Thursday, August 18, 2011


Summer is winding down here in central Alberta. Two nights ago it was 4 degrees. Today we could feel the snow from the mountains in the air currents. It's supposed to get warm this weekend, but we've only had a handful of days with temperatures over 25 C.
I thought I'd better take some pictures of favorite wild plants before the frost comes and blackens everything.

Below is Burdock. I let it grow in front of my barn door because  I like the thistle-like flowers. As soon as they turn into burrs though I will uproot it, as the burrs stick to everything, even the short coats of the mastiffs.

In the wood by the house I found the following mushroom varieties within a short walk. The canopy is so dense that very little sunlight penetrates to the floor, which makes taking pictures difficult. The trees are maple, spruce, willow and aspen or poplar. There are also some elderberry bushes, saskatoons, honeysuckle, hawthorn and caragana. I found these big toadstools first under some fallen willow.  I tried identifying these with online sources but found them inadequate, so I will go get a book and identify these in a following post. Feel free to let me know what you think they may be.

These are very large, about a foot high.

These funghi were around the roots of a tree. They are about 4-5 inches long and have black caps. They were at the base of a maple tree.

This handsome specimen had a warty and colorful top. It is about 7 inches high.

These look just like sea sponges and are very small and grow in semi-circles.

This little mushroom is about 3 inches high and was growing on a dead tree root.

I'll keep looking for more. I haven't included any of the tree funghi, that will be for a later post.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mystery Solved

Remember my mystery guest from two posts previous? I found out what his name is. It is:



The Sora is the most common rail in North America. It is a freshwater marsh bird, very secretive and difficult to spot.

This link has a photo and a good clip of his strange whinnying call:

I identified him using a Lone Pine book "Birds of Alberta" which is a very good guide. I really like the Lone Pine series for identifying birds and plants.

He does remind me of Feathers McGraw from Wallace & Gromit's The Wrong Trousers. I wonder if he wears a rubber glove on his head as a rooster disguise. I'll have to keep an eye out for trouble in the henhouse.