Monday, July 30, 2012

Ospreys, a lake and some fireworks for Our World Tuesday

There are three events in this week's Our World Tuesday post:

  1. Trip to Port Moody to visit the three members of an osprey family that Bill and I have named Matt, Mimi and Pat
  2. Short visit to Como Lake.
  3. Walk to the Burrard Bridge to see Vancouver's first of three firework displays (Vietnam is the presenting country) in the Celebration of Light series.  

Every once in a while, we humans are lucky enough to witness an intimate wildlife event.  I understand now just how much of a gift such an occasion is.  My only other opportunity to see ospreys from fairly close range was in 2009 in North Vancouver when a family (at first called Papa, Mama and Junior, and later changed to Lawrence, Olivia and baby Rose) took up residence just a stone's throw from the school where I taught.  There are three months of posts beginning in July of 2009 and ending in September, documenting my observations (although with smaller lenses and you will have to click on the photos to enlarge them), including the unforgettable day when I was privileged to see Rose's first flight.

But, back to Matt, Mimi and Pat. Here is a feeding sequence that we enjoyed : 
Mimi knows Matt is on his way with food, leaves her perch and flies to the nest.
Hovering over the nest.  No sign of baby Pat but s/he is in there somewhere. 
Mimi lands.  Pat is still hiding.
I missed some very important steps here.  Matt flew in with an orange fish that some bystanders described as a koi and others as a goldfish.  Matt must be raiding some local pools!  Mimi grabs the fish from him and faces away from the camera in this next photo.  
Mimi's tail end with fish in her talons.  Matt prepares to leave.  Pat's head appears.
Mimi tears off a chunk of fish for Pat, who chirps impatiently.
Pat is ready for the delivery.
This next photo gives a fairly good view of the difference in feather colouring between the chick and the adult.  Ship Rock, a friend, experienced bird watcher and photographer extraordinaire had talked about this, but I was curious to learn a little bit more about young birds and their feather growth.  I found some excellent information at this site.  I'll put a quote from that site here, but if you would like to see close-up shots of those blood (or pin) feathers, you may want to check out the link.

"Feathers come from follicles (tiny bumps) that grow in rows or tracts on the bird's skin. When the feather first comes out, it is rolled and protected inside a tube-like sheath that contains blood vessels, which nourish the feather's growth. The bluish-coloring in the sheaths is blood; this is why they're called blood feathers. 
Once the feather has developed and burst through the sheath, the protective tube will fall away or possibly the bird will pull it off while preening. The blood vessels will have withered and the quill will be the white color we are familiar with seeing.
Blood feathers are sensitive and if broken or injured, can cause severe bleeding and even death. When a blood feather is broken, it must be removed so the follicle can close and a new feather can be born.

Note that in the second photo (at the link) featured above, the chick's feathers are not solid brown like an adult's, but instead have tan tips. Young ospreys have a tan coloring at the tips of their feathers that lasts until they are about eighteen months old. It is believed that when the young ospreys fledge, the tan coloring helps notify adults in the area that the birds are immature and not a threat to the adults."  
Oh, so close!
In it goes.
Another morsel on the way.  
It's a bit too large, and..
a piece breaks off.  No more photos, but in the end, all bits were consumed.
After leaving Port Moody, we headed to Como Lake, a wonderful little spot in Coquitlam, that just happened to be on the way home, and that neither of us had seen before.  We saw people fishing, and Bill learned from one of them that the small (1 kilometre to walk around it) lake is stocked.  

Black Jack was intoxicated with new smells.
We saw one particularly lovely Blue Heron
(although I didn't do very well with the capture)
We decided this had to be Blue Spruce.
I can see why the term "majestic" is often used to describe trees.
Showing that just the tips of the branches were blue.
An unidentified plant that neither of us remembered seeing before.
The light was fading.. 
..but what a beautiful little lake!
One very pretty domestic (we guessed) duck greeted us.  One that escaped a farm?
I was reading the sign when two strangers appeared.  Only one of them looked at me.
A crinkle of the treat bag allowed me one quick glance from the other.
Fortunately, the handsome guy didn't stick his tongue out at me :) 

Great view, with a little help from her friend!
Another crinkle of the treat bag earned me one more glance.
Then she and her friend were off to explore.  (She is in there somewhere).
I mistakenly thought this lovely dog was a Maremma.  The lady told us the name of the breed, but it has escaped my memory.
A slight delay, and some pictures from the truck just as we were about to leave.
Single file, and no rushing please.
Walking straight toward us, and the crosswalk.  Smart geese.
Ve-e-ery slowly, guys.  We need to look cool.
Hup we go.

And finally, the last one..
Checking out the skytrain crossing.
There it comes..
Closer still.
Bill noticed that this station looked like something from outer space.
Somebody stop me.  I can't seem to put the camera down!
We decided to take the ferry across False Creek, walk from Granville Island to Vanier Park, and then walk up the steps to the Burrard Bridge to see the fireworks.  It was a roundabout route when we could have walked directly to the bridge, but it made for a pleasant walk and a nice boat ride on a perfect evening.
Here comes the False Creek Ferry.  Black Jack would fly to it if she could.
Reflections of the Granville Bridge
Unidentified flowers seen as we walked to Vanier Park
Burrard Bridge on the left.  Granville Bridge on the right.
Shaft of light hitting a high rise as we head to the steps at the right side of the bridge.
Up those steps, turn left, and we're on the bridge.
Engish Bay (Sunset Beach) across the way.  Everyone gathering to wait for the fireworks.

It was my idea to get there wa-a-ay early.  We staked out our spot and then..
we waited, and waited and waited for darkness to fall.  (Sorry, Bill!)
Bill got a bit hungry.
Black Jack was relaxed and totally happy to be with her much loved friend, Bill.
She didn't seem to mind the wait at all.
Do not worry. We were really, really careful with her. 
I told you it was a long wait.  Perfect time for a little rest.
Failed fireworks shot, but doesn't this look like a range of mountains in a circular shape?
No tripod, and still learning about slow shutter speeds, so I'm pretty happy with this one.
Last one for today.  A few more to follow for Friday's skywatch post.
Thanks so much for stopping by.  I hope you'll take some time to check out other events in the lives of people around the world by going to the Our World Tuesday link.