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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.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Migrating Canada Geese

The arrival of the Canada Geese (as well as the Trumpeter Swans) in British Columbia's central interior always signals the changes of the seasons. We see them in the spring as they migrate north to their nesting grounds in Alaska and the Yukon Territory and then again in the fall when they migrate south. Some of the northern-breeding geese take a direct route by way of the Pacific coast, while other subspecies follow interior routes.
I stood on the highway's verge to take this picture while trucks and other vehicles roared by. I'm not sure why there's flooding here, but the pond is situated in a very low-lying spot. To the left on a higher rise is a house and outbuildings. The geese will remain with us for a week or two or more before making their way further south, perhaps spending the winter in Washington or Oregon.
There are sixty-four geese in this close-up of one small section of the pond.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Woodpeckers at the Bird Feeders

These pictures were taken yesterday morning. First a Hairy Woodpecker, then a Downy came to dine. All in all, it made for some exciting moments!
Photo taken at 10:24 a.m.
Hairy Woodpecker, Male
Photo taken at 10:28 a.m.
Downy Woodpecker, Male
Photo taken at 10:29 a.m.

Bird observations (yard count) for this month so far:
*Black-capped Chickadee - at the feeders every day, numerous
*1 Hairy Woodpecker, 1 Downy Woodpecker, 1 Pileated Woodpecker (hammering on tree)
*Ruffed Grouse in bushes, seen often lately
*American Crow in a tree
*Black-billed Magpie in a tree
*Bald Eagle, heard but not seen
*Oct. 09 - Soaring bird, up so high I could not tell what it was, wonderful to watch
*Oct. 10 - Trumpeter Swans (flyover)

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Winds of October

On the way to Fort St. James

the pavement
near the road's edge
is covered with autumn's gold

helped by a vigorous wind
the cascading leaves collect
in shallow drifts
below the trees they adorned

just days before

as we drive
we begin to anticipate
seeing the loosened leaves

come alive
skipping and dancing their way

across the street
with every passing car
they lift and swirl
for seconds only
before they come to settle again
in some other spot

If we happen to be the passing car
I look back to see

that we have caused
the golden leaves to dance


Cottonwood Trees at Stuart Lake
Fort St. James, B.C.

It was very windy and bitterly cold when we arrived at the lake. We hadn't thought to bring our hats and gloves, but went for a short walk anyway. My fingers became numbed taking pictures, and we hurried back to the warm car to have our picnic lunch inside.
The lake was extremely choppy, and the gulls had a difficult time flying against the wind.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


At the river on Monday
(please click on images for better viewing)
The gulls were taking advantage of the river's low water level and resting or searching for food along the gravelly ridges.
I'm not sure, but the larger bird with the salmon might be an adult Herring Gull and the other one a Ring-billed Gull. Look at how the smaller gull stealthily eyes that excellent fish. Does she dare go closer.
Just a little morsel, please.

I did some research and found out that the red spot on the Herring Gull's lower mandible "serves as a target for the young". The chicks peck at this spot and "the parent instinctively feeds it by regurgitation". Source: Bird Guide

More wonderful pictures can be found at Camera-Critters.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Woodpecker Sighting

Yesterday I worked in the garden for part of the afternoon. Hot and tired, I was just taking away some weeds and other garden waste in the wheelbarrow when a sound from over by the bird feeders caught my attention. Pik, pik, pik What luck! A woodpecker at one of the feeders! I had bought the Food Bar & Basket Combo specially to attract the woodpeckers. It had brought the chickadees right away. Three days after hanging this delectable treat there he was - pecking away at the seeds. I ran in to wash my hands and get my camera.
Hairy Woodpecker, Male

Hairy or Downy Woodpecker? I think he is a Downy. I couldn't see those dark bars on his outer tail feathers that distinguish the Downy from the Hairy but he's about the same length as the basket which is 17.8 cm (7 inches). Downy Woodpeckers are 17 cm (6 3/4 inches) in length, and Hairy Woodpeckers, 24 cm (9 1/4 inches).

Hairy Woodpecker, Male

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


This is the first day of the Great Bird Count of October. I put up the feeders on Sunday, and it didn't take long before the Black-capped Chickadees were happily sampling the fare.

For more information about this fun event, please follow the link on my sidebar.

9:30 - 10:40
Temperature:10C (50F)
Sunny, blue sky, some cloud

The Chickadees were flying back and forth, coming for sunflower seeds. I sat on a bench near the feeders and counted more than fifteen. Then I went for a walk on the trail. I didn't notice the Grouse in the bushes at the edge of the garden. All I saw of these shy birds was a great flutter of wings when I accidentally disturbed them. I could hear the Grouse making little noises, but I wasn't able to locate them in the thick vegetation. It was fairly quiet in the woods - a crow flew over cawing and the geese were honking somewhere nearby. I checked again on the feeders and took this picture. The Chickadees are being very careful of one another - they don't all come at once. Sometimes two end up being at a feeder at the same time, and then there's usually a squawk from one of them.