Wednesday, December 22, 2010

August 14th to 21st

Last post, I suggested you hold onto your hats because there were many posts coming. That was a long time ago, and I'm sorry to have been untrue to my words, but here I am again. There are now pictures loaded for seven posts. Time to post. I am on holiday for another 11 days, and there are just three goals: 1. Spend time with friends (human and canine) and connect with family (via phone/e-mail), 2. file the band and choir music at school, and 3. catch up on my blog and on those of some favourite bloggers. Honestly, numbers 2 and 3 are overwhelming, but if they can be realized, the next goal would be to never fall behind again. Hm... I wonder if that could ever be possible.

Here is the promised 3rd week of August update including osprey sightings that week:

August 14th was the hottest day of the summer, but that was the day Bill cycled for the first time from Point Grey to North Vancouver. We crossed the Burrard Bridge, went along Pacific, and stopped for a latte on Denman Street. Then, we continued over the Lions Gate Bridge where I took this picture. It doesn't give a true sense of the background, because I had only my huge lens with me, but I think it shows Bill looking fit and strong.

As we rolled down Fell Street toward the lookout, I saw an osprey fly into the nest. Well, the term "nest" doesn't quite apply. There were a few tufts of moss growing from the top of the pylon, and one branch reaching out on the right side. That was the first time in several weeks to spot Lawrence and Olivia together and it was clear they had all but abandoned housekeeping.

Lawrence had what I think was half a fish with him. Olivia grabbed it eagerly,

and ate with gusto.

Then, we noticed another osprey fly by, with nesting material in its talons. Was it Jonny?

Lawrence and Olivia watched closely, but there was no more action during the time that we spent at the lookout.

We walked along the shore, and around the corner to the river's edge, where the geese were busy flying in and out, but all was quiet on the osprey front. I feel a little surge of excitement every time I see a few geese flying in formation towards me. Their loud honks always seem to announce something vitally important. If only I could grasp a bit more of their language.

Bill and I decided to head home, hoping, in vain, to beat the worst of the heat. Black Jack had ridden with us, but even she, the proclaimed sun worshiper of all time, seemed to be wilting. The trip back over the Lions Gate was one of the hottest I can remember. When we reached Pacific, we came across this Hare Krishna parade.

To be honest, we weren't really thrilled. The music blasting from loud speakers was pain-inducing. I guess my age is showing up here, but it seems to me that many people choose to listen to music at a volume that is an assault on the ears.

I looked briefly at this Wikipedia article and realize that most of my admittedly somewhat negative association with the Hare Krishnas stems from my memory of the bare-footed young men in flowing orange robes, gathered on the streets of Montreal in the 60's, chanting and passing out pamphlets. According to the article, confusion with the hippie subculture has diverted attention from the original consciousness, the goal of a pure love of God and the strict requirement of abstention from intoxicants. I don't know. There was something intoxicating about the colourful costumes and joyful dancing, and the parade added a new dimension to the day, but mostly, I just wanted the music to stop, or a pathway to clear, so that we could escape on our bicycles.

On Sunday, the 15th, Black Jack and I did our regular Jericho Park walk. The finches were very active. Both the red ones,

and the yellow ones.

We spent a little time by the bridge watching a heron,

and its reflection in the murky water.

There was also a rare chance to see a frog. They are always there, and always vocal, but there were only three times the entire summer when I was fortunate enough to see them.

On Monday, August 16th, I went over to North Van, again hoping to spot Lawrence and Olivia. They didn't show up, but I watched this seal..

slide off its log.

It seems to me that a seal's way of manoeuvring out of water is an exercise in patience.

I don't know if it chose to take a dip to cool off, or if it caught and devoured a fish when it was under water, but seconds later, it was on the way back to its original position.

Lean on one front flipper, rock the back flippers up..

then down for the..

heave ho,

and up we go. The seal comfortably settled (sorry, that final photo was too poor to post), I walked along the shore to check out..

Jonny and Jewel's nest. They had lost one chick a few weeks before that, but the remaining sibling was flapping away in anticipation of fledging soon.

I took my eyes of the nest for a few moments, and the next time I looked, Jewel and her chick were watching Jonny arrive with a fish in his talons.

Bill drove over later in the afternoon with Black Jack and commented on this log in the water, with the afternoon sun catching it.

The geese began to gather for their short trip across the water. They seem to have a pattern of travel from a little cove by the seabus station at Lonsdale Quay to the river beside my school. It happens several times a day, with great honking and fanfare, and I am guessing may have something to do with past migration patterns. Now, as far as I can tell, they stay all year long in in a small area perhaps only a couple of kilometres square.

There they go.

We walked with Black Jack back along the shore and enjoyed watching a couple with this 2-ball dog.

They explained that the dog never chases the first ball to be thrown. Only when the second is on its way, does the dog consider the effort worthwhile to go after them.

This was a very happy dog. You can't really see the second ball in this photo, but it is there.

I know this sunset picture was taken the same day, but it doesn't appear to be in North Van. We must have stopped by Jericho on the way home. (One disadvantage of posting August news in December.)

On Tuesday, the 17th, I was off again to North Van, hungry for news of Lawrence and Olivia. Olivia was on the nest, this time with a few twigs added, calling to..

Lawrence, who obliged by bringing a fish to her.

I thought her hunched shoulders and accusing expression said, "What took you so long?" but..

she ate with gusto, and Lawrence appeared to be pleased with the reception.

Walking over to the river's edge, I was happy to see this Kingfisher.

There was also a shorebird, too far away to identify with any accuracy - possibly a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper?

I checked Olivia and Lawrence's nest one more time before leaving, and sure enough, they were hard at work adding material to it.

I have so many questions about what happened to them this summer. Mid August, and I would assume it was too late for breeding, but they clearly were still...

a hardworking team.

On Wednesday, the 18th, Black Jack and I checked on the Jericho eagles. They were still hanging out near the place where their nest had been. There was no sign of their chick.

On the way out of the park, the evening light on this mallard brought out her beautiful pattern.

On Thursday evening, the 19th, Bill and I attended "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." We stopped in front of this poster, and Bill did a fine job of humouring my request for a photo. I enjoyed the production, and I think Bill did as well, but he did wonder if his discomfort with some of the antics after the intermission meant he was a prude. I thought about that. I had laughed at those same moments he was referring to, and hadn't admitted even to myself, that they made me a little uncomfortable too, especially since I had noted young teens in the audience. I love that Bill never allows himself to be carried away by audience response.. he is true to his initial reaction, and analyses that reaction honestly.

This review found the play to be just fine, so perhaps, Bill and I are just old-fashioned. Sometimes, a little discomfort is a good thing, but I think, less is often more when it comes to pushing boundaries. I took one more picture - these socks on a young girl in front of the box office were impossible to resist. She gave me permission to post them here.

That same day, in the morning, I had been drawn to North Van yet again. This time, a Kingfisher did me the favour of flying past my line of view as I stood on the shoal. These birds are really, really fast! Streamlining at its finest.

Olivia appeared shortly after I arrived. She was calling loudly as she flew through the sky.

Her "necklace" shows up quite well in this photo. That is my most reliable way of distinguishing the female from the male.

My attention was diverted momentarily to this heron.

The next time I looked, Olivia was in the nest. and Lawrence was on his way to her with food.

He dropped the food in the nest, but then immediately called a warning, I guess to tell..

Jonny, who flew by with an eye to the nest, to stay away.

Shortly afterwards, Olivia left, taking what I guess she considered to be her piece of fish with her.

Lawrence worked hard, weaving sticks into the nest. Why was he putting so much work on the nest, when they had no chicks to raise? I guess I will never know the answer to that question.

I took one picture of these Mergansers, before heading home. Most of them had heads tucked down, but there always seems to be a little conflict going on in groups of birds. Here, the two at the left seemed to be involved in a stare-down while the second from the right eyed both of them menacingly.

Saturday (the 21st) was a momentous day. I finally caught evidence that Jewel and Jonny's chick was able to fly. But before witnessing that flight, I observed that Lawrence and Olivia had done a great deal of work on their nest...

and, that Lawrence was still providing Olivia with fish.

The chick was sitting on a post, across the river and in front of the shipyard - difficult to get any kind of decent shot, but if you click on the picture, you will see the flecked wings, a sign of a young osprey. I haven't named this chick. It appears to have the "necklace" of a female, but I wonder if that marking is on all young ospreys. If it does return to the area in two years, as I'm told many young do, I will never be able to recognize it, so I think I will stick to the two sets of names for the two pairs of adults in the area. (Lawrence and Olivia for the nest at the foot of Fell Street, and Jewel and Jonny for the nest on the platform by the shipyard across the river.)

I stayed for quite some time, and was finally rewarded with proof of flight.

And, very expert flight it appeared to be.
Past the power lines and right into the nest.

That evening, Bill and I walked with Black Jack in Vanier Park. There was an antique car there - I think it was a Chrysler Town and Country convertible, perhaps 1948 (?), built at the Jefferson Plant in Detroit. Many children were climbing roughly through the car. I wanted to tell them to go gently. My dad would have enjoyed seeing this car.

On the way out of the park, Bill admired this flower..

and we stopped to spend a few minutes enjoying the sunset before heading home.

August is now fully accounted for on this blog:) The next post is titled September/October, and should follow shortly. Thanks for reading this one!


  1. Thanks for posting again, it was worth the wait! Enjoy your holidays and good luck with your three goals. In about ten days any unfinished goals can become New Year's resolutions!

  2. The continued nest building of Lawrence and Olivia is, indeed, interesting. I guess they want a home whether they have kids or not. They are such hard workers. It was fun to catch up on all the bird news. The first sunset picture is so mystical, as is the golden light on the mallards. Love the creative pose your Bill made with the character in the Spelling Bee poster. My Bill and I also went to see the play and loved it. I don’t recall antics after the intermission. Maybe it changes a bit during different performances or maybe I just forgot. I will contact you should I be coming your way. Also, please feel free to let me know if you are in my area. Going for a walk some time in the New Year sounds wonderful, Carol. Meanwhile, I look forward to your future posts. :)

  3. Welcome back! Good to have an update, even if it's a bit past date. ;-D
    I have but one goal for the break--clean the house-- but that's a humongous effort. I'm currently procrastinating by reading the blogs of good friends!

  4. Wooo hooooo a bikesbirdsbeasts post!! You made my morning!

    Love the sunset picture, Carol - did you use a tripod for that, or can that beauty be captured with the right equipment in the hands of the right photographer?

    And I so enjoy all the pictures and stories of the birds and their feathered families.