Fall in Love with Riding Mountain Acoustical Evening Walks

You’re walking at dusk into the wilds of Riding Mountain with your guide Celes Davar. We listen, as night descends – for grunts, howls, bugles and other night sounds. Hands-on activities in the woodlands to identify and learn. Slow travel, we call it! To top it off, you’ll savour Foxtail Café snacks and hot beverages. Each Saturday features a different Manitoba songwriter’s songs, stories, and perspectives about Canada and its wilderness.

Beaver Pond 2_©Celes Davar

Fall in the Riding Mountains offers beautiful weather and great opportunities for walking and enjoying nature.

The poster for this unique fall experience Fall in Love With Riding Mountain Nature_V8_16August can be downloaded and shared with your friends and network. We would love to see you and your family or friends for this unique program.

SATURDAY DATES AVAILABLE:  Sept. 10, 17, 24, and Oct. 1 & 8 only.

PRICE (Not suitable for children under 14) per participant :

  • $115.00pp + $5.75 GST = $120.75

Please Book Your Participation in either of the following ways:

  1. Please call 204-867-7152, and leave your return phone number, name, the number of persons you are registering, and the date you are requesting. We will call you back to confirm availability and obtain your credit card information, OR
  2. Please email the following information to celes.davar@earthrhythms.ca to request your registration: Your name, telephone number, email address, the number of persons you are registering, and the date you are requesting. We will return your email with confirmation, and call you via telephone to get your credit card information.

What is included?

  • Safe guiding into the national park with Celes Davar, natural and certified national park guide.
  • A 2 – 3 hour walking experience including storytelling & identification of tracks, scats, sounds, and other signs of wildlife in the area
  • Interactive participation in various activities about the acoustical fall sounds in the wild – elk, moose, wolves, and migrating birds (including learning to make different calls).
  • Ecology, behaviour and food requirements of elk, moose, and wolves of Riding Mountain with up-to-date information.
  • Learn how to differentiate different “night sounds” and share moments of silence in the wilderness.
  • Hot beverages & snacks after the adventure walk
  • After the walk, an hour encounter with a Manitoba recording artist & songwriter who will share their wilderness stories, songs, and experiences. Featured artists include Jesse Matas (Crooked Brothers), Carly Dow and Ingrid Gatin.

What is not included?

  • Park Admission Fees.
  • Your warm clothing, boots, and other personal items to ensure that you stay warm during your  outing.

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Transition

In a season of transition like October in Manitoba, you’ll see and smell fall as a distinct season. Whether it’s highbush cranberries, or nanny berries, or rose hips, the yellow and gold typical of the aspen parkland comes alive. Corporate retreats, small group hikes, and guided experiences in nature are ways that corporate teams, groups, leadership teams (youth and adult) can experience Riding Mountain National Park. An easy way to do this is to check out places to stay like The Lakehouse in downtown Wasagaming, the Elkhorn Resort & Solstice Spa in Onanole, or Honeycomb Bed & Breakfast in Onanole.

As a transition season, the sights and smells are different. But, for many organizations, boards, businesses and community groups, this transition season is an important one to reset budgets, to re-boot ideas for organizational change, or to celebrate a good year. For all these reasons, the Earth Rhythms team, based in Onanole, Manitoba (beside the national park) is a starting point to ask questions about how they might help you to customize your own retreat or business getaway.

Our certified guides and facilitators create imaginative and deep training. They are experienced in a number of outdoor skills and love taking visitors to new places in the park in all seasons. Next season is winter – when snowshoeing and snow tracking in day or night become a great new way to experience the outdoors together.

Perhaps some of these images will inspire you to think about bringing your group or team to the Riding Mountains.

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Riding Mountain prairies pulse with life in mid-summer

Recently, we had the pleasure of taking a mother and her daughter on a customized photo safari into Riding Mountain National Park. Late July and August is a beautiful time to experience wildflower blooms. The following is a slide show of some of the flowers and wildlife images of things that you may see at this time of year on the prairies. Rough fescue prairies are one of the most biologically diverse habitats anywhere in Canada. With rich Chernozemic soils undisturbed by any human activities, you will see an ecosystem that has over 30 plant species per square metre in some places. This is the land of wild grazers (herbivores) like bison, elk, and white-tailed deer. Occasionally, moose or wolves or coyotes may also be seen.

PHOTO TIP: Knowing how and when to go, the time of day, lighting conditions for optimal photography, and understanding the habitats and habits of each wildlife species is helpful in being able to photograph or view birds or mammals in the cycle of light and weather each day.

Riding Mountain Fescue Grasslands and Aspen Forests

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Happy birthday photo safari!

As a boutique tourism operator, what do you say when a mother emails you and says, “We’d like to book one of your programs for myself and my daughter…it’s sort of a birthday present for each other. Both of us like taking pictures, but neither of us really know what we are doing.” I was honoured and immediately said yes. When anyone makes a date with their child, and decides to take them into nature on a photo safari, that tells me a lot about the commitment that they have in their relationship.

Customizing a photo safari

Photographing in a field of prairie flowersWe put together a number of elements – a customized GPS adventure quest in which mom and daughter guided themselves to some of my favorite photographic spots; I shared a number of stories about wildlife, birds, and showed them some of my wildlife videos on my iPad; they practiced using some of the features of their Canon Powershot cameras that they had not known how to use previously; we snacked on local muffins, blue giant hyssop tea (a local prairie wild herb) that I had steeped the previous day. We photographed late blooming canola fields and got a great shot of the two of them hiding in the canola.

From outside the park, we traveled first of all to a real Geocache (check out Geocaching, if you would like to learn how to find treasures all over the world using your GPS receiver); then to the canola field; and then straight to some wild prairie meadows. Along the way, we were birding – that is, looking for birds on prairie potholes and in small creeks. I shared with them my observation from the previous day of having seen a turkey vulture dining on a snack in the middle of the road – a young yellow-shafted flicker.

There is no excuse for not being there...” John Shaw, a well-known American nature photographer had once said at a photography seminar I attended in Edmonton, Alberta. Indeed. There we were, in the middle of the fescue meadows in the heart of Riding Mountain National Park, each photographing something slightly different. We heard a sudden bouncing movement. A spotted fawn white-tailed deer came to a crashing stop a mere 10 metres from us. Nobody knew quite what to do. A few seconds later, it bounded away into the sunlight, and the nearby forest. We all looked at each other, stunned. Nobody got the picture. But, we all took away the memory.

We finished off this adventure by quickly downloading mom and her daughter’s photos to iPhoto, and together they choose the photos to put into their own hardcover book to commemorate their adventure. We pushed SEND to order the book. Together, they were commemorating their relationship with each other. What do you suppose that they will do with that book?

Portrait of mother and daughter in a field of canola

How do you plan and book your own customized photo safari or wildlife watch at Riding Mountain National Park?

  • Have a date in mind, that you would like to come and how long you would have available ( I would recommend about 6 hours including travel time, photography, walking, and having a bit of a picnic).
  • Be prepared in your own mind that this could be a rain or shine event. If it is a rainy day, we’ll still have fun. We’ll organize things a little differently. Some of the best photos are made on a rainy day. You’ll see different things as well.
  • Identify why you want to do this photo or wildlife safari. A couple of quick reasons will do.
  • What kind of camera do you own? We’ll download a copy of the manual to our iPad and take that with us, in case we run into any technical difficulties.
  • Leave us your phone number and email.
  • We’ll call you back and start planning some of the details, give you a sense of the cost, and confirm if this is a go. The final price we quote you is dependent on how much we do to prepare, and how many are in your group.
  • We create your outing including a small photo tips booklet, identify some new places that are ideal for photography, and provide hands-on instruction to use your camera to its maximum capability – macro, action, exposure compensation, telephoto, using tripods, photographing wildlife, landscapes, and many other details. If you are interested in video, we’ll help you to learn how to shoot video.
  • We confirm final details by email and telephone. We take payment in advance by credit card.

Who are some friends or family members that you might wish to take on a customized photo or wildlife safari to Riding Mountain National Park? We’d love to hear from you.

Please Contact us:

Celes Davar, President
Earth Rhythms, Inc.
1.888.301.0030 Office
celes.davar@earthrhythms.ca (Email)
Facebook: Earth Rhythms
Twitter: earthrhythms

Owl watching season

Owls fascinate me. They are definitely a passion of mine from a photographic perspective. But, I think that what I love most about owls is their behaviour. We learn lots from just simply sitting and observing them. This is a time of year when there are three owls that I look for – great gray owls; northern hawk owls; and great horned owls. Great grays and hawk owls are both active during the day time. Because the the leaves are off the trees, they are easier to see. Northern hawk owls can be seen in Riding Mountain during the winter months.

How to watch for owls

What is involved in looking for owls? A good pair of eyes – knowing what to look for, and learning to look at the landscape to distinguish the shape of an owl; being out at the right time of day for nocturnal owls (great horned owls, or spring arrivals of saw-whet or boreal owls); having a pair of bright field binoculars and a spotting scope; a field guide – either book or electronic editions; and being warmly dressed. Often, you are standing outdoors for short periods of time. By being warmly dressed, you’ll be able to persist and watch.

Great_gray_owl_Riding Mountain_©Celes Davar

Great gray owl in spruce

Here is a photograph of a great gray owl I noticed, as I was driving along. It swooped low across the road and then up into a spruce tree. If I had not noticed its flight, I likely would not have noticed it in the tree. It is very well camouflaged.

Earth Rhythms creates small group photo safaris to learn how to use your digital camera in new ways. Along the way we spot birds, photograph tracks, and share stories about Riding Mountain wildlife. Bring your family or friends. Combine it with a stay at a local resort or a visit with friends in the area. Call us at 1.888.301.0030, or visit Earth Rhythms online. Happy owling!

Shades of white

This is a time of year I absolutely love. It is delightfully quiet. In the last 15 years, I have noticed that we have a much greater prevalence of moisture in the winter months. This is often deposited in the form of hoarfrost, which I had previously written about. Here is a short slideshow of some recent images taken in Riding Mountain National Park. Call us if you are interested in a short outing to learn how to use your digital point and shoot, or your digital SLR to catch winter at its best. 1.204.848.4680 Earth Rhythms.

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My neighborhood and Eliza Gilkyson, bridged

One of the things that I enjoy about living next to Riding Mountain National Park is the exposure to nature’s wildlife, daily rhythms of hoarfrost, sunshine, winds, and moisture conditions. They are the local weather sensors that I use to monitor what it’s like “in my neighborhood” each day. I use these sensors in addition to the weather report.

As I drive into the park, up to Dauphin, or out to Erickson, I regularly see muskrat, deer, moose, coyotes, and sometimes elk and the odd Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, or Great Gray Owl (Manitoba’s bird). This video is one that I recently shot of muskrats over a couple of days. Their area of swimming and movement was being reduced daily by colder temperatures and the formation of ice.

This is an important two-week window in 2010, when over 15,000 people are gathered in Cancun, Mexico for COP16 (The Conference of Parties and Climate Change) to discuss, develop policies, and share new information about the impacts of human activities that are creating climate changes at an unprecedented rate.

I was looking for a music track to fit to the muskrat behaviour captured in the video. Eliza Gilkyson recently offered up a CD of rare quality called Beautiful World, about our planet. I used her song Unsustainable, as the background track for this video. I hope that you enjoy the bridging of my neighborhood with that of Eliza Gilkyson’s song, the planet. She muses about our pathway to “unsustainability”, and wonders how we go back to the drawing board to engage humans in making our communities, economy and life support systems truly sustainable. I have reproduced the lyrics to her song below.

Unsustainable, by Eliza Gilkyson

unsustainable, unmaintainable
we’ve gone too far and now it’s uncontainable
let’s tear it down and start all over again
reprehensible, indefensible
the way we are is truly incomprehensible
back to the drawing board
start all over again
madly, we loved you madly
we would have gladly maintained the status quo
badly, we’ve behaved badly
and now, sadly, we’ll have to let you go
you’re so
unforgivable, results unriddable
to make a perfect garden so unlivable
back to the drawing board
start all over again
madly, we loved you madly
we would have gladly maintained the status quo
badly, we’ve behaved badly
and now, sadly, we’ll have to let you go
you’re so
unsustainable, unrestrainable
our rationale is simply unexplainable
let’s tear it down and start all over
back to the drawing board
start all over
let’s tear it down and start all over again

An Austin, Texas songwriter, I invite you to listen to Eliza’s songs.

Moving forward in the war against climate change

Every once in a while,

I see something that really inspires me and makes me want to share it with as many people as possible. With the failure of any kind of comprehensive climate change agreements in Copenhagen last December, many of us were looking for what the next steps could possibly be to address climate change, given the failure of governments.

I have come to the realization that any substantive responses to global climate change are going to come from ordinary citizens, local communities, and the leadership of visionary businesses. Political leaders are driven by political imperatives that are at odds with the time-table for climate change.

In this short, animated film, you will see some inspiring history and solutions for our next steps within which we will be participating in a new low carbon economy. View this and be inspired.

Three practical things emerge for me, from this film:

  1. It’s up to us – not governments, to lead in the war against climate change.
  2. Technology offers us new ways to collaborate and share solutions.
  3. We have the technology and the solutions – we can create the change. Let’s just do it!

Bees, Bears, Bio-Diesel, and Birds – New Golf Course Management

It’s been my pleasure to watch Greg Holden and the management team at Clear Lake Golf Course over the last 16 years shift the management regime from a traditional turf management approach to one that integrates all aspects of sustainability into its operations. Today, May 1, 201o, the Globe & Mail featured the Clear Lake Golf Course in Riding Mountain National Park in article about four top “green golf courses” in Canada.

Brain Kendall, author of the article writes..”…All across Canada, courses are dramatically cutting back on the use of water and pesticides, welcoming home birds and animals once regarded as pests, restocking ponds with indigenous fish and coming up with ingenious initiatives to transform the image of a sport long under attack by environmentalists… ” He tees up his article on Canadian environmentally friendly golf courses by featuring Tees With Bees (Bell Bay, Cape Breton); Make Way With Bear (Stewart Creek Golf & C0untry Club, in Alberta’s Bow Valley); Cravings At Clear Lake (Clear Lake Golf Course, Manitoba); and Birdies and Birdwatching (Victoria’s Cordova Bay Golf Course).

Greg won a Manitoba Eco-Network‘s top environmental award in 2009 for the work that they have been doing. And, the Clear Lake Golf Course was also a finalist in last year’s Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s national awards of excellence in the category of “sustainable tourism”.

Earth Rhythms (a Riding Mountain-based learning adventure company) offers a personalized behind-the-scenes electric golf cart experience for small groups by advance reservation.  Turning Green Into Gold – featuring Greg’s stories about thousands of gallons of water saved, innovative gardening tips, use of natural pest fighting agents, an understanding of bio-diesel used in golf course maintenance vehicles, and short excursions to his favorite clipping’s nutrient piles, being at the heart of his “gold compost” resource stream production centre, and seeing some of  innovations in sustainable best practices are featured. This short, 2-hour program will turn your head, inspire you, and hopefully enable you to follow this up with a new appreciation for the history, ecology, and outstanding golf that is offered at Riding Mountain’s Clear Lake Golf Course.

Way to go Greg and team! It seems appropriate to tip our hats to Greg as the new 2010 President of the Canadian Golf Course Superintendent’s Association. This modest leader and pioneer in best practices of sustainable golf course management has much to offer visitors, golfers and the golf industry. He’d be the first to be cautious in handing out advice – but, he is willing to share his own experiences. His are first-class stories of carbon footprint reduction, recycling, and turning waste into resource streams.

An excerpt from this unique “experiential tourism program” will be experienced by 15 international travel buyers from India, China, Japan, the UK and Korea during the first week of May, 2010 as part of Travel Manitoba’s hosting of Rendezvous Canada – an international marketplace for travel buyers of distinctive Canadian experiences.

Clear Lake Golf Course - a Canadian leader in sustainability

My Experience With Nature

Blue-winged teal Riding Mountain National Park

Blue-winged teal swims in marsh pothole

My name is Amanda Walker and I am from Minnedosa Collegiate in Manitoba (Canada) spending the day learning about Earth Rhythms for a Career Preparation course with my school. Today, I had the pleasure to view the nature  and wonderful sights of Riding Mountain National Park. I spent the day with Earth Rhythms president, Celes Davar. This afternoon Celes took me on a wild adventure as we toured the wonderful park, and on our way we were gifted by seeing many of Manitoba’s wildlife citizens. We saw many birds such as “Ring-necked ducks”, “Green-Winged Teals”, “Great Blue Herons”, and Canada Geese, a sight for everyone to enjoy.

Canada goose on nest_Riding Mountain National Park

Female Canada goose hides on nest

Our day made me understand a lot more about nature and appreciate all that beauty Manitoba has to offer. For example, we viewed many of the ponds that surround the park and took time to discover the wildlife among them. I realize that even on a cloudy day in April, Manitoba still has so much to show for itself and that shouldn’t be taken for-granted by anyone; especially those who are honored to live here.

I realized that you can return here many times, seeing wildlife in new places and under different lighting conditions. For example, the evening light on a white-tailed deer feeding in early spring is a site that is quite common within the park.

-By Amanda Walker, Minnedosa Collegiate