Friday, January 18, 2013

Our World Tuesday (on Friday)

My world has been full this past week.  There have been many good times, lots of gratitude and an insane number of photographs.  Well over 3,000 in about four days have given me quite the challenge to reduce to about 350.  Some appear here for an Our World Tuesday post (better late than never, I guess), others will follow in a late ABC post, and hopefully, a few will make it into an also late Wild Bird Wednesday post. 

An afternoon walk along Vancouver's Sunset Beach a week ago Wednesday yielded the first light in the sky for several days.  
Surely that meant good weather would follow on Thursday..

so when Bill suggested we visit Boundary Bay, I didn't have to think twice about my response.  Do I ever? :)  We saw this young Bald Eagle sitting on a telephone pole just before we arrived at the dyke.
Bill stopped and rolled down the windows.  All I had to do was sit in my seat and point the camera up for these photos. I  learned from my bird book that Bald Eagles have a white chest like this in their 2nd year so this youngster still has another couple of years to get by on his/her own before joining the world of adult eagles.

American Wigeons and mallards were gathered in the mud fields.  I wonder what it is that they find so delicious in all that muck.

Random arrangements of driftwood, especially in beautiful light, seemed like rare sculptures.

The driftwood made great perches for the hawks and owls to watch for..

scurrying critters.

All of my identification guesses are just that..  guesses.  I spent some time going through my book but still would appreciate any help from readers.  The three species..

mentioned most frequently by those who appeared to know were Short-eared owls, Northern Harriers and of course, the Snowy Owls.  I would guess Short-eared Owl in the photo above and probably below as well.

I had the feeling all day of being inside a beautiful dream.

Robins gathered wherever they could feast on berries.

Black Jack was as keen as the birds of prey to investigate critter activity.  She stayed as close to the ditch at the side of the dyke as Bill would allow.

I saw this as art but it was Bill who spotted..
a rare and unusual bird.
One of the many things I love about retired life is that we can enjoy adventure days in the middle of the week.  Most people respected the clearly posted signs asking photographers and nature lovers to stay on the dyke.  My experience on weekends has been very different, with some trying to scare the birds into flight so that they can make the "national geographic" captures.  This is frustrating for those who understand how stressful that can be for vulnerable and sometimes endangered wildlife.  Bill and I talked to many of the photographers, including two very respectful nature-loving gentlemen who had traveled all the way from Colorado to see the Snowy Owls and other raptors.  Rod Chandler's and Bob Karcz's photography sites are well worth your time if you enjoy excellent photography and a wide range of subjects. 
There were many less Snowy Owls than the last time I visited and one news story that I read states that they are not doing well.  This is all the more reason to do everything we can to reduce their stress.  Lift-off burns an enormous number of calories and raptors should never be forced to fly.  They need to save their energy for hunting and, in the case of the Snowy Owls, for the long flight back up north where they will hopefully be able to breed.  One recent news story about an ambitious and very talented young photographer was quite disturbing.  He is convinced he understands how the owls think and believes he has a special right to disobey the posted signs.  He also uses the excuse that hunters go off the dyke all the time.  That is true, but as explained to me many years ago, "two wrongs do not make a right."  This young photographer may be getting the winning photographs but at what cost to the birds he proclaims to admire?  Our long lenses work quite well from the dyke and as you will see if you check out Rod and Bob' sites, even flying shots are possible if you are patient and wait to catch the owls when they approach in their own time and way.

One of my favourite bird-photographs of the day was this little Fox Sparrow.
There were lots of people walking their dogs and even a few out with their horses. This trio was a delight to see.  One of the horses was tethered to an older one (perhaps a parent?) and had joined the outing for some socialization, fresh air and fun.

I have added this one for my sister because I think the wide stance will remind her of someone and make her smile.
As said, I will do another post with closer views of birds, but here, just a taste of the variety..

 of action throughout the day. (Northern Harrier above, Bald Eagle below.)

Bill not only talked with people and entertained Black Jack but he was also invaluable as a second pair of eyes.  This hawk (id?) was in the ditch practically at my feet.  My big lens was finding it very hard to focus, and the bright sun was making it just about impossible to follow the action.  Bill (I loved the excitement in his voice) was guiding me..

to such an extent that most of the time, I shot blindly in the direction he indicated.. 

and hoped that some of the captures would work.  These aren't in focus but I so love the foot action.  Happily for the hawk, its sharp eyes did result in a catch.  The prey did not fare so well. I have some graphic pictures that I may show on the wild bird site where people are a bit more accustomed to the reality of wildlife.  But, check out that stride!  Magnificent!  No?

Many people were enthralled at the chance to witness nature.. 

and Mount Baker wasn't bad either :)

As the afternoon went on, Leontien's light, my way of describing what some call the golden hour, flowed over the land.

Bill pulled his shadow close to mine and I was happy.
Berries caught the light..

as did Black Jack's eyes.  Those are Bill's feet and hands in the background.  He is holding her coat and has just sent her off to me for one of her favourite "run-back-and-forth-between-Bill-and-Carol" games.

When she becomes a little bit tired, she asks for one of Bill's super-duper-special massages.
The grasses and this owl picked up the light as well.

This was the view as we finally tore ourselves away.

As we drove off, Leontien's light radiated to every corner of the field behind us and it continues to shine in my memory.

The next day (Friday), a visit to my old stomping ground in North Vancouver (this beach is in front of the school where I taught for 13 years) was fun. 

It was great to spend a little bit of time with Dianne, a friend we don't see often enough.  I didn't take pictures of her that day, but love this one, taken in August on her birthday.  She was clowning around with the plant in front of her face but finally relented and allowed me to catch her wonderful smile.  Her garden is a delightful oasis of colour and bird song.
That same day, I took this picture of her dog, Haley, a dear friend as well.

But, back to Friday's visit to North Van.  The park benches,

with their perfect shadows, were hard to resist,
although Haley reminded me that no shadows could compete with her own sweet face.
The Lions,

a friendly crow,

some Hooded Mergansers (the male on the left was outdoing himself in an effort to be the best option of four available to one female), 

and a posing Blue Heron brought back some happy memories.
As you can see, blue skies did their best to show off this Sumac, but we had to cut our visit short for a quick emergency trip to the dentist (the getting older part of retirement is my least favourite aspect).  Hopefully, we'll get back sometime fairly soon to pick up where we left off.
Probably, you have heard of Vancouver's rainy climate, and it has certainly earned that reputation fairly.  However, there are wonderful days as well, even in the winter.  The trick is to get out when the weather calls. The blog definitely suffers but that is a consequence I'm willing to accept.  All to say, the very next day, we were off again, this time to Harrison Hot Springs.  This has traditionally been a place to see lots of eagles, but the Trumpeter Swans were the species of the day on Friday. 

Barns were calling as well and I have quite a few that I hope to show in a separate post.  I'm not sure this little one qualifies as a barn but it does provide shelter for two..  or..

the next time I looked..  three horses.  I loved that they seemed to come and go as they chose.  At least, I assumed and hoped that there was a larger space behind the barn where they could wander freely.  The day was quite chilly, and I had the feeling they were all enjoying the rays in that sheltered spot.

There were many, many Trumpeter Swans and they were very active.  I had some problems with over-exposure on almost all of my shots, but this one..

and the following sequence were..

some of my favourites.  The coordination and communication..

as this pair landed blew me away.

Their running stop, the delicacy of their wings against the grass..

and the "I did it" attitude left me smiling and touched and feeling (yet again) grateful to Bill for another gift of a day.

We had driven to a different spot here and were in a lane between two farmers' fields.  I was watching a small hawk when I heard Bill call.  Doesn't he look pleased with himself?  He was delighted to have found this sign and I loved it too..  but not as much as I loved yet another example of Bill's sense of humour and of fun.  In case you are wondering we didn't see any snakes, but how neat that the farmer was concerned for their safety. 
There were just a few patches of ice in the field and it was Bill who first drew my attention to the beautiful patterns.

Neither of us noticed this two-part truck, but when I went through my pictures, it was lurking at the back of one of the scenery shots.  I cropped for a closer look.  Have to say that's a first.

More ice patterns.  Do you see someone sitting and facing to the left of the screen?  The face could be a dog's and, for some reason, the posture makes me smile.

We watched trains quite a bit.  I do find them romantic and was happy to catch this one as it sped by.  

I also took many shots of the structure under the bridge.  
This plane was flying so low I wondered if the pilot was in trouble, but Bill (who got his pilot's license when he was younger) thought he was practicing emergency landing procedures.

We stopped by an old favourite haunt hoping to see some Blue Jays but it was late afternoon by then, and the jays were nowhere to be seen.  This icicle-waterfall was lovely, though..

and I particularly enjoyed the two-headed dog that watched us from a distance.

Soft light followed us..

as we headed homeward.  
Bill made a special point of crossing the Golden Ears Bridge, one that he, in all his years in B.C., had never gone over before.  He was mainly hoping to give me a photographic opportunity, but I wasn't quite quick enough to show off the bridge's attractiveness.

The new Port Mann Bridge, crossed shortly afterwards, was also challenge to photograph but at least we weren't hit by flying ice.  Its first couple of months in operation have been tempestuous, to say the least.  I have to say I feel quite sorry for some traumatized motorists but happy that at least no one was seriously injured.  I also feel sorry for the engineers as part of the problem with ice falling from the cables is the result of a design flaw.  I can imagine there are a few people who are not sleeping well at night over this situation.  In the long run, however, as stated in that linked article above, the problems will be sorted out.

Almost home now..  how I love the variety of vistas that city/country life offers.

Bill's willingness to explore wildlife, barns, city streets and such a variety of culture with me makes my life a daily adventure..

and I am forever grateful.  I thought of that the next day, when these hearts appeared along the False Creek beach near my apartment.

I never stop appreciating where I live, but I also must hasten to add that there are so many places that I have not thus far had the opportunity to visit.  Our World Tuesday is especially exciting for the way it takes me around the world and into the lives of people I might otherwise never meet.  And, all that at a very reasonable cost :)  Try it..  I feel quite sure you won't be sorry.  


  1. “Living inside a beautiful dream … “ that IS, indeed, what your world looks like to me, Carol. I so enjoyed your pictorial tour and commentary as well as the special light that emanates from all these captures. :)

  2. "leontien's light" *sigh* :)

    yes, i'd say short-eared owl. the snow is so beautiful! i hope they have a better year w/o so many trials.

    i loved your fox sparrow portrait, too. just beautiful.

  3. Wow, gorgeous series of photos. I enjoyed each and every one! The eagles, ducks, hawks and owls are all awesome. Great sightings. Thanks for sharing, have a lovely weekend!

  4. I have never seen a trumpeter swan so was particularly delighted by the sequence of pictures! Snowy Owls are close to my heart because that was my name when I was a Brownie leader! Hugs for you and Bill! Phyllis

  5. What an amazing series of photos. I loved seeing all the different birds, especially the eagles and owls.
    It's nice to meet another Canadian blogger, especially one from my favourite part of Canada. I live in Ontario but visit Vancouver Island on a regular basis as our daughter and family live there.

  6. Incredibly beautiful shots! This post was like a gift.

  7. I love winter sunsets and sunrises - they cast such lovely light and colour over my world.
    Love your shots of the fox sparrow, the two trumpeter swans flying in tandem, Leontien's light, the heron, oh so many others...
    As for people scaring off the wildlife, it annoys me no end. Same for people who let their dogs chase madly after the ducks and other birds during nesting season - what a way to endanger a species.

  8. I am always overwhelmed, in a good way, when you take me along with you, Bill and BlackJack with the 'captures' you manage to get. I absolutely loved the Swans was like watching a Pas de Deux in ballet. Just amazing to have seen this Carol!

    And that unknown bird that looked like a Crow or Raven with its mouth open!
    I checked out one of the photographers you were talking with...really beautiful work. I'll check the other too.
    Yes, Vancouver has incredible scenery. I remember when we first got there we would sit at Kits Beach and just stare!!
    thanks for this Carol and once again you have made my heart flutter with your wonderful photos.

  9. What a treat - loved seeing the eagles and snowy owls. Yes, you live in a paradise!

  10. Once agagin, I loved every bit of this post. The "shadow' made me laugh because it was so familiar. The shadow duo warmed my heart. So comforting to see you and Bill together, with BlackJack always available to supervise and encourage.

    The swan series was spectacular, and having never seen an owl I was captivated by those photos. My absolute favourite though, was that sparrow capture. Just beautiful. I agree with Mama Zen who said that "your post is like a gift".


  11. Thank you very much for sharing your beautiful pictures with all participants of 'Our World Tuesday'.
    Canada is a beautiful country where ever you go.
    I love nature and enjoy our parks. Every walk is a adventure for me. My husband and I travelled by car from Toronto to Vancouver and back again.
    A trip of a lifetime. So many beautiful memories.
    Please visit my Guildwood Blog to see my world.
    -Cheers Gisela
    your new Google friend.

  12. You provided us so much eye candy with this post, I really don't know where to start. Loved the robin with those beautiful berries and your dog is adorable and you catching that low flying plane...loved that. Great post really.
    Laurie @ Pride in Photos