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:
Night Photography In The California Desert
Desert night photography is as unpredictable as any dark venture. As long as you do not mind the sticky vegetation, invasive insects and reptilian creatures hanging out with you in the California desert, you had better prepare for a few smiles in the evening process.
Often, it really does not take much more than a flimsy gown, a fringy shawl and a few desiccated trees and scrubby shrubs to turn the prickly atmosphere into euphoria. Add a willing model and the focus is switched – woman in nature, Viola! Twilight will take care of the sky and when that is over, swing those flashlights into high gear, or, low gear, which results in a more controllable paint job. But this stuff is not work. If the model is the lighthearted variety, expect uncontrollable laughter and effervescent giggles to battle the evening calm as she dances through the moonlight evening.
And, oh, it is so calm.
The stars, ever so bright, will bless your night masquerade with twinkles that city folks can only fantasize about.
For more on desert photography, see also:
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:
Glenbow Golden Days Of Fall
Everything has been shaping up mellow yellow at Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park The park is just west of Calgary on the Bow River and that explains the predominant late season colour. After all, this part of the world doesn’t get the reds and oranges that maples and sumacs inspire but with azure blue skies, cadmium yellow provides just the complement. Golden aspens sparkling in the autumn winds under crisp blue skies. Across the colour wheel and in nature, complementary works for the eye candy we have come to expect when fall rolls into the western hemisphere neighbourhood. Snappy blue skies has us sliding zippers higher and hunching shoulders ever so much more, bracing for the next season. The yellow spectrum calms those feelings and reminds that fall malingers. There is no panic, the golden aspens call out. Fall will linger for a while yet.