Saturday, February 21, 2009

Three-day post of birds, bunnies and dogs

With blue skies and Spring in the air, I took lots of pictures over the past three days.  I'll start with a great walk with Black Jack at Jericho Park this morning (Saturday).  We went down the Point Grey hill, snuck through a little gate at the military grounds, and heard the tap, tap, tapping of this Flicker before we saw him.  I've always wondered why some woodpeckers will tap on metal rather than wood.  Do they like the sound, or the feel on their beaks?  Does it somehow jar the bugs loose?  Whatever the reason, the sound sure does carry.  I wonder if the nearby residents approve.  I know I still experience a thrill every time I see a Flicker.     
Black Jack and I followed that Flicker around from pole to pole, and then to some bushes, and it finally met its mate (I think) on this wire.  Poor quality photo, but I was excited to see two of them together.
We headed across 4th Avenue to Jericho Park, and saw ducks gathered at the little pond.
Black jack trembled with interest, but remained quiet as I took a few close-up shots.

Then, a couple of people appeared on the little bridge, and the ducks quacked and conversed with each other as some flew and others swam to the other end of the pond.
Black Jack and I continued on to the next little pond, which had only two ducks in it.  I heard this Red-Winged Blackbird before I saw it.  I"m beginning now to recognize and enjoy a few bird calls and sounds.  I can really understand how the musician, Olivier Messaien, became so fixated on bird sounds.  I did some analysis of his works when I went back to McGill to do some music courses in Montreal in the 1990's.  I was working on an assignment with my window open, and kept playing the same passage over and over.  All of a sudden, I looked up to discover my window ledge lined with birds.  Strange, because at first, the music doesn't sound all that birdlike to the human ear (or it didn't to me) but the birds certainly recognized their language, and slowly, I began to as well.  
We walked on to a kind of marsh pond that had all kinds of activity going on, much of it under the reeds and between the bullrushes.  Black Jack quivered and cocked her head, and I tried quite unsuccessfully to capture the beauty of the grasses, bullrushes and forest behind.
A zoomed in shot worked a little better, perhaps.

We continued on, past the last pond.
I took one more shot to record a black duck that looked different from any I've seen.  No identification yet.
As we walked around the corner, we came to the spot where Scott (my last dog) and I used to walk every morning.  I always think of an ancient TV program called Maggie Muggins (or that's what I think I remember).  She used to dance around and through trails in the mulberry bushes made by rabbits.  Black jack sensed the rabbits here long before we saw them.  When I used to walk with Scott, I always called out to the rabbits to warn them about Scott.  I'm happy to say he never caught one. 
She became really animated, but remained strangely quiet.  Not a peep out of her...
She checked out the holes and peered into the bushes..
.. but unlike the last time we walked here (Phyllis and Bill will remember that occasion), she did not make a sound.  Has she learned new hunting skills?  I was really vigilant, snapping the photos with one hand, and keeping a really short leash on her with the other.
Another view of the trails around the bushes.
Rabbits began to appear everywhere.  This white one was somewhat shy, and I think, convinced if it didn't move, we wouldn't see it.
But many of them came right out in the open.
A family here.
.. and the dearest little brown fellow.  (Well, actually, not all that little.)
When I was ready to head back home, Black Jack was extremely reluctant to come with me.  She walked slightly behind me all the way back across the park to 4th Avenue.
I took a few shots of the ocean..
..and of the city buildings across the water..
and one of the blue sky behind the trees (with one requisite crow) and then we retraced our steps back home.  A fun walk and a new Black Jack behavior to ponder.  

When I walked out the door Friday morning, the Flicker was at my neighbor's feeder.  This was the first time I took a photo of it that wasn't through a window.  The sun was in my eyes, but I did manage to get a few angles that show some of its beautiful markings.  Here, the red on its face, and a hint of pinkish under its tail.
Again, just a hint of the tail color but I love the bend of its body.
Finally, its beautiful red under-feathers.
It took four shots to capture only some of what attracts me to it.  Here, the arrangement of stripes and patterns.
I start work later on Friday mornings, and I had a little time to linger at Lonsdale Quay.  These cormorants seemed fine with one seagull member at their gathering.
The close-up of these two, with sunlight on them, revealed rich colors I had never noticed before.  Up until Friday, I thought of cormorants as being black birds.
I walked along the shore, picking my way carefully over the rocks and pebbles, heading toward school.
My reward?  A seal sighting.  Very difficult to get much of a picture.
The sunlight on its back created a star.  It sure was a noisy fellow.  Its loud breathing had me worried at first.  I'm wondering if there may be two in this picture.
Then, as I rounded the corner where the river begins, I saw my first ever kingfisher.
The view looking up the river.  
One beautiful little finch, before I climbed up the rocks to the school.
As I landed on the ground above the river, I was disappointed to catch only half of this crow landing on a tree right in front of me.  That shot would have been amazing, with its wings open.  Still, I think this might be one of my better crow photos.  Finally, not a silhouette!
Before going in to school to begin my day, I looked down to the river and snapped this Barrows Goldeneye.
Much later in the day, as I was heading home, this little dog's ears caught my attention.  They were huge!  I wish I could have shown that with a front view, but this was the best I could manage.
As I walked over the Fell Street Bridge, it was almost dark, but I caught one shot of the Lions Gate.

Not so many shots on Thursday.  This one of the goose was my favorite.
The crows gathered in the Bald Eagle's roosting spot.  Quite daring behavior.  First time I've seen them do that.
One Towhee in the front of the school, but my camera didn't capture its striking red eye.
The one blue heron that I've talked about before seems to spend quite a bit of time across the river, in front of these rocks.  It's hard to get much of a shot of it, but I wanted to show its seemingly friendly relationship with the crow.   
My last photo of the day was of Tia (I hope I have her name right.)  Her human has been away for months and months, but she is lucky that one of the teachers has moved in with her, and is taking wonderful care of her.  I know he'll miss her when her human returns.  She's a beautiful and very sweet-natured dog.  
Phew!  A very, very long blog.  If you made it all the way to the end, thanks for reading!


  1. Of course I made it to the end. My two favourite pictures are sequential -- the flicker on the feeder, and the "who invited *that* guy?" seagull with the cormorants. Glad to see that that you have been enjoying the good weather, and glad to hear that you are still walking as opposed to cycling. I am big fan of people taking enough time to heal properly.

  2. We had a gray day yesterday, and as I look out the window next to my computer monitor, it is currently snowing (after all, it IS February). So your walk pictures remind me that spring IS coming! I envy your ability to take your time--it always seems like I'm late for work.

    I had to look several times at the first photo of the flicker at the feeder--I would have bet it was a squirrel.

    Some day I'll have to PM some of Al's bird pictures--He feeds a bunch through the winter, and we also have had everything from owls (both great horned and barn) to doves roost/nest up in the top of the barn. Makes a mess below, but they're really neat to see.

  3. I loved all the pictures. I especially loved the ducks!! So many creatures.