Monday, September 14, 2009

Birds and Bills

Sometimes, walk destinations are almost a surprise. They start out with little in mind except a desire to be outdoors, a "let's see what catches my eye" approach to the camera, and a vague goal of making sure Black Jack has some fun and some exercise. And sometimes, Black Jack seems to be in tune with that meandering, stop and start approach. Saturday was like that. The weather was beautiful, and we spent several happy hours at Jericho. Whenever I stopped to take pictures, Black Jack sat, calm but staring intently, almost as though she was the one taking the pictures.

We watched this duck for a while. I think it was a mallard, although the coloring seemed a bit different than usual.
On a little trail behind the rabbit bushes, we took some time to look at this spider web. Neville, who has started up his blog again, has been doing some amazing spider shots, and perhaps I had some of his photos in mind when I took the picture. It was rather fun, as well, to find that Shiprock had taken a photo of a web, I believe the same day. There is another young and extremely versatile photographer who calls himself iputts. A friend of Shiprock's, I met him one day taking pictures of the osprey family, and on another occasion, had the opportunity to talk with him when Shiprock arranged a meeting. I have come to the conclusion that photographer are really fun to get to know. I don't think iputts has focused on spiders recently, but there is a dragonfly shot that is amazing. He, like Neville, has an interest in the macabre, and his zombie walk photos are well worth a look. All this to say, check out Shiprock, Neville and iputts if you have the time.
But back to the walk. A chick-a-dee was singing up a storm, as it sat on this fence.
Then, we found ourselves back where we had started, watching the ducks on the pond. I wonder if this was the same duck I had photographed earlier.
This is the first shorebird I have seen with what I think of as the classic long beak of a sandpiper. I tried to identify it, and the best guess that I came up with is perhaps a Dunlin.
This is the same bird, only a few seconds later. Another of my never-fail surprises - how can light change so dramatically from one moment to the next?
On Sunday morning, I got up very early, put Black Jack in her carrier, and biked over to North Vancouver, hoping to see Rose (the osprey chick) catch a fish. That didn't happen. In fact, I arrived just moments after Mom had delivered a fish. I waited around a long time, but there were to be no fish-catching demos on Sunday. Instead, we watched the geese..
..a cormorant standing at the end of a line of geese..
..a goose eating seaweed. Do geese eat seaweed?
Black Jack enjoyed the ride, and the beach activity, and helped me keep an eye on..
..a curious seal. (I think it was "my" seal but am not absolutely certain.)
We also checked out this starfish. It had a strangely soft surface, not so pleasant to look at, but I thought it made an interesting photograph.
I always love to watch the cormorants..
..and lately, have really enjoyed watching the Turnstones (identified with Shiprock's help).
I love the way the white under their wings catches the light.
This is one of those pictures you do not want to click on to enlarge. It's very out of focus, but I love the foot action.
After our trip to North Van, Black Jack and I biked home, stopping at the dog bakery on Denman so that she could have a special treat. Once home, she lay in her bed on the balcony while I slept for several hours, trying to get the better of a cold that has been draining my energy. Then, Bill arrived, offering lots of sympathy, and some laughter to make me forget the cold. We went for a short walk together, stopping for a latte on 4th Avenue, and then heading down to Point Grey Road to check out Margaret Pigott Park and Volunteer Park. We returned home via Tatlow Park, where Bill patiently posed while I tried to figure out how to get pictures without shadows. Both of us commented on the small but lovely parks, all within a mile or two of where we live.

Here were the results of my photo shoot. Although I didn't solve the shadow challenge in this one, I love Bill's laughter and Black Jack's focus.
I thought I did quite well in this one, except that Bill has to work hard to keep from squinting in the bright sunlight. Black Jack is still focused on a mystery subject, perhaps a squirrel.
I really do think Bill has modeling potential.
Don't you agree?
As we were leaving the park, I noticed this tree. I've been in the park many times, but on Sunday, it caught my eye for the first time.
This morning (Monday), I left for work a bit earlier than usual, hoping again to see Rose catch a fish. As it happened, Rose did not make an appearance at all. Lots of geese though. My friend, Diane, was there, with her dog, Haley. I always love to see them. We talked about the fact that many people really don't like geese. I guess we are the exceptions. I know they make quite a mess, but I still love to see them.
I stopped by again after work, happy to see that Rose was still in the area. No fish catching, though. She was seeming quite hungry, and here is flying to her nest to eat a few scraps of leftover fish that had, I imagine, been delivered by one of her parents. I wonder if I will be lucky enough to see her make a successful catch in the near future.
I was really excited to see these four otters playing. I think that was only the third time I have seen otters, in several months of watching for them. They were a fair distance away, so the photos are poor, but I'm happy to have them as a memory of the otters' little show.

You may be wondering about the title for this post. Although there were a few non-birds, and there was only one Bill (albeit in several poses), I rather liked the ring of "Birds and Bills" so there you have it. More days in a good life.


  1. Wow, Carol, you are capturing some great bird shots these days! Re your comment on the mallard where the colours didn't look quite right - they do change colour considerably in the course of the year. We used to have a pair of mallards who fed regularly and nested at one place I lived - photos of the male in spring and in fall looked like two different birds.
    Thanks for a great blog. As always, it is a pleasure to go exploring with you and see the big city through the lens of your camera.

  2. Hello Carol!
    What a pleasure meeting you and Bill at the Saints fundraiser on Saturday night. Your blog is wonderful and Black Jack is a gorgeous little dog ;) so sweet!
    You can reach me at if you're ever out Chilliwack way, we'd love to have you and Bill & Black Jack over for tea anytime!


  3. Thanks, Jean. Glad you like the bird shots. Sometimes, they work, in spite of the fact I have yet to read the manual:) Interesting, and makes sense about the color changes.

  4. Good to hear from you, LP. Yes, it was great fun meeting you! Seems like you have the beginnings of a blog started. If you have the time, I bet it would be a fascinating read, with your many interests, including music, pets and wildlife. Yes, Black Jack is a great little dog. I feel most fortunate that she found me. And, thanks for the invite:) We're hoping to do a SAINTS visit one of these days; maybe we could get together before or afterwards.

  5. Well...Each of the birds has a "bill"!

  6. Carol I am amazed how much wild life you always bring to the blog. Did you know that mallard duck looses its plumage for about two weeks, they usually go and hide during that time, may be the coloring was different, or it is juvenile. Again thanks for sharing your amazing adventures always. Anna :)