Update, 31 October 2019: the Giant Panda cubs will be staying at the Calgary Zoo a little bit longer! They are now expected to depart in early 2020.
The two Giant Panda cubs that have been staying, with their parents, at the Calgary Zoo for the last few years. have either just left or are about to leave our Zoo to go to China. Part of the agreement is that all pandas that are born outside of China have to go back to China when they are four years old to participate in the breeding program. It has been a true delight to have these wonderful animals to enjoy and appreciate. I can't tell which Panda is which, so I'm not sure if the one in this video is an adult or a cub.
"The twins' mother, Er Shun, and an adult male panda, Dao Mao, will stay in the Panda Passage at the zoo until 2023.
There may be more pandas at the zoo in the years to come as Er Shun is being monitored in the hopes that she was successfully artificial inseminated in early April through a joint effort between the Calgary Zoo and the Chengdu Research Base.
According to the International Union for Conversation of Nature, giant pandas are no longer considered endangered but are still labelled as vulnerable."
"In 2012 an agreement was signed between the Chinese and Canadian governments for a 10-year breeding loan of giant pandas. Er Shun and Da Mao arrived in Canada on March 25, 2013 to the Toronto Zoo. After being successfully artificially inseminated, Er Shun delivered her cubs, Jia Panpan and Jia Yueyue on October 13, 2015. These were the first giant pandas to be born in Canada.
With fewer than 1,800 giant pandas left in the wild, caring for these four giant pandas is important to ongoing conservation. Habitat destruction remains one of the biggest threats to pandas in the wild, much in the same way boreal forests and evergreen trees in Canada are a concern for wildlife in our country. More than half of giant panda habitat has been lost in the last fifty years." From Calgary Zoo website.
Tags: Calgary Alberta Canada Calgary Zoo animal breeding program on loan Giant Panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca Chinese 大熊猫 pinyin dà xióng māo visiting zoo feeding eating bamboo leaves indoor summer 12 September 2019 Canon SX60 Canon SX60 Powershot annkelliott Anne Elliott video
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Well, the weather forecast for Kananaskis for yesterday, 24 September 2019, was not exactly accurate - sun, with cloud in the afternoon. They kind of forgot to mention the strong wind, light rain .... and SNOW! For a few minutes, it was one kind of weather, then a few more minutes of a different kind, repeated throughout the afternoon.
Our temperatures are falling - forecast for rain tomorrow, rain and snow the next day, then two days of snow with temps down to 0C and -1C. What a way to celebrate the first few days of fall. The expected snow will probably remove quite a few of the golden leaves, so I wanted anther chance to see and photograph them while I had the chance.
The sky was blue when I set out yesterday morning and I felt quite hopeful. When I go to Kananaskis, I always go south from the city. I had no idea where I would be going, but I knew that it wouldn't be as far as I would have liked. As it turned out, I had a few surprises along the way, so it was a real mixed day of photo opportunities - my favourite kind of day.
After stopping to take a few scenic shots on the way to the main highway through Kananaskis, I eventually reached the area where the American Pikas live. I really lucked out almost straight away, as the only few photos I took were when one Pika showed itself, and that was within maybe ten minutes. By this time, the wind was strong and it was snowing, and it was cold! Time to get out of there, as the scree slope is treacherous enough on a calm, clear day.
Driving further north, I was delighted to see a convoy of maybe a dozen beautiful old cars heading in my direction. Couldn't resist, so I followed them when they turned off into a small picnic area. I asked if I could take a few quick photos and they were happy enough for me to do that. One car owner did comment about blurry photos because of the falling snow, but surprisingly my photos came out sharp enough.
Further on, I made a quick stop at another pull-off and was happy to notice a few mushrooms. When I turned around to head for home, I was even happier. I pulled over to take a photo of one of the mountain peaks. One tiny white speck in the distance, just off the road, caught my eye. When I went to check it out, I found myself staring at a little group of Shaggy Mane/Ink Cap mushrooms. The largest one had already started the process of curling up the rim of its cap and dripping a black ink. So much rain this year has resulted in such an amazing fungi season.
Much closer to home, I decided to take a side road that has such beautiful hill and mountain views. An old wooden barn was a welcome surprise - I don't remember seeing this one before.
So, a lovely day out, driving 320 km, with such a mixture of weather and sightings. So glad I did decide to go - as usual, a very last minute decision, but basically, I just need to grab my cameras and go : )
Tags: Alberta Canada SW of Calgary Kananaskis K-Country video mountain snow © Anne Elliott 2019 © All Rights Reserved
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The quality of this video is really bad, but I see bears so rarely. Actually, many of the photos I took yesterday were blown out by the harsh light. Photos can be improved, but I have no idea if one can edit a video. Also, the bear was far away on a distant hillside.
"Black bears are efficient berry-eaters, consuming up to 30,000 berries a day in a good year. They gather berries quickly, using their sensitive, mobile lips and swallowing them whole. The berries enter a two-part stomach, which grinds the pulp off the seeds. The seeds pass through the digestive tract unbroken and able to germinate, making black bears important seed dispersers. Each summer, they spread the seeds of their favorite berries all over their home ranges."
"Black bears are omnivorous animals, but mostly eat vegetation and fruits. Despite their tough appearance and long teeth and claws, 85% of a black bear's diet comes from plants. They also like to eat honey and can rip open a whole tree to get into a beehive. Black bears' thick coats protect them from stinging bees, meaning they can eat the honeycombs as fast or as slowly as they like. At night, black bears in the Pacific Northwest fish for salmon in rivers. A few enterprising bears also venture into human-populated areas to steal from trashcans or campsites. In the fall, when they are preparing for hibernation, black bears eat lots of bugs like ants and bees for their protein. Black bears also sometimes catch baby deer, cows and moose, but they are more likely to try to steal carcasses from more active predators like wolves, coyotes and cougars. The extra proteins help them gain fat for their long, annual hibernation." From www.whatdobearseat
Yesterday, 5 September 2019, friend Pam and I had a great day out in Kananaskis. It had been just over two months since I drove myself out there, but Pam had been only two days ago. There were a few different places that she wanted to stop yesterday, and she was hoping to see a bear - preferably a Grizzly, but we were out of luck for that. However, we were lucky enough to see two separate Black Bears, which was such a treat.
Our day started off really well, leaving the city at 7:00 am. Driving along a backroad SW of the city, a small, rather cute, old barn was our first find. It was set back from the road and easily missed, so I'm glad I spotted it.
Further on, we came across a White-tailed Deer feeding in a field, and it looked so beautiful in the early morning sun. Normally, I don't get out this early and I know I miss that special light.
Going to have to finish description, etc. later ....
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A few of the maybe 200 or 300 in total! Amazing.
Will have to add descriptions, etc. later, as I have a dental appointment to get to.
Later. Yesterday, 2 August 2019, was a day of a little bit of everything, which was fun. I only decided around noon to go for an afternoon drive west of the city. It was hot and there was a haze over the mountains. Both cameras took photos with rather blown out skies - because of the haze?
My destination was Forgetmenot Pond, out past Bragg Creek. Forget-me-not is the name of a flower. This weekend is a long weekend for a Civic Holiday on Monday, so I thought there might be far fewer people yesterday, Thursday. A lot of people seemed to have the same idea as me!
There was a good variety of wildflowers, some of which I will have to leave unidentified and post simply as "pretty pictures". So nice to find Prairie Gentians, which I haven't seen for a long time. A few others were Grass-of-Parnassus, Elephant's Head Lousewort, different Paintbrush, Alpine Bistort, and beautiful Yellow Mountain-avens. Love the small flowers of the latter and their beautifully twisted seedheads. The only birds I saw in the area were Barn Swallows who were nesting, and a calling Spotted Sandpiper, perched on a piece of driftwood the far side of the river.
After walking around the lake, I started on my return drive. Before long, I decided to take a quick look in a forested area, to see if there were any mushrooms, but only found the ones seen in one of today's photos. While I was there, cows were the furthest thing from my mind. I guess they are let loose in that area of forest, so they do a good job of fertilizing everything. When I spotted the two mushrooms, I was excited and didn't realize that my left shoe ended up in something that felt very soft and a little slippery! Sigh!
Maclean Pond was the only other place I stopped, just briefly, during my mountain drive, until I was closer to home. Thought I would drive along one of the roads that had given me a good variety of birds fairly recently. This time, absolutely nothing. I discovered that one road was blocked (maybe part of the major road construction going on for the Ring Road around the city?), Instead, I came back along a road I hadn't been along for quite a while - and what an amazing sight I saw. Way down the road, I could see some large brown animals on the road. My first thought was 'cows'. However, I pulled over and zoomed right in to check, discovering that they were Elk. Maybe two or three hundred of them - they just kept coming and when you thought they would be no more, another group appeared on the hillside. They were all constantly calling, which you can hear on the little bit of video I took. Will post another short, somewhat closer bit of video later. There were males, females and young ones. Fortunately, no other vehicles came along the road while I was there. An amazing thing to witness.
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The 10 photos and a video that I have just posted today, 26 July 2019, were all taken during a quick drive SW of the city, on 8 July 2019. Many of the 'usual' birds, though I was also happy to see a European Starling closer than I normally see them.
I have fallen behind again with editing and posting photos form walks or outings, and I have a few trips that are coming up in the next little while. Hard to believe that August is almost here and summer is flying by. Our weeks of endless rainy days seem to have come to an end for now, thank goodness.
"Though the long tradition of “snipe hunt” pranks at summer camp has convinced many people otherwise, Wilson’s Snipes aren’t made-up creatures. These plump, long-billed birds are among the most widespread shorebirds in North America. They can be tough to see thanks to their cryptic brown and buff coloration and secretive nature. But in summer they often stand on fence posts or take to the sky with a fast, zigzagging flight and an unusual “winnowing” sound made with the tail." From AllAboutBirds.
According to Fisher and Acorn's book, "Birds of Alberta", "the common Snipe is both secretive and well camouflaged, so few people notice it until it flushes suddenly from a nearby grassy tussock. As soon as the Snipe takes to the air, it performs a series of quick zigzags - an evasive maneuver designed to confuse predators. Because of this habit, Snipes were among the most difficult birds to shoot (in the days when shorebirds were hunted for sport), and skilled sportsmen were known as "snipers" - a term later adopted by the military."
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