Red Deer River Naturalists

The Red Deer river Naturalists are a group dedicated to learning about and preserving natural history. They have regular programs with speakers and many field trips.


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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Early snow Surprises Some Species.

     We have had snow and very cool temperatures for about ten days now.  It's a surprise . We can get snow and cold this early but the temperature usually rises and the snow melts.

     So at 7:00 A M Oct. 23, I looked out and saw a Jack rabbit in the intersection. This one didn't have much white on him so he was very obvious. 

    Now I know there are other years when snow is very late to make it's appearance so there are white Jack rabbits which are obvious. So I would guess that there are very few years where the turning of color corresponds to the snow cover.

    I'm sure that many ducks got a nasty surprise when the ponds froze over early this year.

    Let me know of some of the things you noticed this year because of the early snow and cold.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Large Seagull Flight

    On Monday Oct. 22, I saw a  very large number of seagulls flying over Red Deer. They seemed to be flying along Piper Creek which is a ravine on the south side of the city. The ravine angles to the southeast.

    I was out walking and just happened to notice seagulls flying by. Then I noticed that there was a continuous line of gulls. They were in a fairly dense formation about 50 m wide. They flew by for 10 minutes without a break. Other gulls seemed to come from the west and join the flight . I would estimate that there were thousands of birds.
    The birds wee probably 200 m high and it looked like most of them were young birds . They were too high to identify and I didn't take any field glasses with me. 

    Now were these birds heading south or were they on some local flight? 

   Has anybody else seen a large  line of gulls fly by ?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

James Glasier : Ants of Alberta

    James Glasier gave an enthusiastic talk on ants to the Red Deer river Naturalists on Oct. 25 1012. James is a graduate student at the U of A and his specialty is ants.

    James has done some field work and found around another 50 species of ants in Alberta. This makes 92 species in Alberta. A couple of species are found only in Alberta. Several species are in the at risk category. Most of his studies were done a short distance north east of Edmonton where he set out ant traps and then went to work identifying what he caught. It's painstaking work to identify ants because to begin with ants are very small. The details of color, shape and size  used for identification makes it a challenging effort.

    James also covered a wide range of ant behavior. Many ants are parasitic on each other. There are many ingenious forms of parasitism used by ants. Organization and size of colonies also varies greatly.

   So quite a few people who just thought ants, so what?, came away with a completely different view of ants.

   This was James's first public presentation and he did an excellent job and I would highly recommend him as a speaker.