Friday, April 25, 2008

Some Winged Friends Drop In.

Not only water creatures have popped by, but a plethora of birds are flying by.  Spring has come and l'amour is in the air.  Here a pair there a pair, everywhere....birds, birds, and more freakin' birds! 

You have to remember that there wasn't a huge amount of wildlife where we lived in Alberta.  There were no trees in the vicinity of our house so not a lot of variety ever graced our yard.  There wasn't any water close by either ~ some man-made watering holes in town...the OTHER side of imagine my excitement with all the different species and colours landing everywhere here!  I've been busy with my camera and now, for your viewing delight....BIRDS From My Backyard!


A woodpecker - can you see him in the middle?  His tap-tap- tapping caught my attention.  It took a minute to pick him out from the tree though!


DSCF0764 If you can't see him then here is a better photo where his stripes are visible.





Next is one of the first signs of favourite....


The Robin!  I love their round, fluffy bellies.  They are such curious birds too.  I recall in Alberta, our neighour's had a bird feeder on our adjoined fences.  It would attract these guys ~ as well as my cat George.  Remember him?  All 17 pounds of him?  In case you've forgotten...

2008_01120004 Meet George.  He can't jump.  At least it has never occurred to him that he can.  Don't ask me why.  Well those Robins in Alberta caught on to that fact and when they fed at the bird station, they'd sit on our fence and chat down at George.  He'd sit on the grass below, yacking back at 'em ~ and it was the come on closer ya' chicken, kind of talk.  Once I caught the birds pecking on our grass in the back....and no word of a robin was standing on our back porch eyeballing the door!!  Maybe waiting for George to come out and play???

Oh...sorry... back to my bird post....

DSCF0774 It wouldn't be much of a post without the ol' blackbird.  I'm not exactly sure what it is but will check it in my bird books.  These guys are the nosy ones around here.  If something is going on in the neighbourhood you have only to follow the flock of these guys.  They like to sit in the trees around the "event" and spectate.

DSCF0755 Oh yes, the pigeon.  I've no doubt this one was aiming to shit on my head but the camera flash made it blink and I escaped its drop zone.  "Nuff said about this bird....



This next bird I'm not familiar with.  He's got some bright red on his head.  I haven't got a picture that I can enlarge without it turning fuzzy.  Stay tuned for an update....


DSCF0840_edited  Now how about this strange looking fellow?  A BLUE head of all things!  I didn't even realize it was blue until I checked my photos!




Oh look, another Robin sneaking in!  Yes we see you ~ you are probably the same one from above, aren't you?  Now quit hogging the limelight!




This bird is all black.  There are a lot of these around.  When they all suddenly leave in a hurry I know there is an eagle or something else just as big about to swoop by.


Speaking of which.... an eagle who flew by today.  With the pesky bird zooming in behind.  There must be some good food around for that eagle to continually put up with all the harassment!


Here's an interesting looking bird.  It might be the same one as above but this one's tail feathers are also noticeably blue.  Check out the beady eye on him ~ giving me the eyeball or what?



Here is one of those birds you see EVERYWHERE.  Guess what?  I don't know their name either!



                                                                                          Not sure whDSCF0432at this guy is either....I'm beginning to sound like a broken record!  Once I get some of these developed I'll be checking them against my birdbooks and then I'll be smarter! (for 5 minutes or so...)



Uh-oh birdies.... I spy with my little eye... a kitty who sees YOU.  Now Spook, behave and stop scaring the birds away!




Although, if I looked down from my perch and saw THIS sight, I'd be inclined to scatter too!  The feathered friends must know that this one still has all of his claws....


Not only THAT, but now someone else is watching too!







George is watching and he is going to give ME a heart attack sitting where he is!  It is time for me to run and coax him back from his suicidal ledge seat....

Is he SERIOUSLY trying to give me a nervous breakdown?  What if one of the dogs runs over to see what that blob is?  One gentle nudge or puff of wind and my senior citizen with 4 paws is over the side!  I swear he's got food in his supper dish!

Next post....water fowl!

A Favourite Guest Pops In.

Well, look who came to visit us on Sunday!  She was so excited to come over and we were happy to have her.  She marvelled at the ice-free lake and viewed some birds through binoculars with her cousin.  She saw a bird (Osprey I suspect) dive-bomb the lake for food and checked out the ducks puttering about our cove.


Here she is with her snack.  I like to spoil her (who wouldn't want to spoil this cutey??) however recognize the need to limit certain food groups ~ like pop for instance.  I still wanted to make it special for her and found the cutest little coke glass....a miniature version of what I used as a child!  This special "pop" glass caused a bit of anxiety though.....

Hubby first gave niece her snack but put the drink in a sippy cup with a lid.  Now my niece is 5 and is adament she is a "big girl" now and so no little baby things for her!  She requested her special glass but hubby didn't know what she meant.  When I came out to join her I immediately corrected THAT problem much to her relief.  She looked at her uncle and said,

"SEE?  I TOLD you I had a special BEER glass!"

(I hastily corrected her and pointed out it was a POP glass not a beer of these days I'm going to get a concerned call from her mother...!!)


Here my subject strikes a favourite pose for my camera.


She was such a sport!  She even let me get in close, REALLY close for yet another shot....



The macro feature works well, doesn't it?  If I had her beautiful eyes and young complexion I'd plaster my walls with my pictures!  But for this"older aunt" I'll settle for photo of the photogenic kids in the family.  Some of the older kids "of the clan" are a bit camera shy but the younger ones are still willing to ham it up ~ thank goodness!


Once snack time was over well it was time to check out the ducks in the cove and the dock!  Here is Uncle John (my hubby) with our niece.

So this is the same guy who let our dog run off the dock the previous weekend.... feel safe there?  I was watching!  (just kidding, hubby adores kids ~ it's ME I have to worry about!)


They did a bit of "fishing" niece-style...throwing in pieces of reeds and imagining the colourful fish they were catching.  They did a little rock throwing as well; there is some kind of magnetic attraction to tossing in stones and watching the splash and ripples, isn't there?  It doesn't matter how old or how young you are.  Just set out some water and some rocks and you just know that sooner or later, rock will meet water!


Here's hubby keeping a firm grip on niece's coat.  Just to make sure that little feet didn't lose their balance or move forward! 



I told my niece she was good luck for us; during her visit an osprey flew over the lake and did some dive-bombing for fish.  That was quite a sight for all of us to see!

See you later, alligator!  Until next time!

The Beaver and the Eagle.

Once the ice melted on our lake last weekend, all kinds of creatures started showing up.  Here are 2 animals, both back from the fall from what I can tell.  The first visitor is the beaver and it is nice to see him again!


Here is the beaver showing up his backside & tail on my neighbour's lawn.  He appeared last weekend and swims by in the early morning and at sunset.  On this trip he swam in and out of everyone's waterfront ~ maybe to check on the availability of wood?  This is the same backyard that he (or his predecessor) cut down a willow tree 2 years ago.


He was busy in this spot for a few minutes then he left.  His next destination....




....over to our place.


That's our dock; it took quite a beating this winter and some repairs have to be made.  Next winter I think it'll be pulled out along with the raft.



Our backyard certainly didn't excite him!DSCF0625

He didn't stay at all, just circled and left right away.  The final picture of him below, is of him heading on his merry way down the lakeside.



Some neighbours further down couldn't resist throwing a rock or branch in the water after him...but that didn't set well with the beaver at all!


He slapped his tail, hard, on the water and it kicked up a lot of splashing!  He swam right up to their shore and smacked his tail on the water surface again and then again as he swam off.  He didn't appear to be afraid of them either!


Here is the Bald Eagle, landing on the beaver's dam.DSCF0650_edited

Maybe this is what persuaded the beaver to come out for spring?  An eagle landing on MY roof would surely do the trick!  I wonder if this is the same eagle who parked himself in that very spot last fall?

The eagle was scouring the lake for fish and when he caught one, he'd fly off to the tree below and eat it, before returning for another one.  After a while though he was joined by other birds.


These weren't your happy neighbours though, in fact they ganged up on him and drove him from this tree.




Here is the eagle and another bird in flight.  The bird in the back


was swooping and dive-bombing the eagle so it wasn't a pleasant afternoon tete-a-tete between these two birds!




After various flocks of birds harassed him in the air the eagle landed on this tree across the lake, presumably for a rest.  One brave (or stupid) bird joined him, continuing to bother the eagle with his cries and screeches.


Here the eagle is peering up at his unfriendly neighbour.








You would think a smaller bird would have a healthy respect for the beak and claws of the eagle - when he stretched his wings out the span was mighty impressive from my side of the lake!

DSCF0726 Not so this black bird.  I suspect the birds were defending their nests and territories.  The eagle had to keep an eye out for this fellow and sure enough, he left after I took this picture.

Here he is seen leaving our lake.  Personally I wouldn't have minded that annoying black bird leaving and the eagle staying, but no one asked me! DSCF0734_edited

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ogopogo was Here!

So the heritage fair came and went!  Here is son's presentation on the elusive Ogopogo:


Ogopogo is our Loch Ness monster, remember?  I wrote about it a few weeks ago.  I don't have close ups of the 2 models, HE...made (too blurry).  Maybe the picture above will enlarge if you click on it and then you can see the mighty Ogopogo swimming through Lake Okanagan (in B.C.)


Above is son at the school fair.  He was up until 2 am, stressing about this project and presenting it at the fair.

  I called the school in the morning and let them know I would bring him just prior to the fair starting, so he could sleep in a bit.  Otherwise, those headaches he's prone to getting?  Major problem when he's tired!

  The school was awesome, as always.  I am so impressed with their thoughtfulness and appreciation of the problems son faces. They set up his display in a quiet place, next to a window.  That window was a godsend as the library was VERY warm with all the people in there!  Not only the students and their displays, but school staff, then the judges and THEN family and friends!

   We were fortunate enough to have not only Nana come by but also Aunt Wendy and her boys.  I sent out a special invitation to the boys as they are starting regular school for the first time next fall after being homeschooled for the past 8 and 10 years. I was delighted that their mother also attended ~ she was able to show the boys her alma mater and they viewed the wall of shame fame (the walls bearing graduation pictures of hubby and his five siblings...)

  Son did not win this fair, thank goodness.  We were more than happy to dispose of the project and know that is finished, forever and ever.  Yeah, staying up until 2 am stressing over presentation is as bad as me staying up for hours on end, FINISHING the damn thing....oops, did I say that out loud????

The best news?  No more heritage fairs in high school!! ....THE BAD NEWS?  SCIENCE FAIR NEXT...

Daughter spotted again!


Oh, how exciting!  I haven't seen her for AGES!  Here she is grabbing breakfast on her way through, with her backpack fully loaded and ready for another long day.

I know, I know.  I'm a bad mother ~ taking a picture instead of cooking a hearty breakfast for my poor kid!  I needed proof that she is passing through once in a while is such a rare event! 

Tonight is to be the worst.  She'll be gone from 11 am to 3:30 am tomorrow morning (er, late LATE tonight)!!  There are 2 shows of the play today, a matinee and the 8 pm show. 

The matinee runs as I type.  I intended on going to this show but have been under the weather this past week.  Some "gurgling" type problems with the guts.  Maybe all this running her back and forth at weird and late hours had something to do with it?  Unfortunately I'm not able to sit anywhere for three hours this week, or today so I will have to miss the play this year. 

I apologized to daughter this morning.  I did want to see her "spotlighting" talent & watch my niece as well.  I'm sure there will be a lot of teens lounging around my town tomorrow as they recover from long and hard work.  Well done guys and girls!!

Birds of a feather flock together....

In the previous post I wrote about how the ducks are fighting over our cove.  This morning while hubby, animals and I were enjoying some warmth and sun in the backyard we witnessed a surprising sight.

ALL the birds in our area suddenly fussed loudly and all took flight.  Looking around to see what caused this commotion our eyes went skyward and saw this first picture:


A large bird was coming across our lake and ALL the other birds were flying near it ~ and some were dive-bombing the bird!  These other birds were trying to drive this larger creature away!

Even our friendly neighbourhood ducks banded together and took flight after this bird!  I could only get a couple of pictures before it was too far away for a decent shot.  It is a bald eagle!  Not the baby bird kind I posted about last week, but one with its distinctive head and tail!  I trimmed the photo above and his white head is evident:


You could see the distinct white head and tail.  It did a full sweep of the lake following the shoreline.  I didn't get the sense it was particularily disturbed by the birds fussing about it.

Here is the last shot I took of the eagle in flight:

DSCF0608 In this photo the white tail is clearly visible. 

This bird was magnificent ~ and huge!  You cannot appreciate its size without something to measure it against and unfortunately there was nothing in my viewfinder to use as a marker.  Last fall we were fortunate enough to see one of these huge birds sit for a while, on top of the beaver's dam.  With a little luck perhaps this will happen again ~ only this time I will be armed and ready with my new camera!!


Oh wow, just when I was ready to give up on EVER seeing nice it is!  A few days ago our lake looked like this:


Then it slowly started to melt.  Yesterday about 3/4 of the lake had a thin sheet of ice left.  Overnight ~ I kid you NOT ~ it melted and now the lake is clear!  If you look at the next photo, I took it about an hour ago!  Look Ma, no ice!  Hubby and kitty (Spook) ventured to the end of the dock to have a look about.

DSCF0548 Spook is peering over the edge, rather nervously, literally glued to hubby's side.  This is NOT accidental, I assure you, and he was the only animal brave enough to go out there with that particular man.  What's the story you ask?  Well funny you should want to know...

See this darling dog?  This is Jasmine, our husky & Border Collie cross.  She is a sweety-pie and adores hubby.


Or at least she did until a few days ago.... it was another sunny day and hubby took the dogs out back after their dinner.  The ducks were out back close to our shore, which excited everyone!  Hubby got to running and that made Jasmine speed up....

So they both ran on the dock ~ but only one stopped on time and it wasn't the poor dog.  In her chasing enthusiasm she forgot the dock ended; just as she neared the far end she applied the brakes to no avail.... she shot off the end, hit the ice and went through.  Hubby had the grace to look alarmed and bent over to help Jasmine out.  Fortunately the ice was thin and it shattered so she was able to swim out under her own power.

She was thoroughly wet and her fur stank!  Hubby admired her pluck to get herself out and I think, was a bit relieved he didn't have to go in after her.  If she was in trouble and he didn't go in, well, I would have pushed him in to help her; seeing as he arranged her "accident".  She remained in fine form although she hasn't been back on the dock with him since.  I've always said she's a smart cookie!


This is one sight that makes my dogs tear down the back lawn!  The geese haven't been by in the last couple of days so perhaps they've continued on their journey north.

What doesn't go anywhere are the ducks.  In fact you'd think our little cove was actually called "Cupid's Cove" the


way the ducks are behaving right now!  There are 3 or 4 pairs of ducks vying for our for private conversation maybe?

Here is couple number 1. For a while it looked like they would be the winners of our ultimate honeymoon spot and they swam about for a few days.  The dogs bothered them somewhat so maybe they had a few complaints about the place...









Here is couple number 2.  I think these are from last year's babies; there were some tiny ducklings and another bunch that were bigger but still not fully grown.  I think that bunch grew up but a few of them didn't feel the urge to move far from home!


Couple number 3 are wishy-washy and only drop in to cause trouble.  They are hard to nail down for a picture so I suspect they are fugitives on the run from some other location.  They are certainly annoying the other 2 couples and regularily all three sets of ducks quack and flap at each other.  This morning, in the wee hours of 5 am, they were all out there fussing about....boy, someone needs to buy those ducks a CLOCK!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Random Chat

What do you think of this charming house?  I'll have to get more photos of it because it is straight out of the Swiss Alps.  It is actually my neighbour's house, 2 doors down. 

Neighbours House Whereas our house is on a the barest lot of all hers is on one of the most natural looking of all.  It is certainly amazing to have such different houses and landscapes within a house or two of each other! 

Don't you think this could be the house from Hansel and Gretel?  If only it were covered in candy...


At this very moment I am waiting for daughter to call for a ride home.  Tonight is the last night of rehearsals for the school play before they perform in front of a live audience tomorrow.  Oh daughter is not IN the play, she's part of the supporting crew that helps to make it all possible.  Remember, she's the one all in black working the lights and sound system?  Her part for this play is actually working one of the spotlights.  Another niece of mine is actually in the play so I might just go watch it.

It's 11:30 pm...and yes, I do know where my daughter is.  She has MY cellphone and calls me to rub it in....OOPS, there's the phone and it's daughter looking for a ride!

Good night everyone and may we all please, PLEASE have a restful night's sleep that lasts longer than 2 hours!!

A Lovely Visitor Pays a Visit

A little cutie dropped in for a visit recently.  She was dressed in her finery, spreading her cheer and smiles with her auntie.

Ella and piano2 Ella and piano

First she played the piano.  For special effect the fan was blowing, perhaps to encourage a little hair movement?

Ella and Bosco

We played Barbies for a while then our dog lured her with one of his toys.  Nothing like a game of tug-a-war!

Looks like both sides were trying to get the "edge" on each other... poor Bosco, it sucks to have wood floors with nothing to grab!  Little niece however, has NO problem finding things to grab onto! 

Ella and Bosco3


Minutes later neither side had budged much and both were getting just a little tired.

Shortly after this photo they decided it was a tie and both dropped out, pooped, to rest in their perspective corners... Bosco LOVES kids that play with him!

Ella and Bosco5 You may or may not have noticed that my niece's leotards are no longer on her during this playtime.  At the tender age of 5 this child has incredible tact.....  she was sitting on the floor shortly before playing with my dog when she looked at her nylons and then she told me she was "quite warm" so could she take the leotards off, please?  No problem I replied, so off they went.  A short time later she went downstairs and was bouncing on our couch when her brother noticed she was bare legged and wondered out loud hadn't she come with leotards on??  That darling little angel, jumping happily in all her glory, hollered across the room to him, "Yeah but they were COVERED in dog hair so I had to get 'em off!!". 

It was very funny and she is on her way to being quite the courteous little lady....just needs a little more fine tuning to have it perfected!  You have to wait until auntie has LEFT the room before blurting out the real reason you took the leotards off!  (although I did have a sneaky suspicion....)

Ella washing her hands

Here she is, washing her cute little hands before we had a snack.

I like to sit and watch her play, remembering when my daughter was her age.  Where did the time go?  When did my daughter stop playing with her Barbies and Little Pet Shop animals?  When did she stop looking like this with those little hands and feet, wanting to dress up and dreaming up the wildest stories for us to play?

Niece of mine, I know you are in a hurry to grow up and do "big girl" things but please, not too fast.  You are the youngest and we all know what has already come and gone with our other children.  We'd like you to just take your time and let us enjoy this briefest of time in your life.  It is a great joy for us and we don't want it to end too soon.....