Since we were on the topic of oil pipelines in yesterday’s post. Today’s picture is of the Suncor Refinery in north eastern Edmonton, wedged right in between Edmonton and Sherwood Park. This location is significant for several reason. First of all, this is where the pipeline cutting through the Whitemud Ravine originates, and second, I pasa but this industrial behemoth every time I head out towards Sherwood Park on my way to Heritage Wetland Park, Emerald Lake and Centennial Park to go birding.
Abandoned and left to the elements these nest – two cup shaped nests right next to each other – are rapidly succumbing to rain, snow and wind. Without the protection of the leaves or the upkeep of their tenants it is clear that they will not make it through the winter unscathed. With one of the nests essentially disintegrating and the other hanging on by a strand of grass I doubt there will be anything left in the spring.
Beavers are not the only ones that like to consume bark as part of their diet. Last week in the forest by the Heritage Wetland Ponds I came across a large number of branches that had been debarked. To my best knowledge there are no beavers at this location and the branches were not by the water, so the question is what other animals would debark branches in this way? bit of research reveals that squirrels, voles and porcupines also chew bark for food. based on the amount of branches that had been chewed my guess would be that it was likely porcupines that chewed the bark off these branches. Just like beavers, porcupines chew through the outer layer of the bark and consume the inner bark, also known as phloem.
I came across a Northern Flicker today sitting on a trunk working on its nest. Earlier during the summer I saw a flicker at the same cavity, so I assume it could be the same individual. There are two quite different-looking forms of the species, the Yellow-shafted Flicker in the east and north, and Red-shafted Flicker in the west. This particular individual had the red crescent on its nape distinct of the Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker. The dark “mustache stripe” by the beak indicates that it is a male.
Reports came in today from the National Weather Service in Duluth (Minnesota) of weather radars that were lit up with what appeared to be storm systems moving in. It turned out that it was not a storm at all, just an estimated 900000 ducks on their way to who know where? Perhaps they were on their way to their overwintering grounds en masse. Today’s picture was taken a few days ago, so while the moon was in its Third Quarter then, today it is Waning Crescent. All these clear days with early morning moons and birds migrating make you wonder if birds use the moon to either time migrations and/or for navigation. It has been know for a long time that birds use specific start constellation during, such as the Polaris star, as well as the sun to navigate during their migrations. I have not been able to find any information about the role of the moon in bird migrations. Yes, today’s picture is almost identical to the picture in Post 208…, except that that the focus differs…, so, very similar, yet different focal points.
The shores of the Heritage Wetland Park in Sherwood Park are covered in dense reeds, making access to the lakes difficult. There are a few locations, however, where it appears that the reeds have been removed on purpose. Perhaps these are access locations for boats, although I have never seen any boats on the lakes and, other than for a kayak or canoe, the lakes (more like ponds) are likely too small for any more substantial vessels. In this picture one can see a thin layer of morning ice between the reeds. The ice did not last long as the sun warmed up the day the ice disintegrated.
The winged fruits of a maple tree are unmistakable. Maple belongs to the Acer family and although it is commonly viewed as an iconic Canadian species (just look at our flag or maple syrup) the majority (about two thirds) of the 128 maple species are found in Asia. In Canada, ten species of maple can be found growing natively, perhaps the most famous one being the sugar maple, which is the species occurring on the Canadian flag and used for maple syrup. The botanical name for the helicopter seeds is samara.