What gall is this?

his usual spot, a glorious Pyrrhuloxia in the fir on the west side, singing full-throated to the morning sun, and a shy Abert’s Towhee hopping around in the same tree. Lesser Goldfinches were singing all around.

This is the same gall I saw on a Whitethorn Acacia in October (link), this time on a Catclaw Acacia. It would be nice to know what it is.


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Harris’s Hawk in flight

I saw him in the eucalyptus on the way back from across the wash, and almost didn’t bother to go and check him out, thinking it was probably the redtail from yesterday. But something looked a little different so I crossed over and he gave a beautiful display of a glide patrol over the wash. At certain angles you could see the flash of red from his shoulders as well.


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Anna’s Hummingbird standing guard

A good morning for birds. There was a flock of Black-tailed Gnatcatchers as I went down, and a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk, perched on the tall pole next to the eucalyptus on the eastern ridge. He glided to the tree while I was watching, showing red-tail and juvenile underwing plumage.

The hummingbird was in his usual place on the acacia where the channel of the wash jogs to the east. I wonder if it’s the same one every year.


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Clark’s Nutcracker

Lake Louise, Alberta. He was flitting around the parking lot, seemingly looking for handouts, then flew off to the top of a conifer. His tail fanned is white with broad black vertical stripe in the middle. He was the only bird we saw as we walked around the lake to the frozen blue icefall. There were some crows or ravens on the road from Banff, and some Black-billed Magpies at the Banff center.

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Hike around Lake Louise

Last week I was in Banff for a conference on Explicit Methods for Finding Rational Points on Varieties. On Wednesday afternoon we took a hike around Lake Louise. We started out in the snow on the ice, then cut across the lake to a beautiful blue ice-fall (apparently the blue color of the water the tourist feature of Lake Louise in the summer). We walked back along a well-packed trail through the forest (along which we had seen a horse drawn sleigh earlier). We heard an avalanche from the glacier at the end of the lake, and turned in time to see the aftermath of snow hanging in the air like smoke.

The snowy tree cover on the sides of the lake produces a strange effect from a distance; the patches of snow that are in reality hanging on the tree branches appear to form a detached layer in front, as if specs on a computer screen.

From left to right: me, Kiran Kedlay, Minhyong Kim, Bjorn Poonen.


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