Thursday, December 23, 2010

September 13 - October 31st

On Monday, September 13th, I checked out Lawrence and Olivia's nest on my way home from school. They were nowhere to be seen, but their handiwork was impressive. I couldn't believe how much they had built the nest up.

I also checked on Jewel and Jonny's nest, and saw their chick, sitting expectantly (I think), most likely waiting for a fish delivery. That was my last sighting of the chick for the season.

The next day, on the way home, the clouds, from the Lions Gate Bridge seemed to take on the shape of the surrounding mountains.

This last picture of the osprey nest, with seals lined up behind it, was taken on Saturday, Sept.18th. There was still no sign of Lawrence and Olivia, but it was clear they had recently been hard at work. Hopefully, they left for a warmer location and will return next season.

I moved to Yaletown on the 26th of September and the camera hid in its bag for a couple of weeks. Below is a picture taken on Monday, October 4th, just a short distance in front of my new apartment. Packing, unpacking, cleaning the old apartment, continuing to teach full time - the move would have been close to impossible without Bill's calm and steady support. To list the ways he helped would take a full blog in itself, but hanging the laundered drapes back up in the old apartment, pleat by pleat, is one of many images of him I will never forget. Bill is a treasure, pure and simple.

The apartment is small, but looks over David Lam Park and False Creek. I can't seem, at this moment, to find pictures showing the view from the balcony, and with pouring rain outside, cannot take one now. There are some on my new (and first!) cell phone (Virgin LG) but I can't figure out how to upload them. I think I have to buy something called a microSD card. The picture below was a zoomed in one, taken by the edge of False Creek, just in front of David Lam Park .

We often take the aquabus that leaves from a point about a five-minute walk away. Sometimes, the drivers/skippers give historical talks about sights along the route. One fellow gave us a lot of information about The Erickson, shown below, and named after the architect, Arthur Erickson. A cyclist passing by said to his friend, "It always looks to me as though it's melting." That image sticks in my mind.

My new commute to school is not only shorter, but perhaps, safer, at least on the days when I'm not running late. The route starts in David Lam Park, continues under the Granville and Burrard bridges to English Bay, goes by the heronry and Lost Lagoon in Stanley Park, and follows under an overpass to approach the Lions Gate. There are no traffic lights until after the bridge. It all begins just on the other side of the trees you see in the picture below.

On Saturday, October 10th, Bill suggested that we try the new Canada Line route to Richmond. He knew there was a music teachers' conference coming up at The River Rock Casino in a couple of weeks, and that I would want to ride my bike there. New routes are always a bit of a challenge, and doing it for the first time with Bill made it safer and more fun too. I didn't do so well with pictures. There is a better one towards the end of this post. This bridge (called the North Arm) is for pedestrians and cyclists. The skytrain passes above the cycling/walking path, but there are no cars! The incline isn't bad either. It is a great way to get to Richmond.

We drove most of the way and then cycled onto the bridge, with Black Jack happily settled in her front pack. After checking out the location of the casino, we explored the riverside and played some running games with Black Jack. In the picture below, we are standing in Richmond, and looking across the water. Do you see the first vehicle on the right hand side of the street? (double-click on the photo to enlarge it) That is Bill's lovely, forest-green Dodge Ram. I am truly fond of that truck.

On Sunday, Oct 10th, Black Jack and I walked west along the seawall, following the same route I take to school. I love the colours of these floating houses. One of them apparently has a full basement under water. That is for some reason amazing to me.

There is quite a variety of art along the route. This Blue Heron sculpture by Doug Taylor is titled Khenko. You can read his "artist statement" here.

More colours along the way.

The path goes under the Granville and then the Burrard Bridge. This is a small section of the Burrard, taken just before we walked under.

The sunrise over the Lions Gate Bridge on Thursday, October 14th, brought shades of watermelon red, purple, pink, orange, and yellow to the sky and water. My panniers were full to overloading with a laptop, textbooks, assignments to correct and lunch, so I didn't have the Nikon with me that day. This was taken with my 10X Lumix.

That afternoon, there was again spectacular light in the sky and this was taken from my balcony. Not a great photograph, but the sky is framed on three sides by a couple of high-rises and the Granville Bridge at the bottom.

On Friday, the 15th, Bill made one of his beautiful and absolutely delicious salads. The 18X Lumix (with the flash) was used for this photo but that camera has never been the same since it was repaired some time ago. The colours are really untrue, and do not do the salad justice at all.

On Saturday morning, Black Jack and I walked along the seawall, a route that is quickly becoming a regular one. The Autumn colours were beginning to peak. In this photo, you can see the ramp leading to the aquabus that goes to Vanier Park, Science World, Granville Island, and a few other locations along the seawall.


colourful boats and a yellow crane,

sky-reaching leaves,

Double-crested cormorants,

a quizzical seagull,

and some curly, colourful leaves..

hiding a delicate spider's web, were some of the sights.

Then, I biked to school in North Van to rehearse with the "Saturday Music Club." Afterwards, Bill and Black Jack arrived, as well as our friend, Dianne. We walked on the trail by the school and asked ourselves for the umpteenth time the name of the plant below. At one point, I think we did figure it out, but I've forgotten it again. Yikes!

On Sunday, October 17th, we took the aquabus to Granville Island. On the way back, we stopped to watch this street performer. My heart went out to him, because it was then late afternoon, the sun was hiding, and temperatures had lowered to the point where sitting still for any length of time was a bit uncomfortable. He had to work really hard to gain his audience's attention, and joked a couple of times about his mother's reaction when he told her he was headed for a career in the performing arts. His act appeared difficult to me, but he used humour to make it look easy. Here, he has recruited two fellows from the audience to help him step up on..

a board that balances precariously on a roller. The roller sits on another board balanced on four stilt-like legs. I was using my big lens, so could only capture either his upper or his lower half:)

Another picture taken with the large lens. He is still standing on the board, balanced on the roller. He is squirming into or out of (I can't remember) two netless rackets.

Here, he juggles knives, still standing on the roller. One of the knives appears headed right to his head, but there were no close calls that I detected.

And, one final shot, this one taken with my small lumix to get a full view. He is juggling flames, while his decidedly cool audience makes him earn every laugh (and penny). I liked this fellow and admired his courage as well as his athleticism and wit.

Walking between Granville Island and the Wicked Cafe at the corner of 7th and Hemlock, we admired the flowers and colours.

And, more colours. These were on someone's porch.

This pigeon was watching us from its perch on a telephone wire.

On the way home from school, Wednesday, October 20th, the sunset over the Lions Gate could not be ignored.

Here, zoomed out, and looking left.

Zoomed in a bit closer.

Looking right.

Final shot again to the left and fully zoomed in.

Later, by the seawall, the view misted over.

This was taken on Thursday, October 21, at the corner of West Georgia and Denman. I did it quickly, with my small Lumix. The lady pulling her suitcase looked back at me with a scowl. I felt sorry to have made her uncomfortable, but have admired the trees at this corner for several years, and this was a perfect opportunity to catch the colours and canopy effect.

Friday, October 22nd, was the music teachers' conference in Richmond. I started out very early, worried about losing my way. It turned out to be a lovely ride, east along the seawall, past the Cambie Bridge and then right, onto Ontario Street. Very little traffic and no directions to worry about. It really was impossible to get lost, since there were so few turns. Ontario goes almost all the way to the edge of the Fraser River. The North Arm Bridge that Bill and I had traveled a couple of weeks earlier is impossible to miss. Returning home after a great conference (the Riverrock Casino location is perfect!) and absolutely delicious food, I stopped on the bridge and took the photo below. The bridge winds back and forth, so there are some sharp turns, but it feels very smooth and easy. Great city planning here!

On Saturday, October 23rd, birds sat on my balcony railing, anxious for their breakfast, a nutritious and non-messy grain recommended by the experts at Wild Birds Unlimited. The birds love the food and I enjoy the opportunity for close-ups, but bird poop on the balcony is a concern, and perhaps, in the long run, it would be better to let them forage for their own food. I've been wondering if it might be possible to set up a feeder in the park instead, but for now, I'll try to be vigilant with cleaning, will feed only two or three times a week and then will see how it goes.

Here, a house finch, I think.

I think the next three photos are of house finches as well, perhaps females or juveniles. (Please do correct id errors.)

This little one seems difficult to identify. I've spent some time with my book and the closest resemblance seems to be to the Boreal Chick-a-dee, but I don't believe that is right. Help, please, if you can.

More pictures from the balcony. Lots of rainy days, but the leaves seem happy to host raindrops,

and the colours remained vibrant for longer than I can ever remember.

I wonder if the previous tenant in my apartment fed the birds. They definitely let me know when they feel I'm falling behind. This one really struck me as comical. Perhaps a juvenile finch?

On Saturdays, biking to school for the music club, followed by Bill and Black Jack's arrival, and then a walk with Dianne and sometimes, Doran, followed by a visit to Brazza's for one of their delicious vegan muffins and a superb latte - this became a regular and very enjoyable routine for the semester.

The pictures below were taken on Saturday, October 30th. Doran pointed out this yellow lichen in the rocks by the ocean. I think this is called Yellow Cup Lichen, as it seems similar to a picture on Wanderin' Weeta's site. She is one of the most knowledgeable bloggers I have found on such matters, and her blog is a never-ending source of fascinating information.

Sumac leaves formed impressionistic paintings.

On the way home, we stopped in Stanley Park to give Black Jack some extra running time. It was almost raining, so I left my camera in the truck. As we were walking, I could hear a different sort of bird call, and wondered aloud what bird it could be. Bill joked something to the effect that it was a "strange and wonderful creature that I had always wanted to find, that would only make an appearance when I left my camera behind." We kept walking for quite some time, and decided to go down to the seawall for the return trip to the truck. That's when I saw some Oyster Catchers!! I have seen pictures from several bloggers and photographers, but in spite of keeping a close eye out for a couple of years, have never been fortunate enough to come across one. Bill's words were more correct than I could ever have anticipated. He left me with Black Jack, and ran the considerable distance back to the truck to get my camera. As long as I live, I believe I will never forget the sight of Bill returning. He had grabbed my bike from the truck, and was peddling as fast as he could, one hand on the handle bars, the other holding the camera bag. The bag and his open jacket flapped desperately in the breeze, and Bill called out something like, "Am I too late?" He wasn't. Even with darkness approaching, rain threatening, and many of the birds flying out of range, this one remained behind for a photo shoot. Thank you, Bill!

Waking on Hallowe'en morning with Oyster Catchers still on my mind, I set out with Black Jack, hoping for another sighting, this one perhaps in better light.

The sky was a bit grey, but still beautiful.

These cormorants sit on a sculpture called "Brush with Illumination." It is just a little bit east of my apartment, and we usually check it out before reversing direction and travelling west. You can see a picture of the sculpture at this site. The cormorants (and the odd seagull) seem to use it as a resting perch and their interactions are often amusing. The following series is confusing, since the characters were shot a little too closely to perceive the surrounding action, but here it is for your perusal.

Fallen leaves along our way caught the sunlight.

Wall art under the Granville Bridge.

Reminders of the Hallowe'en season appeared just after passing under the Burrard Bridge. Someone goes to a lot of trouble to bring smiles to passers by at this location. Just one photo, but there were at least ten pumpkins, some carved and some painted. There were also some small pieces of art like..
..this one.

There are a few places like this because of work being done on the seawall. According to this site, the project was to finish in late Fall, but it appears to me that it will take some time longer. These ramps are rather fun to travel with the bike. Sometimes, there is almost a feeling of "getting air" when travelling over them, and that makes me feel positively daring. Still, I admit to looking forward to the time when all the machines and temporary set-ups will disappear.

Black Jack loves to climb around the rocks at the water's edge, and again, we found more reminders of the Hallowe'en season.

A juvenile seagull with beautiful patterns crossed our path as we continued west.

Finally, an oyster catcher, but it was further away than the ones seen yesterday. It moved around the rock, looking for food.

When this seagull approached, the reception seemed a bit cool.

The sightings on Saturday were all the more appreciated, since this walk, while a stimulating one, hadn't resulted in great Oyster Catcher photographs. I sat for a while, loving the ocean, and resting until Bill arrived. We drove to MEC to buy some new rain gear, but when they wouldn't allow Black Jack to enter, I decided to try a nearby store. Eco Outdoor Sports was perfect. I have been wearing the waterproof jacket and pants way too often, and they work beautifully. Not only that. The two salesmen were really helpful AND they gave treats to Black Jack. A store after my own heart. This was the Fall scene as we walked back to the truck, and that is my conclusion to this post. It has taken longer to complete than anticipated, but I hope you enjoy it.
*Just as I was about to post, a Red-shafted Flicker perched on my balcony railing. It checked out the feeder, and, I think decided it could do better elsewhere. I managed to get the camera out of its bag and snap a too-blurry-to-post picture through the window. What a lovely moment to see it there.


  1. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw how huge the nest had become. Perhaps Lawrence and Olivia are a little compulsive when it comes to their building behavior? Lovely unusual capture of the clouds mirroring mountains. Oh my goodness … the views from your apartment are spectacular. How wonderful to wake up to this every day. Also, the melting comment of the cyclist truly hits the mark when seeing your photo of the Erickson building. And a basement under water? That amazes me, too! The street performer also gets my admiration, especially when you showed the determination on his face. When I saw the sunset shot over Lions Gate Bridge I realized that your photographs have taken a new dimension. They seem ever more vibrant and the subject matter increasingly interesting. What a fantastic journey to work you now have. Seems like you definitely made the right move, Carol. Looking forward to your next post soon!

  2. I wish I had a video of Bill flying back on your bicycle with the camera! Way to go brother Bill!!! I am so happy that you are back to posting because it makes me feel closer to both of you! Phyllis