Nearby Nature – March 2015

Spending time outside, close to nature, improves my state of mind and helps keep me active. So I’m always on the lookout for articles, reports and books that support my nature habit. I first came across Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature Deficit Disorder about 10 years ago. A year or two later, I heard him speak at a Scouts Canada breakfast in Canada. A couple of years back I read about forest bathing in Outside Magazine. Long-time readers will know that we’ve been hiking with our boys for more than 10 years now. A day in the Canadian Rockies never fails to renew my spirit.

More recently, I came across One thousand good things in nature: Aspects of nearby nature associated with improved connection to nature (view pdf here) by Miles Richardson, Jenny Hallam and Ryan Lumber. One of their conclusions is that people benefit from what they call mundane nature – backyards, the park down the street, the little green space beside the bus stop, etc. So at the start of the year I planned a series of blog posts to share three photos of nature things I notice while out and about in our Calgary neighbourhood each month. This month I observed:

1. Feathers – After the snow along the edge of our street melted, I noticed these feathers. Then I noticed the attached bones. After a bit more study, I concluded that they belonged to a black-billed magpie. We see and hear magpies every day. In fact, they can be a bit of a nuisance, especially when they start yak, yak, yakking. I always thought black-billed magpies had some black feathers and some white feathers, but I can see from these ones that the white shoulders are the result of white patches on mostly black feathers.

feathers

2. White-tailed Jackrabbit – Since the snow melted early in the month, the winter white rabbit fur on the survivors really stands out. A closer look at this jackrabbit’s head shows the ears and face starting to change over to its summer greyish-brown colour.

Jackrabbit

3. Ice crystals – A ten-day stretch of springlike temperatures had a lot of Calgarians convinced that winter was over. Not quite! One morning mid-March we started the day by shoveling snow off the driveway. Then, as the sun came up, I spotted ice crystals on our deck railing. Shot with a wide open macro lens, I made this photograph to show the ice crystals clearly while hinting at the reflection of the sunrise off the snow-covered Rocky Mountains to the west.

ice-crystals-on-wood

As winter transitions to spring, it’s a great time to head outdoors to observe nature. What are you seeing where you live?

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