Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Last week-end, I was down south of Langdon at McKinnon Flats checking on the Bow, and while I was out that way I saw my first flock of Tundra Swans fly overhead on their way out to feed in nearby fields. Lately, I have been checking on the website 'Alberta Bird' and was aware that there were reports of the arrival of various water-birds that have been spotted throughout southern Alberta, since their arrival from their winter-homes in the southern US. With that in mind, I decided that I would take a drive and check on a few of the wetlands south and east of Calgary. The day held a lot of promise as I drove eastward towards the dawn breaking on the horizon, and at the same time enjoying my first coffee of the day. My radios were alive with the chatter of Ham's on the various bands that I checked in on, and before long I was working guy's on 80 meters in the western states of California, Washington, and Oregon. Upon reaching Carsland, I turned south down the gravel road that leads in to Johnson's Island for a quick look as to what was happening. In past years this area as proven to be a hot spot for Tundra Swans, probably due to the fact that the river and surrounding channels are free of ice early in the spring. This morning proved to be no different with the ice gone, and there were a few Tundra swans about, although I suspect the majority of the swans were in near-by fields feeding. Once back on highway 24, I headed south of Carsland towards Mossleigh, where I always am pleased to see the three elevators off in the distance that give the town its identity. With the sun now above the horizon, the skies were alive with flocks of both Geese and swans on the move for fields where they would set down for brunch. I was pleased to get several photos of Tundra Swans that were foraging in a field near highway 24. The swans were in good shape after their flights up from the US. Of course, they were in no particular hurry, as they are well aware that there is a lot of winter left to the north in their nesting grounds of the Territories. As I approached the corner store at the junction of highway 24 and highway 23, I was pleased to hear my friend Brian-VE6XX check in on 3700mhz. Brian lives on a acreage near the town of Champion, and he also was making his way in to High River for coffee. We chatted about all things un-important and made comments as to the condition of the bands that would prove to be superb throughout the day. We were joined on 3700mhz by other Ham's scattered throughout Alberta and BC on our drive in to High River. I made several more stops for photos that presented themselves from time to time. Our timing proved to be spot on, as we both arrived at the Heritage Inn in High River moments apart. I was pleased upon entering the restaurant to see a good size group who had gathered for our saturday morning ritual know as the coffee klatch. After several hours of good company, I decided to head back up to Calgary as I had planned on doing some spring clean-up in the yard that normally would not happen this early in the spring. With it being not only spring, but very spring like, I wanted to get this work done and out of my way. I was more than pleased to find the bands wide open on the drive up to Calgary. I pulled over and changed out my monobander antenna for my multi-band antenna, and while spinning the vfo on 17 meters, I hooked up with Joe-MI0JAT in Castlederg, Northern Ireland. That pleased me to no end as there were huge pile-ups wishing to work him, and I managed to be heard by Joe from my mobile. Joe and I passed pleasantries back and forth for a few minutes, while the throng waited patiently for our contact to end. Moments later upon saying "73" - Joe was once more bombarded with Ham's from across the US and Canada wishing to make a contact with him. All in all, it was a great morning out and about in southern Alberta. Now where did I put that rake!

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