Owl Babies’ Day Out

It has been three weeks since I last posted about a first sign of spring: Grizzly bear coming out of hibernation. Now, spring is in full force. Another sure sign in my neck of the woods is Great Horned Owlets out to enjoy the sunshine.

First, let me play a little ‘Where’s Waldo’ with you. Can you find the owls in this photo? How many do you see?

DSC_0613

The obvious ones are on the top branch, mom on the right with her baby, and in the lower, closer to the trunk, another owlet.

Some are just born to be more independent. Take a closer look at this cool, furry owl baby perching on her own branch. Seeing me eagerly snapping her photo, she sits still for me, giving me a big smile even:

Doll

 

She reminds me of those Ukrainian dolls.

Furry

But don’t think she’s all innocent and vulnerable, look at her claws:

Claws

And to the mother and the other baby in the upper branch, again, they know how to please us nature paparazzi, just by being themselves:

DSC_0607

Babe & Mom.jpg

And here, a little action for us, Mom preening her baby. The term of endearment is instinct:

Mom preening baby

Preening babe.jpg

I can hear the baby say: “Thanks Mom. Happy Mother’s Day!”

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Saturday Snapshot Dec. 3: Late Autumn

After I came back from London in mid October, the Pond already looked deserted. Suddenly in the last few days my Air (Avian) B&B was buzzing with activities again. The Pond had become the meeting place of waterfowls making their last stop before heading south.

Here are some of them on a sunny, cheery afternoon. So glad to see signs of life before the big chill. Forecast for next week’s lowest temperature: -24C (-11F).

late-autumn

riverview

Pardon me for not showing my regulars the Mallards, but it’s the infrequent guests that I treasure more; although still ‘common’, there are just less of them than Mallards. Here are the Buffleheads. Like they’re right out of a Monet painting. No colour alteration here:

buffleheads

 

bufflehead-couple

My favourite has to be Mrs. Merganser. No matter what time of day, she looks like Lucille Ball just out of bed. Her uncombed, red hair stands out particularly:

lucille-ball

 

lucille

Up in the sky, more Canada Geese getting ready to land on the Pond, joining the late Autumn sendoff party:

canada-geese

Less convivial on land, I’m afraid. Why, it’s all brown and barren. The white-tailed deer filling up in the evening sun. Yes, it looks desolate. Dry shrubs are all that’s left for food.

autumn-brown

 

deer

And -20’s C. next week? Good time to tackle the piles of books on my bedside table.

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Saturday Snapshot Aug. 27: Synchronized Swimming, Team Pelican

I don’t have to wait four years for another Olympics. A couple of days ago I caught sight of these Nature’s Athletes. From afar I could tell they were members of Team Pelican.

The Pelicans are a gregarious lot, their talents innate, every move graceful. They display their elegant team work in Nature’s open arena, effortless, in sync with each other. Here they are, full of bubbly camaraderie:

Comaraderie (2)

Remember a previous post where I saw them in the air, like squadrons of fighter jets; in the water, they form a tight-knit configuration as well. With that formation, they cooperate to surround fish in the water, scooping them into their pouches:

Inate talents (1)

What a beautiful idea: communal feeding. What you see here are snapshots. What I remember is a long video. I must have been there watching and snapping away for over a half hour:

Let's eat together (1)

Elegant synchronized swimmers in perfect harmony. Kudos to their Coach.

Synchronized Swimming (2)

Look at their sheer size in comparison to the gull behind them.

Sync Swim (1)

Sometimes you can get tangled up with minor mishaps. Wait up, guys, I’m a little stuck here:

Wait up 2

No worries. We’re Team Pelican. All for one and one for all; our bills as swords to pledge.

Bills as swords

 

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Saturday Snapshot July 23: Traffic Jam

I know my Air B&B (note the purposely altered name) is popular, with free meals, a pool, and all the natural amenities, but I’d never expected an aerial traffic jam with everyone arriving at the same time.

At first they looked like confetti in the sky from afar. Without a wide-angle lens I could only capture a section. Just imagine multiples of these:

confetti

confetti2

With no reservations, I wasn’t expecting them or knew who they were. But I could tell they weren’t gulls. As they came closer, they turned into squadrons of fighter planes:

Pelicans 2

By now, I could see clearly – American White Pelicans, interestingly, converging from opposite directions:

Closer still

No reservations? No problem. Welcome you all!

Welcome

Just make sure you leave a good review. And please make reservation next time.

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Saturday Snapshot July 16: Solace

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world.

I’d never imagine myself typing these words other than the title of the 1963 comedy. Tragedy instead, and very real, not in a movie. What’s happening these past days can drive one to despair. I’m not just thinking about the celebratory crowd mowed down by a truck, family with children watching fireworks. Or here, a mother murdered in her own home, her five year-old girl missing and three days late, her body found in a field. O, a national anthem and a peaceful baseball game jeopardized by a lone-wolf tenor. Or, a U.S. presidential candidate vowing to declare war once he’s elected.

That’s why I appreciate the Pond more and more these days. Not just to take me away from screens big and small, get some fresh air, breathe in the sight and sound of another world. No need for words, it’s a living testament of Nature reassuring the Maker’s Grace, antidote of madness. Not so much a place to escape but to think, revive, and just be.

Peace returns soon as I step out of the car. How does that song go? All things bright and beautiful, all creatures great and small. I love them all, well some more than others. Like, I’m partial to the tiny yellow warbler than the muskrat:

Yellow Warbler

YB.jpg

I’ve pictures of the muskrat too, but never mind.

The quiet poise of the Eastern Kingbird. Got a juvenile here, I think, from the downy front. Such a tiny creature unknowingly is a carrier of a reaffirming message:

Eastern KB

Yes, even the ‘common’ sparrow (has a name too, Savannah) looks smart and confident. O the comfort of neither having to reap or sow, of being cared for:

The Sparrow

Or no need to worry what to put on. The Cedar Waxwing is often adorned and well groomed, ready for any photo op., yet raising no jealousy:

Cedar Waxwing

It’s a peaceful world out here by the Pond. Another song just come to mind…

 

 

And let it begin with us.

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Saturday Snapshot July 2: Summer Visitors

Here at the pond, summer visitors arrive to my natural Air B&B in June from near and far. I admit up here above the 49th parallel, I don’t get as many varieties as I’d like to see, nor as colourful as many of you have down in the south. Still it gives me great pleasure to host them.

Here are some of the avian visitors in the past month. Glad they find my Air B&B suitable for their stay, taking advantage of the pool and the amenities, free breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They are usually shy to be photographed, so I got them in my Air Guestbook unobtrusively.

Some new guests, for me anyway, like Mr. and Mrs. Ruddy Ducks. Hard to get them to come closer for photos, so here’s a blurry snapshot from afar. How do I identify them? The light blue bill of Mr. Ruddy:

Male & Female Ruddy Ducks

A repeat visitor, although not always easy to find, so I’m delighted to host, the Greater Yellowlegs:

Greater Yellowlegs

Families are most welcome. Here are my regular visitors, the CG Family:

The CG Family

Always glad to see them make themselves at home. I got this pic as they took their morning stroll:

A morning stroll

The quiet Spotted Sandpiper soaking in the sun and the sight:

Spotted Sandpiper

And of course, who can beat the free meals while they’re staying here. That’s why they keep coming back, look at this Great Blue Heron helping himself to the buffet:

Buffet meal

 

Is that a big fish that Mrs. Pelican just gulped in?

Pelican.jpg

And finally, I’ve waited for them for so long, the Yellow Warblers. I know they like their stay. Just listen to their calls as they share on their social platform:

Yellow Warbler

Well, if you’ve got food in your mouth, you can’t call back. No instant messaging here at the buffet table:

No msg

More from my Air Guestbook next time.

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Spring Time at the Pond

Still no sign of the Blue Heron, and Warblers aren’t here yet. But we have other attractions. I’m happy with just seeing a Robin looking smart and handsome:

Robin

Or this Red-winged Blackbird, calling across the pond to a hopeful prospect:

Redwinged Blackbird

 

Signs too of someone working hard. Soon we’ll have no more trees:

Beaver's work

Beaver's work 1

The usual suspects? Leave it to the Beavers. It runs in the family. The little one learns the trade early. Here he is. Look at that face, can you blame him?

Beaver babe

Beaver babe 1

Wait… I need to check my eyes.

B3

Is that Paddington Bear swimming in the pond?

The main attraction by the pond is definitely the Owlington Family. There are always nature paparazzi gathering outside their home about 40 ft. up in a hollow tree trunk, huge lens and tripods set up below waiting for the tiniest movement. The babies are showing their faces a bit more now, although still snuggling up in their nest all day:

Owlets

The eyes

Interesting that there’s always one that’s more alert and nosy while the other rather sleeps in:

Owlet 1

Looks like he’s got his Mama’s eyes:

Mama

More photos to come as spring warms up more… and as the owlets fledge.

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Saturday Snapshot September 19: Pelican Chaser

I’m a pelican chaser. Like those driving towards the eye of the storm, I drive and chase Pelicans from the ground, as far as the road can take me, which is not very far before they’re out of sight.

Unlike that of the storm chasers, my task is serene. From afar, I see the objects of my obsession. Distinctly, I can tell they are Pelicans and not Canada Geese, or Herons. I learned that the Great Blue Herons are solitary, but the Pelicans are gregarious. And as they fly in the sky, Pelicans come in droves and don’t fly the V formation as strictly as the Canada Geese. Since they are larger than the Geese, it’s usually quite easy to identify them:

The eye of the storm

It’s always wonderful to see a big bird fly majestically in the sky, never mind the baggy beak that looks a bit cartoonish:

The Pelican

So, instead of craning my neck to catch them in the sky, it’s always added pleasure to see a clan of them on the rocks in the river. They look so graceful, like umm… bathing beauties in a movie scene:

Bathing Beauties

I’d spent hours watching their movement, or the lack of it. They are serene, nonchalant, quiet and calm. I’d see them preening on end. Seems like that’s more important than feeding. Their sheer size is awesome. Look at that seagull in the lower left corner in this picture:

Preening together

I love their leisurely demeanour, not a care in the world… see how they yawn, looks like a most pleasurable pastime:

Yawning

or playing with their flappy beak. Yes, they can turn it inside out:

Playing with the beak

or keeping up with the latest gossips:

Latest gossips

Or day-dreaming like Snoopy, as the WWI flying ace fighting the Red Baron:

Flying Ace

Don’t think they’re all cool and aloof, drowsed in oblivion. They are highly alert of the potential party crasher, like that time, two dogs approaching the edge of the water. They know when to fold, when to walk away. As for the Pelican Chaser, that’s the best time to capture some action:

Let's Scram

Haven’t we all heard it before: “Serenity is golden… But sometimes a few ripples are needed as proof of life.”

Just say’n …

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Saturday Snapshot August 22: Summer Still

It snowed yesterday. I waited, but it didn’t change, unlike what they say about our weather that if you don’t like it, just wait 5 mins.

But it was only August 21st, summer still. However, I get the message that nature sends so clearly… nothing gold can stay.

Before it fully disappears, here are some photos showing our summer lingering still.

Wooden Fence

Moss

At the pond, the Great Blue Heron and Yellowlegs bask in the summer sun.

Great Blue Heron

Yellowlegs

Glad to see the songbirds are still here. They know best when to fly south. Apparently not yet. Saw this Least Flycatcher a couple of days ago. Mutually curious:

Least Flycatcher

And this young Yellow Warbler… Hang around a bit longer, li’l guy, a much warmer week ahead is in the forecast.

Young Warbler

But of course, I can’t help but see the ripening berries and the seeded dandelions:

Ripening berries

 

Dandelions

 

Just a while longer… it’s summer still.

 

(P.S. It’s gorgeous today. Going out to see my avian friends. More next week.)

 

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Saturday Snapshot August 1: A Summer Wood

Colours growing wild.

Fields of wildflowers

I can easily imagine a lavender field in Provence.

I can imagine lavendar

Ripening Saskatoon berries, food for everyone.

Ripening Saskatoon Berries

The tiny Yellow Warbler never ceases to fascinate me.

The Yellow Warbler

… here practising her trapeze skill.

Yellow Warbler 2

Or the American Goldfinch… common for the Americans, but always a golden moment for me when I capture one in picture.

American Goldfinch 2

Am Goldfinch 2

A delight even just to see the common Robin basking in the the setting sun, redder than ever.

Robin red breast indeed in the eveing light

The ordinary in a different frame.

Cobweb in Early Evening
Common sight, common light, common grace.

 

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Saturday Snapshot May 30: Of Birds and Men

Living adjacent to a Provincial Park, I’m always amazed at how tolerant and adaptable the birds are towards our human intrusions. Birds and men co-exist considerably well in my neck of the woods:

Sign

There’s even a vague resemblance between birds and man-made structures like in this photo, The Great Blue Heron and the Light Post:

GBH and the Light Post

And then there are the Canada Geese, who aren’t shy and actually quite imposing, never observe right of way’s, and never keep their voices down in public places. Since some of you in response to my previous Saturday Snapshot post were surprised that Canada Geese nest in tree trunks, here are a couple more photos for you. People just walk or bike by below these trees, as the Geese give birth to their young just above their heads; no, not in the water. How can you build a nest in the water anyway?

From afar, the Goose at her nest:

Canada Goose Nesting

At the doorstep:

Can Goose

Of course, you’ll see them in the water once the Goslings are big enough. Here is a family outing:

Geese Family

Goslings and mom

Goslings

4 Gosslings

Here’s a picture of co-existence in harmony… the sailboat was in close proximity to the Geese family, yet both parties took a nonchalant attitude, doing their own thing:

Co-existing

Of Men and Geese

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Saturday Snapshot May 23: Birds Among Buds

While some of you are enjoying roses and rhododendrons, or harvesting your first tomatoes and zucchini, we’re finally seeing buds on our tree branches that were still bare just a few weeks ago.

Here are some photos of what you can see within our budding grove. Probably the most common and easiest to photograph are the Robins. They like to pose and they are not too camera shy:

the RobinFor a few days I was trying hard to shoot the elusive Ruby-crowned Kinglet, for their calls are clear and distinct. Lured by their songs, I walked into a thicket of bushes and trees and lost my direction for a while in the forest. Love’s labour’s not lost. Here are some of the fruits of my venture off the beaten track. You can see two tiny dots of red on the crown of this one:

Ruby-crowned KingletBut trust me, I saw one flash out in red at the crown flapping his wings frantically from a short distance, but only for just a second. I didn’t even have time to lift my camera and it flew away.

Here’s another Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I must say the budding leaves are more appealing here.

Ruby-crowned KingletWhere do you see the Canada Goose nesting? Inside tree trunk cavities. Here’s one:

Canada Goose nestingOn a nearby trunk, the Northern Flicker tapping away, with calls you can hear from a distance:

Northern FlickerHave you heard of the Happy Wren? Here he is, probably the happiest bird around at 8 a.m. He was on that branch for half an hour chirping away, loud and clear:

The Happy WrenRemember the Great Horned Owlet? He’s grown quite a bit. Here’s a recent photo:

Furry ballDon’t recognize him? Here’s looking at you kid:

Owlet growing upWithin the budding grove, birds come and go. Another spring, another generation. This owlet will soon fly away when spring comes to an end. But those eyes I won’t soon forget.

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