Tag Archives: Edmonton

Project 366 – Post No. 217 – Meandering creek

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A meandering creek (or river) is a a creek characterized by a series of regular sinuous curves, bends, loops, turns or windings in the watercourse. A meander is produced by the river as it erodes the sediments of an outer (or concave) bank and deposits this and other sediments downstream on an inner (or convex) bank. The concave side of a meander is often referred to as a cut bank and the convex side as a point bank. Over time the result is the formation of a meandering course as the channel migrates back and fort across the direction of the floodplain. There is a whole lot of physics and math behind the formation, dynamics, size and shape of the meanders. The Whitemud Creek is meandering its way through the Whitemud Ravine and the erosion that takes place during this process is very noticeable on a seasonal basis. Particularly the cut banks seem to be advancing at a very fast pace with lots of trees succumbing and falling into the river as sections of the bank collapse into the creek. I am sure the busy work of beavers – i.e. removing trees – accelerates this erosion process. We humans are not, however, idle. In an effort to control the erosion and the ever-shifting course of the creek large swats of cut banks are covered in rocks, mesh and planted with fast growing plants. In today’s picture you can see a cut bank covered in sizable rocks in an effort to reduce the erosion and stabilize the bank. It seems, however, that most of these efforts only postpone the inevitable and it seems to be a loosing battle. The combined force of the beavers and the flow of the water is mighty.

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

Project 366 – Post No. 216 – More beaver dams

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So I found another beaver dam down at the Whitemud Creek. That makes it two dams that have sprung up in the last month. This one is tucked away in a secluded part of the creek and is smaller than the first one. It is large enough though to dam up the water upstream, allowing only a small stream to flow over the crest. It is made up of smaller branches and twigs, but is remarkably efficient in blocking the flow of the water. It is difficult to imagine how one would successfully build a dam made up of branches in a flowing creek. There clearly must be some beaver science going on here. When people refer to beavers as engineers, they go that part right.

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

Project 366 – Post No. 215 – Amiskwaciy Waskahikan

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The traditional name of Edmonton is Amiskwaciy Waskahikan, meaning Beaver Hills House. This place was the traditional meeting ground for many indigenous communities, including the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota Sioux, Blackfoot and the Métis Peoples. Once one becomes more familiar with the natural history of Edmonton and its surrounding area, the choice of the name Beaver Hills House by the indigenous communities becomes apparent. Beaver houses, or lodges, are never far away. Every lake and pond outside of Edmonton seems to have at least one beaver lodge built in it. The Whitemud Creek is different tough. While there are certainly beavers in the creek, there are no beaver dams or lodges, or at least I have not been able to find them. I always though that one reason for this would be that it is a creek where the water is in constant motion. That is until I found beaver dams and lodges in a remote location of the North Saskatchewan river. So much for that theory. After spending lots of time at the creek it has become evident that the quaint creek is a battle ground between industrious beavers and equally industrious humans. The beavers are trying to go about their lives, which obviously includes a domicile, food and raising a family, while the humans are doing everything they can to maintain the ravine as a safe recreational area. Much could be said about the back and forth battle between the beavers and humans (see for example yesterday’s post), but it is now becoming evident that the Whitemud Creek beavers do indeed build dams, and quite possible lodges as well, but the humans are removing them. The other day I came across a sizable dam entirely obstructing the creek that must have been erected over the last few weeks. It will be interesting to see how long it will take before the crews move in and remove it. I will be doing more regular visits to the creek to monitor the situation.

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

Project 366 – Post No. 214 – Owls vs beavers

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There is a rather unique tree down in the Whitemud Ravine. It is large and tall and half way up its trunk there is a l large cavity that has been used as a nesting cavity by Great Horned Owls for a number of years, most recently last spring. The other day I noticed that the base of the trunk had been wrapped in wired mesh. With the beavers coming back with a vengeance over the last few weeks it is hardly surprising that the city has tried to protect the tree. The City of Edmonton’s official policy on reducing beaver damage is to protect “high value trees” using metal mesh around the base of the trunk. As this is the only know Great Horned Owl nest it this part of the ravine this is definitely a high-value tree (see post 32). At this time of the year, the owls are nowhere to be see. One can only hope that the will be back next spring with a new batch of adorable owlets.

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

Project 366 – Post No. 213 – The beavers are back

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I assume it was bound to happen. Just like the Terminator said “I will be back”, so did the beavers. It appears that over the last month or so an army of beavers have invaded the Whitemud Creek. They have left their telltale signs all along the creek, with downed trees, chewed branches and debarked trunks. It is quite obvious that they mean business. Even trunks that have been covered in metal wire mesh – a way to deter beavers from damaging high valued trees – have not been spared. I am not entirely sure how they get to the trunk if there is a metal mesh in the way, but I guess if you are an uber-ambitious beaver you could either try to go under or over the mesh with a bit of acrobatic maneuvering…, or through the mesh if you are patient. Expect more beaver action picture over the next few days. I have not yet actually spotted a beaver, but I imagine that it only a matter of time.

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

Project 366 – Post No. 212 – First “snow storm”

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It was a dull grey and windy afternoon. The thermometer read -2C, but with the wind chill it was more like -9C. It was certainly not ideal weather for birding, but I decided to brave the elements and head down to the Whitemud Creek. It had not been there for several weeks so you never know what you find after such a hiatus. By the time I go to the creek the snow had started to fall and it was swirling around in the wind. I would say that this qualified as the first “snow storm: of the season, but compared to what is to come it was pretty tame…, like a warm up to the real deal. I tried to capture the “storm” in a picture, but it turned out very anticlimactic and line would have to squint pretty hard to imagine any snow falling just by looking at the picture. While snow and sub-zero temperatures in October may sound extreme to non-Albertan’s, we are actually doing pretty good this season. Last year we had our first snow in September and quite often the end of October is already locked down in deep freeze in these neck of the woods. Other than the snow and some unusual beaver activity, as I predicted, most birds were in hiding. The notable exception, as always, were the Black-capped Chickadees that were our in full force and did not seem to mind the weather at all.

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.