Monday 27 April 2015

Calgary Druid Walk at Confederation Park

Our first official Druid Walk was held Sunday April  26 in Confederation Park. There were four of us and one big dog.

Spring is coming! - Confederation Park 
Confederation Park is a beautiful old park in a long narrow ravine. The grass is starting to turn green and some of the leaves are opening up.

We arrived at 10:30 am at the eastern edge of the park ready to start a new tradition. Once we were all gathered, we headed out, walking along the paths and on the grass, under trees and over bridges to the western edge of the park at 14th St W.  Our walk was about an hour long with plenty of stops to get closer looks at the various trees and plants  along our way.   Next time I will bring a tree identification book.

Wouldn't a tree guide app be helpful?

Also, a birders handbook would be

There were other people in the park, small groups mostly, with families and pets, even some trying to fly a kite.  There seemed to be quite a large group of people in among the ducks.

Duck Duck Duck Duck Duck Goose
Besides just seeing plenty of ducks and geese we learned of  a silly game called "Duck Butts".  Ask about it at the next gathering, if you are curious!

One of many bridges - Confederation Park

I lost count of the number of bridges we crossed during our walk. The water was low and easy going, for now.  In another month or so the mountain run off will bring more water  to Calgary and some through this ravine.   We crossed on stepping stones which will be submerged later on in the year. 

Wetland - Confederation Park

This area is designed as a natural wetland and is quite a contrast to the more manicured sections of the park. The birds must love it here.   To the north and south of the park, beautiful homes over look the ravine.  It is amazing to me that when you are down in the center of the valley, you really don't notice the houses.   What a beautiful back yard to have!

Wetland explanation - Confederation Park

A nice surprise were these Pussy Willows near the end of the walk.    They don't last long and will be gone before I get a chance to come back.

Pussy Willows - Confederation Park

Here and there we saw broken branches from last years early snowfall. The city employees had been busy with the clean up.   There are lots of great picnic spots and perfect places to play.  Bocce ball and croquet sound like perfect ways to enjoy a Sunday afternoon in the park.

April 2015 - Confederation Park - Calgary

Each month, on the 4th Sunday, we will have a Calgary Druid walk and explore some of the many parks we have in our city.  I am looking forward to discovering many interesting natural places!

Thursday 23 April 2015

An afternoon at Carburn Park

Carburn Park Entrance
Yesterday I had a wonderful walk at Carburn Park with a friend. She knew I couldn't resist an invitation that included "it has deer and trees!" I was hooked.  The park is along between the Bow River and the neighborhood of River Bend, in SE Calgary.

We started along the path with a pond on one side and a lawn on the other, but soon veered off the paved path and headed west,  towards the Bow River.

I was surprised to see the effects of the 2013 Flood.  Debris among the trees was still there, indicating the high water level.  There was  tonnes and tonnes of river rock pushed up by the raging Bow. It was it beautiful and peaceful now, and somewhat hard to imagine. 

River Rock at Carburn Park

Gravel and River Rock from the 2013 Flood Carburn Park

Flood evidence - Caburn Park, Calgary

We walked to the water, a channel (not the main part of the Bow)and then turned back to the trees. I was amazed to see what can be only described as a whimsical, yet natural, fairie house, complete with a little inuksuk and a stone cairn.
Inuksuk - Carburn Park

I added my own stone pile to the spot before we ventured further into the woods. A person could spend all day picking and arranging the stones and rocks, and never have to use the same one twice.

Stone Pile - Carburn Park

This giant old poplar tree must have been hit by lightening at some time, but was alive and strong. It certainly brings to mind the saying "Never Give Up!"

Lightning Tree - Carburn Park

The poplar trees were just starting to leaf out, but overall everything was still brown.  We almost didn't see this little deer, munching on the new grass shoots, standing in the bushes only a few feet away from where we walked.  We only saw one, but I am sure there were others watching us. 

White Tailed Deer - Carburn Park

Further along the path we saw a Mourning Cloak Butterfly   just sitting on a leaf on the ground.  That is the first butterfly I have seen this year.  I was starting to think there could not possibly be anymore surprises on this walk.

Mourning Cloak Butterfly - Carburn Park

Then we came to the most amazing old tree. This tree is huge.  I could not take an adequate picture of it with my phone. It is massive and partially hollow.  There are many hollow branches, and I saw a duck fly right into the open hole, just above my head.  I didn't see what kind of duck it was,  but am going to guess it was a Wood Duck.  

Heritage Tree - Carburn Park

The tree had a plaque designating it as a Heritage Tree, from 1907! 

Heritage Tree - Carburn Park

Now I am on the trail of more Heritage Trees, starting first with a search for the book "Heritage Trees of Alberta"

There is lots of evidence of beavers leaving and chewing in the park.  Some trees are protected with wire mesh around the trunks.  But, not everything is safe from the beavers.   I did see their lodge,   in the pond in the center of the park, but did not actually see any beavers.


I will be going back to Carburn Park thought the year, as the seasons change. 
p.s. they have ice skating on the pond in the winter!

Tuesday 21 April 2015

An afternoon on Nose Hill

I often walk in Nose Hill Park and if I remember,  bring my camera along!     The grass is just starting to turn green, and if you look closely you will see it starting to poke up through the cover of last years stems.
There are many large rocks in the park called  erratics,  left behind by retreating glaciers.  I took a picture of this small one to show the lichens,  green and gold that almost completely cover the rock surface.

Lichen covered rock on Nose Hill, Calgary

The park is a  huge grassland hill, with a flat top, but there are plenty of trees in the gullies.  Here are two small poplars  forming a gateway out in the middle of nowhere. The leaves are just about to open.  Last years long grass will soon give way to fresh new grass.

Gateway on Nose Hill 

The view to the southwest is breathtaking. You look right over the rest of the city and can see the Rocky Mountains in the not too far distance. It seams like you could just walk to them, although the trip would take a while, since it is about 100 kms.

Rocky Mountains view from Nose Hill park

The best part of a spring walk in the grasslands is finding a patch of Crocuses.  I was well rewarded for climbing up the hill, as the East facing slopes were covered in the fuzzy little purple flowers.  Ever since I was a child, the three signs of spring were:  The first Robin, a Red Winged Blackbird, and the Prairie Crocus.  ( I still have to search for the Red Winged Blackbird)

Prairie Crocus - Nose Hill Calgary

Sunday 19 April 2015

Observations from Nature - April

On my walk today I was surprised how dry the grass was. There was no water laying around and barely a cloud in the sky, and I began to wish for rain. What I did see were crows! Lots and lots of crows. I hope they are bringing rain.

I stopped to take a few pictures to share here, wanting to show some of the prairie  plants.  The first was up on the top of a hill in an old gravel pit.   On first look the spot has plenty of sunshine and wind, and not much else; until you look closer.  

Bloom where you are planted!

Near the end of my walk, in a neighbour hood green space I noticed this young poplar tree and it's amazing out stretched roots. I must have been getting tired and focusing on the ground more than usual as I don't recall ever noticing how the roots spread out in a sunburst pattern.

I hope you enjoy this little look from around here on a walk with a local Calgary Druid.