Apples for Dinner

blog apples for dinner_2669I was surprised to look out our window this morning to see a robin in our apple tree. A very well fed robin I might add. We watched the robin for a few minutes and then off he flew.

Later in the day the robin was back, along with two of his friends. The three robins feasted on the apples for quite a long time, probably trying to get their share before the huge flocks of waxwings visit the tree and clear out most of the apples.

We haven’t had many birds in our yard this year as we still haven’t managed to fill the feeders. Of course filling the feeders is going to be a bit of a production as the back gates are frozen shut, something that doesn’t happen often. We must have had the right mix of melting and freezing ….and now we have snow on top of everything too. The bird feeders are probably going to have to wait until a warm and melting day.

Winter Visitors – Red Deer, Alberta

(Please click on the above images to view the gallery.)

For much of the afternoon the “Littles” and I  watched the birds visiting our  feeders. This year we have three feeders in our backyard and they are all easily viewed through the windows. We tend to have a never ending supply of chickadees, but we get a few other birds popping by for food too. They are a hungry bunch and empty the feeders every few days. The birds are also quite messy eaters, scattering seed all over the snow. I am sure we will have a few sunflowers spouting randomly where the seed has been dropped once summer comes. So far we have been lucky and the squirrels have yet to figure out the feeders, but I am sure it is only a matter of time.


pelicans, lake isle, albertaWe were out at the cabin again this weekend. We glanced out to the lake just at the right moment to see two pelicans gliding by. We always think it is such a treat when we come across them as they are so different.

A cropped in image of the pelican.

A cropped in image of the pelican.

The next day we were out and I noticed my husband was driving a rather odd route to our destination. I asked him where we were going, and he said he wanted to take a quick look to see if the pelicans were still around. We stopped at the part of the lake where we expected to see the birds, but not a single pelican was on the water. Then, by chance, we looked up to see pelican after pelican flying overhead. What a sight!

pelicans in flight


Special Siting

red necked grebe

We had an unusual opportunity to go up to the cabin, in the evening, mid-week. Our cabin is on Lake Isle, about 45 minutes west of Edmonton , Alberta. An opportunity like this almost never happens, but it is great when it does. This area is so quiet when it isn’t the weekend, no boats on the lake, almost non-existent traffic, very few people out and about. When we first arrived we were fortunate to see a blue heron flying overhead and pelicans flapping in the distance over the lake.

As the evening went on we decided to stay the night at the cabin instead of heading home late, and thought an evening drive would be nice. On our drive we spotted this pair of birds, my son tells me that the are Red Necked Grebes.

red necked grebeAs we watched the activity around the nest from our car, we noticed one bird stayed close to the nest either sitting on the eggs or what appeared to be checking on the eggs. The other bird was constantly swimming back and forth collecting bits of plants and adding them to the nest.

red necked grebeI was thrilled when I looked at the images and saw that the eggs were actually visible in the pictures. I can honestly say I only have one other set of pictures with eggs in a nest  so this is pretty exciting for me.

red necked grebeThe opportunity to watch such activity never would have happened on a busy lake of roaring boats and loud beach goers, luckily our little lake is quiet and allows us a glimpse of the natural world.

red necked grebered necked grebered necked grebered necked grebered necked grebe

Photographers…Love Your Birds!!!!

bird on lake isleEvery photographer loves to photograph birds. They are interesting. They are beautiful. But they are also fragile. We need to take care of our little feathered friends if we want to have them to photograph in the years to come.

I was recently  chatting with a biologist in Southern Alberta where a very sad event happened with an irresponsible “person with a camera” and a nesting area. He asked me to post the following information. It is always good to use common sense while out in nature.

birds - lake isle, ab

North American Nature Photograph Association – Principles of Ethical Field Practices

North American Nature Photograph Association (NANPA) believes that following these practices promotes the well-being of the location, subject and photographer. Every place, plant and animal, whether above or below the water, is unique, and cumulative impacts occur over time. Therefore one must always exercise good individual judgment. It is NANPA’s belief that these principles will encourage all who participate in the enjoyment of nature to do so in a way that promotes good stewardship of the resource.

Environmental: Knowledge of Subject and Place



Learn patterns of animal behavior – know when not to interfere with animal’s life cycles

Understand which wildlife species are most sensitive to disturbance and when they are most sensitive to disturbance (i.e. nesting season)*

Respect the routine needs of animals – remember that others will attempt to photograph them, too

 Use appropriate lenses to photograph wild animals – if an animal shows stress, move back and use a longer lens

 Acquaint yourself with the fragility of the ecosystem – stay on trails that are intended to lessen impact

Social: Knowledge of Rules and Laws

When appropriate inform managers or other authorities of your presence and purpose – help minimize cumulative impacts and maintain safety

 Learn the rules and laws of the location – if minimum distances exist for approaching wildlife, follow them

Understand the provisions of the Alberta Wildlife Act, and federal Migratory Bird Convention Act and Species At Risk Act related to the protection of wildlife and their habitats, including nests, dens and hibernaculum

Understand the setback and timing criteria for activities in the vicinity of key habitats of sensitive wildlife species in the prairie and parkland region of Alberta (


Understand the status of wildlife in Alberta as outlined by the Alberta Endangered Species Conservation Committee ( , the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species, the

Alberta Wildlife Act and the federal Species At Risk Act.

In the absence of management authority, use good judgment – treat the wildlife, plants and places as if you were their guest

 Prepare yourself and your equipment for unexpected events – avoid exposing yourself and others to preventable mishaps

Individual: Expertise and Responsibilities

Treat others courteously – ask before joining others already shooting in an area

 Tactfully inform others if you observe them engaging in inappropriate or harmful behavior–many people unknowingly endanger themselves and animals

 Report inappropriate behavior to proper authorities – don’t argue with those who don’t care, report them.


Violations of the Alberta Wildlife Act, Migratory Bird Convention Act or Species At Risk Act should be reported immediately to:

Report A Poacher (1-800-642-3800)

Be a good role model, both as a photographer and a citizen – educate others by your actions; enhance their understanding


Adopted February 3, 1996 by NANPA Board of Directors

*Bolded sections added to make the principles more applicable to Alberta and Canada

bird - lake isle, ab