Autumn Red and Reproduction

The red osier dogwood is one of my favorite willows. You can find it growing along local trout streams and in stands of huge poplar trees in riparian habitats, further back from the creeks. It is not a big fan of the sun, so north facing plantings and areas that don’t get a lot of sun are a prime habitat, when you are planting them. In the photo below, they are mixed in with poplars and Western Water Birch. Which produce yellow leaves in the fall.

The golden color of canary grass is shown on the right hand side of the photo, with a few shafts of green in the mix. Some of the leaves with both red and yellow color, fall into the stream and you can see them at great depths, sometimes with a few trout holding right over the yellow leaves. this makes it easier to spot trout in deep pools.

The dark color of summer moss on the submerged rocks, helps hide any brook trout that decide to linger in the shallower runs, maybe migrating upstream to spawning beds. Most people might not notice such things, but a keen observer can sometimes get lucky and spot what I have just described. The growth along the Bighill Creek in the town of Cochrane, Alberta is lucky to have excellent green space along the creek in places, running right thru the town. I awoke to the sound of an owl, in the wee early morning hours this past week. How many people can hear such things in the middle of a small town, nestled in the foothills of the east-slopes?

The fall is a time of reproduction in these parts. Some strains of trout are spawning and the wild ungulates are in rut or soon to be. If your lucky to be in the mountains or foothills when the bull elk bugle their mating challenge to potential competitors. This sound also brings in the cow elk. So to see such things that are a wonder of nature, in person, it sometimes raises the hair on the back of your neck, if the bugling bull is close to where you are. Anyway, here in town, the only ungulates you will see during the fall rut are deer. So just spawning trout and deer are what I like to watch in the fall, just down the path from where I live. If it is there to see, I am happy to see it!

The red on this brook trout was easy to spot in the shallow gravel run.

Sometime we need to know what we have before we can properly look after it. There is a responsibility that comes with having a trout stream in our community. It doesn’t take a lot to take care of the fish and the creek, at the same time. The deer numbers could grow to problematic levels in the near future. I have been watching the deer population increase over the past few years, as the deer became more habitualized to us humans and our dogs. At night the deer wander up into our residential streets, from the creek bottom land. They have routes that they follow, knowing where the bird feeders are located and also the well groomed flower and vegetable gardens.

At some point in time, there will be so many deer that people may start feeding the animals and this is when the real problems start. Areas around the city of Edmonton, in suburbs and small communities, have experienced major deer population explosions in the past and they know how bad things can get. The most important control in managing deer numbers has been to discourage any feeding of the animals. Our intentions are always good, but the bad thing is that we are not really helping the deer at all, in the end.

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