Thursday, April 19, 2012

Colourful Walks: Iona Island and Stanley Park

 Stanley Park #1
Our walk to Stanley Park last Thursday began with brilliant splashes of colour.  Poppies, 
English daisies, forget-me-knots ,
and tulips were all in bloom.
Stella watched Stanley trying to break some branches off for the nest. I thought she had a critical expression on her face.
Stanley wasn't able to break this branch.
He also failed with this one.
Then he walked up the tree towards the nest.
He tried one more time, and then flew away.
Stella continued to work on the nest.  I waited for a while to see if Stanley would return, but he didn't.  I was left with a new realization that breaking a stick is harder than one first might think when you have only a bill (albeit a long and sharp-looking one) to work with. 
This is another heron trying to make a landing.  The pantalooned legs stretched out in front and the wide-eyed look of "He-e-ere goes.." had me smiling and a bit worried at the same time.  Happily, the landing was successful.
I wonder if they sometimes lose feathers because they get caught in the tree branches. 
The wind seemed to give the herons a bit of a challenge, and it was quite a sight to watch them land.  However, Stanley didn't return, and it was time to head for home.
I took a picture of these magnificently white magnolias, and then we were on our way.
Back on the street where I live, I couldn't believe this bushtit.  It was on a small tree (a plant, really) at the top of the steps to my building. 
It wasn't the last bit shy when it noticed my camera.  
 Adventure Day with Bill and Black Jack at Iona Island
We had a great day at Iona, with perfect weather, lots of happy free-runs for Black Jack, and beautiful birds doing their Spring thing.  This is a female Red-winged Blackbird. 
This was a new bird for me, and with the much appreciated help of Ship Rock, have identified it as a Marsh Wren. 
Its call sounded more like a scolding than a song, so I took a couple of photos quickly, and then gave it some space.
Flowering Currant (I think) brought a splash of colour to the terrain,  
but nothing really competes with the red in Red-winged Blackbirds.  They were all very busy, but this one took a few seconds to "sit" for a photo.
Bill had taken Black Jack to a more dog-friendly trail, but we met up, and I introduced him to my "new" bird species.  We followed our ears and found another wren, this one a bit more pale than the previous one.
I'm guessing Yellow-rumped Warbler for this beauty, but it was gone before I had much of a chance to enjoy it.
I thought this might be my first ever Rufous Hummingbird. It also gave me only a second or two before it disappeared.
We walked to the water's edge, and enjoyed seeing the swallows.. Tree Swallows, I think.  They really seemed to appreciate the houses provided by bird enthusiasts.  
Even with the houses to help me anticipate arrivals and departures, I struggled to get a shot of them flying.  They are just so fast!
I really, really love that cobalt blue.  
I think this was the largest Flicker I have ever seen.  
And, another debt of gratitude to the UBC forum.  Michael F has informed me that this is Lamium Purpureum, or Red Deadnettle.  I googled at this site and learned that "dead" refers to the fact that, unlike other nettle, there is no sting.  I also learned that it is edible and works well in salads, but the article went on to say that there "is little to recommend about its flavour."  I had to smile at that last point.  I was surprised to learn that it is native to Europe and Asia, and that it is considered an invasive species to some parts of North America.  I didn't see a lot of it, and thought it brought a subtle beauty to the surroundings.
This crow, sitting contentedly (it seemed to me) in a pile of sandy dirt, made me question why it appeared to enjoy the dirt.  A soft place to land?  Food?  Nesting material? Lookout from a raised perch? Or, maybe it was planning a mud-bath.
I thought the bird below was a Dark-eyed Junco, but then wavered, as there wasn't the sharp division of colour between the head and neck, but Ship Rock helped me out again, confirming that there are colour variations, and that my first idea was correct.
Fortunately, the White-crowned Sparrow is one I feel confident identifying.
I love this section of the walk.  It is the perfect place for Black Jack to have a wonderful run.   
We gave her a bit more freedom than usual, but watched her very carefully.  Fortunately, she has zero interest in birds.  However, she is greatly attracted to logs (or what lies beneath them).
We called her back frequently (like every 30 seconds or so), and here, she is anticipating her reward.
"Here I am!"
"Thank you!"
This Merganser took flight just as I raised my camera.
These logs seemed to have been purposefully arranged to meet at a central point.
This bird was hanging out with the seagulls, and Ship Rock again came to the rescue, identifying it as a Caspian Tern.  The photograph is not clear, but it is carrying a fish.
We walked just to this point, but not out along what I think is called the North-Arm jetty.  Knowing we had a fairly long hike back to the truck, we decided it was time to turn around.  
We took the beach route all the way back.  It was quite lovely, with none of the garbage that mars a few parts of the walk along the centre of the Island.  This Killdeer was so camouflaged, I heard it long before I saw it.  
There were just a couple of them, busily foraging for food.
It was not a day for birds of prey.  This was our only sighting of a young Bald Eagle.
Walking back, there was bright, sparkling light, that seemed to work best for silhouette shots.
The following was a poorly photographed but rather interesting little drama.  A seagull was harassing a heron.  We wondered about that, as herons, unlike eagles, rarely bother other birds. 
The heron was trying to fly and look backwards at the same time.
Its contortions were quite amazing to witness.
The heron approached another heron (perhaps its mate) with the seagull hot on its trail and a second seagull watching.
"Honey, you wouldn't believe what a day I had..."
Then, I noticed another pair of herons at the right.  They didn't appear to be willing to share their space.
One heron was braver than the others, 
and moved forward to ask the strangers' intentions (my interpretation).
In the end, both sets of herons settled down peacefully.  I found it interesting that the seagulls hung out with them.  In fact, I wondered if the seagulls rely on the herons for fish leftovers.  Perhaps, the one seagull was just trying to get early dibs on lunch.
Bill is about six feet tall, so that gives you some perspective of the height of the sand bar.  There must be ferocious power when the waves hit that wall.
Black Jack in silhouette with a half reflection.  (I used iphoto to get rid of the leash.)
The last time we visited Iona, we saw this same tire and Bill declared it an Egyptian artifact.  Amazing that it was still in what I believe was the same spot.
Things that show up in sparkly water on windy days always seems to get Black Jack going.  She approached carefully,
got close enough for a sniff, 
and moved on.
I thought this "fish" might be a very rare and valuable fossil, but Bill wasn't convinced :)
We were both quite tired when we arrived back at the truck, but what a great day we had!  Thank you, Bill!  I took this truck shot of the jetty leading to the sewage treatment plant, as we drove homeward.
 Stanley Park Walk #2
Here, Bill is getting Black Jack ready so that I can test my camera's Shutter Priority for a running shot.  It didn't work very well but at least I know that it does function.  Perhaps, I just need to experiment more with it.
As we neared Stanley Park, it was impossible to resist the tulips, especially in the sunlight. 
The heronry was busy, but there was no sign of Stanley.  This was a poor shot, but the heron's wing position fascinated me.  I think I would need an instruction manual to figure out how to manipulate them.
There is intensity in this heron's eyes as it prepares to approach the nest.
Almost managed to get the entire heron in the shot :)
I liked the muted tulip colours as much as the more dramatic ones.  (Black Jack, in the background, had other interests.)  
As we headed home along the seawall, I noticed this fellow hopping over that cement barrier with his skateboard.  Check out his arm position.
 I think the gentleman at the right was as amazed as I was.
Here he comes back again.
Up..  and..
Whoops..  not quite.
But, I still admired his graceful dismount.
 Stanley Park Walk #3
I usually check on the bushtits when I walk by their nest and have been noticing that they spend an enormous amount of time upside down.
They also do chin-ups!
They are very athletic, going from under the branch to on it in a split second.  I'm not absolutely sure of this, but it doesn't appear that they use their wings to change position.
This young eagle was flying near the Vanier nest, and I wondered if it was one of the fledglings from last summer.
Every day, new flowers appear.  These are California Lilacs or Ceanothus Blue Mound.  Bill found out the name a year or so ago, and the word "California" stuck in my mind.  I think these are the brightest blue I've seen.
I'm not sure why this Inuksuk by English Bay looked to me like a small truck, but it did, so I recorded that thought. 

These flowers are at the corner of Beach and Denman.  It seems that gardeners go to special trouble to make that corner particularly colourful.
Again, there was no sign of Stanley.  In face, if Stella was in the nest, she must have been tucked down well inside.  However, herons were flying against blue skies, 
and it was hard to resist taking pictures.
These next two shots may appear to be almost identical, 
but they show slightly different wing position.  (What can I say? I'm addicted.)
Walking around Lost Lagoon, the flowers were irresistible as well.  Even the past its prime magnolia branch seemed lovely.
This tree appeared to be laden to the point where it could not possibly hold another bloom.
Delicate lace on blue satin.
Rhododendrons in Mary and Ted's garden seemed to have the most wondrous coral shades, 
that drifted to pale yellow in front of my eyes.
This seagull caught the light over Lost Lagoon,
as did this Greater Scaup when it landed.
I think these are also Rhododendrons and although these were by the lagoon, there are some of the same colour across from my apartment building.  
I think pretty well every colour of the rainbow must be represented in these recent walks.  It's a rich time of year, for sure, and I'm grateful for the opportunity of sharing my view of it. 


  1. Wonderful action shots as usual, Carol. The skateboarder had some fantastic moves and oddly enough reminds me a little of the animated wildlife you photograph. When it comes to the birds, it looks like nest building is taking center stage and we have come full circle. Black Jack anticipating a treat almost looked devious in that photo … I had to laugh! Her “thank you” was very gracious, though. Also loved all the colorful blooms you discovered on your travels. :))

  2. Lots of great pictures, it is such a colourful time of year in the flower world. Your heron shots on each of your walks are amazing; sometimes they look so graceful and then again other times quite hilarious. Thanks for sharing these great shots Carol.

  3. i love all the pix, but the birds and bees upside down are my favorites


  4. First of all, WELCOME.

    So many OUTSTANDING photos! Some VERY funny, like the upside down guy.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  5. First of all, WELCOME. So many OUTSTANDING photos! Some VERY funny, like the upside down guy. ROG, ABC Wednesday team