Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To English Bay, North Van Adventure Day, Metro Theatre, The Courier, Neighbourhood, Canucks and Lost Lagoon walk.

The last couple of weeks, cherry blossoms are everywhere I look.  As I walked from David Lam Park towards English Bay on Thursday, the only challenge..
was to stop taking pictures of them.  
Near the cherry blossom trees in David Lam Park is a beautiful bush with lovely, very pale yellow blooms. I learned by joining this UBC Botanical Garden Forum that it is called Corylopsis Spicata, or Spike Winter Hazel.  I was excited to find that source for help with identifying plants.  It took just a few seconds to join the forum.  Posting a photo was easy too (It must be your own and not stolen from internet).  This morning, when I woke up, there was an answer to my question.  (Thank you to Silver surfer!)
As I neared English Bay, I noticed a crow in a tree gathering what appeared to be small pieces of wood.
When I reached the beach, I discovered..
a work party gathering similar material.
They were tearing strips of wood from a log, I guess to be used in their nest construction.  I haven't noticed this behaviour before and found it very interesting.
We left the beach and walked along the paved, seawall path.  This yellowy-green worm was in danger of being stepped on by the many passers-by and I wanted to help it reach the grass.  But, I was worried about stressing it by picking it up in my hand.  Okay, truthfully, I was also a bit squeamish about picking it up.  I found a stick and laid it in front of the worm, hoping it would climb onto the stick and then I could put the stick in the grass.  It refused to accept my "help" so I asked a couple of passers-by if they would help me move the worm.  They were very kind, and were about to offer their advice, when the worm suddenly slithered onto the stick, and the lady carried it to safety.  I was grateful to these people for taking the idea seriously of saving the worm from being stepped on, and happy as we continued our walk.  (The rest of the walk had to do with herons, already covered in other posts, so I'll move on to our visit to North Vancouver.)

First, we checked Lawrence and Olivia's nest and found it empty.  Although it looked in surprisingly good condition after the winter, the old rags from last season were still in the same place.
We walked along the shore and saw only one seal that appeared to be dozing.
Someone had built some new steps from the shore up to the grass and Black Jack seemed to like them.
The geese were flying, 
and calling out their estimated time of arrival.
We let Black Jack off leash, 
and she had..
 a wonderful time.. 
practicing her recalls..
and anticipating her..
"Look Bill.  No hands!"
Jewel and Jonny's nest appeared to have been tended, and from a long distance, I thought I spied an osprey in it. However, when we reached the end of the shoreline,

I could see only one osprey on the tree branch near the nest.  Jonny, perhaps? Jewel could have been deep in the nest, or maybe Jonny was still waiting for her to arrive.  (The males often arrive a couple of weeks before the females.)  I was happy to see at least one osprey, and we called it a day.

There is a waterfall that runs down a wall lined with colourful stones.  It is by some steps on the city side of a False Creek lookout.  Someone either had to get wet to place this daffodil in the middle, or they had amazing aim when they threw it.  Or, Bill thought of one more option.  Maybe the waterfall had been turned off.  However the daffodil got there, I liked the photo,
and couldn't decide if the cropped or the full version worked better.
These red flowers are by the Parks Board Office at the entrance to Stanley Park.  I learned (also from that same wonderful UBC site) that it is called Bellis Perennis (English Daisy).  Again, I am most grateful to Silver surfer!

Victor, Victoria was at the Metro Theatre, at 1370 SW Marine Drive, just by the exit to the airport.      
This was the image behind the curtain when we entered the theatre.  
The orchestra was outstanding, and I managed one partial shot of this trombone at rest, just before the performance began.
It was a campy performance, and the sets, costumes and vocal numbers made it a feast for the eyes and ears. The next two photos were taken from the web site linked above.  Sylvia Zaradic (on the right), played Victoria and to the left is Seth Little, playing Toddy.  He replaced Jeff Hyslop, who was out with a knee injury.  Seth Little was perhaps the classic story of an understudy achieving great success.  He was absolutely outstanding in the part. 
Karen Inghammer (below), played the burlesque dancer, and was brilliant.  In many ways, she stole the show.  If you see her name anywhere, I'd say the chances of a very entertaining performance are pretty well guaranteed!  This was definitely an evening to remember.

Black Jack absolutely loves taking the False Creek Ferry or the Aquabus over to Granville Island.  She always tried to lead me down to the ferry dock when we pass by it.  I don't always give in to her request, but sometimes, it is impossible to resist her pleading expression and insistent tugs on the leash.  When we go, we usually look for otters under the docks and/or seals by the bridge (none on our most recent trip a week or so ago).  Then we walk along the seawall to Vanier Park.  Sometimes, we retrace our steps, but on this particular day, we continued up Cypress Street, along Cornwall Street, across the Burrard Bridge, and back home again.  All for the senior rate of $1.75 for the boat ride (free for dogs).

It was an entertaining walk.  There were herons,  
ducks in the ponds,
finches (the one at the right was giving a lecture that was mostly ignored),
more finches,
yet more finches,
and a statue on a roof that I noticed that day for the first time, though we had passed by countless times before.
When we neared Vanier Park, I loved the contrasting blues and yellows of these daffodils and hyacinths. 
There was very little action around the eagle nest in Vanier Park, and I couldn't get the light right for this picture, but I could just see the tip of one white head.  I imagine there are at least eggs in that nest now, if not chicks.
Another very poor picture, but I see Northern Shovelers so rarely, it seems this male should be documented.
This crow was sitting in a tree by the Burrard Bridge.
Looking down from the bridge, I could still see the white head in the eagle nest.
I enjoyed the look of the banners as I approached the archway at the top of the bridge.
I don't remember where I saw these tulips, but they were the last photo we took before returning home (At the front are more English Daisies.  They came in pink as well.)

I had already posted about seeing The Bomb-itty of Errors, but didn't mention in that post that we walked to the theatre on 7th Avenue, and on the way, stopped on Fir Street near 6th Avenue when we noticed these wonderful murals on the wall of The Vancouver Courier building.  I learned from this site that Stephen Lowe and Travis Doubt are the talented artists.
I have a lot of respect and fondness for The Courier.  
First of all, it is a free paper.  Second, it nearly always has a carefully-researched and well-written cover story that I find interesting.  Third, its entertainment section is often helpful in deciding which shows/concerts to see.  I learned from this site that it is Canada's largest distributed community newspaper. 
The murals are really attractive and they sure do brighten up that street corner and parking lot.
Oh, and one more thing.  The Vancouver Courier is 104 years old!  Wow!

I have a post waiting to be published that addresses the "bikes" portion of the title of this blog.  Truthfully, although I'd say I've been quite active since retirement, I am spending a lot less time on my bike.  It seems hard to justify going out on the bike when I could be walking with Black Jack.  It has stayed just a bit too cold for her to ride with me, but I'm hoping that will soon change, and that we can do some trips over to North Van and perhaps to Jericho in the near future.  In the mean time, just one bike reference in this post: I was saddened one day to see this bike, exposed at low tide in my immediate neighbourhood.  I guess bicycles aren't living, breathing things, but it feels to me that a good bike that is ridden regularly becomes a part of us.  What an unfortunate ending for this one.  
The magnolias sometimes take a back seat to the cherry blossoms at this time of year, but they have been every bit as beautiful.  As I write, I realize that I haven't noticed their scent.  Perhaps, it has been overpowered by the wonderful cherry blossom aroma.  That thought took me to this site, where I learned that "Magnolia flowers are often fragrant. The scent is creamy sweet with a light citrus nuance (Magnolia Grandiflora)."  The next time I go out, I plan to seek out that citrus scent.  
Also in my immediate neighbourhood is the constant chant of dragon boat trainees.  In this picture, you can see an experienced group in the background, with their paddles all lined up quite closely.  In the front appears what is possibly a beginner group.  I often wonder why there must be yelling to go along with the paddling.  It is lovely to be on the water and working together with a team is something I admire.  Surely, they could use a visual cue to synchronize their strokes.  The yelling must detract from what should be a spiritually harmonious venture.  Surely, I didn't write that last sentence :)
The cormorants are ever present and I never pass by their favourite False Creek hangout without  sneaking a peek before I move on.  These three lined up for a photo.  The one at the front had a white feather tuft over its right eye.
One last thought about magnolias and other beautiful plants and flowers brought here from other countries.  Both the cherry blossom trees and the magnolia trees originate in Japan.  My question is: Why do some imported species become invasive, while others do well here, and cause no stress to the environment? Bill suggested that it had to do with the fact that they need outside intervention to propagate, and sure enough, he was exactly right.  I posted my question to the UBC forum, and just a short time later, received this reply. "Lorax" said: 
Broom propagates itself wildly without any outside intervention, as does Vinca (another major offender), Knotweed (Fallopia japonica and its relatives) and most other invasives for that matter. Hence, if one gardener plants an invasive and forgets about it, it takes over and has the potential to spread unchecked, often choking out native flora. 

Here in Ecuador, blackberries are considered a pernicious invasive threat, particularly on the Galapagos islands, and it's actually possible to get a job that consists solely of digging up and burning blackberry cane - it's a major threat to the archipelago's unique flora, and it's particularly invasive because the seeds are spread by birds.
However, the chances of a Magnolia self-seeding in the PacNW is pretty much zilch - so although it's very popular, it's not an invasive. Same goes for flowering cherries. They're aliens, for certain, but they're not threats in any way to the natural ecosystems of the area - the same way that Hibiscus trees are down here; very popular in landscaping, with no chance of escape.
One other person responded to the fact that I had mistakenly referred to the invasive plant, "Scotch Broom" in my question.  Michael F had this to say:
This is another serious, but often overlooked, problem with invasive species - the renaming of plants by those on the receiving end, and subsequent global spamming of those invasive names, which can be very offensive to those for whom the species is a local native. The correct English name for Cytisus scoparius is Common Broom.
I feel like I have discovered a gold mine in that web site.  Thank you, Silver Surfer, Lorax and Michael F!

Sunday night, the Canucks lost their third straight game to Los Angeles.  One more loss and it will be all over for them this season.  I feel they have played well, and are doing the best they can to figure out what to do to turn things around.  I also feel there is a definite element of luck that must be factored into the outcome.  Some of my passion for the game disappeared after last year's riots in Vancouver, but I still feel a fondness for the team.  I wrote these words on my Facebook site before their first game: 
"Dear Canucks, have a wonderful run in the 2012 playoffs. Play to win, but play like gentlemen. No matter the outcome, I'm hoping Vancouver will celebrate your tremendously successful season in a way that is all about good sportsmanship and pride in your hard work."
I feel the same after their losses.  Perhaps, they will rally and win the next four straight, and if they do, I will be happy for them.  If they don't, life will go on, and I hope they will still be celebrated in the spirit of sportsmanlike behaviour and good-hearted fun. 

This walk had a little of everything - there was some humour, some drama and some mystery too.  Below, this bumblebee in David Lam Park appeared to have a face on its back with eyes watching my camera.
Perhaps, it had two sets of eyes.
And, its legs dangling in mid-air were both fascinating and a little bit humorous too.
This Canada Goose had chosen to nap right in the middle of some carefully arranged rocks that often form lovers' initials on the beach.
Here, its eye is covered by the nictitating membrane that all birds have.  I have just learned from this site that this goose could still see me, even with the membrane completely over the eye.  Often, that membrane is called a third eyelid.  This site amazed me.  Someone has done a study focused solely on disorders of the third eyelid.   
Here, the membrane is withdrawn, all the better to clearly check out my intentions.  Beautiful goose, I hope I didn't disturb you too much.
This House Finch was by English Bay.
What made me laugh was its expression as it turned to face me.  I thought he might be saying something like, "Hey, you with the camera.  What do you think you are doing?"
We stopped at the heronry, and I could see that Stella was working on her nest.
There was no sign of Stanley, but she appeared to be watching out for his arrival.
Walking through the Stanley Park gardens, there were many bushtits, and this chubby, chirping one with wing outspread made me smile.
Every hummingbird sighting is exciting to me.  There was such an industrious feeling to the atmosphere, with every bird seeming to be on a very important mission!
One of the funniest sightings was this American Coot in Lost Lagoon.  It stood up, as they so often do, to shake off their wings after bathing.
But, then it began to spin in circles, all the while..
..kicking up its feet in one of the most joyful duck dances I've ever witnessed.
Still spinning and waving,
it finally posed on its tippy toes before ending the show.  I don't know when a duck has made me laugh so much!
I was about to move on when this seagull landed on a nearby post.
Then it yawned!  Check out that tongue!
Then, it turned to face me, and I understood as never before why they are able to swallow starfish.  
Another goose.  Wings and neck stretched forward,
and then wings back, with head reaching to drink from the pond.
This little Kinglet was a rare sighting for me.  I couldn't see the crown, so cannot tell you if it was Golden-crowned or Ruby-crowned, but just discovering a Kinglet was a find.
This next bird I am calling a Yellow-rumped Warbler, but the chances for error are fairly high. I couldn't see its crown, which should have a yellow patch.  However, any bird with yellow in it is cause for celebration. It sure was pretty!
This racoon was in the pond, but began coming forward when it saw some young people with large bags of chips.  I begged them not to feed it.  (Please don't feed the wildlife, folks.)  They kindly agreed, and..
the racoon gave me quite a glare before finally returning to the underbrush.  I feel sure it wasn't appreciative of my interference.
As we made our way around the lagoon,
there were several more possible..
Kinglet sightings.
Mallards were everywhere, and I thought this fellow was particularly gorgeous.
There were lots of turtles as well.  I wonder why they stack themselves..
one upon the other.  And, why do some of them prefer to be loners?  Maybe not so different from human beings in that respect :)
Another possible warbler caught my eye before I had to give my attention to Black Jack.
She had been very engaged throughout the walk, but this squirrel drove her over the edge of sanity.  I had to pick her up to calm her down.
The squirrel gave me a look that said, "Hmph..  about time you controlled that silly beast."
As we were leaving the park, we came to the exit by Chilco Street, and I have to say, I'm not sure when I've seen the cherry blossoms so beautiful.  There was a man working nearby who kept staring at them and saying, "Uhn-bee-leev-able" over and over again, so I knew that I wasn't the only one to be mesmerized by their beauty.
I took this photo almost a week later, when they had passed their prime, but just to give you more of the big picture.
 I took this final picture somewhere along Pacific Street as we walked home.  I saw a face in the Rhododendron.  Best of all, when I showed it to Bill, he commented on the face with no prompting at all :)  Do you see the two eyes, the nose, the ears and a tongue sticking out? 
The picture below was found at this site with an article that I found really interesting, describing the strategy and goals that Amir Ofek used in his set design for "The Importance of Being Earnest."  I liked this play, but realized that satire may not be my first love.  Nevertheless, the acting, the sets and the costumes were all stellar.  As with just about everything we go to see, I feel somehow enriched by the experience.  Along with the many ways I feel thankful to Bill, is a special gratitude for the way he does all the phoning, e-mailing, picking up tickets, etc to keep our cultural life so stimulating.
And, as always, I am very, very grateful to those readers who find time to share in my life experiences.  Thank you so much for dropping by!


  1. So many good pics, hard to pick a favorite. But I will pick a small nit about the picture of the two boats. The boat to the rear of the Dragon Boat is an eight person skull with coxswain. The skull uses oars as opposed to the Dragon Boat paddles. Easy enough to miss unless you notice that the paddlers face forward and the skullers are rowing backwards.

  2. I am always so amazed that in the middle of the city you are able to find so many birds, animals and interesting flowering trees etc. your quick eye and attention to detail make all the photos interesting. I particularly love the little bush tit who is so full of character. My book group will read "The Importance of Being Earnest" as the finale to our very wonderful year of studying the literature of the Victorian era! Hugs, Phyllis

  3. That American Coot is truly a hoot, Carol! Its lively movements remind me of a tap dancer. All the creatures seem to develop a personality when seen through your lens. The blossoms are so plentiful this time of year they look like clouds on some trees, don’t they? The bike reminded me of trash that was discovered when some ponds were drained in my part of the world. It seems hard to believe that anyone would toss his bicycle into the environment without a care. It makes me wonder if some were actually stolen for a quick ride and then discarded.

  4. Such a rich post and so many wonderful pictures. Your pictures of birds and animals are so good; I particularly like the house finches, herons and that comical coot!
    We also enjoyed the Importance of Being Ernest, it was well staged and acted. Oscar Wilde had his tongue firmly in his cheek when he was writing that one!
    Thanks, as always for taking us along.

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