Nearby Nature – May 2015

I attribute my higher than usual dosage of vitamin N* this month to three things:

  1. I added Mr. GeoK as a FitBit friend and the step competition between us this first month has been pretty fierce!
  2. I joined the 30×30 nature challenge, which encourages participants to spend 30 minutes outside for 30 days this month.
  3. Spring weather means it’s time to do yard clean-up, plant the vegetable garden and tend to the flower beds.

male-house-finchI’ve particularly enjoyed the wide range of birdsong. Robins, finches, sparrows, chickadees, sparrows join in song each morning (a little earlier than I prefer, truth be told). Magpies and crows add an irritating bit of dissonance. And I’ve also heard a hawk’s cry as it hangs in the sky over a south-facing hillside park just a few minutes walk from home. One afternoon this week I paused on my walk home from the nearest grocery store to watch a hawk hunting (it caught at least one mouse while I was watching). Male house finches have landed several times on the spruce tree just outside my home office, one for long enough that I could take it’s photo (through three panes of grass).

Despite a blanket of snow one day earlier in the month, a couple of days of steady rain and some gusting wind, our flowering apple tree looked absolutely beautiful for more than the usual one day/year. While I start sneezing when the lilacs bloom, I enjoy the distinctive scent of apple blossoms. The fragrant, showy flowers of Mayday and other ornamental trees in the neighbourhood contrast nicely against the bright green leaves that unfurl in spring.

I set my camera on a tripod and used a longer exposure to show how even a gentle wind causes the thinnest branches to sway.

glacial-erraticI find it’s easy to overlook things if you walk past them several times a week, year after year. So one day this month I dug out the fisheye lens that came with my set of Photojojo phone camera lenses and set out to look at things a little differently. One of many stops was at this big rock sitting in a neighbourhood park. This 40 tonne quartzite boulder originates from Mt. Edith Cavell, near Jasper. According to the nearby information sign, it was carried here on the back of Cordilleran ice sheets tens of thousands of years ago, during the last Ice Age. It was dropped nearby when the glacier melted. Geologists call single pieces of debris dropped by glaciers erratics and many pieces glacial till. This particular erratic is part of a narrow scattering of rocks, extending about 640 km from West Central Alberta to Montana, called the Foothills Erratic Train. When the neighbourhood was built, the developer moved the rock and installed it next to a children’s playground. Some days, it’s more popular with the kids than any of the playground equipment!

A few different kinds of butterflies and several types of bees and hornets have been enjoying the flowers in our backyard. I’m on the hunt for a bee’s nest in our backyard and hope to photograph one of the big bumblebees flying into or out of the opening some time soon. I chased a couple of Rocky Mountain Mule Deer out of the yard one night earlier this week because they were chewing the leaves and blossoms off my apple fruit tree. All-in-all, it’s been a great month for observing nearby nature.

Please read this post if you’re interested in the rationale for this series of Nearby Nature posts. This month I came across two more articles that further support my determination to notice nearby nature each time I’m out and about in my west Calgary neighbourhood.

  1. The first one appeared on the Children and Nature Network site, written by Richard Louv: THE HELSINKI ALERT: Prestigious International Group of Scientists and Health Experts Calls for Cities Rich in Nature.
  2. This article by Trevor Hancock titled Arts, nature and well-being are all connected appealed to me as a photographer and an outdoors person.

How’s your nature habit developing? Notice anything particularly interesting this month? Please leave a comment to share your observations, ask a question or to recommend a related resource.

*Vitamin N = time spent in Nature

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