Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A cool, blustery first day of Spring

Yesterday was the first day of Spring.  Looking at these pictures, all will seem as it should be.  Dogs are playing, blooms are blossoming and birds are nesting.  We had an enjoyable walk, but the pictures do not convey the blustery wind and cool temperatures. This Nasa site explains why some places on the planet may feel like they are in a global cooling phase, and that would be the case in Vancouver this Spring.  It may have reached 5 degrees in the sun, but I can tell you that Black Jack wore her coat for the final hour of our walk, and I too was bundled up except for a few short periods when the sun found us. As much as I worry for the planet, I also confess to just a tiny bit of jealousy over the 24 degrees C. temperatures that I hear were enjoyed in Ottawa yesterday. My head knows the threat of global warming is a serious one, and I'll continue to take the steps I can to help the planet, but my heart is yearning to shed a few layers of clothing for our outings.  

I do enjoy going back over the pictures from yesterday's walk from the warmth of my apartment.  Here they are:

A happy dog on the beach at English Bay.
Some Surf Scoters, also at English Bay.  They seemed to be posing for me yesterday.  Normally, they stay just far enough away from the shore to make photos a challenge.
Yesterday, they came a bit closer than usual, and they lined up to have their picture taken.
 The waves had them rolling around quite a bit, but this group shot worked well too.
The next 8 photos show a Blue Heron landing sequence.
Their long spindly legs make me smile every time.
I have to remind myself that landing safely, especially on windy days.. 
 is no mean feat.
 Almost there.
Ungainly one second, and delicately graceful the next.
A quick look back, I'm thinking to check for predators,
and then a careful approach to the nest, where his mate waits.
13 shots to capture the flight pattern of this next heron.
 Like a plane, it had to do several circuits before finding a way to land.
Each phase of the wing movement shows the patterns differently.  I love to watch their necks, sometimes stretched out flat, and sometimes curved.
All of the body on one plane here.
 This was a second attempt to land.  It circled in front of these apartment buildings, 
 and I wondered how the people inside ever get any work done.
 I would spend all my time at the window.
 On the way back to the tree now.
 Here, it was bathed in a magical powder blue light.
 Last circle around and down to the nest.  Or is it down on my head?  I could swear it is right over me.
 Those legs again.  Check out the pantaloons. 
 Made it!
The photo below is of a different heron.  I liked the accordion pleats of its wing.
Just before taking the path down to Lost Lagoon, I spotted a little speck on the telephone wire.  My camera managed to catch this Anna's Hummingbird.
 When it turned, the light caught the red in its lovely head.
I think this may be the exact same bloom I showed in my last post. This Rhododendron (I'm fairly sure I have it right) bush is at its peak right now.
The heron below was following a man who was feeding it bread.  It makes me sad to see the herons, especially at this time of year, beginning to beg in the same way that mallards, seagulls and crows do.  This one seemed as if it would follow the fellow right home.  Please, people, do not feed the birds bread!  If you must feed them (and it would be better to let them find their own food), at least give them something nutritious.  Herons are supposed to eat fish, water creatures and rodents.  Not bread.  Thank you. (sorry for the rant)
The mute swans were begging as well.  They are not a native species, and therefore must be pinioned, a wrong that I hope will be righted in my lifetime, but for now, I will focus on their lovely necks..  
 that can reach far,
far down into the pond to catch crumbs and hopefully, other water life.
 It would be hard to equal the grace and flow..
 of those beautiful curved lines.
While I was watching the swans, I noticed a skateboarder, a gentleman with a cane and a couple, all enjoying the day.  Yes, some layers were required, but there was no question of Spring's arrival.  The blurred cherry blossoms at the top of the photo are proof :)  There's a 5th person in that photo.  He was the one who first caught my attention.  He had been skateboarding when the board suddenly got away on him, and he had to run after it.  A 6th person (not seen) stopped it for him.  Just another day in the life of beautiful Stanley Park.
I was just leaving the park when I spotted this swan, nestled down beside a lady whose name I do not know.  I think she is one of the regular Lost Lagoon swan protectors.  Like a dog, the swan watched over its food, and waited calmly for the lady to finish her conversation.  One day, I hope to find that lady and learn a bit more of her story. 
 We walked home by Denman Street, where this bus caught my attention.  For some reason, I love the layers in this photo. 
 Black Jack was thrilled when we stopped here.  She behaved really well, so she earned a chicken ball for her effort.
We made a left turn onto a lovely street, but I didn't check to get its name.  Community gardeners were out, and there was an off-leash park where dogs were having a wonderful time.  I hope to come back to it and do a post one day.  I love community gardens!  In the mean time, this bike and colourful blooms..
made me smile.  What a great Spring message!
This mural was on a school wall.  There was only one word, perhaps difficult to see in the photo, but I think it is the perfect word, a gentle reminder that showing "respect" can make life good for all of us.
 I loved the mural and focused on one section at at time.  
 Beautiful to see and lots to think about.
 I remember admiring this house once before, because of the blue plant holder and the matching railings.  Add some blue sky to that, and it made a great picture yesterday.
 Some daffodils, a mystery plant..
and a lovely wreath..
around a tree all felt very springlike.
 This is on Davie Street.  I've always meant to go inside and will, one day.
General Custer does not look very happy, but perhaps, his mood will improve when things warm up.
We passed by the Hornby bike path, and I thought again how much I appreciate it.  
That was the end of our walk, but I've added a few pictures already shown on Facebook.  This is Black Jack's pose on St. Patrick's Day.
The photo below was taken in front of a shop on Cambie Street called The Pet Store Boys.  We found it by accident, and I can't recommend them highly enough for nail trimming, the only service I've tried to date.  I'm thinking to try them out next for teeth cleaning.  Check out their web site to learn about the many services they provide.  What was so notable for me was that they are the very first to do all of Black Jack's nails with NO stress and NO bleeding.  If, like me, you are not attracted to the fashion boutique aspect of their establishment, all I can say is, give them a chance.  David and Christopher are extraordinary.  I feel that in my bones. The price is reasonable ($10 for a nail trim), they are knowledgeable, and they have the best bedside manner you could ever ask for.  I love this place!
 When we arrived home after the nail trimming, I wanted to show the result.  Black Jack yawned and let me know she really would prefer to rest up for our next adventure.
However, she got more and more into the camera thing as we went along.  I think she's beginning to like modelling.  This photo shows those black nails, now nicely rounded off.  
 She's sexy and she knows it :)
All for now.  Happy Spring, everyone!


  1. Those scoters lined up remind me of classroom pictures we used get at school. I like the heron dancing in the wind and how it appears to be tangled in the trees at times. I agree there is something special about the photo that looks layered … seems multidimensional, which is not easy to achieve in a flat picture. It’s also difficult to capture the cold winds we had on the first day of spring. It is easy to see Black Jack’s sparkling personality, though, from BIG yawn to demure at the end. I think she definitely has a future in the movies. :)

  2. What Penelope said...
    I've never heard of/seen scoters before. Very striking, but not near as graceful as the herons and swans.
    The heron sequences are Be-A-Utiful!
    And so is Blackjack.

  3. I have never seen the surf scooter so close, their colouring and beaks are really extraordinary. The sequences of the heron landing and flying are wonderful too. I have yet to get to the Park to check out the Herons this year.
    Those last pictures of Black Jack are precious.

  4. Carol, how old is Black Jack now? I don't think I've ever noticed those grey hairs on her face and paws before. They make her look a little 'softer' and cause me to smile.
    Love the heron sequence - such amazing photography!
    And the Pet Shop Boys are big supporters of rescue - check out their "Charity Hikes" sometime!

  5. Hi Jean,
    Thanks for your comment! Black Jack is only about 7 and a half years old, but she has been greying steadily, almost since I got her. Scott did the same thing. They tell me it's a "black dog thing" so I'm trying not to take it personally :) Fortunately, she's as happy and peppy as ever, and I take every happy/healthy day as a gift.

    Yes, all of David and Christopher's dogs have been rescues, and they told me they do a lot of grooming for rescues handling cases of neglect like Petey's. I'd say they are the real deal.

  6. I have nothing to add to the comments already made except .. I just love your photos!