Please click on any image to enlarge

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Crows and Eagles

This took place last Sunday evening - I was at my computer when I looked out the window and noticed a crow making odd short flights in a particular part of the woods. Then I realized, "Hey, there's got to be an eagle somewhere close by." I went out, hurried down the path, and easily found the eagle by watching and listening to that crow. The eagle, on the other hand, was very quiet and didn't seem all that bothered, but eventually would grow tired of the crow's annoying close passes. The crow was relentless and didn't let up for an instant. I've seen this happen before, and it's amazing how long a crow can maintain this constant barrage.

Bald Eagle perched in the very top
of a tall spruce tree.

Crow defending its territory and its nest site.

Keeping up the harassment until the eagle finally leaves.

Carbon-neutral bird count for the month of April is on my sidebar.

Other sightings using the car plus walking -

  • Belted Kingfisher (1)
  • Gull (2)
  • Hooded Merganser (2+)
  • Mallard (2+)
  • Mountain Bluebird (10+)
  • Northern Flicker (4)
  • Rough-legged Hawk (1+)
  • Sandpiper (1)

Monday, April 28, 2008

More on the Common Garter Snake

Thamnophis sirtalis

I forgot to look down as I walked across the grass to where the garter snakes usually are and almost trod on one. He would have slithered away before that happened, I'm sure.

This garter snake was found in another part of the yard altogether, near the bird feeders, well away from the other ones.

Suddenly I am seeing differently and constantly correcting myself now that the garter snakes have come out of hibernation and into the open. We don't have that many here, but, sometimes what appears to be a small branch lying on the ground on closer inspection is actually a garter snake. The reverse is true as well. More than once I've mistaken a twig for a garter snake.

This last picture really shows their beautiful way of being in the natural world. This birch tree is one of their favourite spots, and most days I am certain to find one or two garter snakes arranged along its length soaking up the afternoon sun. Please do enlarge the picture to see their heads better. I was trying to get their whole bodies in with all the loops and curves.

Are these two garter snakes in love?
I don't know, but they sure
make a compatible looking pair.

Notes on Garter Snakes:

  1. They give birth to live young in late summer.
  2. There are between 20 and 40 babies per litter.
  3. Their diet consists of earthworms, frogs, and mice.
  4. They are not poisonous and will only attempt to bite if they are picked up.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gardening and Garter Snakes

It was a lovely warm day yesterday. Temperature: 17C by the afternoon. I worked in the garden and visited the garter snakes. This fellow was by himself the first time, but when I checked again later, there were two snakes sunning themselves on the birch tree that leans out over the hill. This morning it is 8C and raining.

D. H. Lawrence wrote a wonderful poem about a snake when he was living in Taormina, Sicily. It is full of emotion as he describes meeting the snake on a hot July day when he goes out for some water "and must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me". He goes on to tell how the snake "rested his throat upon the stone bottom, And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, He sipped with his straight mouth, Softly drank....Silently". The poet feels he should have killed the snake because he was the venomous kind, but he admits to actually liking him, "How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless". There are so many beautiful lines in this poem, and it is worth reading and thinking over. The poem can be read in its entirety at the Representative Poetry Online Library (University of Toronto)

Snake by Herbert David Lawrence (1885-1930)
(Birds, Beasts and Flowers: Poems 1923)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Early Morning Moon

Waning Moon - Grandmother
Positive - Outgoing - Sharing
Transformation - No Boundaries

Friday, April 25, 2008

At Home

What a gorgeous day it has been! There was a bit of a breeze blowing, but it was very warm in the sun.

I like the mornings best. The birds are active in the trees and shrubs and on the ground - twittering, peeping and singing their songs. It's a nice time to be outdoors. I took all the bird pictures between 9:00 and 9:30 a.m. (please click on pictures to enlarge)

Resident Crow in spruce tree.
A very fine, intelligent bird.

So nice to have the Robin
back in the neighbourhood. Caroling.
The Dark-eyed Junco is welcome
in my garden anytime. This picture
shows some of the Junco's white outer tail
feathers. Musical trill.

White-crowned Sparrow
Those black and white stripes
really stand out. Pretty whistling notes.
This tangled looking willow is a
popular perching spot for
many of the songbirds.
It's without leaves right now, but
the birds aren't concerned.

Later, in the afternoon, I was in my garden weeding one of the raised beds when I realized my dog wasn't anywhere around. She had found the snakes on the other side of the house and was sitting at the edge of the hill just watching, fascinated by them.

These are the first garter snakes I've seen this year.

I know many people have an aversion to snakes. At one time I did too, but I've gotten used to these harmless garter snakes being here. I see them more in the spring than at any other time - they like to come out of hiding to be in the sun. I'll take more pictures and do another post entirely on the timid garter snakes.

Enjoy your weekend! I'll be out in the kitchen garden singing my own song.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bluebirds and Buteos

This morning we went for a drive to the north side of the small town we live near. It is farming country with wide, open fields, and we thought we might find some hawks here. The first birds we saw were little ones, so exciting to see. I counted ten bluebirds sitting on the fence posts and strands of wire. There could have been more. We pulled over to the shoulder, and I got out to take a few pictures. They didn't seem to mind me, as long as I didn't get too close, and if I did, they flew to another fence post further along the line. But, every time a vehicle went by, they flew away and afterward came back again. They did this over and over. Fortunately, there were not many vehicles. The male bluebirds stole the show, as I wasn't able to get any good photos of the females. Maybe next time. . . 

(please click on pictures to enlarge)

Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides


The hawks were hovering over the fields, and we saw one perched in a poplar tree. This is the one I tried to get close enough to photograph. I think he or she was watching me "like a hawk". I'm far from being an expert at identifying these birds, but from my bird book and the internet I have it narrowed down to one - the Rough-legged Hawk Buteo lagopus. Now, I could be completely wrong about which hawk this is, so I'd appreciate a "thumbs up" or "help". This is how I identified the hawk:
  1. long white tail with dark band or bands.
  2. hawk of open country.
  3. often hovers while hunting.
  4. one of the hawks of our region.
  5. And this from the Boreal Birds website - "this hawk can be identified by the way it perches: balancing precariously on the most slender twigs at the top of a tree."

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Feather,

a slender branch of new buds,
and a playful wind.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Sunny Morning

and it promises to be a nice day to celebrate


A beautiful sunlit forest

Yesterday, Mr. and Mrs. Pileated Woodpecker came to call.
The male, busy at the base
of a birch tree,
foraging on the ground.
The female flew to my ornamental cherry tree.   
I shooed her away before she could do any damage.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Look to This Day

Look to this Day, for it is Life.
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And Tomorrow is only a Vision,
But Today, well lived, makes
Every Yesterday a Memory of Happiness,
And every Tomorrow a Vision of Hope.
~from an Ancient Sanskrit Poem~

I hope all of you will have a wonderful day!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Riverside Park

A strong arctic wind was blowing today, and the cold was numbing as I stood near the river taking pictures. It was hard to hold the camera steady in the windy gusts.

I wanted to see how the river was doing in the spring thaw. It was very swift, and the few ducks I saw simply moved with the fast flow. It was funny to see them zipping past. The islands and the river bank are still encrusted with snow and ice. There were flocks of geese flying overhead, but none of them landed on the river or the islands. There was also one lonely sandpiper at the water's edge and several gulls.

Nechako River
290 km (180 miles) in length,
drains into the Fraser River at Prince George.
Supports 20 fish species, including sockeye, chinook, coho,
rainbow trout, bull trout, lake trout, burbot,
mountain white fish and white sturgeon.

Two very brave ducks

Another view of the river

A feather in the withered grass

(please click to enlarge)
Came across this sign as we walked on one of the trails along the river bank. It reads:

The white sturgeon is the largest freshwater fish in North America.
The Nechako white sturgeon is unique from all other sturgeon in British Columbia.
A large Nechako sturgeon can reach 3 metres in length and live to almost 100 years old!
There are now less than 600 white sturgeon remaining in the Nechako watershed.
White sturgeon do not begin spawning until they are 15 to 30 years old. The lack of young sturgeon in the Nechako means that an entire generation is already missing.

There is more about the Nechako White Sturgeon recovery initiative at their website.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Different Direction

These are the days of long walks over the countryside.
Today there is a very gusty, west wind blowing,
a gift from Mother Nature to help dry the land.
It was an invigorating walk with the noise
of the wind in our ears and everything
being blown this way and that.

I was trying to show the wind in the grass.

A little farther down the road we heard sounds
coming from a stand of trees, and then we saw
the Flickers, several of them flying from tree to tree,
engaged in courtship ritual. Such excitement
and a rare sight!

Northern Flicker
Colaptes auratus
"Red-shafted" (found west of the Rockies)
Male and female

Male, with tail feathers flared.

He's peeking around at her.

Northern Flickers

The winding road where we walked.
We were returning to the car, thankfully
with the wind at our backs.

A grove of windswept trees.

A lot of runoff is occurring now.
Fast flowing here and pooling
in the field.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sinkut Mountain

April 14, 2008

You can barely make out the
forestry lookout at the top.
In another month the snow
will be just a dream.


It is a very blustery, cool day. I saw at least twenty robins
in a flock near an open field. Also saw my first two bluebirds
of the season, but they were too quick for me to take a picture.
See previous post for the "first robin" picture.

back view

on a rock

two in the ditch

on fence post

home tweet home

on a hillside

A favourite old children's poem

What the Robin Told the Wind

The wind told the grasses,
And the grasses told the trees.
The trees told the bushes,
And the bushes told the bees.
The bees told the robin,
And the robin sang out clear,
Wake up! Wake up!
Spring is here!