Friday, May 16, 2008

Prairie Delights

Cappuccino Topping

Back on Highway #1 after stopping to pick up a coffee in Chestermere, I headed my truck towards Bassano where I had a client to meet with. I would be way to early for my appointment but that would give me plenty of time to check out the Bassano Dam located on the Bow river that I had not checked out in several years. I suspect most people drive right by Bassano not aware that this dam on the Bow river even exists. The Bassano Dam is located approximately 8 kilometers south west of the Town of Bassano. Construction of the dam commenced in 1910 with the official dam opening taking place on April 24, 1914. The Bassano Dam was unique because of the dam's composite character, great length, and depth of water which would flow over the crest during flood periods. The dam is a symbol of the challenges faced by the early pioneers to overcome obstacles and make irrigation farming a viable and prosperous agricultural enterprise in Western Canada. Check it out the next time you find yourself going by Bassano.

I turned off of Highway 1 at Bassano and took the backroad on the south side of town out to the dam, taking my time as there was no hurry to get back to Bassano till closer to noon. I mentioned lately that I have been spotting hawks in every direction while out of town and today was no different. I turned down another sideroad to get closer to a grove of trees that held several nests. Immediately a male Swanson's Hawk took to the sky and did several close fly-bys over me warning me to back-off. Looking closer I realized that there actually were two hawks nest and both were occupied by two pairs of Swanson's. The two males were overhead at the same time and turned their attention from me to each other and it was trilling to watch as they bluff charged one another before flying back to their respective trees.
I pulled in to the parking area at the dam and could not help but notice that there were Brewer's Blackbirds in abundance. I had no problem getting one to sit still while I shot his photo. You may mistake a Brewer's Blackbird for a Common Grackle but the Brewer's is smaller, more slender, and square tailed. Also the Brewer's prefers open farm land, although I sometimes see them in my neighbourhood in Calgary. After crossing over the dam I followed the road south for a ways but before long I determined that it basically went nowhere. I confirmed this with both my GPS and my mapbook. So I turned around with some care as the road was somewhat muddy from the recent rain that had fallen.

Crossing back over the dam I headed back to Bassano for my meet with my client. Once that was handled I took a sideroad out of town and headed north in the general direction of Calgary. I had spotted a old abandoned house and I wanted to check out if a photo-op existed. I was driving along day-dreaming and almost missed what turned out to be a fox lying by a rail-right-of-way that soon became three young fox cubs near the entrance of their den. As I pulled up close by and being they were on the passenger side of my truck, I rolled the window down and snapped a series of insurance shots freehand. Now I have to tell you that I did not see any reason why I would not get more captures.
Well- you know where this is going as the best laid plans sometimes go wrong. A train whistle in the distance and growing louder as a train soon pulled in to sight putting the fox's down. After a half hour I gave up and vowing to return soon I moved on down the road. I found my old house nearby and after a number of captures while exploring the abandoned property I once more headed home thinking that maybe I should take the crowfoot ferry across the Bow and trek across Siksika territory up to Arrowhead and check on a Great Horned Owl's nest that should have owlets standing on the nest by now. Or maybe I could strike north from Mosseleigh up to the Bow and check on that Great Blue Heron rookery, or maybe.....Catch you later.
Once A Oasis

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