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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Winter Birds

One of the Black-capped Chickadees takes a sunflower seed from a handful I had scattered on the snow-covered wood pile. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you will be able to see the chickadee's tongue.

The little Red-breasted Nuthatch is here most days and is a delight to watch. *He is certainly outnumbered by the chickadees, but that does not bother the nuthatch at all. If a chickadee is in his space, he scolds with a short "pfft". He might even take an aggressive hop towards the chickadee causing the poor reluctant bird to fly off to a nearby perch and wait until the nuthatch has left.

This female Pine Grosbeak sits on a branch close to the bird feeders, looking very calm.

*I'm not positive that this is a male Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Lake

One week ago, Sunday

It was overcast when I stopped at the public access road to take a picture of the lake which had turned milky white from the freezing action. I noticed that someone else had been here testing the ice by throwing a couple of small rocks onto it. They didn't break the surface, but it is by no means safe to go out onto the ice yet.
This photo was taken from the bridge at the river channel. It is always the last bit of the lake to freeze.
There are still a few floating waterlily leaves in the water by the bridge. This stream stays open well into the winter, and it is where we can usually find the Bald Eagle perched looking for his or her supper.

Since taking these photos we have had some milder weather and rain as well. When we drove past the lake yesterday, there were puddles of water everywhere on the surface of the now glassy thin ice.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Project FeederWatch

While I was counting birds for Project FeederWatch last Monday, Mr. and Mrs. Downy Woodpecker came to call. It was the first time I'd seen Mrs. D.W.
Downy Woodpecker, Male
Downy Woodpecker, Female

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Special Tribute

A special tribute to the man who named the clouds as we know them today -

Cirrus, Cumulus, Stratus, Cirro-cumulus,
Cirro-stratus, Cumulostratus, Nimbus

Luke Howard was born on November 28, 1772. He lived in London, England and worked as a chemist. He was also an amateur meteorologist. On Sundays he would take his sketch book, leave the distractions of the city behind and go out into the countryside where he could watch the sky, for Luke Howard loved clouds. He belonged to a scientific society, and in December 1802 presented a paper on the classification of clouds. Poets, Goethe and Shelley (The Cloud) were both influenced by Luke Howard's observations. Goethe wrote:

"But Howard gives us with his clear mind
The gain of lessons new to all mankind;
That which no hand can reach, no hand can clasp
He first has gained, first held with mental grasp.

Internet Source: Wikipedia

Three of his beautiful sketches can be seen at the Royal Meteorological Society website. One, in particular, is called "cumulus with anvil".

"The sky too belongs to the Landscape. The ocean of air in which we live and move, in which the bolt of heaven is forged, and the fructifying rain condensed, can never be to the zealous Naturalist a subject of tame and unfeeling contemplation."
~ Luke Howard (1772-1864)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Rose Hips and Hoarfrost

This photo was taken last week on one incredibly dazzling morning. The winters here are often harsh and unyielding, but there are also days that make me feel especially glad to be alive. This was one of those days.

Creative Photography

Monday, November 24, 2008

My World - Riverside Park

I would like to show you Riverside Park today. It is located at the north end of the small town we live near, about a 15 minute drive for us.

(click on photos to enlarge)
This is the viewing tower overlooking the Nechako River. The name "Nechako" comes from the Carrier word "Incha-Khoh" meaning "big river". The Carrier are a First Nation people of the central interior of British Columbia.
It was sunny but windy and cold by the river on the day we were here. The ducks were a complete surprise as we didn't expect to see any waterfowl this late in the season.
Fresh snow and lovely patterns.
There is a circular track in this area of the park, and this photo was taken on the far side looking across the field in the center towards the children's playground and picnic shelter. Beyond is the river and a house on the far bank.
The municipality does its best to keep the walkway cleared all winter. It is very popular with both walkers and joggers.

Adjoining this particular part of the park is a campground as well as trails along the river. The park wasn't here when we arrived thirty-two years ago, and the town has done a marvelous job of utilizing the land and natural surroundings. It's a great place, and we come here as often as we can.

That's My World

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Little Ones

(for better viewing please click on the pictures)
This photo was taken last Saturday during some warm weather that was melting the snow. I could hear it when I went outside. Drip, drip, drip. Dripping from everything, even the blue clothesline.
Little Red Squirrel was over by the sleeping lilac bushes searching. Searching for what? No one knows.
On Wednesday, a flock of twittering birds had gathered in this tree. I couldn't see what kind. They had a short rest, a big discussion and then were gone. But the peaked crests that I see in the photo make me think that they could have been waxwings migrating south. I hope they flew far that day because on Thursday the temperature took a dip.
Pine Grosbeak, male

Ah, here's one, no, two of our winter visitors. But, where is the second one? Funny about the Pine Grosbeaks. I haven't seen any for ages, but on this very chilly day I observed several, both male and female, perched in the trees near the feeders. I'm happy to see them again.

Also for N and E xox

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bald Eagle

(click on pictures for better viewing)

I see him there
at the bridge
slow down
got to stop
careful now
don't slam
the car door

feet meet ground
head pops up
camera aiming

from a lofty perch
Eagle watches
this odd display
all the while
giving me
his eagle eye
is she friend or foe

wind rushes through
tousling feathers
causing trees to sway
Eagle hangs on
with talons meant
for clutching a fish

~ April

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day

A short distance from my home is Saik'uz Park. It is a beautiful natural place situated on the banks of Stoney Creek. A memorial honours the fallen soldiers from the First Nation Village who served in the two world wars and the Korean War.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Lake Scene

This picture was taken in the early afternoon of a cloudy day. It was eerie and beautiful when I arrived at the lake, the island and distant hills shrouded in mist.

Sky Watch - Sunrise

Sometimes I like to go out to a clearing not far from our house and watch the sun come up over the horizon. I am always glad that I resisted the temptation to remain in bed after witnessing this remarkable and stirring event.


Saturday, November 1, 2008

Woodpeckers and Project FeederWatch

It's foggy, wet and cool this morning, 3C (37F). There is snow on the mountain top here, but surprisingly we've had no snow at the lower levels yet, other than the odd flake. So begins our November.

I've been trying for the past month to get a picture of the woodpeckers clinging to something other than the bird feeder.
I heard these two Downy Woodpeckers before I saw them as they climbed up and around this dead tree in the field across from our driveway last Monday. They were two males, and I'm wondering if one of them could be a juvenile because I thought woodpeckers were quite territorial. I'll have to do some research on that question.
One of them flew off, but this Downy didn't seem to be as bothered by me. He went from this tree to a rotting log, flew across into our property and perched on the railing.
He sat there for a minute or two and then flew to a poplar tree where he spent some time investigating the cuts in the bark searching for insects.
Yesterday, my package of goodies for Project FeederWatch came in the mail. This is a joint research and education project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada (Ontario). It is my 1st season as a participant and their 32nd season of Project FeederWatch. For more information on how to get involved please follow the links.

Monday, October 27, 2008

My World - British Columbia, Canada

That's My World
created by Klaus in Florida.

There is no shortage of roads in this region of B.C. The land is a grid of paved and gravel roads, short and long roads, straight and winding roads, no through roads and connecting roads, roads that lead to mountains and lakes, roads that take us to town and city, roads that are boring, and roads with views that will knock your socks off.

Many of these roads, including the main highway, are corridors through the forest, and some bisect prairie farmland (which was once forest land a long time ago). If you travel them routinely, you will soon become acquainted with the animals and birds which inhabit the surrounding areas.

All of the pictures today were taken from the shoulder of the road wherever we happened to stop.

This is my world and theirs
Thursday morning was cool, sunny and clear. We drove our usual route, the one leading to the highway. Since it is a fairly quiet road, we were able to pull over as soon as we saw this majestic bird perched in a poplar tree near the roadside. It was really a fortunate sighting as we don't often see a Bald Eagle this far away from the lakes, unless there is carrion. But, he was just surveying the landscape, waiting perhaps for some small mammal to wander by.
The next morning we drove to the north side of town, out to the prairies. It is a good place to observe hawks. The weather wasn't all that pleasant, and there were very strong winds. I walked back from where we parked to this stream full of ducks. It's a wetland area, and the stream ends in a ditch near the road.
A little further on we came across this scene of Canada Geese in flight over a stubble field. I could hear their honking calls even with the noise of the wind in my ears.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sky Watch - A Patch of Blue

The weather has been very changeable lately. One minute I'm having a pleasant walk, and the next minute the wind has risen and grey clouds have moved in, darkening the sky. On this particular day little pellets of sleet rained down also. However, I did manage to get a picture of this little patch of blue before it was blocked out entirely.

Sky Watch Friday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My World - British Columbia, Canada

My World Tuesday (Mondays, 8 pm GMT) is a wonderful new meme created by Klaus in Florida and hosted by Klaus, Tom, Sandy, Imac, Ivar, Wren and Fishing Guy. Thank you for all your efforts in helping to bring the world closer together.

Both my husband and I grew up and lived in large cities, but about thirty-two years ago we had an opportunity to move to a rural area in the interior of B.C. At first we lived conveniently in the town, but eventually we purchased a small property in the country 15km (9 miles) away, cleared some land, built our house and raised two children. The children have grown up, we have become grandparents, and we still live quite happily here with one friendly dog.

Today I thought I would take you to the access road for the public boat launch and show you the view of the lake. It's not far from us, just down the road a piece. The days are much cooler now, and we are beginning to use the fireplace again to make it cozier in the house. On this particular morning, it is about 7C (44.6F), somewhat cloudy and very quiet on the lake.

It's nice to see the Trumpeter Swans again. The last time I saw them was in the spring when they were on their way north. Unfortunately, these swans are way off in the distance today, and all we see of them are their white shapes.
Although it's not a very big lake, it supports two or more Bald Eagles, year round, as well as Osprey and several other bird species which are here during the summer.
You can just see the roof and chimney of our house at the top of the hill. (you may have to click on the image to see it)
Oh look! Over there near the opposite shore are two more swans feeding in the shallow water.
The beavers have been hard at work along the access road recently.
I would love to see them hauling away the timber they cut.

I hope you have enjoyed seeing the lake, and I look forward to stopping by your place very soon.

Friday, October 17, 2008


We stopped at this newly tilled field one day
so I could take a picture of the sky.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Compton Tortoiseshell Butterfly

A frosty morning
Temperature 8:00 a.m. -5C (23F)

Compton Tortoiseshell
Nymphalis vaualbum

I posted a series of photos yesterday that included this amazing butterfly (seen on October 13th). At the time I hadn't identified the butterfly as a Compton Tortoiseshell, and I am most grateful to Christy for providing me with a name and some fascinating facts at Butterflies and Moths of North America.

  • This butterfly is one of the Brush-footed Butterflies (their two front legs are very short with brush-like appendages that act like a second pair of antennae)
  • The adults fly from July-November before hibernating
  • Habitat: Upland deciduous or coniferous forests
  • Range: Southeast Alaska, across Canada south of the tundra, across Northern United States to New England, south to North Carolina and Missouri
I understand now why the Compton Tortoiseshell was flying in and out of the garage and woodshed and checking under the eaves. It was seeking shelter and possibly a place to hibernate. As to its sudden appearance in our yard one day, my husband's guess is that this butterfly flew in on the wind. He saw the butterfly again yesterday warming itself in the afternoon sun. It could have been the same Compton Tortoiseshell I saw or a different one.

I'm always curious as to how species get their names. Compton is a town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. While studying the life history of this butterfly in the mid-nineteenth century, the English naturalist, Phillip Henry Gosse lived in this town and gave the butterfly its common name. source: Butterflies of Canada

We'll continue to watch for the Compton Tortoiseshell Butterfly in the cool days ahead.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Around Home

The last of the leaves on these Poplar trees
The Chickadees like their gourmet dinner
of rolled oats, seeds, peanut butter and fat,
served in a colourful recycled net bag
Aster flowers gone to seed
and looking very fall like
I played hide-and-go-seek with this pretty butterfly the other day. Actually, I was surprised to see a butterfly flitting about in the cool autumn air. He went behind the garage and around to the other side. I lost sight of him for a short time, then saw the fluttering black and orange wings again by the woodshed. He disappeared inside the open garage, but I found him, finally, resting in the sunshine nearby. I wonder where this butterfly is today. Last night the temperatures dipped below freezing, and at 7:00 this morning it was -4C (24.8F).

Many thanks to Christy (My Photography,My Passion
) in Michigan for identifying this beautiful butterfly for me. It wasn't one I was familiar with, nor could I find it in my book. The Compton Tortoiseshell is an amazing butterfly, and I will have another post devoted to it tomorrow.