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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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