Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tuesday walk

Black Jack and I went to Jericho again yesterday.

Our first sighting, just before we arrived at the park, was this cat, sitting on a first floor balcony ledge. I have never seen such impressive whiskers.
On the bridge, we met this beautiful dog named Gus. Gus has more growing to do, since he is only about seven months old. He has a magnificent profile and a very loveable personality.
This sparrow (song sparrow?) was also on the bridge. What struck me that I haven't noticed before was the lovely outline around the eyes. I spent quite some time this morning reading my bird book, trying to make a positive identification. I began to wonder if I am the only one to find the many kinds of sparrows confusing. Finally, I did a google, and the first site to come up was Wanderin Weeta's. I've been reading her very interesting blog for the past few months, and discovered that she was also finding sparrow identification a bit challenging. So nice to know I'm not alone. From the comments Wanderin Weeta received, I think Song Sparrow may be correct.
Oli, the otter made a brief appearance yesterday. Oli could be short for Oliver or Olivia, but for the purpose of this blog, I will refer to him as "he" since I have no way of knowing his gender. (Thank you, Phyllis, for helping me with the name.) If anyone is able to help me with otter gender identification, I would be most appreciative. Oli popped up through some thin ice, a small fish in his mouth, and covered with reeds that made it seem as if he were wearing a hat. I would guess there were about 10 seconds to snap a couple of photos before he disappeared.
I thought this nearby Spotted Towhee looked beautiful against an evergreen background.
Bill met us just after I took the Towhee photo, and unfortunately missed seeing Oli. We walked on together, noting the bird houses throughout the park. Bill wondered if any of them were occupied. Coincidentally, this squirrel popped in, and then immediately out of the doorway of this house. It patiently waited while I took many photos, testing the exposure.
After what I found to be a very enjoyable, though unsuccessful time searching off the beaten track for owls, we came back to the path behind the pond. I was hoping Bill might have the pleasure of meeting Oli. Not to be, but this Blue Heron was an absolute treat to watch.
Here, an opportunity to study the foot structure. I googled and came across a site explaining that the hind toe enables herons to stand for long periods of time on one leg. I had been wondering about their amazing balance.

At that same link shown above, I found this fascinating information:
Herons have special feathers that break up into powder. These are used as a sort of powder puff to clean their feathers. The powder is rubbed into the feathers and combed out using the comb-like claw located on the middle toe of each foot.
Another one of those shots that got away. We watched the heron, waiting quietly for quite some time, hoping to see it fly to a new spot, and capture a photo of its open wings. Then, I turned to whisper to Bill about an unusual sound, and in that moment, the heron left. Wildlife watching requires the most amazing focus - something I am slowly learning the hard way. This was all I managed to capture as it floated gracefully away.
Bill has an eye for beauty, and pointed out the way this white tree stood out against a background of evergreens. (I have to put plant and tree identification to a time in the future. There is only so much my aging brain can assimilate at a time.)
We decided to separate and meet at the fishing dock. Bill and Black Jack chose the rabbit route, and I opted for a different one. On the way, I met this lovely squirrel having a snack.
At the dock, we met mnlamberson. I found her Flickr pictures recently, and she is another photographer of amazing calibre to add to my list of those talented but also generous people who are willing to share some of their expertise with me. She had already photographed Oli, and for spectacular photos of him, you could check out this link. She told me that the shorebird you see below is a Sanderling. I've been mistakenly calling them Turnstones, as some of you may have noticed in a recent post. Somewhere between ten and twenty of them seem to move as a unit. I watched them the other day, doing as pigeons and starlings do, changing direction en masse, except running on the sand, rather than flying. It took a little time to get this one alone. Isn't it beautiful?
As we stood talking, this crow seemed to be posing for us, in the beautiful afternoon light.You know I love to watch the seagulls in flight, and it seemed to me that they were particularly magnificent yesterday.
As we headed back to Bill's truck, we stopped once more by the ponds, looking for Oli. No luck, but these female Red-winged Blackbirds were lovely. The two photos show very different colouring. I think that may have been caused by photography errors, or perhaps, the changing light.
A year or so ago, I posted about a house at Cypress and 7th. Petr and Francois take great joy in decorating for passers-by. Since I haven't biked much at all since my accident a month ago, and also since my school holiday came earlier this year, there hasn't been reason to travel up Cypress Street. Last evening, after a delicious latte and sandwich at JJBean, Bill drove out of his way to take me to some photo op spots. (Thank you, Bill!) One was a large metallic bear on the roof of an optometry shop near the corner of Main and Broadway. It was wearing sunglasses and I thought it would be fun to photograph it against the city lights. In fact, the photograph was awful, so I haven't posted it here. But, it led to one of those learning moments I talked about in my last post. A post office worker in his truck was stopped at the light and saw me trying to take the picture. He figured out that my camera must be for watching birds, and in that short waiting time, managed to tell me about a wonderful BBC documentary by David Attenborough called Life of Birds. Talk about epiphanies! After stopping by Cypress and 7th, and finding that my camera (at least as I presently know how to use it) was all wrong for Xmas light photos, and liking only this one failed shot, we headed to Limelight Video, another of my favourite businesses in Vancouver. Sure enough, they had the dvd, and we spent a most enjoyable evening watching the first volume. I cannot say enough good things about it. If you haven't seen it and like birds, it's a must view.
That was our day yesterday, another good one. Thank you for taking time to read about it.


  1. We've loved looking at your blog, and are so happy to see our Gus on it!

  2. Thanks for commenting, Shannon. It was great fun meeting Gus, and what a handsome boy he is!