Time For Something Fresh

Well I finally found a little time, and I had a few new pictures sitting here, so I thought I should freshen up this page a little. Plus the other day while I was sitting on my balcony, shaking my head at that snow I showed you some pictures of a while back, I was suddenly disturbed by every bird in the neighborhood simultaneously going crazy, flying in bizarre patterns of confusion, and squawking to beat the band. When I looked up it was plain to see that they were in a panic over something, but it was too far away for me to make it out clearly.

I went inside and got my camera with the telephoto on it, and when I came back out, I was able to figure out just what was happening. Apparently, the snow in the mountains must have been much worse than what we had down here, and their regular prey must have been holding up out of the elements, and thus, out of sight, because a flock of eagles had come down to the lowlands, most likely in search of a quick meal (read pigeon, or raven, or seagull, or even small dog or cat). Come to think of it, considering the number of those birds in that hunting party, you could probably add a small child to that list – these eagles get large in these parts, and they are formidable hunters.

At first I thought there was 4-5 eagles in the group, and since they were quite the distance away, I couldn’t say for certain. But just as the hunting birds were leaving, a large number of their intended dinner decided to roost on the crane across the laneway from my place, and the eagles took one final, sad look at their missed lunch as they made a pass over the crane on their way out of the area. At that time I was able to snap a picture much closer up, and I counted 8 eagles in the pack. So there is a couple of those pictures below, as well as a few shots I took when I went for a walk on one of the nicer days we’ve had since then. We’re back to just above freezing temps. at night again, but the nicer days are becoming more frequent, and it does seem like Spring is in the air, with the Magnolia trees in my back yard area already breaking out in blooms.

So I hope your Spring weather is coming a little faster than mine is, and I hope everyone is keeping well, happy, and safe. We’ll see you all next time. God Bless.

Time For Something Fresh

Freaky February

Well, by now I’m pretty certain that you are all aware just how anxious I’ve been this year to see the start of Spring. Usually I’m pretty patient when it comes to the seasons and things, but this year has been different for some reason that I just can’t put my finger on. So when we finally started  getting some warmer, dryer weather this past month, I was quite happy, because it’s a pretty sure thing around these parts that if you can make it through to the middle of February or so, you can count the worst of it over. And on top of all that, it was a remarkably good winter to begin with, having, here by the shore at least (the inland parts always get hit harder of course), no snow at all, and if I remember correctly, not even any frost to speak of. The geraniums on my balcony stayed in bloom, and healthy, throughout the entire season. That is, until this week…when winter arrived in full force.

Now I’m not talking one day, or two. I don’t even mean a single night of unexpected frost. What I do mean is that last week we began having nice enough days, sunny and warm, but we should have known something was up, because we were also finally getting consecutive nights of frost – enough of them in a row that my geraniums are now without a single living bloom, and the plants themselves are pretty upset with me. And now, today, here in the rainforest,…well, take a look…

…now, I may not be the brightest light-bulb in the drawer, but even I’m pretty sure that that IS NOT RAIN. smiley_ideaOoh well, what can you do? There’s certainly no sense complaining, and the good thing is that it never last’s long out here. Besides, It’s not every day that I get to try and capture snowflakes in my pictures, so there’s that too. I also know that we here on the coast are not the only ones getting hit with these strange weather patterns that are becoming so common lately, and even here in BC, if you go a little further inland, or up into the mountains, this can cause, for the people in those places, problems far more serious than my dead geraniums. So I want you to know that I’m not really that concerned about a few dead flowers. I am, however, very concerned about flesh-and-blood people. So if any of you are in an area where these weather patterns are being experienced, please try and keep safe, and know that should you find yourself getting caught up in one of these messes, there are people who aside from helping out in whatever immediate and practical way they can, are also keeping you in their prayers. And with that,  everybody have a great week-end.

Freaky February

My Favorite Feathered Friends

Well I knew it couldn’t hold out forever. The sun finally broke out in these parts this past week-end, and as I’m writing this now on Tuesday morning, I see that it’s back outside my window for a return visit. Never one to pass up an opportunity, or to leave my camera at home feeling lonely, I grabbed my favorite Nikon and headed out for a walk, just to see what I could find.

So after strolling here and strolling there, I ended up at one of the local parks, and guess what? (Drum roll please….) The boys (and the girls) are back in town! Yes! There in the duck-pond, swimming and diving, then climbing up on the edges of the pond to shake those little tail-feathers. Oh yes..it was quite the show. And they were so happy. They didn’t even mind the party being crashed by a couple Canada Geese trying to fool everyone into thinking they were just oversized Mallards with strange complexions. Nah! It was a good party, everyone enjoyed themselves, and I snapped a couple pictures before I left just so you folks could feel like you were there. Because your absence from the festivities was noted, and we (the ducks and I) are really hoping you can make it next year. So mark it on your calendar. But for this year, I guess a couple pictures will have to do, and that little rock figurine (a small Inukshuk) by the water that you see in one of those pictures, was specially erected just for you guys so that if you do make it to next year’s party, you’ll know you’re at the right place. There is even a picture that explains the parking method we prefer here in Vancouver after we have a beer or two (which is why I only VERY seldom imbibe alcoholic beverages). In the meantime, stay healthy, happy, and safe.

My Favorite Feathered Friends

Taking Care When Winter Hiking

I went out this morning to buy a coping-saw, and some blades, and since I always have my camera with me when I’m out walking, I was able to snap a few shots of our mountains off in the background attired in their winter clothing. As I was doing so, it reminded me of the particular dangers that can crop up when hiking in the winter, even when a person is on very familiar ground.

If you take a look at the pictures I’ve included at the bottom of this entry, you’ll find Camel Mt., and while I was snapping these shots today, I recollected a time my wife, her step-father and I were on our way up to Camel, and those dangers I mentioned became very apparent – luckily for me, in what turned out to be a rather humorous fashion, as opposed to tragic.

We had already reached the summit of Grouse Mt., and were part of the way along the trail as it leads up Dam Mt. which sits just behind Grouse. The three of us having stopped for a bit of a breather, I had walked over to the edge of the mountain where I was occupied taking pictures of the valley below, when I heard my wife call me over to where she was standing with her step-father, several yards closer to the inside face of the mountain that we would next be ascending. I said something to the effect of, “Yeah, in a minute, I just want to get a couple more shots”, but she immediately replied with, “No, come here now.” Not really irritated or anything (yet), I again said something like, “Yeah! In a second, I just want to get these shots.” Well, the third time she made her request, there was just enough urgency in her voice that though it didn’t panic me (my wife was a very smart lady), it did let me know that I shouldn’t be ignoring her any longer; I suspected now that something was up, and as I turned to walk over to her, I half expected to see a bear about to blind-side me or something of that nature.

When I finished turning around, however, and by the time I walked over to her, I had determined that there was no immediate threat of any kind that I could see, and so now I was a little bit irritated when I asked her, “So what was so important that it couldn’t wait 5 or 10 seconds more?” She said, “Take a good look at where you were standing when I called you.” Turning around once more, I now saw what she and her step-father could see from their vantage point, that I was blind to from where I was standing. Unlike what I thought, which was that I was standing on the edge of the mountain, in actuality, I was a good three feet, or more, off the mountain, standing on a floe of packed ice and snow that was about 24-36 inches thick on average, but a little thicker in some places, and thinner in others. And that was all that was stopping my 180 pounds, plus my pack and gear, from plummeting 4000 feet down into the same valley I had been so busy photographing.

So now you know why I always warn people about the extra dangers you face if you hike the mountains in the winter, especially after a fresh snow. You may not always be on that trail you think you’re on, and on rare occasions, like the one I just mentioned that happened to me, you might not even be on the mountain you think you’re on. So keep that in mind when you find yourself out there in the wilds, and in the meantime, while we’re here in the more civilized environs, I hope everyone is getting ready for a joyous holiday season, however you may choose to celebrate it, and I hope everyone stays happy, healthy, and safe throughout. And since I never know these days when I might make another entry myself, I’ll just wish everyone a Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year right now.

Taking Care When Winter Hiking

The Case of Eva’s Rescued Traveller

The other day my friend Eva (the gardener) had an injured bird brought to her that apparently was unable to fly (having used up all it’s air miles on it’s last trip I suspected). At any rate, a healthy serving or two of poppy seeds, some water, a good rest, some gentle stroking of the head feathers, a little more tender loving care, and before long, the little fella (or fellaess) was taking some short, and extremely close-to-the-ground, flights around the back garden area, before it disappeared from sight somewhere. But not before yours truly snapped a few shots, and those, for a very particular reason.

You see, I didn’t think the bird was from around here (because my highly-trained ear was pretty certain it detected a slight accent in the little chirper’s song). He/she was also colored in a fashion I was quite unfamiliar with. It seems I may have been correct, because even scouring the Internet for birds of this region, I could not come up with nary a one that was dressed in that pretty distinctive combination of dusty buff grey on the head, with a yellow breast that slowly darkened to a chalky green on it’s back, with hints of very light brown at the tips of wings. And even when I, in mounting desperation, finally switched to “birds from anywhere”, I was only able to find one dressed in a similar fashion, that was also of the same general size and shape.

The only trouble with what I found was that the bird I identified, the Bell’s Vireo, was a Warbler that is on the Threatened Species List, and is usually found in the central or southern United States, or northern Mexico. So here are a couple pictures of the two birds. I took the first picture, which is the bird that Eva rescued. The second picture is of a Bell’s Vireo. I obtained the picture from the ‘net, and in the interests of fair comparison, I kept my picture as small as that picture, so no one would be biased by size.

Eva's Rescued Bird
Eva’s Rescued Bird
Bell's Vireo
Bell’s Vireo

Now even I can see that it’s not a perfect match, but then I really have no idea how much birds may vary in appearance within their own species, and as I mentioned earlier, I have so far been completely unable to come up with ANY other bird that even remotely resembles the appearance of the bird that Eva nursed back to health that day. (Of course, if I had sang to it, it would probably still be here today ; )  As for the fact that the Bell’s Vireo is not from this region, that could easily be explained if the first bird was someone’s indoor bird that had somehow escaped it’s cage and got outside somehow. But in the meantime, being the curious type of person I am, if anyone out there does know what that first bird should properly be called, I would love to here from you. Then again, I always love to here from you. Everyone take care, stay healthy, happy, and safe. See you next time.

 

The Case of Eva’s Rescued Traveller

Smoky Moons Over Vancouver

Well hello, hello! Long time and all that. Still having  problems with this computer, but I took a couple pictures the other evening that I just thought I had to show you. You see, as nice a summer as we’ve been having here in Vancouver (and really it has been a great one) it’s quite unfortunate, and even downright tragic, that the reason for the lovely cool evenings that seem so perfect for walking in, are actually the result of our sunlight being drastically filtered by the smoke from several raging forest fires in the north of the province.

If one was to look at the long-range weather forecast for this area a few weeks ago, they were predicting a blistering heat-wave accompanied by record-breaking temperatures. But that was before the smoke drifted in and blotted out the sun. Now I’m not trying to say that you can’t see the sun, this is no Biblical apocalypse I’m describing here; in fact, far from it.  If you were unaware of the fires, you might just think it was some kind of very light haze in the air. The sun is still getting through, and if you hadn’t been informed that we were actually experiencing extremely high temperatures, the coolness at ground level would just just make you think you were having a nice mild summer. That impression, however, would instantly be challenged the first time you were up late enough, and in a location where it was convenient enough, that you could catch a glance at the moon after it’s risen (or the sun while it’s in the act of setting). This happened to me while I was on my balcony studying the other night by the light of a reading lamp.

My first impression when I saw the moon out of the corner of my eye, just as it was coming up, was that we were experiencing a “harvest moon”. To see a great big orange moon when its low on the horizon at this time of the year is not all that uncommon in these parts, and I must have just dismissed it, thinking it would turn silver as it got higher in its path. It was when I was taking a break at just after nine, that I looked for the moon again, higher in the sky (thinking it would be silver by now), and then I took notice of what I was seeing. For not only was the moon still orange, but it was now a dark, almost ominous orange, with very little light getting through, and what almost looked like tiny black clouds or particles hovering in front of it, although I knew it to be a clear night. So solid was whatever was hanging in front of the moon, I became convinced that clouds of some kind had in fact moved in during the time I was studying. I immediately grabbed my camera, and took the first set of pictures, which I finished taking at 9:30 p.m.. It was the next set of pictures that I took after two more hours of study, at 11:30 p.m., (when the moon had finally climbed out of the worst of the smoke) that convinced me that I had been wrong about the clouds, it really was a completely clear night, which meant, of course, that all that stuff hanging in front of the moon in the first set of pictures, was in fact the smoke that we’ve all been breathing for the last three weeks or so. And of course, since smoke is heavy, it would be even worse here at ground level.

My own doctor, when I was last speaking with her, told me that since the smoke arrived, she’s had to be handing out (prescribing) “puffers” for her patients with asthma, and other respiratory illnesses at a rate like she’s never seen before, plus she’s had to up the rate of use for those who were already on them. I now understand why.

So at any rate, I thought I would show you these two pictures. If you’re wondering, I’ve done done nothing to enhance either of these, and as an eye-witness, I can tell you that on my screen at least, the colors, and the haziness (especially in the first shot), are a pretty good reproduction of exactly what I was looking at. So in the meantime, I hope everyone is enjoying their summer. Please stay happy, healthy, and safe. And oh, remember what Smoky the Bear always used to say: “Only YOU can prevent forest fires!”

Smoky Moon @ Nine Thirty PM
Smoky Moon @ Nine Thirty PM
Smoky Moon @ Eleven Thirty PM
Smoky Moon @ Eleven Thirty PM

Smoky Moons Over Vancouver

The Source of Another’s Inspiration

I was sorting out some pictures the other day, and sending one or two of them off to “YouPic”. That’s my other photography site. A wonderful site actually, which I hadn’t sent anything new to in almost a year. Despite the fact  that even though I only used their site regularly for 1 year (as opposed to this page which I’ve now had up for going on 4 years), and as I already mentioned, haven’t kept it up at all this past year, my views there, on a much smaller number of pictures, are currently in excess of 59,000. The people that see your work on YouPic can rate it, and the highest unique rating you can achieve on a picture is a “Star”, which represents a picture the viewer feels is an “Inspiration”. Of all my pictures, and those views in excess of 59,000, I’ve only ever received 1 Star. To quote Sheryl Crow, “No one said it would be easy…”. It’s interesting to note, however, that the total count of views on that picture that earned me my one and only (so far) Star, are over 2000, which is more views than I’ve garnered on this entire WordPress page in the almost 4 years that I’ve had it up and running.

So what was this amazing picture that was the source of another person’s inspiration? I’ve taken a lot of pictures, and if I had taken a guess as to which of those would have been the first to earn me this particular honor, I don’t know which I would have picked, but the more I think about it, the more I think that this picture would indeed have made it onto my “short list”. I guess that just means I might have some understanding of where the person who awarded me the Star was coming from. Hopefully, it means all this time spent with my camera attached so firmly to my hand, and the viewport almost grafted to my eye, is finally teaching me something about photography that you can’t necessarily learn from reading books. Or maybe not?! Anyway, I have published this picture here once before, and here it is once again. (Feeling inspired? Huh? Huh?….Oh well, I tried…)

Outdoor Street-Art Gallery
Outdoor Street-Art Gallery

So now that Spring has finally set in, I also realized that I forgot to post any Cherry Blossom pictures. So since I’m really late, I’ll just give you a quick look at the last of the latest, which were the only ones I was able to catch. Leaving you with those to hopefully put some Spring in your heart, I wish you all a great week. Stay  healthy, happy, and safe. See you next time.

Bunches Of Blossoms
Bunches Of Blossoms
Chatting Under The Cherry Blossoms
Chatting Under The Cherry Blossoms
Bundles and Bundles of Blossoms
Bundles and Bundles of Blossoms
Relaxing Under The Cherry Blossoms At International Village
Relaxing Under The Cherry Blossoms At International Village

 

The Source of Another’s Inspiration