Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Critters and Birds, Hither and Thither!

LInking today to Saturday's Critters (thank you, Eileen) and Wild Bird Wednesday (thank you, Stewart!).

These were taken on October 31st at a Hallowe'en celebration in the "Barking Babies" shop that sells accessories for dogs. There was a gathering of costumed canines,
a few of them colour-coordinated..
with their happy humans. 
We bought Black Jack's hat at that store. 

It is working out really well for colder bike rides.  Here are a few photos taken this past Tuesday along False Creek.  I sewed the ear openings closed, as she is..
warmer and more comfortable when the wind doesn't blow through them.
She attracts attention when wearing the hat, but that doesn't seem to bother her at all.  She'll even pose for strangers when asked politely :) 
The staff at Barking Babies do not worry about their clients appearing babied :) There are always a few of their resident rescue dogs greeting customers.  This Chihuahua is very elderly and loves to be snuggled and cuddled and toasty warm.
This Yorkie is another resident, and though he only wears a hat for special occasions, he, too, likes to be snuggled in soft blankets.  Though we don't visit Barking Babies very often, we are always received warmly and I am always impressed with how much the owners love their own beautiful dogs, and the dogs that find their way into their shop.  Thank you, Barking Babies, for a great visit, and for your kindness to people and dogs.
That same day, we walked along False Creek and discovered a new way of "framing" Black Jack photos.  A picture-framing business had hung frames from trees in random spots around the park.  I'm not entirely thrilled about the idea of using precious green space for advertising, but had to admit, 
it was creative entrepreneurship, and we certainly..
used the idea to put some silly fun in our day.
On November 5th, we rode to English Bay and walked the seawall path for quite a while.  There were the Barrow's Goldeneyes,  
 and large gatherings of small seagulls that I haven't identified. 
My big lens spotted one Harlequin duck to the far left of the rock below.
Cropping the photo helped to confirm the identification. 
The small gulls flew in and out of what looked like a.. 
very crowded runway. 
 I had some fun.. 
watching their interactions. 
They all flew off at one point..  
and I wondered how they managed to manoeuvre with wings colliding . 
On November 15th, we were again in the same area.  What a day it was!  The sky was the bluest I had seen in quite some time.
I wasn't alone in wanting to record the power of the waves.. 
and the wind. 
Riders coming along that bike path..
had a surprise in store for them.  These two, I guess, had already discovered.. 
that and were looking forward to seeing their friend's reaction. 
We watched in some anticipation as well :) 
He got a good soaking, but was still smiling when he met his friends. 
People were inspired by the sun and wind to let their playful sides emerge.
The Barrow's Goldeneyes were.. 
riding the waves too. 
 It was great fun to watch them.
It was one of the wildest days we had seen along the seawall. 
You couldn't help but smile..  well, at least, that was the case for Bill :)
As we watched the antics of this group of people, 
a shadow moved over me, and I looked up.. 
to spot this Bald Eagle.  S/he was so close overhead, my big lens couldn't fit the image into the frame at first.  Then, s/he flew.. 
much higher, with a crow.. 
in hot pursuit. 
Some crows assume leadership in protecting their families.  They do this with relentless courage, even willing, it seems to me, to die if necessary.  I am curious about this.  I wonder how the leader is selected?  I've observed that they seem to work in pairs or small groups. I wonder if they remain as head of the clan until death.  Is there a sort of retirement from active duty?  Do the assistants move up to replace those that die or retire?  So many questions. 
I never judge the crows for harassing the eagles.  They have lost many.. 
relatives to them.  Amazing how they turn themselves into little torpedoes. 
As far as I know, both the crow and the eagle survived.  Two eagles at Vanier Park have died in the past year after being chased into electric wires by the crows.  As mortal enemies go, I think the crows and eagles are evenly matched. 
Jumping ahead to the 24th of November, on the same section of the seawall, we saw quite a number of bird species.  These were American Wigeons.
Although we didn't see eagles that day, the crows were sure upset about something.
Next, we saw a few surf scoters.
There was a lovely Barrow's Goldeneye pair, 
followed by the largest gathering of Surf Scoters I had ever seen.
Their landings are comical.
One minute, they were there, and then they would dive en masse.
They rose together as well, often creating artistic splash patterns.
The Barrows were outnumbered but asserted their presence.
To our far right, I saw what I thought was a gathering of cormorants, 
but when they suddenly flew off, 
I saw a glimmer of orange bill, and realized they were Oyster Catchers.
It soon became obvious that they had yielded their rock to some otters.
Each one had a fish (not sure what it was), 
so no sharing was necessary. 
"See? My fish is bigger than your fish!"
Suddenly, there was a scramble, 
and then they were gone too.
Remember those huge waves at the beginning of this post? Well, the Parks Board had to close the seawall by Siwash Rock because of the damage caused by the wind and waves.  It actually remained closed for about two months but is now open again.

We loved this scene because of the interplay of the waves with the sand.
As we walked back to our bikes, we saw one more Oyster Catcher looking for its lost surf board :)
It settled for an intertidal morsel.  
As the sun was setting, one Fox Sparrow caught my eye to bring our bird count to six.  Add the otter-sightings to our magnificent day, and we were happy.
Bill and Black Jack say, "Bye, y'all.  Thanks for dropping by." 


  1. Lots of birds and dogs very interesting.

  2. What a great set of pictures - the otters took me by surprise. I think your mystery bird is a harlequin duck.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  3. Hello Carol, I just love all the dogs in their hats and clothes. Black Jack looks cute in the hat and posing with the picture frame. Your Bill is silly in his frame shot. I would love to see the Goldeneyes. The otters are so cute. Cool captures of the eagle and crow. Wonderful critter post. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day and the weekend ahead!

  4. Such cute "barking babies" the serape one! :-) Great bird and waterway photos, especially the biker getting splashed, :-) And your eagle shots! Incredible!

  5. Well, I somehow missed this post. Since I was away last weekend, I decided this morning to really catch up on the blogs I missed and to try to comment as many as I can this morning while sipping my coffee. I am glad I found yours. But I don't understand why I missed yours February 11th. Strange? Anyhow, your dog is absolutely adorable with his little hat. Love the idea of the hanging frames from the tree. Loved all your bird shots. Wonderful seeing all the critters. Have a great weekend! Looks like more rain is on the way. Looking forward to spring.

  6. Peter put me on to your blogspot. I have one too. I'm not much of a doggie person, but I am fascinated by your photos of birds & the general Yaletown area. I can pinpoint many of your locations. As you will be able to do too if you check out I'm totally smitten with THE PIT at Howe&Granville/Pacific&Beach. Peter told me you were also a teacher [me too].

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