Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Vancouver's Critters Lately

I have some critters to share with Eileen's Saturday's Critters meme, but first, a belated happy Father's Day to the amazing fathers I've been lucky to know.  Just in Bill's and my immediate family are some truly stellar dads.  My father, a quiet man, had a presence that still evokes vivid memories. I hear his voice, see his smile, and feel his response to the day to day events of my life. He was a true gentleman with a keen mind and a creative bent.  He loved us and we loved him.  The family dog, in a time before I was born, clearly loved him as well.  
On Saturday, June 13th, we walked along the edge of False Creek and saw this long line of geese.  It seems to have been a banner year for the goose population.
We stopped at the pond where seagulls gather to bathe.  This fellow on the left..
was a bit of a troublemaker.
This one liked to plunge into the water.. 
head first.  I think it just felt good :)
Black Jack, as always, found the water's edge to be most entertaining.
On Monday, June 15, it was very warm but we rode our bikes to Jericho Park. 
A crow, an adult goose and some teenage geese.. 
were hanging out peacefully.
A squirrel,
a juvenile Redwing,  
and her dad (I think) watched us closely.  They are used to handouts. 
As I watched them, the dad flew towards me, landing on my outstretched left hand, that was stocked with peanuts and sunflower seeds.  He ignored the seeds, but filled his mouth with as many peanuts as he could manage, delivering them (I think) to a nest before returning for two more fill-ups.  I tried to get a shot with my right hand as he flew in but the 300 mm lens struggled to focus.
Nearby, a Flicker watched us but wasn't as bold as the Redwing.
Bill had gone across the field with Black Jack, and was heading back to me..
when I spotted this squirrel about to head up the tree.
Black Jack saw him/her too and ran as fast as she could to the tree, with Bill close behind :)  The squirrel headed up just as they came around the tree.
"Dang!  Missed it again!"
A short distance away, this dog (a tripod) was resting after running alongside his humans' bicycles.   He was in the shade and clearly content to wait while they played Bocce.  They were friendly and happy to answer our questions.  Bill learned a bit about the rules of the game, and I learned the dog's name, though I've forgotten it now.  Most important, though, is that he is clearly well-loved.
Normally, we see many rabbits at Jericho, but only one was spotted that day.
I am always surprised at the variety of sounds Towhee's produce.  We had to..
see this one before identifying it.  This video and this one are just two of the many variations I've heard.  This was the first time I had seen one eating what I'm thinking must be a worm.
This trail at Jericho is one of our favourite on hot days as there is wonderful shade and though we haven't seen an owl here for years, I'm pretty sure they are around.  So many places to hide!  Years ago, I spotted a Barred Owl in one of these trees and posted the photo here.  I figure s/he's due a repeat appearance!
We checked out the pond near the park entrance before we left..
and found the dragonflies to be very active.  I think this one might be a White Tail (even though the tail looks blue to me).
"Blue" and "Red" (maybe a Streaked-Winged Skimmer?) faced off for a moment.. 
before "Blue" conceded defeat and flew to a different post.
"I am King/Queen of this castle!"
 We could hear "chick-chick-chicking" across the pond and realized there was a Blue Heron nest with two chicks beginning to branch-hop (one of the stages before they fledge).  I've only seen one other heron nest at Jericho.  Most of the breeding herons seem to frequent Stanley Park, and it would be a short flight for the ones at Jericho to cross the water and join the others.  Perhaps, they are just a bit more independent by nature.  One of the chicks was nagging that his/her belly needed a fill-up, and the adult..
 finally flew down to the pond to hunt for some grub.  
S/he was still there when we left.  I took one more photo of "Red" to show a bit more detail in the wings, and then we left the park.
Tuesday, June 16
I finally have my small lens again.  We are dealing with a new camera store now; it's a long story that I won't go into here, but the bottom line is that the service has been well above and beyond anything I could have expected.  For now, I will just say that Jeff, of Leo's Camera Supply, is knowledgeable, extremely helpful, and a treasure to have found, after some frustration with another store that went on for too long.  I tested the lens with a shot in poor light, taken just inches from Black Jack's nose, and "so far so good" was the happy result!  I'll keep you posted.
When we arrived at Harrison Galleries cafĂ© for our daily crossword/treat time, Jennifer Harrison had done another of her fun drawings on the signboard.  I thought it was nice of her to include some critter content :) 
Wednesday, June 17th
We stopped by the Stanley Park heronry again.  There is a web cam for anyone interested in seeing the live action.  The last update was written in April, so facts about the number of chicks hatched are hard to come by.  I'm guessing that quite a few have left the nest by now, and I saw several that appeared on the verge of fledging.  The nests were coated in white, the smell and dust were too strong..  
to tolerate for long, and the cacophony of competing siblings was ear-splitting.
This one appeared to have branch-hopped to a spot just under the nest.
You can get an idea of the bigger picture with this shot.  The one under the nest is at the far left.
These two were doing some serious squabbling, and the one on the right..
ended up out of the nest, and hanging to a branch by..
one toe.
I tried to get a close-up of that, but to be honest, I don't enjoy these dramas very much.  I have learned that nature's laws are quite severe, and I understand the need for that, but prefer to dream an "all is peaceful" illusion when I can.
There was much squawking and screaming accompanying the above photos, but this fellow remained quiet.  S/he seemed to be hiding in the hope that s/he wouldn't be the next to be pushed from the nest.
We got back on our bikes and continue to the Coal Harbour Pond, where Bill spent a little one-on-one time with a Mallard that I think may recognize him from other encounters. 
I tried to get some swallows-in flight shots, but haven't found the Nikon D7100 to be as quick as the D90 was.  Then again, I still haven't spent much time with the manual.  That said, if anyone has hints for using that particular camera for flight shots (without a tripod), I'd be very happy to try them out.
were the order of the day.. 
as these little ones..
gathered around their mama..
for safety.
That was a wise move, as I spotted some otters on the other side of the pond..
and figured the sudden gathering of these adolescents was probably connected to that sighting.  I think, with a little luck, I may just manage to post these critters to Eileen's meme (it's her 1000th post, so do stop by to visit her blog if you can) before it closes.  Many thanks to her, and to you, for stopping by!


  1. Oh I think your camera takes brilliant photos!!! I has missed coming by for awhile. The bird shots are my favorite, those colors are amazing. Every part of creation is perfect. We are enjoying some hot days here now, it was almost 100 degrees today, no gardening for me today. I'm working on my "Wizard of Oz" garden and its really enjoyable.

  2. lots of geese and ducks, too. like the towhee!

  3. Hello carol, you have some awesome photos of all the herons, ducks and ducklings. I love the dragonfly images. Cool sighting of the otter. And I always love your cute Black Jack! Great post, enjoy the rest of your week!

    1. PS, thank you for linking up and sharing your post.

  4. You visited one of my favorite old haunts, Jerico Park. Lots of wonderful critters to se.

  5. The old photo of your dad with the dog is indeed very telling of his warm and kindness.

    Dozens of dragonflies have whirled about me recently during my walks. I have yet to capture a single one with my camera because they never cease to move and dart about like tiny helicopters. That is why I am so impressed with your detailed shots of the lovely little creatures. Thanks as always, Carol, for sharing the wonderful sights in your world.

  6. I love the pictures of dragon flies! They are always so colourful and remind me of how we wanted to see them in our Wildwood garden because they ate so many mosquitoes! Mother duck with nine ducklings is doing so well to keep so many safe! Happy Thursday! Hugs! Phyllis