Category Archives: Conservation

Watch out for feathered friends, FortWhyte Alive, Winnipeg

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A nesting Canada Goose honking, at a family passing a little too close (out of frame).  This goose was sitting on her eggs next to a fence line path, at FortWhyte Alive, Winnipeg.  Lets all be on the lookout and try not to stress our feathered friends, particularly at this time of year.  Of course that goes for all animals, especially in our ever increasing urban areas.

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Polar Bears swimming underwater at the Journey to Churchill, Winnipeg, Manitoba

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This is without a doubt one of the most memorable things i’ve ever seen.  Regardless of your personal views on wildlife kept in captivity, the Journey to Churchill at Assiniboine Park Zoo in Winnipeg is an amazing facility.  In collaberation with The International Polar Bear Centre also located at Winnipeg’s zoo it allows visitors a chance to view Polar Bears in a very unique way.  This is Kaska an orphaned female relocated from Churchill, Manitoba after her mother was shot and killed.

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Shooting through the thick curved plexiglass and the variety of lighting and reflections is very tricky, but with a fast indoor lens and a little experimentation I managed a few keepers.  Images were high iso, grainy and pretty soft through the glass and water, even the best autofocus systems have trouble through 6-8 inches of curved plexiglass, but it’s more about the moment than technical perfection.

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Visitors viewing Kaska

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For a brief period we watched two bears play under the water.

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Lake Winnipeg scenic landscape and some not so nice Blue-Green Algae, Victoria Beach

A sunset shot of Lake Winnipeg, on Victoria Beach during late summer of 2010.   Blue-Green Algae made an appearance in the south basin.

A previous post from this past summer showing, waves of Algae in motion on Victoria Beach.

Blue-Green Algae on Lake Winnipeg, Victoria Beach

Blue-Green Algal bloom’s have appeared on Victoria Beach and many of Lake Winnipeg’s eastern beaches in the more populous south basin.  The result of elevated levels of phosphorous and nitrogen in the lake.  As levels rise and with the reduced natural filtering effects of marshlands, the problem will only worsen.  I’ve shot here several times without the algae present and came away with some wonderful lake images, but the past weekend really reminds us all of the concerted effort required to keep this very important water body healthy.  Lake Winnipeg has an immense watershed stretching from the Rocky Mountains to within mere miles of Lake Superior, and includes four US states.  The Red River brings the majority of nutrients into the lake, so it is an issue requiring inter-provincial and international cooperation.  Not an easy task, but local Manitoban’s can avail themselves of some useful information, from sites dedicated to Lake Winnipeg, such as The Lake Winnipeg Research Consortium or the blog  H2O: Ideas & Action for Canada’s Water

Sunset over Lake Winnipeg, Victoria Beach

Mowing grass the environmentally friendly way

Whenever my wife or I cut our grass with our manual push mower we still get comments from the odd passer-by.  We’ve even been asked if we’d like to borrow their gas mower.  Inevitably I explain we actually have a gas mower as well, but prefer using the push mower as often as possible.  This can lead to uncomfortable silence, and confusion especially on the part of the passer-by.  We also don’t use chemicals on our lawn, and maybe one of the few in the neighborhood without the weekly sprayer truck sign on our front lawn.  Now granted we aren’t after the perfect manicured golf green that many aspire to attain.  But are lawn is an equal to the vast majority in our neighborhood, other than the fanatical, you know who I mean.

We get asked how well the mower works, and I reply, “great”, as long as you do it a little more often since once the grass becomes long it doesn’t work as well.  They usual reply, ‘good for you’.  But, I suspect they really don’t see the point, perhaps it seems like a lot of work.  But these new reel mowers are not like the old hard to push kind your grandfather had on his farm that you could barely budge.  I don’t want to get all “preachy”, but when you consider the effort to get the gas, the odd oil change, the noise, cost, smell, environmental impact etc., it seems very logical to me.  Worse yet are those that have a lawn company show up with a truck and trailer and riding mower to cut a small swath of grass weekly.  Now that’s environmental impact.  Just a disclaimer if you are elderly etc. I fully understand and have no ill will towards hard working lawn care professionals.  But, it just seems to me here in North America with all the talk of environmental conservation, it still seems like there is a bit of a stigma associated with  those who attempt to live a slightly greener lifestyle.

Manitoba Hydro Place, Winnipeg, one of the planet’s greenest office towers

The 23 story headquarters of Manitoba Hydro in downtown Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Considered one of the worlds most environmentally friendly office towers.   Technologies employed include;  geothermal heating, radiant cooling, windows that open and a solar chimney to improve air circulation.  The building is highly automated and reportedly uses 60 percent less energy than a conventional building of similar size.  All this in the climate extremes of Winnipeg, which has very wide seasonal temperature fluctuations.