Signs of Spring

Although it has been very cold in the mornings, the last few days have warmed up very nicely in the afternoons and it has felt very much like spring is here.

I went for a walk at Carburn Park this evening and saw many signs that spring is on its way. There were squirrels chittering and chattering away in the trees. They were chasing each other all over the place. Squirrels don’t actually migrate or hibernate in the winter, but we definitely don’t see them very often either. When they come out to play it’s a pretty good sign that spring is here.

Eastern Gray Squirrel on a branch

While walking I saw a lot more people in the park than I’ve seen lately. It was a beautiful evening and there were plenty of people out walking, running, and even just sitting while enjoying it. There were also many more birds than I’ve seen in a long time. There were plenty of chickadees, magpies, sparrows, and huge squadrons of Canada Geese flying high overhead. Although I didn’t see it I’m pretty sure I even heard a blackbird singing. I did see one American Robin which I haven’t seen at Carburn Park in months. Robins are occasionally known to spend the winter in the Calgary area, but they are very rare, and when they return it is usually a very good sign that spring is coming soon.

Overall it was a beautiful night to go for a walk in the park!

American Robin at Carburn Park

Eastern Gray Squirrel on a branch

Eastern Gray Squirrel on a branch

When even the bales are cold…

When even the bales are cold...

We’ve had some really nasty cold weather on the prairies this winter. You can tell it’s cold out when even the hay bales look cold!

Normally the Chinook winds we see in the Calgary area bring warm air with them as they blow in from the West Coast. But this year it seems like the winds have been cold and harsh. We’ve seen lots of snow and the temperature has regularly been below -20 °C. Now that’s cold!

At least I generally get to go inside when I want to. Not like these poor bales…

Calgary Skyline

Calgary Skyline at Sunrise

There’s something about a cityscape that draws me in. I’ve got lots of pictures of the Calgary Skyline, including others from this exact spot, but I still enjoy making them. This particular image is the latest in a series of high resolution panoramas that I’ve been making recently. I was actually out trying to capture a shot of the setting full moon looming large against the Rocky Mountains in the background. Unfortunately I arrived a little late and the moon practically evaporated against the horizon. I made a similar image back in the fall, but it was more of a pastoral scene than the one I was trying for this time. Oh well, there’s always next month…

The Harvest Moon setting over a Granary

It seems odd but this is one of the few images of the city that I’ve done in daylight. Most of my previous attempts were made late at night, and usually on extremely cold days. In fact some of my favorites show the ice and snow along the Bow river, and they often feature the reflected lights of the city glowing in the river.

Calgary Skyline in the Ice Fog

Center Street Bridge

Grain-fed Deer at Carburn Park

One of my favorite places to look for birds and animals is right in the city (Calgary) near my home. Carburn Park is a man-made city park on the banks of the Bow River. Although it was developed to be very accessible to everyone, including a paved path all the way around the park, it also has large stretches of naturalized areas and has become home to thousands of birds and animals. It is a very beautiful park and it is a fantastic place to go birding in all seasons.

Although not as common as the deer that can always be found in the park, I have recently seen Coyotes several times. I had seen this animal earlier in the evening while it sauntered across the frozen lake. There were people walking all around the park and it really did nothing to avoid them. I eventually found it again a little further back in the woods.

White-tailed Deer at Carburn Park

The park is home to very large herd of White-tailed Deer. There were quite a few deer wandering around in the woods while I looked for the coyote, and they were very skittish when the coyote passed close by. They are very used to people and completely ignored me however.

Coyote at Carburn Park

White-tailed Deer at Carburn Park

White-tailed Deer at Carburn Park

I have seen the Deer in the park many times before, and I knew that the resident herd was quite large, but I really had no idea just how many live there were until I saw people feeding them just before sunset. A man whistled a couple of times and then dozens of deer came running from all over the park. They were obviously accustomed to being summoned for a free meal.

Grain-fed White-tailed Deer at Carburn Park

I don’t understand why these people think it is necessary to feed wild animals. I really doubt that they understand the danger they are putting these deer in. There were at least two coyotes skulking around in the park that night and I’m sure they would love to take advantage of some fat, grain-fed deer that weren’t paying attention to anything other than the easy meal in front of them.

Grain-fed White-tailed Deer at Carburn Park

The bigger question is what the deer will do when these people stop feeding them, as eventually they will. The animals have clearly become habituated to having their meals delivered to them, and they have completely lost their fear of people. If it gets so bad that they come to depend on the people to provide their food, then what will happen to them when the food wagon stops rolling in?

Grain-fed White-tailed Deer at Carburn Park

Grain-fed White-tailed Deer at Carburn Park

I love going to Carburn Park and I’m always excited to see the birds and animals that live there, but knowing what I know now about these deer, I am terribly conflicted about photographing them… I’d love to here what other people think about this issue?