Thursday, January 7, 2010

Back at school

After a long and very relaxing break, the end of the first workweek of 2010 is nearing. I found that although I wasn't ambitious enough to make the trek from Point Grey to North Vancouver during the holiday, if felt good during the last couple of days to explore the area around my school once more.

On Tuesday, I looked at Rose's nest. (Rose was an osprey chick that I had the good fortune to observe growing up this past summer.) The nest was occupied, but I hope it will soon once more be inhabited by Rose's parents. I'm guessing this "renter" is a juvenile double-crested cormorant.
A blue heron was on the other side of the river at dusk.
It flew onto this twig of a tree, perching rather precariously.
On Wednesday, my friend, Dianne, joined me for a walk. She spotted this birch tree. It is broken, as you see. I wonder if it will continue to grow.
Lots of sumac berries, which I have been seeing all winter long, but for some reason, stood out as a sign of spring.
Driftwood is always interesting to me.
Dianne's dog, Haley, was really enjoying herself.

These black turnstones were very busy. It only occurred to me yesterday how they may have gotten their names. They spend a lot of time checking out the food source on the rocks.
Their wings really catch the eye.
This crow was clearly upset..
..and the reason became obvious. Haley had found and stolen its feast of fish, tucked in the rocks. Mm... yummy!
Spring.. I can almost taste it.
I believe these are surf scoters. I took them from the Lions Gate Bridge, during my commute home. They were a long, long way down.
I stopped in Stanley Park, going along a trail, and then down to the seawall, hoping to find some Oyster Catchers that my colleague had told me about. I never did find them, but I discovered four small sculptures of lions that I had never noticed before. There are large sculptures at the entrance to the Lions Gate, but these little ones border a tiny bridge in the park. Here's one of them.
No Oyster Catchers to be found, but i did see lots of Barrow's Goldeneyes. One little bird along the path tried to land on my hand, but then realized I had no food, and flew off. I wonder if most birders carry seeds with them. I couldn't get a picture of it, but guessed it to possibly be a Nuthatch.
I tried, before I left the park, to capture a beautiful sunset, but the photos were very poor, so my final showing is this Canada Goose at dusk. I hope that leg is just relaxing and not injured.
One question, before closing. I am wondering if anyone has a great bird identification book that shows clear pictures of both male and female of each species. I am using the National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Western Region, right now. (1994) Or, do most of you use the internet?

Edited Thursday evening to add: I biked along the seawall again Thursday afternoon and came across the same Canada Goose. It was separated from the other geese and definitely favouring its right foot, barely able to put weight on it when walking. I haven't seen it fly. I kept a distance from it, not wanting to cause it more stress. So, a few more questions (I seem to have a lot of them lately). I did a google and came up with Vancouver Wildlife Association. I'm thinking to call them in the morning, but will go back and check on the goose tomorrow on the way to work, before calling them. I'm kicking myself for not doing something sooner, but am wondering if anyone has other suggestions for helping it out, or even whether it might be better to see if it will heal on its own. Should I get some food and drop it nearby? What do they eat?


  1. I wonder if stronger birds nearby would eat any food provided. Hopefully, the Wildlife Association will have answers. Last summer I found a bird (possibly a sparrow) on my patio that hobbled a bit then became so still I could touch it. I thought it was dead but did not move it. An hour later it fluttered a bit then suddenly flew away. I’ve seen this happen with other birds as well.

    So with any luck the bird you spotted will recover on its own. If you get a chance, please keep us posted.

  2. Thanks for the comment and encouraging story about the sparrow, Penelope. I wondered the same thing about other birds taking whatever food I might leave. I will definitely keep you posted after checking on it this morning.

  3. Sorry to hear about the ill or injured goose. This time of year seems to be tough on them - more of them are lame during the cold icy hard-on-the-feet winter than in the spring; many with this type of injury will probably get better on their own. But this one seems to have an injury on its forehead too. SPCA is probably flooded by reports of lame water fowl at this time of year. Man

    Bird ID books? Some birder's field guides use photographs, others artist illustrations. Each kind has an important role to play, but for ID purposes many birders prefer the latter because several illustrations are usually given - male, female, juvenile, winter feather, etc. - and in addition, important features are often pointed out by notations.

    Many birders prefer the long-known excellent guide known as "Sibley's" (David Allen Sibley). But there are a couple of others, Roger Tory Peterson for one, and National Geographic's field guide for another. There may be several versions, oriented to North America, perhaps, or just parts of North America, or maybe the west or the east or just a province, say.

    My preference is the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of Western North America. Most book stores will have it for about $25; the other two I mention might be twice that price.

    Cheers, Shiprock

  4. Update for Penelope & Shiprock: I went back to Stanley Park yesterday morning, and searched quite carefully, but there was no sign of the injured Canada Goose. I met a couple walking along very slowly, and something told me they were on a similar mission to mine. We talked, and they said they had seen the Goose I described, and there had also been a duck with a similar-looking injury. Though they had walked a long way, wanting to check on them, there was no sign of either. I'm hoping they were perhaps picked up (I saw a Parks Board truck leaving the beach area, just as I was arriving), or that the injuries may have improved overnight. I did see one goose by Lost Lagoon slightly favouring its right leg, but it was eating and able to get around quite well. I guess there's a chance that it was the one I had seen before. (I hadn't seen your message, Shiprock, about the possible forehead injury, and hadn't noticed it on my own.) In future, I'll keep the wildlife Association and Parks Board phone numbers in my pocket. Thanks so much to both of you for caring.

    And Shiprock, thanks also taking time to give such a detailed explanation of bird id books. I'm going to stop by a bookstore today and will look for the National Geographic one.

  5. This is likely good news. Possibly the bird has recovered and even changed locations. I’ve seen situations where an animal is in trouble. Trying to figure out what organization to call and find the right phone number complicated the situation and delayed help. Your idea of being equipped with key phone numbers should an animal emergency arise is excellent!

  6. A very basic, simple book suitable for people just beginning birding in your area is "Birds of Vancouver and the Lower Mainland" by Robin Bovey and Wayne Campbell (Illustrated by Ewa Pluciennik). I like it because the illustrations are very large and usually include both sexes, and it really narrows the field geographically. For a more comprehensive source, I use Roger Tory Peterson's 'Western Birds" from the Peterson Field Guides series.

    Last fall I saw a Canada goose whose legs were entangled with fishing line, down on the White Rock beach. Poor thing could barely walk. I can't remember which organization I called but they said there was really not much they could do as they got so many dozens of similar calls every day. Those plastic holders for six packs of pop or beer are another huge hazard for them, apparently.

  7. Thanks, Penelope and Jean. I like the idea of a "good news" interpretation, so will go with that to sleep better at night. In the mean time, I was reassured by blog comments, and by the people I met, that many people do care. I guess every little bit that we can do helps. For one thing, I will pick up any of those six-pack holders that I come across. Thanks for that reminder, Jean.