Chipmunk harvests seeds

Canada thistles ©Celes DavarOn a beautiful autumn day in Riding Mountain National Park, Monika and Rainer Hamberger and I walked on and off trail, discovering wildlife and unique fall nature events that were taking place. Monika and Rainer, with the support of Travel Manitoba are traveling through Manitoba on a 15-day itinerary collecting experiences, photographs, and insights from which they will write and publish articles for magazines and online media within Germany. We are grateful for their interest and love of “Canadian experiences in Manitoba”.

It was a warm and sunny day. Fall activities in the national park were in full swing. By that, I mean that wolves were howling early in the morning. Bull elk were bugling to keep their harems protected from other suitors. We spotted four bull moose. Wandering along elk trails, we discovered plenty of evidence of the previous night’s skirmishes and group activities.

On the return trip, a western chipmunk was stuffing its cheeks with Canada thistle seeds from a recent prescribed burn in the park.


Colors and contrasts

Fall in Riding Mountain National Park is a time of colors and contrasts. And, I don’t mean just visual. Contrasts of scents – highbush cranberry, elk urine, fresh rainfall, or the scent of changing aspen leaves. The colors are very understated and muted. It’s the sky that adds contrast of hue and tone. I was out cycling in the backcountry today.

A fresh scat from coyotes, a mark from a wagon train wheel (a group of horse-riders returning after spending a week backcountry camping and horse-back riding), a quick moving gray jay, and a floating red-tailed hawk were some of the things I observed.

But, what I loved most was the way that the clouds were scudding by, with a shaded neutral tone covering the landscape for a while, and if you just waited a couple of minutes, it would be sparkling in sunlight. Radiant, in fact.

Riding Mountain in the fall is a time to smell, photograph, hike, walk, and enjoy a season that is full of scents that will definitely remind you that this is a season to experience. Today, I hiked off-trail, cycled, photographed, and smelled. A great Sunday!

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Bergamots and Nodding Onions ablaze

Fire in natural systems is a renewal agent. It’s like having a glass of fresh carrot, beet, ginger and spinach juice. Nutrients are released. The grasslands of Riding Mountain National Park are being carefully restored through the use of fire as an agent of renewal. One of the best places to experience this rejuvenation right now are the Lake Audy grasslands.


Yesterday, as I traveled through the Lake Audy grasslands, getting ready for a family group who will be biking with me next week, I took a few photos of the burst of bergamots, nodding wild onion, and brown-eyed susans that are the more brilliantly coloured representatives that have burst out from this spring’s prescribed burn.

I feel awed when in the presence of this “nature bloom”.  It’s like being up in the Yukon where fireweed glows across hundreds of acres of burned lands. Or, perhaps in Namibia where spring rains bring out the wildflowers. While this bloom is on a smaller scale, it is nevertheless awe-inspring. Perhaps, not the least, because this beautiful shade of bergamot pink is one of my photographing colours. I have been photographing the Riding Mountain area for over 30 years. We provide photo safaris in 4-seasons for travelers to learn to use their digital “point and shoots”, or for seasoned photographers to discover unique locations to photograph nature and wildlife.

Call Celes at Earth Rhythms for a tailor made photo safari at 1.888.301.0030 or email him at celes.davar at

Please take a moment to see the five slides below advance automatically as a slideshow, and revel in the colour pink from the fescue prairies.  

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