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!


  1. Isn't that last one a caterpillar cocoon? I got one like it in my apple tree and cut it out - it was full of wee little caterpillars.

    Re the photographer in the cherry-picker. I'd be tempted to report him to the Wildlife Branch of gov't, or whatever it's called - they should be able to find out who rented the machine. Keeping an adult away from a chick for that length of time is inhumane.

    Great shots, Carol (and without disturbing any adults-and-chicks!). Like you, I love to see kids enjoying and respecting nature.

  2. I, too, loved seeing the boy helping the oddly human shaped starfish. Lawrence looked fantastic with sunlight in his wings … I hope it’s the original Olivia he was trying to impress. His tongue action was a little comical though! Your sequence of photographs also clearly showed the grace of Jewel’s dive. And the seal riding on the back of its mother is the support we hope moms of all species provide. Since I haven’t been to any firework displays this year, I really enjoyed your spectacular and easy on the ears pictures. Thanks as always for sharing a July brimming with life. :)

  3. Carol as always beautiful footage of your trips, I love they way you write from the heart, you put so much beautiful thought and emotion, and concerns. I true lover of nature. Funny you said about the downside of the digital camera, I think you nailed it right on, sometimes I get to sit there for hours trying to compare which photo is better, and then my husband comes around and says I see no difference, they are all beautiful, so now what, lol. Carol thanks again, your images are stunning, and I will always repeat myself, lol. Have a good week my friend. BTW thank you always for dropping my small world. Anna :)

  4. Thanks, Jean. I do believe you are right about the caterpillar cocoon. I looked up and found quite a bit of information. I'm thinking the one I saw may have been two or three of them together. As for the photographer, he is a retired employee of the shipyard with special rights, but Bill and I (and a few others) were very disturbed to see Jewel and Jonny's obvious distress.

    Thanks for taking time to comment, Penelope. I agree with you that Lawrence's tongue action was very comical. Glad you enjoyed the fireworks:)

    Thanks, Anna. I found it interesting that you agree about digital cameras. Your world, by the way, is huge - expanded by the details captured with your keen photographer's eye and by your observations of Matthew's response to everything around him.