After our trip to Hinton we spent a quiet afternoon at our cabin. I spent an hour or so trying to identify the bugs I photographed in Hinton but wasn’t making much progress, so I decided to walk around the Pine Bungalows property to see if I could get some better photos of the Mountain Chickadees. However, when I heard a couple of Black-billed Magpies calling from somewhere nearby, I went looking for these birds instead as they are not as common in Jasper as they are in Sherwood Park. I knew they had been hanging out somewhere along the road beyond the laundry, and it didn’t take me long to find four of them, perhaps a family group, foraging on the ground beneath the trees.
On Friday, July 13th my fiancé and I flew to Alberta for our summer vacation. My family had lived there when I was younger, and my sister lives there still; she was getting married the following weekend in Jasper National Park which was the main reason for our trip. Our plan was to spend our first weekend in Sherwood Park (a large hamlet just east of Edmonton) to visit old friends before heading to Jasper on Monday.
It was the first time I had been to Alberta since my best friend’s wedding in 2000. I was excited to be back, for nature hadn’t interested me at all while I was living there and I was hoping to see some “new” birds, mammals and insects. My mom has told me stories about owls on our property (we had lived on a wooded 2.5-acre lot east of the city), Black Terns breeding in the slough near our house, and a jack rabbit that we had rescued from under our deck, but I don’t remember them at all. I don’t even remember the Black-billed Magpies that are everywhere out west….although I’m sure I must have seen one, I couldn’t in good conscience add it to my life list! I do recall the large, noisy flocks of Sandhill Cranes flying south high over our house in the autumn and the Blue Jays that lived in the woods behind our house. They were so used to my mom feeding them peanuts that whenever she tapped the peanuts on the deck railing they would fly in to get some. I was 14 when we moved there from Ontario, and 21 when we left.