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Magpie tracks in fresh snow

The imprint of a magpies wing and tail are left behind in fresh snow

Magpie wingprint

After a couple centimeters of fresh, powdery snow, I went for a walk at the Strathcona Science Park along the North Saskatchewan River. In one area there were nearly a dozen spots where a magpie had dropped into the snow, leaving these beautiful impressions of its wing tips and long tail—thrown into beautiful detail by the low angle of the sun these days. I couldn’t tell what it was after under the snow, and I didn’t see any other magpie tracks outside of this one small area. If you have ever seen something similar, I’d love to hear you think this bird might have been up to.

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Grouse tracks

Fresh Ruffed Grouse footprints in deep snow at Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary

Grouse tracks in fresh snow

I was sent a photo recently of an unidentified bird out at Elk Island National Park that turned out to be a Ruffed Grouse. The same day I had been out taking photographs at Ministik Lake Game Bird Sanctuary, which is just south of Elk Island, and had come across a fair number of grouse tracks in the dusting of fresh snow that had fallen overnight (this photo was taken at Ministik, but a couple years ago). The tracks are quite distinctive with the wide snowshoe-like toes, and it’s interesting to see where the birds come and go. Keep an eye out for these next time you’re in the fresh snow.

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Alberta's drying lakes

Tracks along drying channel

Tracks along drying channel

Recently, Dan Jurak, one of my favourite Edmonton-area photographers and blogger, published an image on his photo blog that reminded me so strongly of this photograph of mine taken this past summer, that at first I thought they could have been taken at the same place. It turns out it’s not the same location, but similar compositions and similar subject matter—Alberta’s lakeshores are turning to mudflats (and our mudflats are turning to grasslands). I took this photo at the Ministik Game Bird Sanctuary, near the location of the photo in another recent entry of mine, it’s a different lake, but the same trend. I like the moodiness of this photo, with the somewhat threatening sky and the animal footprints receding towards the remnant lake.

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