Wednesday, June 27, 2012

“For The Love of Nature” Paintings by Teresa Stieben
Tess invites you to an open house reception
& exhibition of wildlife and floral paintings
July 11 6:30-8:30 pm at the Jeff Allen Art Gallery 10831 University Ave, Strathcona Place Senior Centre. Edmonton Alberta 

for info call 780 433 5807
The exhibition runs June 29th to July 25th
Jeff Allen Gallery is open Monday to Friday 9am to 3pm. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012


This beautiful fella is Skruff. 
A memorial image recently completed. Skruff was a pleasure to paint.  Knowing that my artistic skills have made someone else happy by doing that which I love to do is priceless.
have a wonderful Day

ps, there are a couple more paintings posted, to view, click on the sandhill crane icon to the right.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Birding around Empress Alberta

I was told by a local that for the past four weeks birds were abundant as Empress is located on a main migration route. It's close to where the Red Deer River merges into the South Saskatchewan River which is an important IBA (International Bird Area).

 Puddling for nest material. Cliff Swallows are major engineers creating massive mud-daub-nest colonies under bridges. These were busy gathering mud, rolling it up in and onto their beaks. It is so amazing the variety of nests birds make by use of feet an beaks.

Though this Swallow looks similar to those above it has a deeply forked tail and does not nest in large colonies, although it does make mud nests attached to structures. Its a Barn Swallow. When I was young swallows made nests under an open shed and my Mother made sure we knew not to disturb them as she considered them "lucky" birds. My father said if a swallow flies at the forefront of your canoe it foretold a good journey.

Western Kingbird. 
One of my bird books states the Western Kingbird is not abundant in Alberta and as its the first time I have ever seen them I guess they are not abundant in the western part of the province though they sure were plentiful from Empress to Hanna. 

 Eastern Kingbird
The Eastern Kingbird on the other hand is abundant throughout the southern part of the province. Kingbirds are flycatchers notorious at retrieving bugs on the wing. 

 Lark Sparrow
This beauty was everywhere in the grasslands. It seemed once we spotted our first we then saw them often on the fence lines and posts. To our delight there were a couple that spent much time serenading each other at the campsite.
Lark Sparrows flirting on the road. Not a great shot but an interesting one taken through the vehicle window.

 Chestnut-Collard Longspur
Once an abundant bird in Alberta this species has declined as it does not survive in cultivated landscapes, it needs undisturbed prairie grasslands. I feel blessed to have seen this one an only beauty.

  Vesper Sparrow
I tend to acquire used bird books when I find them as it seems no one book gives all the birds or all the markings to look for. Recently I picked up a field guide Birds of North America and must say that the comparison charts especially for sparrows has helped greatly in identification. 

Clay-colored Sparrow
At least I think it is.

Before leaving Empress we went for a picnic down by the river and as we left the river bank four Curlew's flew overhead, of course to my dissapointment my settings were not set to capture flight shots and it all happened so fast there was no time to make changes. So can you imagine the delight when we stopped to photograph these wee bunnies

up-ahead this strange large bird bird of the open range prairies and its mate obliged by being alongside the road way. Its a Long-billed Curlew, what a nice sendoff for our north-home-ward journey. The Curlew is another declining bird due habitat loss. We watched these two from the vehicle so as to enjoy the moment without flushing or rushing them off so when they did take flight I again missed the flight shots due sitting in the vehicle. Oh well, such is the nature of bird photography.
 Enough memories told for today, have a wonderful day and fill it with a smile.

Friday, June 8, 2012

A tail of a rattle

Gerald and I were invited to camp with friends at Empress Alberta last weekend and what a wonderful weekend it was. Good friends, good food, good times birding and not to forget a heart thumping gazelle leaping experience of almost stepping on a rattlesnake while photographing a Gray Catbird down by the river. And no, there are no photos of the rattler. Now I tell you I was keeping an eye out for snakes so was very surprised that I did not see it till after its tail rattle shook and it slithered they are so wonderfully camouflaged. My husband laughed at my sportily retreat. but my goodness this snake was thick and big, though not to sure how long it was as it slithered of into the grass while I spring-boked to the vehicle. I am no snake lover and have decide that open prairie is not the place for me, besides there are six foot Bull snakes there which they say will chase you, yuk! Noway, nadda!  Though I am not fond of snakes I do appreciate that they have their place keeping gophers in check and note, rattlers are endangered due loss of natural habitat. A photographer from the area said that rattlers will swim up onto her kayak when she is out on the river, I never knew rattlers would swim.
 The infamous Gray Catbird
 Mourning dove blends into the terrain.

Prairie flowers, it would have been lovely to see cactus in bloom but its a tad early for that.

This was a long shot on a hillside by the river so a tad soft but look at the colours, delicious combination.

 Pronghorns were few and far between, just the odd loner out in the field, second photo cropped.

Cultivated Prairie.

Next post will be some of the Prairie birds we captured.
Enjoy, have a great weekend, and share a hug!