Monday, March 7, 2011


We discovered a new heronry quite by accident on the weekend. With beautiful weather on Saturday, Bill suggested an "adventure day" trip to Deer Lake in Burnaby. I had never been before, and it sounded like a great idea. We left at seven, and arrived with the dew still falling heavily over the trees. As Bill was parking the truck, I noticed one heron, then another and another, and then, the huge nests. We learned from a lady named Gwen that the herons had just arrived that morning. She had checked the day before (as I had, the Stanley Park heronry) and the nests were empty at that time.

If I have my facts correct, the male chooses (or begins building) the nest and then waits for a female to approach. They mate, work on the nest together, raise their chicks, and then part ways sometime in August. Once the female agrees to the partnership, she spends most of the time in the nest, weaving the twigs that the male brings, sitting on the eggs, looking after the chicks, and eating the food that is also caught and delivered by her mate. If past patterns are repeated, every six or seven years, all the herons move on to a new site.

I'm not sure what stage these two herons are at, but will take a guess that the female is in the nest, and the male already preparing to start delivery service.

Misty light in the early morning made photographs difficult, but this was perhaps my best attempt at a flying shot.

We walked on through the trails and I spotted this squirrel. It was motionless, and perhaps had been sleeping. Bill commented on its Mohawk hairdo.

Ever-patient Bill had his hands full with Black Jack. She was beside herself with excitement. Here, he has disentangled her from some brush that she crawled through to reach the lake.

There were lots of boardwalks like this, and it was an easy trek around the lake. I would recommend Deer Lake for anyone who enjoys wildlife and beautiful scenery.

We looked across to the other side of a large field and could just make out three herons at the top of an evergreen. It appeared that two of the herons were involved in a mating ritual while a third waited below, perhaps hoping to steal the female away from his rival.

We walked around the trail to get a closer look at the trio.

I'm not sure which of the two we are seeing here, but imagine that one male may be telling the other to get lost.

And now, perhaps he sits triumphant in all his splendour.

There were lots of Mallards,

and Gwen very kindly pointed out the location of this Anna's Hummingbird.

Bill liked a few of my "DIckey-bird" shots. I think this is a Fox Sparrow.

The hummer was fascinating to watch, since it changed colours quite dramatically in the sun. Here, I noticed a tiny flash of red, and snapped the photo. Only later, I realized it was facing off with the sparrow. (Double-click on the photo to see a larger version.)

Here's another view of the same interaction. Feisty little fellow!

It was unbelievable to me how it could be dingy brown at times, emerald green at others, and then this bright rosy pink.

We stopped at a beach area to see this lone American Coot.

There was also what I would describe as a hybrid. Perhaps a domestic duck and a mallard? Or, a seagull and a mallard?? Okay, that one's a bit of a stretch..... I think.......

I don't think he saw himself as any different than the other ducks. Here, he pursues a female mallard.

The cormorants were posing in beautiful light.

I think this was a bushtit.

Another "Dickey-bird" shot.

Someone told me this may have been a Sharp-shinned Hawk.

A crow was giving it a hard time, and here, it ruffled up its feathers before taking off.

Here, Bill drops the puck, and it (she)..

takes off like a speeding bullet.

On Saturday evening, I took this shot of the stadium roof at BC Place. The last mast was erected just over a month ago.

Then, we went to a very enjoyable concert at The Orpheum. John McDemott sang with the VSO Symphony, and we also saw some young and extremely well-trained Irish dancers. I am always hungry to take pictures at these events, but had to satisfy myself with a photo of a photo of the first ever performance of the VSO at The Orpheum.

Walking home, I took pictures of blue lights around the city.

On Sunday, we were again up early, and this time, off to Stanley Park. Sure enough, that heronry had also swung into action. How astounding to me that two heronries at opposite ends of the Lower Mainland would choose the same day (perhaps, even the same hour?) to set up housekeeping.

I took a lot of flying shots.

Landing flaps up in this one.

They really are one of the most mesmerizingly beautiful birds in flight I have ever seen.

There was a lot of action in the woods,

and signs of Spring everywhere.

No time to do a link, but there was a fascination David Suzuki documentary on this most intelligent of animals. This racoon stared intently at us, evaluating our food potential, and deciding against further investigation.

A "guy-shot" for Bill:)

We named this female "Donnelda" and watched her eat from a gentleman's hand.

To my amazement, we came across yet another hummingbird, hovering in a large crevice of a tree stump. While I was taking this shot, Bill desperately tried to get my attention. He had spotted a green bird - one he had never seen before. I turned too late, seeing it, but not able to get the shot. A mystery bird I hope we will have the chance to see again.

Two geese flew straight towards me and I tried (and failed) to capture their magnificence. It was a bright day, but I was really challenged to read the light correctly.

Another lovely sign of Spring.

This female Barrow's Goldeneye kept her head flat on the water, perhaps indicating to her suitor that she was interested in a partnership?

He cocked his head to the side in a comical pose.

Spring? Are you sure? The lagoon seemed to reflect an Autumn image here.

We met two very fine gentlemen in the "small-dog" enclosure. This is their new dog, Dexter.

Although they were rejected by a dog-rescue lady, it was very evident to us that they are going to be the very best of parents to Dexter. They were forced to go to a breeder because of this rejection. They described a grilling that would have discouraged any first-time adopter. I also went through an experience like this, and although I recovered to rescue Black Jack, it makes me a bit sad to think that some dogs will wait longer than they should for forever homes, because of over-zealous (or perhaps, I should even say, misdirected) rescuers.

I am greatly appreciative of the work that rescuers do, and am fully aware that they must take precautions, but common sense must also prevail. Happy life to you, Dexter. You sure are gorgeous!

We walked under the Lions Gate Bridge for this shot. Have you ever wondered what the underside of a bridge looks like? This one was freshly painted, and very sturdy looking.

I still prefer my lions "naked" but I guess, there are those who enjoy dressing them up, and I doubt the lions worry either way.

A last shot of the top of the bridge, and that was our "adventure" weekend.
Happy Monday, everyone!


  1. Fantastic captures as usual, Carol! After seeing the hunched bird in one of your photos, I think I now know where the expression “old coot” came from. The city at night is a tapestry of color. Going down Oak towards Broadway recently I saw the downtown skyscrapers on the horizon. It looked like a sparkling sequined wall. I wonder if the green tiny bird in the tree trunk is a hummingbird that got a little disoriented in the crevice of the tree. One of my favorite photos is of the lagoon looking like Autumn … even though I am more than ready for Spring. :)

  2. I always find it so amazing the timing of nature. The herons and other birds are wonderful,I learn so much from your blog.You,Bill and Black Jack have such fun and pack so many adventures and sights into a weekend. Spring hasn't quite sprung yet but it definitely is springing. The birds and squirels are sure having a great time in my backyard. Dianne

  3. Great shots Carol - so much to see and read! The Anna's was spectacular and I wonder if the one in the tree crevice was after sap or insects. They sometimes visit "well" trees created by sapsuckers.

    FYI - your "fox" is actually a song sparrow - very nice shots. The bushtit was cute too!

    I'm always amazed at the number of things you see on your walks (and the fact that you're able to photograph them all so well!).

  4. I loved the pictures of the herons and heronry and look forward to more updates on the two groups of birds. You have some amazing pictures of the herons taking off and landing.
    Looking forward to more signs of spring.

  5. Thanks for the comments, everyone!

    Penelope, your "old coot" gave me a, "Now why didn't I think of that?" moment:) I think the hummingbird in the tree trunk was feeding, but on what, I have no idea.

    Dianne, I can imagine our beautiful back yard right now, teaming with life.

    Dave, I really, really appreciate id help. Thank you!

    Gillian, your site is one I forgot to mention a few posts back. Will provide a link so that others can discover your wonderful art!

  6. Hi Carol,

    Great post as usual. I can see I need to head over to see the GBHs in the near future now that nest building is getting underway. Lets keep our fingers crossed for decent weather. Wouldn't it be great to see the osprey back next month?

  7. Hi Carol, nice meeting you today on the waterfront, your photos are great. Looks like you were having a good time with the kids, great fun.


  8. Thanks for stopping by, Henrik and Randy.

    Henrik, I've been checking most days for signs of the ospreys, and one day, thought I heard their call, but so far, no sightings. Sure would be great, as you say, to see them again!

    Randy, it was the best kind of day. Perfect weather, kids happy, lots to see and discover, and really nice to meet you and share the moment.

  9. Thanks for taking the time to discuss this. I feel strongly about it and love learning more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is extremely helpful for me. Thanks!