. Listen for the insect-like buzzy calls of the male Clay-colored Sparrows from May through July. They can be distinguished from some other sparrows commonly found at Glenbow, the Vesper and Savannah, by their relatively unstriped buff breast. They search out insects in the shrubbery and seeds in the grass. Nesting habitat is typically a shrubby area with wild grass, situating the nest on the ground or in a low shrub above ground. They build open cup nests out of grass, weeds and twigs, lining it with rootlets, fine grass, and hair. This is another reason to keep dogs on leash in the park to avoid disturbing these or any wildlife shelter.
Spring after spring, Mountain Bluebirds return to nest boxes placed at strategic locations in the park. They can arrive in Alberta as early as March while fall migration for many migratory birds is an extended affair from mid-August to late October. Bluebirds can’t resist the open country with occasional trees for shelter offered at the park.
As members of the Thrush Family (such as American Robins) they feed mainly on insects, spiders or other invertebrates, which they glean from short ground vegetation. Nest boxes are paired, with Tree Swallows often taking one box, and the bluebird occupying the other. The former seeks out insects flying high and the Bluebird will not compete with its ground watch. Unlike other Bluebirds, they often hunt by hovering, obviously inspecting the ground below for any potential food item. The striking turquoise blue is unmatched against the prairie setting.
The next time you see an insect at the park think of the food source and protection it is offering our beloved small avian creatures.
For these and other nature sightings at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, see also:
Black and White Winter
Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, Alberta
Monochrome and a nature park do not always dance together. But sometimes the palette begs it. Take black and white Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (west of Calgary, Alberta), toss in a fresh dusting of snowfall and the prairie paradise is dressed in it’s grey scale finest. There are trails to discover so don your booties and venture into the black and white world of western Canada’s best.
Meditate on your surroundings and drink in the cold season’s best. Lily Loop will not disappoint as the poplar boughs bend to frame your route. While heading down the drifting path, other sets of eyes may be on you so pay attention if only for the pleasure of sighting wildlife curious about you. It is not every day you are so popular. Moose would be rare in these parts but Mule Deer or White-tails often venture to the edge of a human encounter. And coyotes are always watching.
Fence lines defining natures’ borderless panorama. Meandering trails lure your athletic prowess with deer springing across the landscape, anywhere and everywhere, and spooky poplars with fingers grabbing the sky. And possibly you. All awaits your inquisitive wonder.
Mind the slippery ramble back up the hill to wind up your adventure. All roads lead up at Glenbow park. Before departure, be sure to amble your eyes west, drink in the Rocky Mountains creeping up behind the foothills vista. Can you imagine all of this in monochrome, a black and white Glenbow?
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Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park Dog Daze
It was my lucky day! I was off to the unique park that everyone has been barking about in dog walking circles, Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park.
The drive down the ravine overlooking the entire north shore of the Bow River had my tongue hanging with anticipation. I could hardly refrain from jumping out of my furry skin in excitement especially when I saw a doe jumping over a fence. There were people to meet, dogs to greet, children’s faces to lick and 25 km of paved walking paths to explore and leave my telltale calling card wherever allowed: leg lifts only, not the other kind, it is a park after all! Being kept on a tight leash was all I could bear. Lead on. Up Tiger Lily Loop and down Glenbow Trail, past the Corrals, through the CPR Crossing, around Bow River Loop and back across the tracks. Another train! I would not want to be off leash with those monsters careening through the land. My ears detected a sign of spring, Richardson Ground Squirrel, and it was a good thing I was contained or I would have made mud stew out of their hole sweet hole. Up Yodel and return by Glenbow Trail. Phew! So many different trails had me in a daze, and, after that last steep climb, I deserved a biscuit, or six. I was exhausted sniffing every canine, smiling at the unfortunate dog-less and trying to withhold friendly smacks from small children. They are delicious to lick but parents like me to keep my space.
Dogs and dog walkers love Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park. Enjoy the upcoming season of dog walking and other park activities. Keep your loveable mutts on leash, and the park, the trains, the wildlife and all of the visitors thank you.
For more on Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, spring and dog daze, see also: