The plants may not have any leaves left but many of them are primed and ready to produce the next generation of plants. Seeds, seeds pods and fruits abound in the frozen forest. While many of them will be a welcomed meal to the winter denizens of the forest the rest will get an opportunity to create the next generation of plants. Most of them will not make it, but that is perhaps why plants produce so many seeds, so that the few can beat the odds.
Today is a special day here in Edmonton. Today is the earliest time the sun will set for the year. Yesterday the sunset was at 16:14, today it is at 16:13 and…., tomorrow it is at 16:14 again. After that the sunset times will just keep on getting later until Summer Solstice. The morning sunrises are, however, still getting later so the days are still getting shorter. To be more precise, we will still loose 4 minutes and 10 seconds of day time hours (from 7:32:52 hours of day length today to 7:27:42 hours of day length on December 21). All of this will start to improve, however, after the Winter Solstice, which this year falls on December 21 at 21:19. Already on December 22 we would have gained a fraction of a second of day length. The puzzling fact that the years’s earliest sunset (and the latest sunrise) does not fall on Winter Solstice has to do with the elliptical orbit and axial tilt of our planet.
This is not someone’s Christmas tree. Someone has been decorating random trees in the Whitemud Ravine with holiday ornaments. I guess one could call this free-range Christmas trees. I assume the same person will collect the decorations after the holiday season.
I have been waiting 256 days (posts) in anticipation to be able to name a post “Pileated Woodpecker”. Up to now these charismatic woodpeckers have been eluding me. I have seen them numerous times in the distance, in flight and one can hear their calls on almost every walk in the Whitemud Ravine. To add to the frustration; on several occasions before I started my Project 366 (and before I had my Nikon P1000 camera) I got amazingly close to these magnificent birds. They certainly are not shy. Its almost as if they were aware that they are the coolest woodpecker around and they like to rub it in your face. As soon as I got my camera, however, I ran out of Pileated Woodpecker luck. Last weekend, however, luck was on my side as there was a bit of an woodpeckerpalooza going on in the Whitemud Ravine, with Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers and two adult Pileated Woodpecker busy looking for their next meal. Due to the dense understory I did not manage to get as close to the Pileated Woodpeckers as I would have liked to, but I did get pictures that, while not perfect, are the best to this date. There is always another day, so I will be back for more Pileated Woodpecker action in the near future.
The other day, as I was crossing the bridge going into the Whitemud Ravine, I noticed that the snow along the banks of the creek seem to have broken off and collapsed. Upon closer inspection I noticed that the snow cover along the middle of the creek also had fractured. A snow free section of the ice revealed that the ice also had fractured right down the middle of the creek. I thought this was peculiar and it got me thinking about what could have cause this. The most plausible explanation I could come up with was that most likely the water level under the ice had dropped. If the ice was not thick enough to support its own weight when it was not longer floating on water it would have collapsed under its own weight. This must have been quite a spectacle and by the looks of it, it probably was a suddenly and fast event. Considering that people walk, ski and bike on the ice covered creek this could have ended badly if someone had been on the ice at the time. I think I will hold off any excursion on the ice for another month or two until one can be certain that it is thick enough to be safe.
I had returned home from my nature walk and was unpacking the car when I spotted a Black-billed Magpie perched on top of a tall fir tree. Against the blue cloudless sky the bird was impossible to miss. There it was without a worry in the world just keeping an eye on its surrounding. It is easy to dismiss magpies as they are one of those urbanized birds that like to hang out around people. This is my first picture of a magpie, not because I have not seen them, but because I just have not been paying much attention to them.
When I took this picture I was going for a back lit effect in the withered leaves. The result was this image of leaves frozen in the winters embrace with the sun illuminating their edges revealing the intricate network of veins running through the leaves. When I looked at the picture at home I did not see any of this. Instead, the first thing I noticed where the round bokeh balls in the background. It’s the first time I have noticed that my Nikon P1000 gives bokeh balls. Bokeh is traditionally known as the aesthetically pleasing quality of the out-of-focus blurred highlight in the background of an image. Traditionally lenses have hexagonal aperture blades producing hexagonal bokeh. I have always had a particular fondness for hexagonal bokeh, perhaps due to my background in black and white photography with film cameras many years ago. When I first noticed the bokeh balls in this image I was taken back. I had never seen/noticed bokeh balls previously. As it turns out, lenses with rounded aperture blades yield bokeh balls. I think it will take some time for me to come to terms with the lack of hexagonal bokeh.