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Winged wonders offer a fascinating study

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It was so nice when the city finally applied asphalt around the retention pond in the All Seasons Estates area of North Kildonan.

This is just a small bonus of the Chief Peguis Extension Project completed this past summer.

This extension has not only provided us with a freeway direct from Lagimodiere Boulevard to Henderson Highway, but also gave us a multitude of smooth paths for walking, cycling and even in-line skating.

My days this summer, the first summer of my retirement, began with a bike ride around the pond. I found a starting point just down the street from my home,  as Southwell Road had an entrance to the water area. The asphalt trail took me all the way to Sun Valley Drive where the corner store is and Sun Valley took me back home. It is approximately a 15-minute ride.

My 15 minutes were usually extended depending on the presence of the various birds on the water. I often stopped to admire the goslings and the ducklings in the beginning of summer and I watched the robins, crows, killdeers and others, but I always took a second and third look at the pelicans. They were quite intriguing.

I tried to remember to bring my camera along with me and always watched for a great shot.

Pelicans are not the easiest birds to get close to. I remember one day when I had a super opportunity to get a close-up and my battery died. Another opportunity was foiled because I had my camera on the wrong setting. I finally did get some decent shots of them, but I had to sneak up on them in order to capture a good close-up.

The summer was fantastic, weather-wise, and there weren’t many days I didn’t venture out for my bike ride. Many days I went three times….morning, afternoon and just at dusk. At one point during the summer there were as many as 22 pelicans on the water and they were fun to watch.

Watching them eat was entertaining. Watching them swim with ease was fascinating, but watching them fly was amazing. They are such graceful birds and looked magnificent in flight and reminded me of a fleet of B-52 bombers flying by.

I remember years ago when I was much younger I used to tease the older crowd about bird watching. Now I am part of the older crowd. Now I can appreciate the beauty of it. In November there were still ducks and geese left, but most of the pelicans were gone. By December only ducks remained until that last puddle froze over and then there were none. At least I can look at my pictures and await next summer.

Rick Sparling is a North Kildonan-based writer.
Neighbourhood Forum is a readers’ column. If you live in the Herald area and would like to contribute to this column, contact jim.timlick@canstarnews.com.

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