Anne Elliott

Anne Elliott

Posted on 03/07/2018

Photo taken on May 29, 2015

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Anne Elliott
Brewer's Blackbird
Euphagus cyanocephalus
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170 km S of Calgary
© Anne Elliott 2015
29 May 2015

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Birds of a feather

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird 

All three photos posted today were taken on 29 May 2015, on a trip way down in southern Alberta. A small group of us spent the day at the Whaleback, climbing the ridges, doing a species count. We had such a great day, finding all sorts of things of interest - plants, mosses, lichens - and in my case, insects, animals and birds, too : ) In fact, anything and everything, lol.

The weather was good for walking, not too warm and, up till the last part, dry. We were so lucky that the rain stayed away for most of the day. When I went on this outing in May 2013, it rained all day, though I still managed to get plenty of photos. On 29 May 2015, it was overcast with low cloud, making scenic shots rather unpleasant.

Just before taking the turn for the road leading to a place to park, we stopped at a spot down by the river and did a search there. I was thrilled to bits to find three or four Tent Caterpillars on a plant next to a large rock and thought what a way to start the day. After taking a few photos, I walked to the other side of the rock and noticed what almost looked like a circular patch of lichen growing on the rock surface. A closer look revealed a mass of dozens of these caterpillars, with several others climbing up in single file to join the rest. Still makes me itch all over, just thinking about it, lol!

Another highlight of the day for me was when I happened to notice a tiny spot of bright red deep inside a distant Early Yellow Locoweed flower. I zoomed in for a photo and thought it looked like it might be a Ladybug. Couldn't count the spots properly, so I very gently parted the petals to get a better look. Unfortunately, it crawled on to my hand and wouldn't return to a petal until after I had taken two or three shots, and then it immediately moved out of sight. I was so happy to find that it was a different kind of Ladybug, though I had seen one a few years ago - it was a Convergent Ladybug.

Part way through the day, I stayed behind while the rest of the group climbed to a higher ridge, and I explored the lower ground. It was a place where I knew I wouldn't get lost - but I did have to wait till at least some of the others returned a few hours later, as others were needed to create an opening to climb though the barbed-wire fence again : ) I found plenty to photograph and it was quite a feeling to be so high up with such an amazing view all around, and to be alone up there. While I sat to eat lunch on a rocky outcrop with a couple of trees, a tiny Sparrow (of some kind) came to visit a couple of times and sing for me. Also, there were maybe half a dozen Brewer's Blackbirds that stayed around the area for much of the time, flying or perched on low bushes. A truly magical time.

The rest of the group had a great time, too, and saw Parry's Townsendia flowers and lots of Balsamroot in bloom. Fortunately, I had seen the Townsendia before on a brutal hike to Picklejar Lakes several years ago. Two years ago, I had also seen hillsides at the Whaleback covered in the bright yellow Balsamroot flowers. I did manage to find several plants huddled together lower down, so was happy to get a few photos of these bright and cheery flowers.

Altogether, a wonderful day in an incredibly beautiful place with great company! Many thanks, Robin and Cedric, for giving me a ride there and back - appreciated it SO much!