Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I don't know where I am, but I like it...

Eagle Butte -- I'm not sure what's where, but I love this sign. © SB

Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan, Canada: Propped in the sand before the final climb up to 70 Mile Butte, there is a wonderfully rustic sign.

Reading it at first, I thought I must be standing on Eagle Butte — but maps in the GNP Visitors' Guide indicate Eagle Butte is some distance north.

The arrows on this sign are also intriguing. What lies 0.7 km in one direction, and 8.8 km in another?

The posts stood beside Yarrow plants, and a feet away, Prairie Roses grew in barren-looking sand, and I didn't care where I was, or what this sign meant, beyond the obvious: You are now in the land of buttes, dry grasses and erosion surrendered ranches in the wild old West. 

I wish all Parks Canada signs were so evocative. I hope this one is not replaced with a cold metal plate.

What is this? A sign high on the climb up Grasslands' 70 Mile Butte, so called because it's visible from at least 70 miles away. 
Location: Grasslands National Park. 
Photo Date: July 27, 2011. 


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Killdeer Landing on Boggy Creek, SK

Condie Nature Refuge: This lovely orange-backed Killdeer sailed in front of my camera Sunday, and I caught a few clear shots before trying a different setting, which immediately merged to washed out blur. Bad mistake. I'm still figuring out the optimal points for focus and light... 

These pictures were taken on the south side of Boggy Creek, from the Hillside Trail, at about noon — which is likely obvious from the tight shadow.

(I'm identifying this bird as a Killdeer because of its shape, size, banded neck, head markings and orange back... Other suggestions welcome!)  

Soaring down to the beach, orange back bright © SB

First one foot, and then the other © SB

All's calm and quiet now © SB 

What is this? A Killdeer, a fairly common prairie bird. 
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, SK.
Photo Date: August 28, 2011. 


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Damselflies: Condie Nature Refuge

Bluet Damselfly -- with startling grin.  © SB 

Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan: Damselflies are the tiny dancers of the Dragonfly world, so slight that my camera — even the new DSLR — struggles to find a still, solid point at the centre of their world on which to focus. Only two or three centimetres long, with a wingspan about the same, damselflies' needle-like abdomens must measure a few millimetres at most. (Not that I could catch one of these delicate creatures to try that — I have enough trouble trying to capture their image!

The first damselfly, at the top of this post, was stunning, a light shimmering turquoise blue, based on which, I've decided it must be a Bluet... Of course, nothing's easy for the non-biologist, and as it turns out, there are many different kinds of Bluets. Close-up shots of rear male appendages are apparently helpful for identification, but that takes photography to a whole new level.  

Take a minute to click to enlarge that Bluet — is it just me, or does its face bear a strange resemblance to the scary grins of the little creatures in the Gremlins horror movies of the 1980s/90s?

Continuing with the blue theme, the next two damselflies have bulging blue eyes — the first looked very opaque, while the second reflected a darker translucence. Again, these are tiny insects — shorter than the top two joints on my little finger, and I have very small hands.  

Damselfly, Boggy Creek, Condie Nature Refuge © SB

Damselfly, Condie Nature Refuge, Saskatchewan © SB

The final damselfly was paler, with a slightly brown cast overall, and very easy-to-see reddish spots at the top and end of its wings, similar to the damselfly immediately above.
Damselfly clinging to Thistle stalk © SB
All photos can be clicked to enlarge — and if you do, you'll see the amazing hairs on this last tiny guy's legs...

What are these? Damselflies — which look like tiny dragonflies, but are a slightly different species. 
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, about 12 km north of Regina.
Photo Date: August 27 & 28, 2011.


Saturday, August 27, 2011

White-tailed deer: Condie Nature Refuge

Warily watching... © SB 

Condie Nature Refuge, Regina, Saskatchewan: A young, still spotted, white-tailed deer watched as I drove through Condie today, its large tail a banner as it ran to the shelter of trees and then back across the field to the lower land beside the creek.  

The tail is certainly a marker for these deer; it's so different from the mule deer we saw at Grasslands National Park.

White-tailed deer at Condie Nature Refuge © SB 

What is this? A young white-tailed deer. 
Location: Condie Nature Refuge, near Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Photo Date: August 27, 2011. 


Monday, August 15, 2011

Cabbage White Butterfly on Canada Thistle

Cabbage White on Canada Thistle, Regina, SK © SB

The most abundant butterflies in our Regina, SK (Canada) neighbourhood this summer are Cabbage Whites, fluttering through the grass and garden.

Especially the garden. These delicate-looking butterflies love vegetable gardens. As the Government of Canada says of Cabbage Whites on its Canadian Biodiversity website:
"Its bright white colour and fondness for gardens make it one of the butterflies familiar to anyone even mildly interested in nature."
We're not trying to grow cabbages this year — or other Brassicas  — and we're not growing thistles, either. This photograph was taken beside a public path/parkway along Wascana Creek a few days ago.  

Location: Along Wascana Creek, Regina, Saskatchewan. 
Photo Date: August 15, 2011. 


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