You know it is cold when the local ski hills shuts down due to the bitter cold and the weather forecasts start to refer to the temperature as “bitterly cold”. The thermometer on my backyard deck reads about -25 °C, once you factor in the breeze the windchill drops the temperature down to -37 °C. At these temperatures exposed skin can get frostbites in less than 10 minutes. Yesterday I did try to got for a nature walk at the Grey Nuns White Spruce Park in St. Alberta. I lasted for about 30 minutes before I had to call it a day, and that was about 5 °C warmer than today. While I was hoping for milder temperatures today, once I checked the temperature this morning I knew that heading out for a walk and birding was out of the question. So today’s picture will be of my thermometer this morning.
It was a biting cold day and against my better judgement I decided to head to the Grey Nuns White Spruce Park in St. Alberta in the hope of catching some Snowy Owls. The sky was clear blue and the sun was shining yet it was around -26 °C. I took a stroll through a small wood lot and did not last more than 30 minutes despite wearing many layers. I did not see a single bird. Thy were probably smarter than me in this deep freeze, huddling in a cover somewhere minimizing energy expenditure.
Exactly one year ago I returned from a trip to Chile. Of course, Chile being in the Southern Hemisphere meant that December and January was the middle of the summer. So, on this day when the mercury is is at -26 °C here in Edmonton a splash of summer seems quite appropriate. I came across, what looked like, Daisies on a meadow in the province of Araucania, about 1000 km south of Santiago on Christmas Day.
Until recently the winter has been mild by Alberta standards, dipping down to -15 ºC at the lowest. That has all changed now. Today the temperature was hovering around -20 ºC, and right now, at 9 pm it has dropped down to -24 ºC. Overnight temperatures are forecast to drop all the way down to -36 ºC. It is a quite typical for the winter temperatures to drop quite substantially in January and February. Only time will tell if we will reach the magnitude of last year’s cold snap, both in terms of how low the temperature goes and for how long (see the post Owling in the Frozen Wilds for a write up of last years record cold snap).
One does not have to go far along the Whitemud Creek to see striking evidence of ongoing erosion. In many of the creek’s meanders one the creek is craving out overhangs that result in vegetation clinging to increasingly unstable overhangs of dirt. It appear that the soil is quite loose throughout the ravine and as a result these overhangs collapse on a regular basis. In many of the meanders there are large amounts of trees that have fallen during one of these collapses. Clearly the meandering course of the creek, the loose soil and the never ending industrious work of the local beavers all contribute to the changing landscape. This stands in stark contrast to the various structures humans put in place to mitigate and control the erosion, such as planting fast growing plants, using carpets to hold the soil in place and building large fields of boulders along the outside curves of the creek.
Bokeh balls is the aesthetic quality of blur produced in the out-of-focus points of light of an image produced by a lens. Bokeh balls are particularly common when one is doing back-lit photography. Bokeh balls are fun and I only discover them after having taken the picture and when I am in post-processing, making their presence in photographs unpredictable and serendipitous. In this picture of ice covered leaves of grass shot in back-lit conditions I ended up with multicolored bokeh balls (to the left of the grass).
The Red Squirrels are everywhere. These fellas do not hibernate during the winter, but rather stay active throughout the season. They spend the fall collecting and storing food for future consumption in large. Using tree cavities, underbrush piles, or dens as their own pantries, red squirrels can ensure that the food they’ve gathered for the winter will be kept safely and out of the way of trespassers. Because their food stashes are critical for their survival they tend to be very territorial towards intruders. Confrontation between two red squirrels often entails a lot of tail flicking, chattering, and foot stomping. Even when I walk through the forest and come across a Red Squirrel it often shows its displeasure at my presence with loud chattering, aha sing its ground even when I am very close to it.