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1 July 2017
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Yellow Prairie Coneflower / Ratibida columnifera

Yellow Prairie Coneflower / Ratibida columnifera
Happy 4th July to all Americans, wherever in the world you happen to be living!

On Canada Day, 1 July 2017, it was a great day, spent with friend, Pam. I picked her up just after 8:00 am and did a long drive in Southern Alberta. We saw our target bird - a Common Nighthawk, and all sorts of other things including plants and old barns. It took a round trip of 414 km to get the Nighthawks, but it was so worth it! Much further than I normally drive. Towards the end of our day, the rain arrived, accompanied by lightning streaks. This couldn't have been timed more perfectly, to wash off a lot of the dust that covered my car after 12 hours of driving hot, dusty roads! So welcome! We have another hot day today and the forecast is for very hot days for at least the next week. So far, the forecast is 33C for Friday, 35C for Saturday and 31C for Sunday.

it was such a thrill to see a Common Nighthawk / Chordeiles minor (a rather strange looking bird), as I had always wanted to see one actually lying on a fence post or wooden railing. People get such amazing photos of them like that, and that is what I was determined to find this summer. Last year, I had driven to this area in Southern Alberta, hoping to find one, but had been out of luck. We were thrilled to see four Nighthawks together. Three of them were lying on a metal railing, but the fourth was on a fence post - not the best angle, but it was still nice to see a fence post perch. How close we came to missing them! I said I wanted to just check the first part of a small side road first, before continuing on the road we were on - and there they were! I had seen a nighthawk on maybe five different occasions over the years, but most were in flight and one was perched very high up in a tree. For Pam, this was the first time she had ever seen one, and she was so happy to see this lifer.

"On warm summer evenings, Common Nighthawks roam the skies over treetops, grasslands, and cities. Their sharp, electric peent call is often the first clue they’re overhead. In the dim half-light, these long-winged birds fly in graceful loops, flashing white patches out past the bend of each wing as they chase insects. These fairly common but declining birds make no nest. Their young are so well camouflaged that they’re hard to find, and even the adults seem to vanish as soon as they land." From AllABoutBirds.

www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Common_Nighthawk/id

I was so tired after driving such a long distance and it was a hot day - the temperature got up to 30C. I so rarely do such a long drive, and I've barely driven all winter and spring. It felt so good to actually get out on a long drive like this, and we saw all sorts of interesting things that we just had to stop and photograph - of course!

Every single time I go out with my camera for a drive, I never forget to be SO thankful to live in a country where I have the freedom and safety to go where I want, and to see such beauty. Thank you, Alberta and Albertans - and Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! Such a young country.

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