Gadsby Lake Natural Area - May 30
Gadsby Lake Natural Area - 66.6 km from Red Deer. Head east on Highway 12 until after the Town of Tees turn North onto Range Road 232 until the very end. The natural area is on the left (west) do not go through the gate it is private property.
This natural area is gorgeous but not for the faint of heart. There are very few trails made up by game animals such as moose or deer. Therefore, you are ultimately walking in the bush. The understory vegetation is well developed making it tricky to walk through. The natural area is made up of large mature trembling aspen and balsam poplar with white spruce intermixed.
There are numerous animals that call this place home including moose, white-tailed deer, red squirrels, coyote, ruffed grouse, and a variety of forest birds.
I was lucky enough to stumble upon a white-tailed deer fawn. Fawns are born with little to no smell and white spots to aid in camouflage. Therefore, while they are young their primary defense is to lie as still as they can until mom comes back. I quickly snapped a picture and left the area to allow her to move her fawn. Do not touch a fawn if you find one.
If you travel to this natural area be loud so you don't sneak up on a female moose with her calves, always be aware of your surroundings and watch for tripping hazards.
The partner that manages this area is Alberta Parks.
Be safe and enjoy the nice weather by visiting some of these beautiful areas.
Magee Lake Natural Area - May 29 2021
Magee Lake Natural Area - 58.5 km from Red Deer. To reach this area from Red Deer head north on Queen Elizabeth Highway II, turn east on Milton Road until Range Road 244 then head north. It will be on the left-hand side of the road after Township Road 414 (look for park boundary signs).
This is a beautifully forested area is dominated by mature trembling aspen with interspersed patches of white spruce and paper birch. There are some grasslands scattered within the natural area as well.
There is a vehicle trail that runs through the area that helps avoid bushwacking. At this time of year the ruffed grouse can be heard drumming throughout the woods. Tracks in the soft mud showed recent visitors of moose, deer and coyote. A wonderful area for a walk to listen to the calls of forest birds that echo through the forest canopy.
This area does get wet in some areas but is easily avoided by walking around them. Keep your eyes open for wildlife, tripping hazards, and changing weather conditions.
The partner that manages this area is Alberta Parks.
Be safe and happy exploring!
Kuhnen Park Interview - May 27 2021
Today I had the opportunity to interview Frank Kuhnen Sr. about his donated properties which include Kuhnen Park north of Blackfalds and Kuhnen Natural Area near the Town of Alix and adjacent to the Red Deer River.
Frank Kuhnen Jr. graciously led us on a walkthrough of Kuhnen Park speaking about the natural area and how peaceful and serene these areas are right in the morning, listening to the sounds of nature and nothing else.
I am incredibly humbled on why these areas were set aside for use by the public, Frank Sr. stated how he wanted a safe place for families and single mothers to go with their kids to enjoy the outdoors and be present within the environment. He fondly spoke about how these natural areas are so important for families and nature lovers alike to be able to enjoy nature, to listen to birds chittering within the trees, to watch snowshoe hares eat within the shrub undergrowth to experience the beauty of the outdoors. He mentioned the soothing call of common loons during the summer months. There is never a shortage of wonders to be found within the natural environment. To be able to have these areas graciously donated for everyone to enjoy opens up an opportunity for families, outdoor enthusiasts, and generations to come.
If you haven’t had the chance to visit either of these areas I highly recommend taking a few hours to explore, bring a picnic and the kids and go for a walk around the trails. Both of these natural areas offer stunning views and are rich in plant and animal diversity.
A huge thank you to the Kuhnen Family for allowing Sherry and I the opportunity to tour the area and for being willing to speak on behalf of these stunning natural areas. The Kuhnen family is devoted to habitat stewardship and sharing these natural areas with the community.
Quote from Frank Sr. “These areas are a peace of heaven”
Nevis Parkland Area - May 26 2021
Nevis - #121 in Alberta Discovery Guide and 50.4 km from Red Deer. This area is past Alix heading east on Highway 12 on the south side I park to the south of Highway 21.
This natural area is fascinating, offering grassland areas, poplar forests, wetlands in depressions and small dry patches that allow for the growth of brittle prickle-pear cactus. Prairie smoke a gorgeous wildflower is interspersed throughout the grassland areas.
There are a few game trails that wander through the property as well as some vehicle tracks that lead into oil leases. Very neat property worth a stroll through offering a spectacular assortment of plants, birds and mammals.
Keep your eyes open for wildlife, watch for tripping hazards, and be cautious around the rail road track that runs through the property.
Partners that manage this area include Alberta Conservation Association, Alberta Fish & Game Association and Chevron Canada.
Be safe and enjoy the outdoors!
Thompson Natural Area - #115 in Alberta Discovery Guide and 59.9 km from Red Deer. Right off of Highway 605 going east towards Bashaw. There is a gate on the south side of the Highway that leads into the property, do not block it and park to the side to still allow access.
This natural area does not disappoint, it offers beautiful grassland areas, trembling aspen and balsam poplar forests with numerous wetland pockets. I heard and saw 31 different bird species while there, including a nesting pair of tree swallows within a natural excavated tree cavity. There are a number of beaver lodges within the wetland areas and signs of moose, deer and coyotes.
There are some trails that meander through the property mostly game and old cattle trails but there is a vehicle trail that leads into an oil lease.
Always be aware of wildlife, tripping hazards under the grass, and be cautious around open water and changing weather conditions.
The partner that manages this area is Ducks Unlimited Canada.
Stay safe and happy exploring!
Shaye Hill visited four natural areas in Central Alberta seeing a total of 54 species. The areas included J.J. Collett, Elizabeth Lake, Cliff & Mary Soper Natural Area, and NOVA Chemical Community Walking Trails. The species viewed over the four natural areas include:
Canada Goose - Branta canadensis
Blue-winged Teal - Spatula discors
Northern Shoveler - Spatula clypeata
Gadwall - Mareca strepera
Mallard - Anas platyrhynchosRemove
Green-winged Teal - Anas crecca
Bufflehead - Bucephala albeola
Canvasback - Aythya valisineria
Common Goldeneye - Bucephala clangula
Lesser Scaup - Aythya affinis
Red Head - Aythya americanus
Red-necked Grebe - Podiceps grisegena
Ruddy Duck - Oxyura jamaicensis
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) - Columba livia
American Coot - Fulica americana
Wilson's Snipe - Gallinago delicata
Great Blue Heron - Ardea herodias
Spotted Sandpiper - Actitis macularius
Solitary Sandpiper - Tringa solitaria
Bonaparte’s Gull - Chroicocephalus philadelphia
Ring-billed Gull - Larus delawarensis
Swainson's Hawk - Buteo swainsoni
Sharp-shinned/Cooper’s Hawk - Accipiter striatus/cooperii
Downy Woodpecker - Dryobates pubescens
Hairy Woodpecker - Dryobates villosus
Northern Flicker - Colaptes auratus
Pileated Woodpecker - Dryobates pileatus
Black-billed Magpie - Pica hudsonia
Blue Jay - Cyanocitta cristata
Common Raven - Corvus corax
American Crow - Corvus brachyrhynchos
Black-capped Chickadee - Poecile atricapillus
Boreal Chickadee - Poecile atricarpillus
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta canadensis
White-breasted Nuthatch - Sitta carolinensis
Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor
Golden-crowned Kinglet - Regulus satr1apa
European Starling - Sturnus vulgaris
Mountain Bluebird - Sialia currucoides
American Robin - Turdus migratorius
House Finch - Haemorhous mexicanus
Red-eyed Vireo - Vireo olivaceus
House Sparrow - Passer domesticus
Chipping Sparrow - Spizella passerina
White-crowned Sparrow - Zonotrichia leucophrys
Savannah Sparrow - Passerculus sandwichensis
Song Sparrow - Melospiza melodia
Dark-eyed Junco - Junco hyemalis
Western Meadowlark - Sturnella neglecta
Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus
Common Grackle - Quiscalus quiscula
Brown-headed Cowbird - Molothrus ater
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Setophaga coronata
Yellow Warbler - Setophaga petechia
The Nature Central team met today (May 3, 2021) to officially launch the Nature Central: Celebrating Our Wild Alberta Parklands program. We are busy assembling the necessary information and setting up the Nature Central website. Stay tuned for more details!
From left: Shaye Hill, Naturalist in Residence; Tony Blake, RDRN President; Teresa Neuman, RDRN Administrative Coordinator, Sherry Scheunert, Assistant Naturalist; Myrna Pearman, RDRN/NC Liaison. Also attending our meeting was RDRN board member, Rod Trentham (photographer).