Sunday, August 22, 2010

The last few days of July

Rain is in the forecast - a good thing for BC - I hope it helps to bring the forest fires a bit more under control, and I hope it comes to Topley, where I still think of Turtle Gardens. Thank you to those who have used the purple icon at the top right of my page to vote for them in the Animal Rescue Shelter Challenge. It ends very soon, but don't give up. If they don't make it to 3rd place this round (thus winning $1000), there will be another one coming up soon, and I do believe their day will come. I know they (and I) will appreciate whatever you can do to spread the word.

The rain also provides an opportunity to try to catch up with this blog. My thought was to be really frugal with the photographs. As Bill noted, digital photography has one downfall in that we can take zillions of pictures - often way too many to go through and make selections. I agree, but in the end, I have indulged, with a very long post today, to cover the last few days of July.

July 24th, a visit at low tide to North Vancouver.

It didn't start out so well, when it became obvious that only one chick remained in Jonny and Jewel's nest over the ship yard. I am slowly learning to take this sort of thing more in my stride. Mother Nature's plan is a harsh one for someone who always wants to root for the underdog, but I guess allowing only about 50 per cent of hatched eggs to survive ensures that the species remains strong.

Jewel appeared to be upset, flying over the nest many times, but not landing.
The one remaining chick was lying low in the nest. I caught a glimpse of it several times, although it isn't shown in this post. Not to keep you in suspense, I am happy to tell you that we learned just yesterday that the chick has fledged successfully. A post will follow fairly soon with some distant but clear evidence of its new flying ability.

We were not at all happy to see this fellow.
He was there for at least four hours, very close to the nest, and frequently standing up in the cage. I learned from another osprey-watching photographer that this particular person cares much more for getting the ultimate photograph than for the birds themselves, but to be fair, we didn't talk to him. Perhaps he was trying to discover what had happened to the other chick, but even then, why did he have to go so close to the nest, and why did he have to stay so long? Jewel did not enter the nest once while he was there, and that left the chick alone and unprotected with a relentless, hot sun shining directly down.

Jonny was staying around, calling a lot, but also not going in the nest. Here, you can see the missing feathers on his right wing that help me to identify him.

The geese flew from just around the corner. It's an interesting spot where ocean and river meet up.

It is always a privilege to watch the ospreys hunt. Jewel was unsuccessful here, and I thought about how much energy it must take to go through this sequence, only to come up empty-taloned. Here are the photos for just one dive:
1. Spot the fish.
2. Begin the dive.
3. Talons down, but head up to take another look?
4. Going for it.
5. Talons down for the grab.
6. The splash
7. Emerging
8. Wings spread
9. Lift-off
10. No fish this time.

Bill, Black Jack and I decided to walk back around the corner, and along the shore, hoping to catch a glimpse of Lawrence and Olivia. Well, I guess Black Jack had other ideas.
Whatever she found must have been delicious!

We walked out on the shoal, where many starfish lay, some fortunate enough to rest in pockets of water. I thought how they look rather like tubby little humans, with limbs and head angled every which way.

This boy was a bit curious about the ospreys, but much more concerned for the stranded starfish. He warmed my heart when he tried to help as many as possible by pouring his water over them.

Lawrence flew into the nest, still interested in continuing construction in spite of what I believe has been an unsuccessful mating season.

(Again, to give you a more recent update, Lawrence brought fish to Olivia yesterday, and did some work on the nest. They seem to spend quite a bit of time together. Vera, a longtime photographer and observer of wildlife in the area, feels quite sure that Olivia is not the same female he mated with last year. I resist that theory, only because that would indicate either that something happened to Rose's mother, or that her parents chose to be unfaithful to each other. The first option is sad, and the second conflicts with with my stubbornly romantic and anthropomorphic view.)

Here is a second shot of magnificent Lawrence flying in with nest material.

He sat with his intense eyes staring all about, as if to say, "All right. I've done my bit. Now, where are you, Olivia?"

He was right that Olivia wasn't far off. She was in the midst of an argument with an incensed seagull.

The seagull wisely gave up pursuit, and Olivia gave it one last warning look, while Lawrence..

..desperately tried to get her attention. I had never before noticed how his tongue moves from side to side when he is calling out in his most heartrending voice.
(I have a theory that I wish to record here on this blog. Do you know the traffic light sound? The sort of chirping sound that is used, at least, in Vancouver? I believe it must have been patterned after the osprey warning call, the one they use when they want to warn another raptor to stay out of their hunting territory. What do you think? That call, by the way, is not the one Lawrence was using to attract Olivia. It had an entirely different intonation.)

Olivia, cruel woman that she is, did not join Lawrence, and he finally flew off, only to return shortly with more nesting material.

Meanwhile, the young boy, his brother, parents and dog continued to explore the shoal. The boys were blown away by all there was to see, and I loved watching them.
Their parents were quietly supportive, looking with their boys at each new discovery, and celebrating with them. In this next picture, you can see Vera in the lower right corner (mentioned above). That is her classic pose, crouched down, as unobtrusive as possible, her sharp eye recording each change in the local wildlife action.

We left the shoal, paying a quick visit to Bridgman Park before heading home. Black Jack was happy to enjoy the cool river, and determined to catch her ball, but she struggled to get it in her grasp.

Bill, ever willing to accommodate Black Jack, got a long stick, and brought the ball closer as requested.
Her pride not in the least hurt, Black Jack took full credit for ball recovery.

I love to watch them scramble nimbly over the rocks.

Black Jack enjoyed a little spell of the "zoomies" just before she got back in the truck to head home.

July 27th

On the way home from work, I stopped at the lookout in North Vancouver, and laughed to see how the seagulls ignored this seal.

My next stop was at Vanier Park. To my great surprise, one of the two (successfully fledged) eagle chicks was sitting on a sculpture, seemingly at ease among the many people enjoying the park.

It was a breezy (but beautiful) day, and the chick's feathers formed a beautiful little duck tail.

That same evening, Bill, Black Jack and I watched the fireworks from a little park at the foot of Alma Street. I have shown no discipline in reading my camera manual, but still, these were better than the shots I attempted last year. I guess that is worth celebrating. Black Jack shows absolutely no sign of stress during fireworks, and always enjoys sitting on Bill's knee while we watch them. I still worry about more nervous pets and wildlife, and keep hoping somebody will invent silent ones.

July 29th - a walk at Jericho

The eagle chick continues to do well, and I am told that the second chick has rehabbed well, and will be returned to the area any day now.

For the first time, I noticed that Cedar Waxwings have a red lining to their eyes. (You may have to double-click on the picture to see that.)

It gave me quite an intense stare here.

July 30th - trip to Iona

A baby seal rode on its parent's back.

This was my favourite picture of the day.

My last picture is a mystery. Is it a spider web around a leaf? Can anyone help me?
That's it. That's all. There ain't no more. I'm outta here. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Turtle Gardens and OWL

Holiday time, this summer, has been entirely different from last year. This morning, I took a look at a few of my posts for August 2009 and there were 20 of them(!), mostly about the osprey chick, Rose. I biked almost every day to the lookout, and was as happy as could be, with not the least desire to travel elsewhere, when there was so much excitement right at (well, almost right at) my doorstep.

August 2010 has been fun as well. There have been lots of walks and talks with Bill and Black Jack, and a most enjoyable three-day trip to Victoria to visit Bill's sister, Phyllis, and her husband, Barrie, at their new home. There has been lots of time out of doors with the camera and there are many stories just waiting to be told. But, I have visited the osprey site only twice, and for some reason, sitting down to do posts has taken second place to falling fast asleep as soon as there is some indoor time.

But, a couple of things spur me on to post today. One is to do with Turtle Gardens, an amazing dog rescue in Topley, a northern BC community. That rescue is the only one for 17 First Nation communities and 11 villages and towns spread out over 250 miles between Prince George and Terrace. Yvette, the founder of the rescue, works with support from her family to be on call 24-7 to save hundreds of dogs (I think that may actually be thousands, but I'll play it safe) that have been abandoned and/or abused. Yvette is linked at the side of my blog. I have been reading her daily stories for about three years now, and my admiration just continues to grow for the work she does. It was this post that really touched my heart recently. One of the dogs Yvette has in rescue has a condition called megaesophagus and a special chair is needed. You can see a little video at that link of another dog with the same condition, doing well because of that chair. For now, with no funds to get the chair, and no time to build one, Yvette is holding the dog upright while he eats and for some time afterwards. Yvette herself has suffered from ill health recently, and although she is much improved with the aid of oxygen to help her breathe, I worry for the constant stress she is under to find funds to keep the rescue going. You may have noticed that a new link is at the top right of my blog. That purple icon takes you to the Shelter Challenge site. Bill created the link for me, and he has added some instructions that you can read if you hover the mouse over the icon. He says the first time you vote, it is not really intuitive, but I will add that after voting once, it gets much easier. The next time you go to the site, you simply have to click on vote and type in the name of the animal picture. If you choose Turtle Gardens as your rescue, that could be one very easy and cost-free way of helping their vital operation. They are currently in 4th place. (After you vote, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on Canada to see the standings.) With more votes, they could hit 3rd place position, and the top three shelters each receive a prize of $1000. As I said, it doesn't cost a thing except a little of your time. I've been voting each day, and have watched them climb from 6th place to 4th. They're so close!

I spoke about OWL, the second rescue on my mind, in this post about the Jericho eagle nest falling to the ground. Way back on the 23rd of July, Bill, Black Jack (who understandably had to wait in the truck) and I went to Delta to visit the place where the younger eaglet was taken. We were not able to see her, but were told that she is huge, and doing really well. They were expecting to be able to release her back to her home area very soon. They explained that most likely, her parents will drive her away, but that is as it would be naturally, once the chicks are fully fledged. While we were there, we met Sarah, the barn owl, in the front office. You can read her story here. OWL has a schoolhouse and an excellent educational program. Sarah and some of the other birds that cannot be rehabilitated live permanently at OWL and contribute a great deal as they share their stories. Twice a year, OWL holds an open house, and this is the only time the public can tour almost all of the property, including the hospital and the flight-training barns. I'm not sure when the next open house is, but it is well worth taking the virtual tour. I was told that a generous donation at the last minute has kept OWL open, but like most rescues, fund raising is a constant priority.

Here are a few photos that we took in the Delta area the same day we visited OWL. This one was taken just across the road from the place where we enjoyed lunch. It was interesting to me that the grass is refreshed each time the tide comes in. Here, it appears to be growing on top of the logs.

I always love yellow birds. Bill spotted this one as we ate lunch. I'm thinking it might be an American Goldfinch, but please correct me if I'm mistaken.

We enjoyed our lunch, but weren't permitted to bring Black Jack onto the patio. Bill, ever inventive, had the idea to take a couple of chairs that were sitting in the alley behind the restaurant. We placed them under a tree across the road, and then returned them later. Black Jack definitely approved, and so did I!

I forget exactly where this was, but it was during a short stop to check out birds before we arrived at OWL. I couldn't seem to get many shots of birds, but all kinds of insects presented themselves. I identified this Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, using a National Audubon book that Shiprock kindly gave to me last summer. Our paths haven't crossed this summer but Shiprock continues to take absolutely stunning photographs. My big revelation in seeing this butterfly was finally understanding why that beautiful plant is called a Butterfly Plant.
I used the same book to identify the next two insects, but again, corrections are very much appreciated. Could this be a Pallid-winged Grasshopper? Isn't the camouflage amazing?

I'm thinking this butterfly might be a Least Skipper.

I think this might be one of my better eagle shots. There were lots of juveniles as well. Delta is a great place for eagle sightings.

My last photo for this post is of a frog (toad?) at Jericho. Bill and I walked there that same day, in the evening after supper. We always hear them, but it is only once in a while that we are lucky enough to spot one.

I have many photographs and stories to post, including an osprey update, and one about a couple of young boys who really impressed me with their kindness, as they poured their drinking water on some starfish at low tide. Hopefully, now that I'm on the blogging wagon again, it won't be quite such a long time before the next post. As always, thank you for taking time to read about my adventures.