Spring & Summer birding – plus family

We have so enjoyed getting out birding, especially under the circumstances we face with COVID-19.  Also because Bill is well enough to do it, after his brush with death.  Birding is something we’re passionate about & have enjoyed together since we met.  (After all, it’s how we met!). Spring is so slow this year, but the birds are still pushing north.  A friend in BC sent me a photo of her daffodils (or are they narcissus?) which she rescued from snow.


My dear cousin Janet sent along a shot of her first crocus of spring – seen on Nose Hill in Calgary.


Our dear Primo, Murray Larson, passed away on Feb. 9th, just as Cofid19 impacts were impacting the world.  It disrupted family & friends from attending his funeral.  His younger brother Lorne, flew over from England but was not allowed to see anyone – he turned around & flew home.  Others were too uncomfortable to attend.  What a sad time for his dear Patsy, though in the end the service was held for at least a few friends & relatives.  Our Murray was the instigator of Primo Nights, which were celebrated for around 20 years at his home with a potluck dinner & lots of laughter. We will miss you dear Mur.


Covid19: no one is immune from its influence.  As a matter of fact, 2 of our best friends contracted the virus somewhere on their way back from Sri Lanka in early February.  Lorne & Joey started feeling symptoms a day or so after returning from a projected 3-month stay, cutting it short at the encouragement of their family & friends.  Only Joey was hospitalized, but just for a few hours, while they treated her asthma symptoms with an inhaler, then sent her home.  They suffered for around 6 weeks – feeling very punk, with symptoms of nausea & weakness.  They survived the ordeal in a very unique way, which helped them get through it.  Many friends & relatives wanted to hear how they were doing & emailed them every day.  So they started a daily report to all of us, giving us the chance to reply & encourage them with our replies.  They were monitored by AB Health by phone (doctors & nurses) every other day or so, to be sure they were making progress.  I thank them for reaching out because it helped us also.  Joey lost about 15 pounds (& she’s such a little thing anyway) so we were worried about how she could gain weight.  It became a fun game of  friends giving advice on which things to eat to help her – ha ha.  Not living in Calgary I was unable to participate, or I would have taken them a batch of my cinnamon buns – however, I plan to make a batch when I next go to Calgary & leave it for them!  The first time Joey got up & got dressed, Lorne took a photo for us.  I think she looks beautiful!


Here is her main man, our dear friend Lorne (llooking very angelic with his halo).


When Joey eventually recovered & was able to go outside, she walked her daughter’s dog!


We are so very thankful they both have recovered from this terrible virus.  They are the only people we know who had it.

My dear cousin Jane Usher is clearing out a lifetime of belongings before she & Robyn put up the Cochrane house for sale.  Her mother’s wedding dress was among the boxes which garnered quite a bit of interest in our family.  My Mom & Betty Jackson made the dress for her but no wedding pictures exist,  BUT, Aunty Lois wore it to other events & this beautiful photo was unearthed of her wearing it out  with Uncle Jack for a special occasion.  I think they look like a couple of movie stars!


The dress has yellowed over the years, but Robyn is so tiny that she was able to put it on!


Jane also found this beautiful photo of Aunty Lois at about age 18.

80335C56-1E22-4423-9D52-8CE23ACC1FA6 One of the nicest signs of spring here on the prairies is the song of the Western Meadowlark.  This guy was the 2nd we heard (the 1st blowing in high winds where we stopped for lunch – couldn’t get a shot of him).  This one continued to sit on the barbed wire while we drove up.  My cousin Marty told me he is saying, “I’ll be back next year”!  I love that!


Spring was very slow coming this year.  There was lots of ice on the sloughs for a long time – obviously more than these 2 little muskrats were expecting, having to sit out in the open munching their snack.


Great Horned Owls  are one of the earliest birds to sit on a nest, even when there is lots of ice around & cold weather.


Obviously a successful owlet was raised.


Bill was practicing taking photos through his office window & captured this Robin.  They are one of the most common birds in town – & at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park,


He also captured this Northern Flicker eating peanut butter/cornmeal shoved into holes in a small log at our feeders.


Common House Finch is indeed very common around here & has one of the prettiest songs you can imagine.


What could brighten up your day more than a few Ameican. Goldfinches sitting on your feeders!  We had 8 at one time!


One of the impacts of Covid19 is wearing masks.  Since they seem to be hard to buy, lots of people are making their own.  I made these from some pillowcases.


One of the activities we’re enjoying while we’re stuck here at home, is jigsaw puzzles!


A Spotted Towhee showed up on a trip to Medicine Hat where we had some time to kill before an appointment, so we headed to Police Point Park.


The wildflowers are beautiful this year, due to all the moisture (including all the bloody snow).  This park bench (in Cypress Hills Park) is cordoned off due to Covid, but it doesn’t stop the beautiful low larkspur from blooming all around it among the chickweed.


Seeing our first western swallowtail butterfly.6


At Jones Peak, near Eastend, where we go to find a Rock Wren each year, these small alpine plants thrive even in the very high winds at the top.

I made Bill take this photo of a baby donkey at a ranch in Eastend as we drove along the canal to the dam.  So cure!


Everyone’s hair is getting long & I can now make a braid!


I sent this around & brother David said to ask Ben (his son) how his hair was doing:


OMG he looks exactly like David!  His sister Katherine has taken more drastic measures & shaved part of her head – and she looks beautiful!


On May 27th I finally made a trip in to get my hair cut by Jackie.  I have been with her for over 35 years & trust her implicitly as the expert on my hair.  I also stopped in to see Mom (wearing a mask & sitting 6’ apart) – & David came along!  As you can see, Mom has a hard time keeping her mask over her face!  She actually finds it a bit difficult to hear when she can’t also read lips!

On an early morning expedition to the Hills we saw this cowboy out with his 3 dogs in the mist.


And a Ruffed Grouse on the road .


I felt I should include lots of bird photos this time, since this is thek “birder’s post”!  Here are a selectiono of Bill’s photos taken this year.   This Loggerhead Shrike is a hunter & meat-eater.  He will impale insects on barbed wire (as well as other prey which I don’t like to mention).  A very pretty black, white & gray bird.


One of Bill’s favourites resides in the reeds alongside sloughs – the Common Yellowthroat.


Wilson’s Snipe often poses on fence posts – totally relaxed  with 1 leg tucked up.


Red-winged Blackbird has one of the most recognized songs by even the general public & it’s a joy to hear the first one of spring.


Bill is still managing to wield his large lens camera, though he can’t really get out of the car to walk any more.


Bll’s patience was rewarded with this:


They eventually will perch & here is a spectacle which we love to see, after the young have fledged.  We counted 35 along the posts & fence line – so this is a sample.


Mom’s 101st birthday came & went with little fanfare this year.  However, she was allowed a few extra celebrants to come over & be outside with BD cake.  Robyn, Arnie, Jane, David & Brian.


5F5AA009-AB5E-49AC-9F72-DD8F8EA9CF91Back home, Penny & Wilf have pretty well finished their house & nearly completed their gazebo. I had to ask for photos to send to Mom, who always wants to know how they’re doing.  She & Dad spend many happy times with them while travelling with Dad’s sisters, Betty, Bunny & Jo.  Mom has a very soft place in her heart for them.  Here’s their house & the gazebo off to the right.  What a pretty place!

By the end of June, with no restaurant from which to toorder pizza, I made my own.  Bill still prefers one from the Rockin’ Horse, but here was my attempt:


We continued birding, so here are a few more birds for you.  Ruddy Duck with that amazing blue bill.


The elegant Avocet is immortalized on the shelf of our stairwell to the basement.  We bought this carving in PEI on a bike trip one year (long time ago).



These Bank Swallows have mostly fledged their young, but must have been a few still hungry little mouths to feed in those holes.  Fast flyers!


On July 17th I made a trip to Calgary – to pick up my very favourite garden vegetable – peas!  The best I’ve ever found is from Edgar Farms & are sold from Innisfail Growers at the Calgary Farmer’s Market.  This meant I could have a visit with Mom, & Jane.



As usual, we met outside & wore masks.  Doesn’t Jane look great with her gray hair?  And she’s so skinny.  I was actually allowed to go upstairs to Mom’s suite to put her winter clothes up on the high shelf in her closet, so they were no longer on the floor.  First time that’s happened.

On July 27th I picked up 2 gallons of sour cherries (already pitted!) from the Hutterites.  Froze 8 bags, 4C each of them for pies!  Billy is happy!


Last, but not least, this little Upland Sandpiper is checking the sky for predators.


We are suffering from the doldrums of summer & stifling heat in the mid-30’s for at least 2 weeks.  I’m just waiting for cooler weather now!  Not like many who relish the heat.  Hope everyone is okay out there & taking care of themselves & their friends & famliy.  I send love to all.

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