Monthly Archives: October 2019

Project 366 – Post No. 207 – Shoreline fuzz

What is Project 366? Read more here!

After experiencing the a winter and summer season watching birds, plants and other critters it is clear that there are some rather unique pros and cons to both seasons. The obvious pro of the spring and summer was the explosion in the diversity of birds…, but it comes at a price. Foliage! During the summer, many times I could hear the birds but due to foliage and vegetation I was never able to actually see them. The leaves are gone now and so are most of the birds, but whoever is left is much easier to spot. On the other hand, it is much harder to identify plants now that all the leaves are gone. So here is one enigmatic plant growing along the shores of Heritage Wetland park in Sherwood park. I suspect that if it would have had leaves left it would be straightforward to identify, but without the foliage…, not so much. Lets just call it shoreline fuzz. I like the back-light making the spherical balls of seeds look all fuzzy. Looks like the fuzz balls are here to stay for the next little while. Long live the fuzz balls.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 206 – House sparrow

What is Project 366? Read more here!

House Sparrows are usually not considered particularly glamorous as far as birds go, perhaps because they are so common. Native to most of Europe, the Mediterranean Basin, and a large part of Asia it has been introduced – on purpose or accidentally – in most parts of the world. These days it is easily the most common wild bird across the world. On this chilly morning we came across a dozen House Sparrows skulking in the shrubbery. They caught my attention because they seemed plumper than usual. Maybe they were just well fed or maybe they had fluffed up their feathers for added insulation.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 205 – Synchronized geese

What is Project 366? Read more here!

If it would not have been for their characteristic calls I would have missed the gaggle of Canada geese flying overhead at the Heritage Wetlands Park. It was a sunny day with a steel blue sky and the large dark birds stood out distinctly against the backdrop. I was about to dismiss them, after all, Canada Geese are one of the most common year-round occurring birds in these neck of the woods, when my trusty birding partner pointed out that they all stopped beating their wings at exactly the same time. The gaggle started soaring, aiming for a water landing at the far eastern edge of the wetlands. There might have been two dozen individual geese but they all seemed to be of the same mind. Maybe they had a predetermined flight plan? Maybe its was a routine flight that they do on a regular basis? Maybe there there was a lead goose that issued a subtle signal that had all of them stop beating their wings at the same time? Perhaps you have to think like a goose to fully understand what made them work in unison.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 204 – Lake ice

What is Project 366? Read more here!

Other than a gaggle of Canada geese doing a flyover it was a quiet day at the Heritage Wetland Park in Sherwood Park. It was sunny, clear blue sky and the temperature was a crispy zero degrees. Most of the water surfaces on the ponds were covered in a thin layer of transparent ice that would likely be gone by the end of the day. The lack of avian activity was, however, made up for by a bustle of activity under the ice. Although I have been at these wetlands many times I have never seen any aquatic life and I was taken By surprise as I was studying the thin ice layer When I realized there were schools if hundreds of tiny fish under the ice. They looked like some sort of minnows, but were to small Identify any details. I managed to take a picture that ended up looking like it was shot through a dirty window.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 203 – Greta is in the house

What is Project 366? Read more here!

Greta Thunberg was in Edmonton today for the Climate Action Strike. An estimated 10000 to 12000 people joined her as we marched through downtown Edmonton to the legislature. The main message of the event and the message Greta always reiterates is that we have to unite behind the science by starting to listen to the scientists. Rather than me telling her message, I will let her do the job as eloquently as she always does. Here is a transcript of her speech from today.

Thank you so much to everyone who is here. I don’t know how many we have here, we have not received numbers yet, but it looks like thousands upon thousands, so thank you so much. It is incredible to see so many young people and indigenous leaders gathered here today, and you are the hope, so thank you so much for that.

I want to respectfully acknowledge that we are here gathered today on Treaty 6 territory. A traditional gathering place for diverse indigenous peoples, including the Cree, Blackfoot, Metis, Nakota, Sioux, Iriqquis, Dene, Ojibay, Inuit and many others whose histories, languages and cultures and peoples continue all around us. And also thank you for the wonderful reception I received here in Alberta. People are so nice and I am very proud to be here with you in Edmonton.

So today is Friday and as always we are on climate strike. Young people all around the globe are today sacrificing their education to bring attention to the climate and the ecological emergency. We are not doing this because we want to. We aren’t doing it because it is fun. We aren’t doing this because we have a special interest in the climate, or because we want to become politicians when we grow up. We are doing this because our future is at stake. We are doing this because in this crisis we will not be bystanders and we are doing it because we want the people in power to unit behind the science.

In the IPCC SR1.5 report that was released last year it says that if we are to have a 67% chance of limiting the global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees we had, on January 1, 2018n 420 gigatonnes of carbon dioxides left in our CO2 budget. And now that number is down to less than 360 gigatonnes as we emit 42 gigatonnes CO2 every year if you include land use. At current emission levels that remaining CO2 budget will be gone within less than 8 1/2 years. Again, that budget is for 67% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees of global temperature rise and avoiding setting of several irreversible chain reactions beyond human control that would lead to enormous sufferings to countless peoples, especially among indigenous communities and people in the global south. 67% chance, and that is the best odds the IPCC has given us, and please note that these figures are global and do therefore not mention the aspect of equity, clearly stated throughout the Paris agreement, which is essential to make it work on a global scale. That means that richer countries such as Sweden or Canada need to get down to zero emissions much faster so that people in poorer parts of the world can heighten their standard of living by building some of the infrastructure that we have already built, such as roads, hospitals, electricity, schools, and providing clean drinking water. These numbers also don’t include tipping points, most feed-back loops, nor additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution and they also rely on our generation removing astronomical amounts of CO2, previous generations’ CO2, our of the atmosphere with technologies that haven’t yet been invented at scale and maybe never will.

This is what its all about. This is what we are saying. This is not opinions or political views. This is the current best available science and the politics that even recognize this are still nowhere in sight. We teenagers are not scientists nor are we politicians, but it seems most of us, apart from most others, understand the science because we have done our homework. If people really knew about these things they would not have to ask me why I am so passionate about climate change. If people really were aware of this they would not need to ask us why we are school striking for the climate and taking it to the streets. If people really knew about the full consequences of the climate and the ecological emergency then they would join us in the streets.

And moving on from words to action. To solve this we need to start treating this crisis as a crisis, because you cannot solve an emergency without treating it as one and without seeing the full picture. You cannot leave the responsibility to individuals, politicians, the markets, or to other parts of the world to take, because this has to include everything and everyone and none must be left behind. We cannot continue to allow this crisis to remain a partisan political question. The climate and ecological crisis is far beyond party politics and the main enemy right now should not be any political opponents, because our main enemy right now is physics. Some people are saying that we are fighting for our future, but that is not true. We are not fighting for our future, we are fighting for everyone’s future. And if you think we should be in school instead, then we suggest that you take our place in the streets, or better yet join us so that we can speed up the process. One year ago we were just a handful of school children, but today we are over 7.5 million people across the world that make up this movement. If that is possible then just Imagine what we could do together if we really wanted to. Nothing is impossible if enough people stand united – so thank you. Continue, never give up. We stand together.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 202 – Pileated Woodpecker stakeout

What is Project 366? Read more here!

The trunk of the dead tree looks unassuming. It had withered to a light grey color and there were numerous large cavities along the trunk. If it would not have been for The Pileated Woodpecker landing on the trunk and entering one of the cavities just moments before I would have never noticed the dead tree. I was at the banks of the Whitemud Creek, at a location where I have seen beavers many times in the past. No beavers this time though. Only that Pileated Woodpecker. I waited for a long time, hoping it would come out or at least stick its head out to have a peek. It never came out. I will be returning with my camera, a tripod, a stool and some snacks for a Pileated Woodpeckers stakeout. I have seen many Pileated Woodpeckers over the last year, but I have yet to capture a good picture of one. They are large and conspicuous, but remarkably hard to photograph as they never seem to stay in the same spot for long.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.

Project 366 – Post No. 201 – Quaint creek

What is Project 366? Read more here!

It has been a few weeks since I visited the Whitemud Ravine last. Despite the early sunset and the dusk-like conditions I managed to squeeze in a short walk by the creek. Things were quiet and uneventful. The water level is low and the flow is slow and quaint. I was hoping to spot some beavers but alas had no luck. On the bright side as I was scanning the creek for furry little heads breaking through the water surface the unmistakable call of Pileated Woodpeckers caught my attention. Pileated Woodpeckers are easy to hear but can be tricky to spot. Not this time, an adult came swooping out from the dense forest and and landed on a dead tree trunk, right next to a large oval cavity. Next thing you know it goes inside. That is a first for me, a Pileated Woodpecker nest. I hang around for a while with the camera loaded and ready but the fella never came out. I will definitely be keeping an eye on the cavity in the future to see if I can get some pictures of its inhabitants. Pileated Woodpeckers stay in Alberta year round so chances are that this cavity will be used by them during the winter.

May the curiosity be with you. This is from “The Birds are Calling” blog (www.thebirdsarecalling.com). Copyright Mario Pineda.