American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

I’m not sure if this is a male in non-breeding plumage, a female or a juvenile. Wish my birding skills were much, much better than they sadly are! This bird, along with several others, was flying in and out of the very tall Sunflowers at Silver Springs Botanical Gardens, on 5 September 2017. It was quite windy and I just managed this one rapid shot when it flew deep within the flowers. The original photo was so dark, and when I brightened it, I was surprised to see the feather colours of the wings.

My daughter and I had a such a great day on 5 September 2017. She had a free day, so we decided to drive north-east of the city and visit the Pioneer Acres Museum. The day started off with seeing three perched Swainson’s Hawks, which were a bonus. We had passed the colourful old truck and tractor displayed on tall posts, to indicate Pioneer Acres, on various occasions and this time, we actually went to the museum. What an amazing collection of old farming equipment, some standing outdoors and many others in large sheds. Have to say that I am always attracted to older, rusty things, and there was no shortage of these, either.

"Pioneer Acres is operated by a team of volunteer members who, in many cases, have extended their golden years of retirement, performing the duties necessary to meet the club’s objectives. These include work to collect, restore, maintain and demonstrate the artifacts which were used by the pioneers of early Alberta.

The end result is that present and future generations have the opportunity to glimpse into our pioneering past through the artifacts on display and demonstrated. Younger members of the club also learn the care, maintenance and operation of these living artifacts." From link below.

While we were walking round the grounds, visiting each massive shed in turn, my daughter spotted a Plains Garter Snake, and waved me over to see it. She also saw several birds running round behind one of the sheds, and when I went to check, I found there were four Gray Partridge running off in the distance. A distant Jackrabbit completed our wildlife sightings, first noticed when it was standing tall and upright on its back legs. My mind wandered to Alice in Wonderland : )

Though we did not do a tour of the inside of the "Long" House, we found it an impressive building, complete with a few Sunflowers, Hollyhock and other flowers in the garden, and a tall, metal windmill.

"The "Long" House was built in 1914 by John Thomas on a farm just northwest of Irricana, Alberta. It has been lived in by three generations of the Long Family since 1914. The house was donated to Pioneer Acres, moved to our location, and restored to 1929 status." From the Pioneer Acres website.

There is also an old schoolhouse on the Museum site. "The Crown School, built in 1905, was located west of Three Hills on Highway 583. It closed in 1953 and was bought by the district of Allingham for use as a community league. In 1996, the building was relocated to Pioneer Aces of Alberta Museum." From the Alberta Teachers’ Association website.

After spending a long time walking round the grounds, we decided to drive through Irricana itself in order to get back to the highway. I had seen photos on the Internet of three murals there – sunflowers, crayons, and a view of the old grain elevators that had once stood nearby – and I wanted to go and see them. All near each other, as this town only has a few streets. I had never been to Irricana before and I was impressed with what a delightful place it is, full of brightly coloured murals, and well kept. One of the outer roads had many flower beds along the edge, watered with well water, looking most attractive.

I had asked my daughter if she was interested in calling in at the Silver Springs Botanical Gardens in NW Calgary, if there was time after our drive east. I had planned the drive ahead of time, partly because I had also seen a photo somewhere on the Internet of a rather nice old barn that I really wanted to see. We were not disappointed, though it was a shame to see that the cupola had fallen from the roof since that photo was taken. I had never driven through the town of Airdrie before, but did the "drive" on Google Earth the night before and it looked straightforward enough.

Returning to the city via Cochrane, my daughter told me how to get to Silver Springs. I had never driven there before, but I had been there with a friend last year, I think on 1 October, and thoroughly enjoyed these meticulously kept gardens. We were just too hot and tired to see every inch of the garden, but finished off with photographing sunflowers and enjoying the American Goldfinches that were feeding on them, before we continued on our way.

A great day, despite the heat and smoke from the B.C. and Alberta wildfires (distant low visibility, too). Thanks so much, Rachel – hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. We drove 256 km (used about half a tank of gas, or less). I was absolutely tired out from the heat and driving unfamiliar roads.

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