Saturday, January 30, 2010

Up or down?

There was a "for better or for worse" cartoon a number of years back, where the daughter is visiting rural Winnipeg from Ontario, and makes a comment about the lack of scenery.  Her cousin replies that it all depends on where you're looking.

near Hartney, July 2005

near Brandon, July 2005

near Carman, August 2005

near Deloraine, August 2005

near Oak Hammock Marsh, July 2005

I could spend a LOT of time on this particular subject!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Spruce Woods

Spruce Woods is an awesome area, a wooded oasis in the prairie.  Driving through the area, you might think you've gotten turned around, and are heading back into the shield! 

As a kid, Spruce Woods was a place to swim and to play, chasing frogs and climbing all over the playground, pretending we were on a real ship!  We always had picnics there, way fun! 

Our last trip to the area was in (wait for it) May of 2005. 

Sorry for the dark bits floating around on the sky - not sure if that was moisture in my camera, or light artifacts on the film.

Spruce Woods is unique, a forest built on sand dunes.  In the first photo, you can see how the hills look brownish?  That's desert-type vegetation!  Here are two photos of the kind of flowers that grow here.  Both of these were taken in October of 2004.

Afraid I don't know what either one is!

Here are some better photos of the sand hills, back to May of 2005.

I think both of these were taken near the Epinette trailhead, but not sure!

There are sandhills in the southwest, near Grande-Clairie (the Lauder Sandhills) and just outside of Brandon (the Kemnay Sandhills).  Both are attractive and great for birding, but neither is anywhere near as dramatic as Spruce Woods!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What you've been waiting for

The obligatory llamas-in-the-mist shot.

You didn't know you were waiting for it?

Well, glad to fulfill a need you didn't know existed!

Photographed July 31, 2005, near Hartney

Monday, January 25, 2010

On the waters edge

I love this photo - I like to pretend it was taken in the jungle, on a cliff, right near the ocean.  Maybe this is a small tributary, or a tidal pool.  Or maybe the whole area is just one small island!  Who knows what's waiting over these cliffs... 

Yeah.  Anyways... 

So this is actually part of the Souris River Bend wildlife management area, a neat spot where the water swirls and foams against the bank.  Maybe an oxbow?  Not sure.  We had to navigate an AWFUL road to get here, but we made it in (and out!) and what a great little hidden spot.  Not sure if I could find it again.  You can also see how high up some of the surrounding fields are, and how deep the Souris River valley is in places.  Photographed August 7, 2005.  One of my favorite things about digital cameras is that date feature! 

I got my current digital camera July 25, 2005.  Sometimes I miss film, but when I stop and think about how much I spent on processing, all those no-good shots that I still had to pay for...  All hail the mighty and wondrous delete button! 

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A colorful shore

Oak Hammock Marsh is another spot I like to go to, and take lots of scenic-type photographs, but most, once out of the camera, don't impress me.  It's a profoundly flat area, great for sunsets, and wonderful for birds, but large-scale scenic photos usually seem to, well, fall flat.  At least for me!  I do have some nice photos of the area however.  This one is simple, but I liked the color of the shoreline. 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Back to the old Pinawa dam

I love the shield country...  It's so hard to visit any of the best spots through most of the spring and summer, at least on the weekends, though!

These spots come by their popularity honestly. 

More photos from the old Pinawa dam:

That's a blond-colored rock in the middle - when I first looked at this photo, I thought it was a waterfall!  Maybe that rock did have water rushing over it in the past... 

Some guides describe the area as reminiscent of Roman aqueduct.  I don't know about that, but it's a fascinating place - nature reclamation at its best!

And just in case you think it's all rocks there, think again!  There's a very pretty meadow between the parking area and the dam.

Did I mention these pics were taken in May of 2005?

Friday, January 22, 2010


May you have a breakthrough, right when you need it...

Right when all seems darkest...

Lloyd's Gorge - the story

Well, I'm sure after a second look (or maybe after the first) the picture I posted yesterday was clearly not a mountainous valley.  It is actually an example of riverbank erosion in cropland. 

Here is what the whole area looked like a few days prior:

A minor stream, nothing that got in the way of planting crop.  But here's what it looks like to the left: 

For perspective, that's a fully-grown teenager regarding the carnage.  The woods that you can see are framing the riverbank.  The (Souris) River is actually quite a bit lower than the surrounding croplands, along most of its path through the area.  Here's another view of the "gorge", from which I cropped the photo posted yesterday. 

Another reason why tractors are so tall!  Can you imagine driving up to this?  You wouldn't see it until you were right on top of it...  Or right inside of it!  That's all mud and clay, good luck climbing out! 

How funny that the stream of water looks so small, so inocuous... 

A little more water visible here:

You can see the water working its way to the river, but the river is lower down still, not visible in this photo.  That fence post is suspended in mid-air, by the way!  That large "hump" of dirt is further towards the river. 

They apparently filled in the "gorge" later on, and I haven't been to check it out since I took these photos (in July of 2005).  Maybe this year!  I think these photos were taken with a disposable camera. 

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Still no new drawing, but there's progress!  In the meantime, have a flower or a hundred...  I think these are begonias, photo taken at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg. 

Lloyds Gorge

It doesn't actually have a name, that's just the name I gave it.  This photo is a teaser - more pictures to follow!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Petroforms themselves

Wasn't sure whether to include photos of the petroforms themselves - they are more often photographed than the surrounding area.  But doesn't seem right to exclude them!

Most resemble turtles

But not all of them did.

Everything you read about these formations warns you not to move the stones.  I can't even imagine what sort of person would even think of doing that!  I wonder if they're monitored...

Actually, I like to imagine that they are monitored, continually.  Just not by any park staff, that's all!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Petroforms - Whiteshell

I had seen photos of the petroforms, and it looked like a neat spot!  Definitely worth a quick visit.  There is a parking lot right off of the highway, then you take a short trail through the woods.  You come upon the site rather suddenly, and did it ever throw me for a loop! 

I'm not sure what I was expecting, to have it impress me so deeply, but impress me it did.  The whole area feels "charged".  I make no attempt to explain it whatsoever, it just "feels" different.  The whole area is rock, with amazing vegetation clinging to life in small mats overtop.  The petroforms themselves were much bigger than I expected - for some reason, I thought they were small - a couple of feet across.  But they are large, perfectly sized to function as burial circles, the largest being about 6 or 7 feet long.  That was my first impression, though I had read that the original usage of the area remains unknown. 

It's not the first sacred site I've been to, but it definitely the most powerful.

I figure the "haze" in the following photo is some sort of light artifact, a couple of my photographs appeared a little bit hazy.  Maybe even a processing flaw.  Funny thing is, I didn't notice it at all until the photo was scanned.  It was visible on the print, once I knew to look for it, but shows up much more on the computer.

No matter, I think I'll believe this is a photograph of the resident spirits - or at least the spirits visiting at that time! 

Monday, January 11, 2010

Old Pinawa Dam

Another trip made in May of 2005 - yes, it WAS a good month!  I had a heckuva time picking out a couple of photos of this gorgeous spot!  It's one of those places where there is so much to see!  This was our first visit to the area - attempted another visit last year, but the place was so full there wasn't even any place to park!  Word must have gotten out.

We saw a pair of Common Loons to the left of where the photo above was taken, and a water snake to the right!

And just for good luck, another photo taken at Hecla (also May of 2005)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Riverbank Discovery Center, Brandon

I like this place, really!  But I usually find it to be just a wee bit unphotogenic.  Not sure why, exactly.  It's not that my eye requires pine trees and undulating skylines.  Maybe because of its scale - the cells around the center are much smaller than those at Whitewater, or Oak Hammock.  Maybe my bias is showing - I haven't made any memorable sightings there.  Granted, its usually been a "stop", and I've never taken much time to explore it.  Maybe this year!

I did manage to catch some interesting rose-colored light one time.  May of 2005, of course.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Seven Sisters - Alternate viewpoint

If you continue past the picnic area, where you can go down to the falls and see the pelicans, there is a parking area and rough trail where you can get a different view of the water.  In May of 2005, we took this path and it rained on us, turning the path into a muddy, slippery mess!  The view was worth it though, and we got to see an American Redstart up close.  Even managed to get back *up* the trail and to the car!

Another photo as a reminder that beauty is where you find it.  I think I could photoshop those power lines out pretty easily, but I kind of like it the way it is.  Photographed in Souris, April of 2004.  See the little "wisp" on the upper left hand side?  This was apparently a hair that worked its way into my camera.  It didn't show up on all of my pictures, not even the same type of picture.  Mysterious. 

Friday, January 8, 2010

Junco with an eyering

I saw this bird in May of 2004, but sat on the pictures since because they are AWFUL!  I never quite figured out how to take window photographs with that camera - I have a few decent pics taken with it, but that's out of a TON of b-l-u-r-r-y ones. 

And here's some that aren't blurry!  First, another photograph from Hecla, also taken in May of 2005.  This is just such an insanely beautiful area!  I don't know if the strip on this birch was removed by a person - but a LOT of the trees in Hecla are stripped like this... 

And a bonus sunset.  This was taken June of 2005, I *think* in the neighborhood of Fort Whyte Alive, but I'm not positive. 

Thursday, January 7, 2010

West Hawk Lake before thaw

Still scanning!  This photo was taken at West Hawk Lake, in the Whiteshell, in April of 2003.  We were curious to check out the area in early spring, and it was our first visit without a TON of people around!  The water was still mostly frozen, and looked gorgeous!  So clear - you can see the first few feet of sand, before the bottom becomes pebbly.  We also saw a very bold Whitetail on our drive out of the beach area - I'll scan that photo when I come to it as well!  Wonder what it would be like to have photos in *gasp* order?  Mine are such a schmozzle... 

(Click to enlarge)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

We'll call this a vacation

I love new projects.  Nothing to do with the new year, I start them any time of year!  Check out my nature blog for my latest project - scanning in all of my analog photos (prints from film cameras).  I'm guessing I've got somewhere between 10 and 15 thousand...  Hoping to be done by spring! 

Here is a photo taken at Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park, in May of 2005.  (Click to enlarge)

More blasts from the past, and (probably) a spark bird

The scanning game continues, about 150 today.  I think however that my estimate of 10,000 was conservative...  Thinking it's probably more like 12-15 thousand.  Sigh!

Oh well, it's fun going through them, especially the photos of spring and summer!

I don't actually remember this moment, but I marked the photo as being "hwy Bdn to Wpg", so this was either a side road along the Trans Canada, or I had no idea!  Taken in September of 2004.

See that clump of grass in the middle?  A few seconds after I took this shot, a big brown thing appeared, then hightailed it outta there - a moose!!  This picture was taken from the little turn-in right after the welcome sign at Hecla-Grindstone.  We saw our first moose within minutes of entering the park!  Must have used up all of our luck though - been back several times and have never seen another.  Photo taken May of 2005.

This may be my spark bird.  Just maybe.  A "spark bird" is the bird that makes you want to quit looking at birds, and become a birder.  This picture was taken September of 2004.  Pictured is a very lost female Harlequin Duck.  My poor old camera just wasn't made for bird photography!  This was the first bird we "twitched" (not sure if it counts as twitching if it's in your own city) after hearing about it on the Manitobabirds list. 

It was an educational experience.  How great to see the bird we came to see!  But it appeared lethargic, and seemed awkward on land.  We expressed these thoughts to a few of the birders present, and got no response.  None.  Later on the list, somebody commented on its tameness, to which I responded that it appeared "under the weather".  No response.  A later email updated us - the bird had been taken in by Zoo staff, and died later.  How odd, that a good experience for us came about due to this poor bird's own misfortune.  Some other time maybe, we shall wax poetic and philosophize over such issues. 

In the meantime, here is another photo taken at beautiful Hecla, also in May of 2005, during the same trip as the previous photo.

(Click to enlarge)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Brief December Trip

Hadn't taken a trip in months, and Christmas offers the perfect excuse - visiting!  So it was that we left Winnipeg on the 27th.  Had wanted to leave Boxing Day, but the snow was a bit scary, especially when the plan is to travel rarely-used roads in a 19-year old car!  Our first day was for driving and visiting, no birding officially done, although we did see a Snowy Owl and a Black-Billed Magpie while coasting down the Trans-Canada!

We headed down to the Souris area for our birding.  I was hoping for Snow Buntings!  Alas, no such luck.  There were two flocks of small birds that we saw from too far a distance that could have been such, but no good enough looks.  We did get some good views of a flock of Starlings at the Souris dump, but it wasn't quite the same!

We tried to turn this into a Fox Squirrel, but I'm thinking it's a Gray...

At one of the marshes in the area, we could see a bird hanging out on top of a duck nest.  Tried to get closer, and the bird apparently scooted inside!  Much too far to make out any detail.  Darn it!


We made up for our bad luck with two other Snowy Owls:  One far away,

And one not so far away!

We also had a bonus Red Fox.

All in all a nice trip, it's always good to get out of the city!