20170618-20 Sandhill Cranes, Ring Billed Gulls, Brewers Blackbird, Mallard Duck, Killdeer, Ruby throated Hummingbird

My friend Dave twice phoned to tell me of Sandhills visiting his place.   This pair was seen Sunday afternoon.   They were very calm and I was able to approach to within 10 m in the car.   Click on the photos to see the details of these interesting birds.

That stern look always reminds me of John Diefenbaker!

They were stabbing their beaks about an inch in to the soil to extract grubs that were pushed up by recent rainfalls.

There were some puddles around for this bird to wade in.

Up close and personal as they walked along the mowed roadway to Dave and Irene’s house.

This quartet was seen early Tuesday (7:17) morning in front of the skeleton of Dave’s Barn….

Ring-bills seem to hang out with Sandhills.  I don’t know why.

While the Sandhills were feasting on grubs, this Brewers Blackbird

caught a dragonfly resting on a blade of grass.

One of the Sandhills wandered over to a trickle of water flowing through the field to visit with a Mallard drake and a Killdeer.

The Killdeer gradually came closer to me but kept an eye on the duck and crane.

Then Drake and Killdeer started to go cross country….

Lynn came along and also managed to photograph this jump…

An hour later Dave came back into his driveway and the Sandhills played “follow the leader” in a stream take-off.

Lead is safely airborne as those in line astern leap into the air…

On the climb-out

Above the trees …

Up, up and away!

Later I visited Dave and Irene when this Ruby Throated Hummingbird posed for us.  After being quite nondescript it flexed its throat feathers to demonstrate the basis of colour in this bird.  This article on Structural Coloration is more detailed and does not make the common error of conflating refraction and diffraction.

If you scroll back up to the Brewers Blackbird you’ll see another example of structural coloration.

Audubon has an opinion of the effect of Keystone XL on Sandhills.

Ontario has some strange laws regarding the control of Sandhills in farmer’s fields.

I have been corresponding with a photographer who has some extraordinary words of wisdom here:  http://035c417.netsolhost.com/WordPress/category/a-photography-art-blog/page/3/

He can relate to Making Pictures (which pops up when you click on it in the title block of this blog).  Does it make sense to you?



20170614 Hwy 529, Cow Parsnip, Ox Eye Daisy, Brewer’s Blackbird, Painted Lady, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, Monarch, Blanding’s Turtle


Hwy 529, Cow Parsnip, Ox Eye Daisy, Brewer’s Blackbird, Painted Lady, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, Monarch, Blanding’s Turtle

At 20170613  there is a photo of Cow Parsnip with this advice:

Near the Twin Rivers Bridge, at the confluence of Harris Creek and Naiscoot River, there are many Cow Parsnip plants growing along the roadside.  Although they are somewhat phototoxic they are not as deadly as their look-alike close cousin, Giant Hogweed.

A nice little explanation showing the difference is at this link.   It makes sense to avoid both plants.

This photo shows a slightly later stage of development, as the sheath unfolds to show the flower head emerging to eventually form an umbel, the characteristic inflorescence of the carrot family.

Roadside Ox Eye Daisies are in full bloom now, attracting and feeding many pollinators … and enhancing the roadside.


When I first saw this bird I thought that it was a Red Winged Blackbird.   But NO RED.   And it certainly wasn’t a female.  Too small for a Common Grackle.  I eventually decided that it was a Brewer’s Blackbird, an uncommon sight for me.  Here is some interesting background on that bird in this neck of the woods.

Note size, yellow eyes and iridescence as this birdie takes a load of protein to its nest….

Painted Lady on a yellow hawkweed.   Good news for Albertans this year!


Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are also feasting on newly flowering yellow hawkweed.

  This was a surprise.  My first sighting of a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth on orange hawkweed.  The flowers had just opened today.

Proboscis is starting to uncoil for arrival at the next feeding station.

First one of the season!  This year’s migration map indicates that they’ve been here for about a week.  This is a great site.

I had seen some Viceroy Butterflies earlier but couldn’t get a photo.  Here is a great exercise for telling the difference between Monarch, Viceroy and Queen Butterflies.

A large Blanding’s Turtle is checking the photog out from a safe distance.  It slipped into the water afterwards.

Here’s an interesting news report about new crops for BC agriculture.