Sandhill Cranes Migrating

Sandhill Cranes | Grus canadensis It is a distinctive sound and it’s a safe bet that once you’ve heard it you’ll be able to identify it again the next time around. I liken the rattling call of the Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) to that of some sort of prehistoric flying dinosaur. Every year in early to late September flocks of …

Puddling in Paradise

Zephyr Anglewing | Polygonia zephyrus Zephyr anglewings (Polygonia zephyrus) have been fairly regular in the parking lot at Paradise Meadows, Strathcona Provincial Park this week. Anglewings belong to Nymphalinae which is a subfamily of the family Nymphalidae. The genus name Polygonia (Greek – many-angled) refers to the shape of the wings of this butterfly. The distinctive angles and indentations produce …

Bramble Ramble

Five-leaved Bramble (Rubus pedatus) On a guided photography hike today I found myself (the leader) at the back of the pack, probably because I was walking slowly and admiring the fall colours and keeping an eye out for the small and interesting. Five-leaved bramble (Rubus pedatus) is one such plant. A member of the Rubus, or raspberry clan, this small …

Strathcona Images

Mt. George V from Ruth Masters Lake An image request from the Friends of Stathcona Park got me going through some of my archival images of multi-day hikes that my wife and I had done in the last couple of years and I thought that I’d share a few of the landscape images in this blog as well. Some of …

Gray Jay

Gray Jay | Perisoreus canadensis One of the more common and frequently seen birds in the sub-alpine is the whiskey jack or gray jay (Perisoreus canadensis). In Paradise Meadows these social birds gather at places where hikers stop for lunch and commence aggressively begging for food. Unfortunately, many people give in to the begging either to “help” the bird out …

Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill | Loxia curvirostra Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) have been fairly common up in the sub-alpine this weekend. These finches are named after their very noticeable “crossed bill” which is useful for extracting seeds from conifers. According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds the “bird’s biting muscles are stronger than the muscles used to open the …

Crowberry

Crowberry | Empetrum nigrum At this time of year the berries in the sub-alpine are prolific. Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) is one that is often overlooked or assumed by many non-botanists to be a blueberry. It is a low-creeping plant with needle-like leaves that somewhat resembles heather and produces berries that are a dark blackish/blue in colour. A quick consultation of …

Fall Colours in Paradise Meadows

White-flowered Rhododendron | Rhododendron albiflorum With the cooler weather in the sub-alpine meadows in Strathcona Provincial Park many of the shrubs are starting to turn to their fall colours. White-flowered rhododendron (Rhododendron albiflorum) and many of the blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) are getting better every day. Today was a gray, wet day and that seemed to make the colour pop a …