Friday, March 3, 2017

A Glimpse of Ground Zero

Since today was likely going to be the mildest day weather-wise during my days off, I was keen to head out and stretch my legs.  Of course I wanted to do a little bird-watching but I also just needed to stretch my legs.  I enjoy being outside this time of year for the most part and doubly so when I'm carrying my binoculars rather than scaffolding material at work. 

There's a section of trail that skirts the top of the river valley that I used to walk quite a bit when I first moved here but since I had moved on doing my bird-watching in a few other places, I had not been on this trail for probably 3 or 4 years now and I was keen to remedy that.  Unfortunately, I took my zoom lens with me as I was hoping for a few bird shots so I didn't get the wide-angle I would have liked for the photos that I did end up taking of the forest.

The trail also takes me through an area that took quite a bit of damage from the last May's big fire.  I saw quite a few burned out trees and a few open areas where the brush had been cut back.  At any rate, I had a much better view of the river than I recall having in the past.

This photo was taken just up the hill from our water treatment plant and looks across the river to the mouth of the Horse River.  This whole area is was more or less where the fire started before spreading into the Abasand and Beacon Hill neighbourhoods.

The following two photos are of Abasand or what is left of it.  I haven't had the chance to get over there yet though from what I've heard rebuilding is going fast and furious.  I do plan to head up there later on this spring and I'm sure I will be a bit shocked at what I see.

I bumped in to this fellow as I was backtracking home.  I've seen countless foxes at work but its rare I get a glimpse (let alone a photo) of one in town.  Unlike the ones at work, this one turned out to be  much more wary of my presence.  I first spotted him from a distance.  He was marking his territory so I didn't bother with the camera yet figuring no one really wants to see a red fox pooping and peeing in the bush.  There were enough snowy rolls between us that I'm not sure if he knew I was there or not and after finishing his business he began to slowly turn in my general direction.  I approached stealthily but lost sight of him until we both came over a little rise.  I'm sure he was as startled as I was.   He bolted down the hill and in to the trees where he watched me warily.  Luckily I was still able to get a half decent photo.  

While I've had numerous wildlife encounters this one was special.  It was nice to see the that the forest, along with its many critters, is returning to normal.  

I should also add that as a birding foray, the day also turned out very well.  I noted 13 species which is something that I don't normally manage to pull off until later in the spring.  Waxwings and chickadees especially seemed to be everywhere and as I wrote in my notes, trying to count them accurately was like attempting to herd cats.  For the curious, I will include the species I saw below.

Hairy Woodpecker
American Three-Toed Woodpecker
Blue Jay
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
Black-capped Chickadee
Boreal Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Bohemian Waxwing
Pine Grosbeak
Common Redpoll
Hoary Redpoll
House Sparrow

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