Friday, April 24, 2009

Biking with Black Jack

Today, Black Jack and I biked to Stanley Park.  Bill took this photo as we were leaving.  I'm smiling but quite nervous.  It was her first trip with me since the cycling accident.  Of the many lucky breaks to do with that accident, one huge one was that Black Jack was not with me.  I was acutely aware of the added responsibility today.  We traveled slowly down the hills, and used paths away from traffic whenever possible.  

When I took out the carrier, Black Jack jumped up and down, eager to get in it.  People smiled when they saw her, and many remarked how mellow she was, just hanging out and watching the world go by.  
We stopped at The Wicked Cafe, where Black Jack had a chance to stretch her legs and socialize with other latte lovers.  One more stop at a pet store to get a new collar and sample some treats, and then on to Stanley Park.  I decided today to pay a little more attention to Stanley and Stella, the blue heron pair on the other side of the street from Serena and Sam.  Just as I arrived, Stanley left the nest, and flew across the street to this tree by the apartment building.  
He quickly selected a branch, and flew back to the nest.
The sun was in my eyes, and photos were poor, but the silhouette shows Stanley just before he passes the stick to Stella.  One would think the nest is empty, but Stella was laying low.  I'm betting that she's sitting on eggs.
I missed the branch exchange, but she is now working it into the nest, and Stanley is already thinking about heading out for another one.
Stella nestled down out of sight, and Stanley ready to leave.
I took a moment to check on Serena.  She was still working away on that nest.  Sam didn't visit, and it occurs to me, after Bill asked this evening, that I have not once seen Serena leave that nest.  How is she eating?  Does it look to anyone as though she has made a little progress?  
There is a small enclosure near the heronry, designed for little dogs.  Black Jack was in it a few times last summer.  Sometimes she plays, and other times, all she can think of is the squirrel-action on the other side.  Today, there was one very sweet, 11-year-old misfit in terms of size, but everyone got along just fine.
Black Jack looks like a little monster here, but she played well.
If you look closely, she sports quite a toothy look, but her friends didn't seem to mind, and accepted both ends without prejudice.
Sorry about the poor quality pictures, but I loved the ears flying back on this spaniel.  Black Jack is playing, but also has one eye on the gate.  She hasn't forgotten the squirrels.  I was happy to see her have a run with some doggy friends.  It's not something she gets to do off leash very often. 
Finally, we left for a walk around Lost Lagoon.  Our first sighting was this blue heron.  There always seems to be one at this same spot.  I wonder if they choose a location and claim it as their own.
We also saw this American Wigeon.  The only difference from the picture in my bird book, is the brown spot over the eye.  In the book, that spot is green.  
A bit further on, we met two raccoons.  This one has the cutest little face, but I wasn't fooled.  It was eyeing Black Jack, and I knew a confrontation would not end well for her.  I kept a short leash, and she, fortunately was properly respectful.
On the other side of the lagoon, we saw these three turtles.  Funny to see the apartment building reflections.  One can almost, but not quite, forget that Stanley Park is in the middle of a city.
The swans were nesting.  I now understand that those long necks serve more than an aesthetic purpose.  The swan remained in one spot, stretching out to get nest material...
... then brought it back to the mid point...
... and delivered it to a spot behind.  Are they building the nest around them?  I noticed some similarities to heron nest building, but differences too.  Although not posted, I took photos of another swan sitting on a large, straw/grass nest.  I'm wondering if that is what this one is working up to.
Before we left, I did a final heronry check.  Serena was in the same position (no photo).  Here is Stanley, picking out another branch.
He gets it in his mouth...
...and off he goes.  I think Stanley and Stella have child rearing down quite well.  I look forward, soon, to seeing their chicks.
It was a pleasant, if cool, ride home.  Black Jack's weight became a tad more noticeable as we headed up Point Grey hill.  She was particularly watchful.  I wonder if she was comparing her walks up the hill to the ride.  I wonder if she was appreciating the lift, or wishing she could jump out and go on her own steam.  Sometimes, she is so compliant, I find myself wondering what she really thinks, you know, deep down.  I would have to say, though, that she overall had a great day and so did I.


  1. Oooh...turns out that I also like my turtles in a row. This story about Sam and Serena is quite gripping. Looks like a lovely day.

  2. Carol, I'm interested in knowing more about the carrier you use for Black Jack. Do you happen to know what is the maximum "load" it can carry? I sometimes stick Belle into my ordinary daypack when longer walks prove too much for her and the other dogs aren't ready to turn back, but I've been looking for something designed specifically for dogs. Most are only good for up to 12 pounds, and Belle is closer to 20.

    I enjoyed the photos - I hope the baby herons hatch before the foliage is so dense it obscures them.

  3. I have to say, I just love the picture of the turtles. And the raccoon is very cute as well. Great pictures!

  4. That photo of the heron in the water (the one after all the dog park photos) is amazing!

  5. I've been away from Vancouver for a few days... reading your blog makes me feel as if I've been there too.
    I quite liked the heron photo, as well - couldn't help but imagine that one printed up large on a white background. Spectacular.
    What a fabulous place we live, eh!

  6. dp, I think the turtles did that just for you.

    Jean, others may be interested as well. The carrier is made by Outward Hound and I think Black Jack's was a size medium. I have a feeling 20 lbs is about the cut-off point but I hope you find something that works well. This particular one that I use has an opening for the tail as well as the feet.

    We may not see the babies when they're first born, but when they're learning to fly, it will be fun. They come out to the end of the branches and exercise their wings for a few weeks before they fledge.

    Thanks, William, Carole and Mali:)