Sunday, May 15, 2011

Rainy day catch-up

Things rarely stand still in bird life.  The photos in this post were taken between Tuesday, May 3rd and Thursday, May 5th.  Ten days later, things seem to have changed on both the osprey and the heron front, but to go back in time, here is how things looked. 

Lawrence was busy delivering nest material..

to Olivia, and she appeared to have accepted the old nest on the pylon where they raised Rose (at first, I called her Junior) two summers ago.

There was lots of action in the sky, with as many as six ospreys in the area.  Often, I couldn't be sure of their identification.  Over the shipyard, Jewel and Jonny appeared to be the most stable, following the expected routines for setting up another season of chick-rearing.

On that Tuesday, there was crazy wind as I biked home over the Lions Gate.  I stopped to rest and to take this photo at the top.  Wind is a strange thing.  Sometimes, it creates huge waves with whitecaps, but that day, it shimmered over the water, leaving silver light.  It felt so powerful, I could barely stand to take the picture, but one would never know that from the way the water appears here.  I love that commuting by bicycle serves many more purposes than just getting from A to B.  The sights along the way have always been a bonus, but another one that I am slowly coming to appreciate is a greater awareness for the air around me. 

I stopped again at the end of the bridge to check out the lions.  I am still trying to figure out who is responsible for their wardrobe change.  If anyone discovers the answer to that question, do let me know.  But, to digress a bit, Vancouver is electrically charged with the excitement of our Canucks hockey team making it to Round 3 of the Stanley Cup finals.  At the time of this photo, Round 2 was by no means a sure thing.  The same outfit was used last year around this time, but unlike last year, there have been no messages predicting a certain win to go along with the costume.  I'm glad about that.  In my opinion, a more humble approach is a good thing.  Round 1 against Chicago, and Round 2 against Nashville were hard won.  The defining moment for me was in Round 2 when Ryan Kesler scored a goal only minutes after losing a tooth and needing stitches in his face.  That is a kind of mental and physical toughness that boggles my brain.  A lost tooth to me would mean game over.  But then, my attitude to hockey seems to be very different from most.  The hits and the injuries are my least favourite part of the game.  Why can't the focus be on skilled play to get the puck in the net?  Wouldn't that be enough to keep the fans coming back for more?

This Monkey-puzzle tree is on the right side of the entrance to the bridge as one travels north.  I have admired it for a long time, and thought it looked particularly beautiful that Tuesday.  It is native to Chile and Argentina.  Last semester, I taught my students about invasive species.  Now, I have a question.  Who decides when it is okay to bring a foreign species of plant or animal into the country?  And, how do we know when a species will cause problems, and when it will be okay?

Continuing on to Stanley Park, I stopped to check on Stanley and Stella at the heronry.   Stella seemed to be spending most of her time on her own, and I wondered how she was managing to get sufficient nourishment.  Here, Stanley paid a rare visit, but brought neither sticks for the nest, nor food for Stella (as far as I could tell).  

Stella was almost definitely sitting on an egg (or more).  She never left the nest (when I was there) and only got up to turn very carefully in the nest.  She didn't appear to be interested in working on nest building, like most of the other females, 

nor did Stanley.  He was a handsome sight, sitting on the end of the branch, quite a distance from Stella.  I wondered why she made no effort to communicate with him.  Their attitude had definitely cooled since watching them mate in mid April.

On Wednesday, May 4th, I saw my first goslings of the season while walking Black Jack in the morning before school.  They were at the side of False Creek,

with proud parents watching them carefully.  Here, one hides under a parent while the other sticks very close by.

The colour of the blooms on a nearby tree seemed to be specially coordinated to match the tender (and difficult to photograph) shade of the goslings.

Later, biking through Stanley Park on the way to school, a quick stop caught Stanley just arriving, and looking magnificent.

Again, he sat at the end of the branch, and again, Stella ignored him.  She is very low in the nest here, and impossible to see, but she did peek over once or twice.

Stanley looked off into the distance, as though he had other things on his mind, and left a few seconds after this photo.

Another heron arrived, bringing material for his mate to work into the nest.  His eyes were popping with what I interpreted as excitement and pride in his gift. I loved the eagerness in his expression and that landing-gear-down position.  

I continued on, but had to stop again when more goslings appeared by Lost Lagoon.

After school, I spent a few minutes at the lookout in North Vancouver.  Olivia was waiting on the nest.  There was no sign of Lawrence, but it was evident they had been working hard on the nest.  

The seals near the osprey nest really made me laugh that day.  Several were gathered on this floating raft, and they seemed to be enjoying their lazy ride around the area inside the pylons.

So many gathered at the lower end that this fellow on the right was raised up quite a bit.  He appeared a bit surprised.  Is that a tongue showing on the seal to the left?  I realize I've never seen a seal's tongue.

On Thursday afternoon, this juvenile Bald Eagle was sitting in a tree near English Bay, right beside the seawall.  What a beauty!  I wondered if it was one of last year's offspring from the nest in Vanier Park.  It sat calmly in a spot where I have never before seen an eagle, and perhaps, it makes a fitting end for this post.  With a rainy day in the forecast, it seems the perfect time to catch up with blogging, a bit of housekeeping and with school work too.  Now, the trick is  to keep going while I'm on a roll.  But, Black Jack has something to say about that.  We're off for our walk, and then..  well, we'll see:)  The first Round 3 game between the Vancouver Canucks and the San Jose Sharks is at 5:00 (Pacific time) today.  Happy hockey watching  to those who care, and for the others, a good Sunday to you!  


  1. Thanks for the update on all our bird friends and for the monkey tree which we saw in Argentina. I call them Dr Seuss trees! Phyllis

  2. Also appreciate this update on our feathered friends, Carol. An eagle’s nest I’ve been watching has left me amazed at how patient the female can be sitting in a nest with little attention from the male or food being offered. This is probably just my human perception. I’m hoping communication takes place in ways I don’t understand and when I'm not watching. About the lion and its changing wardrobes: it would be interesting to know if it’s just one person or random people. And I agree about the rough game of hockey. But the happy news for Vancouver is that they won the game tonight!

    Besides those cute goslings, my favorite picture is of the water shining and ruffled by the wind and the wavy clouds. Great captures as always, Carol. Thanks for sharing your part of the BC world.