Saturday, March 14, 2009

Stanley Park Stopover

Yesterday was one of those no students, teacher education days, at school.  I did two sessions, one learning about Front Page, and the other about Power Point.  Why does Blogger seem so much more direct?  If it hadn't been for my friend, Mali, and her gentle guidance, I would have been tempted to pull the antics of some of our students when they feel frustrated.  Anyhow, the thing about pedagogical days is that I leave earlier, because there are no music rehearsals in the late afternoon.  So, on the way home, I stopped by Stanley Park.  As I biked along Lost Lagoon, a heron sharing a log with sleeping ducks caught my attention.  The light was poor, but it was impossible to keep my camera in the pannier.
A zoomed in shot to show his "beard" and yellow bill, both signs of a male seeking a mate.  (This knowledge due to Jean's comment a couple of posts ago.)
A few noisy people came by, and the heron flew away.  I was happy to catch something of the outspread wings, although the focus leaves a lot to be desired.
It landed on this rock by a tiny island, just a little bit further out in the water.
I decided to head over to the heronry, to see if the herons have returned.  On the way, by the little bridge, I saw two girls feeding squirrels and birds.  This little fellow was about as tame as they come.
I had the zoom on, when it all but stood on my shoes, so here are a couple of crazy close-ups.  I missed the tip of its right ear in both, but love the expression in those little paws.

Thanks to dp, I know this is a Chestnut-backed Chickadee.  It was sitting in the girl's hand.
The second girl offered to hold my bike so that I could get more shots.  This one isn't that great a picture, but I love that the bikes and birds part of this blog came together.
Raccoons were everywhere.  It seemed like I saw hundreds. Having seen the results of a raccoon/dog fight once, I have a healthy respect/fear of raccoons, but this picture was amusing to me.  Too bad the duck isn't in focus, and too bad I didn't take the action immediately after this picture.  I was wondering about the risk the duck was taking, in staying so close to the raccoon.  Then, the raccoon turned its back, and waddled off.  It made me smile, because the duck turned around and waddled after the raccoon, following it into the bushes.  Do you suppose they are friends?
Two elderly (at least a couple of years older than I am:) people were standing at the little bridge, admiring all the different species of birds and squirrels.  I took them to be nature lovers, perhaps visiting Vancouver, and asked if they knew about the heronry.  "Oh, I know, all right," said the lady, disgust in her voice.  "They're back.  I live in the apartments just above them.  I was hoping they would stay away this year; they're about ten days late. But, unfortunately, they arrived two days ago."  I sort of quietly suggested that I really love to watch them, and she added, "They're a health hazard, you know.  People step in their poop, and walk into their houses, and...."  Her voice trailed off.  I think she was slowly catching on that I was a poor prospect for sympathy.  I left, anxious to see the herons before dark.  To be fair, I guess the nearby residents have a right to complain about the smell and noise around the heronry.  But, I believe I would be fine with them, even if I did live right above them.  In fact, what a great viewing opportunity that would be.  That old rush of happiness hit me as I heard the squawks and saw the shapes overhead.  Shapes were all I was able to capture, but I had great fun watching them work together on the nests, sometimes the picture of domestic bliss, and at other times, engaged in little spats with neighbors.  Stanley and Sue's nest looked abandoned.  I wonder if they or their parents have come back.  All I could capture were silhouettes, but this one, I would say from its beard, is a male.  
Amazing how they appear to dive almost head first into their nest.
Sorry about the terrible quality of this photo, but it does show some of the herons, and gives a sense of how close the nests are to each other.  No wonder there is sometimes confusion, with parents or kids hopping into the wrong nest.
As the light faded even more, I left, happy with my visit to Stanley Park, and looking forward to meeting Bill for a delicious meal at Heaven and Earth Curry House.  We both enjoyed it, although it was a tad more expensive than some of the Indian restaurants we have tried.  The review with the link is very positive, but I did find some more negative responses as well.  One complaint was that the portions were small.  I could never agree with that.  Neither of us could finish our meal, in spite of really enjoying the food.  Before I left Stanley Park, I took a couple of pictures of the clouds behind the trees.  As I so often say, it was a good day.   


  1. As one who likes to have all her ducks in a row I do love the picture on the log. And that is one healthy-looking squirrel. Last night I was watched by one of our rats while doing my chores. He had his paws hooked over a hole in they garage drywall with big ears and wriggly nose very curious about my comings and goings. He was about 1/2 the size of Pip, so I can't expect her to take him on. Cute as he was I can't have them chewing up pieces of my car, so we are going to have to move to a live trap I think.

    My last meal at Heaven and Earth was very disappointing, but that was years ago.

  2. Love the pic of the heron with his beard. We had a heron on my creek yesterday, but I wasn't able to photograph it before it flew off. However, she (I think) will be back as the little fish are likely starting to make their way through the waterways now.

    I wonder if that duck imprinted on the raccoon??????

    I always have to bite my tongue when people complain about the birds, squirrels, deer etc. "spoiling" the human habitat - but then I remember that I, like dp, have no tolerance for destructive rats in my barn (but at least the herons are visible - I've read that for every ONE rat you see in the barn, there are another HUNDRED you are not seeing under the floorboards etc. YIKES!).

  3. Ack! Fortunately the floor is concrete...

  4. The strange thing (with me) is that I absolutely love squirrels, but feel more put off by rats, and as Bill says, they're really not all that different. One thing for sure, rats' tails are MUCH less attractive to me. And, Jean, the thought of hundreds.. well, words actually fail me. I lived in N.S., renting an oceanside house for a couple of years, on a lobster pound property. It was a great place to live except for the rats. They were everywhere; I'd see them on my porch, and hear their thumping in the walls at night. They drove me crazy! And, every once in a while, in a Vancouver lane, I'll see a dead rat, and the size of it always shocks me. But, dp, when you describe their paws hooked over the drywall, and big ears and wriggly noses, I feel inclined to get to know them better. On the other hand, I totally understand your concern about your car. So, I'm torn. For sure, the idea of live trapping is much more appealing to me than any other way of eliminating them from my space.

    dp, I had the eggplant curry with chapatis, and Bill had the butter chicken with rice. We really like the Indian Oven, just a block or so to the other side of Burrard, but we both thought we would go back to Heaven and Earth, as well.

  5. Oh Carol all your photos tell a story, and they are so beautiful despite the lack of light on some of them, but they are still really good - its hard, I run into this issue all the time.

    Nature is beautiful, and you covered every corner of it. The heron photos are so nice and sharp! When I take photos of our heron, I love taking them in action so I aways ask my husband to do something gentle, lol.

    And you have concluded with beautiful sky photos. What a nice trip!!! Hurray....thanks for sharing, Anna :)

  6. Thank you, Anna. I am in awe of your photography skills and artistic talent. I feel I will never reach that level, but surely do appreciate your kind comment, as well as the inspiration that comes from looking at your work!

  7. Carol, I always enjoy your pictures so much!