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Friday, October 15, 2010

Seasonal Changes

One morning, recently, we saw this lovely creature near the house.

Growing a new winter coat

In motion
Snowshoe Hare (Lepus americanus)

(main source for information: Hinterland Who's Who)

- also called the Varying Hare
- found only in North America
- common in all regions of Canada
- ears shorter than other hares' ears
- fur turns white in winter
- large hind legs
- habitat - prefers coniferous forests with dense understory
- black tufts of fur on edges of ears
- diet in winter: twigs, bark, spruce tree needles


Thursday, October 14, 2010

An Autumn Sky

I spent a leisurely morning raking leaves
(no noisy leaf blower for me)
while every so often contemplating
the clouds racing across a brilliant blue sky.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Garter Snake

My husband came in from cutting wood
to tell me that he saw a garter snake
at the base of a birch tree, and
did I want to take a picture?

(please click on image for better viewing)


Monday, October 4, 2010

In the Birch Trees

(please click on images for better viewing)

Yesterday at about four thirty in the afternoon, I saw a few birds foraging in the birch trees. They seemed to be very interested in what was on the leaves. One bird, in particular, paused long enough for me to focus and get some acceptable pictures.

I haven't come up with an ID yet, although I've gone back and forth between this warbler and that warbler. I almost thought I had a name for this pretty bird, but at the end of the day, I still couldn't be certain. And so it goes - me, the novice birder; me, taking pictures of birds at every opportunity; me, trying to correctly identify them, often getting it wrong; and me, a dedicated bird watcher.

Note: Identified as an immature Yellow-rumped Warbler, fall plumage.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Sunbathing Robin

These photos were taken on August 13th of this year in the early afternoon. Our summer had been mostly hot and dry.

My vantage point had been a second story window. At first when I had glanced out and had seen the juvenile robin collapsed on the ground, I thought the poor thing had suffered an injury.

(please click on images for better viewing)

After a short time had passed though, the robin folded its wings together and calmly hopped away.

I discovered several articles that described this "sunning"* phenomenon in the wild bird population. The birds will flop down, often leaning to one side, spread out their wings and tail feathers and remain motionless for several minutes. Notice, too, the raised position of one wing in the first photo.

*It is thought that this helps to "dislodge feather parasites".
The Earthlife Web

Monday, September 20, 2010


On the shores of Stuart Lake, Fort St. James, British Columbia
(912 km or approximately 567 miles from Vancouver, B.C.).

These photos were taken at the end of August. I wish I could properly identify this bird, and I am guessing it is either a juvenile Semipalmated, Western or Least Sandpiper.

(please click on images for better viewing)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Ruffed Grouse

These pictures were taken on two separate occasions.

One evening about two weeks ago I heard and saw the Ruffed Grouse family near a stack of logs.

(please click on the images for better viewing)

They were instantly alert. Most scattered into the dense underbrush, all except for one bird, who, with slow, cautious steps and raised ruff proceeded along the top of the log pile before making a beeline to the relative safety of the woods.

Last Thursday, my husband and I saw them again when we went for an afternoon walk in the forest. We noticed a cloud of dust blowing across the trail in front of us.

As we got closer, we realized what was causing the dust storm. We had inadvertently surprised the grouse in the midst of a dust bath (the dust being some old fireplace ashes that we had deposited here last spring).

There must have been at least four or five grouse, but we only saw one in the dust bath. They immediately burst into the air and hid in the vegetation.

Downy feathers
Covered in ash dust

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Shh, Babies Napping

Sometimes babies need a little quiet time. The babies I observed were two young crows (siblings) perched in a Spruce tree that was swaying lightly in the breeze. They sat and sat and sat very contentedly together with not a peep between them.

I notice here that they still have some of their downy feathers.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Ruffed Grouse with Chicks

Things are usually very quiet here, that is until the forest suddenly erupts with some disturbance or other and there are a few minutes of excitement before all is calm again. Lately it has been the crows causing a ruckus. I think they are keeping tabs on their babies which have left the nest.

Yesterday afternoon we heard some motherly clucking noises near the garden and were delighted to see Mrs. Grouse with her small offspring. The following photo shows only one of her chicks, but there were more hiding in the bushes when I took the picture. As soon as they noticed us, they hurried towards the hillside where the trees and brush would afford more protection.

Initially the chicks feed on insects, but later in the summer they are eating flowers, soft leaves, berries and seeds. They are particularly fond of clover. (information at Hinterland Who's Who)

Saturday, April 17, 2010



With the days growing warmer and warmer, we have been kept busy outside tending to gardening chores and enjoying all the sights and sounds of the spring renewal.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Aspen Poplar

Fuzzy Catkins

Populus tremuloides

Male and female catkins are on separate trees. I'll have to make a further study to determine which one this is. There is an abundance of poplars in this region of British Columbia. The trembling leaves are lovely to listen to in a summer breeze.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Mule Deer

Yesterday morning four mule deer wandered up the trail and into the yard. I had previously seen them in the adjacent field.

Odocoileus hemionus

They have begun to shed their thick winter coats.

The Mule Deer are named for their very large ears.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Dark-eyed Junco

The shy juncos have been here for perhaps two months now and can often be observed foraging under bushes and on the gravel driveway, stamping their little feet to get at some tidbit (a seed that's buried or a bug). I hear their clickety-clack "dit, dit" calls whenever I'm outside.

Junco hyemalis

Monday, April 5, 2010

Mourning Cloak Butterfly

~A sighting today of the first butterfly of the season ~

These amazing butterflies hibernate all winter long in woodpiles, nesting boxes, tree cavities and other areas of the garden. In the spring the females lay their eggs on tree branches.

Nymphalis antiopa

Monday, March 29, 2010

Basking in the Sun

Garter Snakes
Their "notice sudden is" *

* from Snake by Emily Dickinson

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Out of Hibernation

For the past week I have been checking this birch tree to see if the garter snakes have come out of hibernation. Today I saw the first one warming itself on the trunk. It is their usual and favourite springtime spot. Their den must be fairly close, although I have never seen it. This particular tree is also perfectly situated for catching the benefits of the strong afternoon sun, and just look how well the snake blends in with its surroundings.

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Walk in the Forest

Click on images to enlarge
Sinkut Mountain

Forest Floor

Tree Stump
Red Squirrel

Moss and Lichen
Spruce and Birch Trees

Kinnikinnick (Bearberry)

The picture below was added later the same day. We were visited by three Mule Deer in the afternoon. One was in the garden, and two were in the area of the compost bins. It's not often that we see them so close to the house. This deer saw me and made off down the hill.

Mule Deer on hillside

Thursday, March 18, 2010

A Beautiful Springlike Day in the Central Interior of British Columbia

An immature Bald Eagle perches in a tall poplar tree.

It takes four or five years before a Bald Eagle acquires the characteristic adult plumage.

The lake is slowly opening up...sunlight sparkles on the water.