Three things happened this week that really moved my needle to a new level on the gratitude scale.
Firstly, Saskatoon has one of the most accessible river access plans of any city on the prairies. Most of the credit for this goes to the Meewasin Valley Authority. Our community was reminded of this amazing gift by the announcement this week, of the death of Raymond Moriyama, an architect largely responsible for the creation of Meewasin.
Meeewasin trails are important to the mental health of thousands of citizens as they look for signs of changing seasons, dip their toes in the river, watch a butterfly dance among some flowers, gawk at birds and tiny insects, record these encounters and share them with others with a view to helping us all appreciate the wonders of nature.
A sample of the joys of the Meewasin in the last week or so.
My friend Stan helped me ID this bird as a Blue-headed Vireo. I had never seen one before.
Yellow Warblers will soon be heading down south for the winter.
The next event that made me grateful involved my own back yard.
A scold of Blue Jays frequent my feeder every morning after I fill it with whole peanuts. They frequently grab a nut, fly up to the shed roof and hammer away to open the shell.
Here is a link to a YouTube video showing how they open the nuts.
Arachnophobes please close your eyes.
It was a cool morning and I wanted to see if I could find any small creatures to photograph at my back door. I spied this tiny Crab Spider under a basil leaf and it was quite cooperative as I turned the leaf over and moved it where I could point my camera.
Next was a trip to explore the Northeast Swale, an area within the city that many people have worked diligently for years to maintain as a nature preserve. I am forever grateful to the many people who do the work of preventing destruction by urban development and city bypass infrastructure.
A Spur-throated Grasshopper
Greater Yellowlegs looking for morsels in the mud.
A Killdeer also checking out the mud buffet.
This is a Red-necked Phalarope in non-breeding plumage. They have a delightful adaptation of twirling in the water, supposedly to stir up food and get a meal.
Here is a video showing this behaviour.
This Clouded Sulphur butterfly won the contest on matching your coat colour to your choice of flower.
Coming in a close second was this Western White butterfly.
A Common Drone Fly gathering pollen for the last few days with warmth.
Cranberry Flats was calling rather loudly yesterday. Heeding the call was a smooth move as I spent three hours wandering the river bank, listening to the migrating birds, turning over rotting wood to look for mushrooms and glancing in the trees and the sky to spot birds.
Painting each leaf with shades of yellow and green can be exhausting but mother nature does an amazing job.
An Osprey was catching thermals to move higher in the sky.
The Cranberry Flats butterfly contest was based on camouflage, also called cryptic coloration. This Clouded Sulphur Butterfly was the winner.
If it is possible to get tired of different views of a mushroom here is your chance to test your “mushroom picture patience”.
Some Dogwood berries waiting for winter.
As Sandhill Cranes start their annual migration to warmer climes, they often amass by the thousands along the South Saskatchewan River. Few things in nature move me as much as trying to get my head around the vast distances many birds move in each of the shoulder seasons. Three hours along this magnificent river were constantly punctuated with an aerial ballet choreographed by three species of geese and Sandhill cranes as they flew to the tune created with their sqawks, honks and rattles.
These two cranes were landing among the Canada geese.
Three Greater White-fronted Geese.
A path covered with debris and overhanging willows and branches suddenly ended and pushed me out into an open meadow. After a minute or so of looking around I spotted a Sharp-shinned Hawk about 20 ft. away sitting on a dead tree branch. It obviously knew this clumsy upright monstrosity was in its territory but remained in place. With my elevated heart rate I slowly raised my camera to avoid scaring it off. It couldn’t decide which was its best photographic side so slowly turned its head from side to side and then took off towards me and into the bush.
On the way to my car I spotted a number of grasshoppers on the sand by the edge of the trail. Dropping to the ground and crawling on my belly allowed me to get close to see what was happening. It seemed many were busy laying eggs in the sand and thus did not immediately jump away as I approached.
This Spur-throated Grasshopper female pushed her abdomen into a gap between two sand particles and started pumping her abdomen.
Here is a short video showing the interaction between her and another grasshopper. Not sure at all what the interaction was about.