Category Archives: Birds

Solstice Greetings

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peanuts tree

Winter solstice is here, now the days will begin to get longer, even though the winter has just begun. That is some comfort! Here are a few scenes of winter, if you could even call it winter here, which is a joke to many who must contend with snow, ice and frozen snot-cicles. I count myself fortunate that I no longer suffer from those, and yet my hands still get cold! Such suffering! I got a pair of bum glove/mitts for that, with a mitten that flaps over the open glove fingers, thus allowing the use of a camera without exposing one’s entire hand to the frigid air.

My Annual Christmas Poem

Winter rain turns into snow
Off to the clothing shop I go
Tables piled high with ware
Jackets, scarves and warm hats there
Gloves and mittens for my hands
Flannel shirts from foreign lands
Shop clerk sporting Santa hat
Offers help with this and that
But my needs are few so I
Quickly pass all those things by
What I need hangs on the wall
Ten feet wide by six feet tall
Dangling folded up on hooks
Many sizes, colours, looks
Christmas day inside a box
Can you guess? Grey wool socks!

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horse in woolys

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there was ice, briefly – puzzling the ducks

random acts of Xmas decoration in the forest

random acts of Xmas decoration in the forest

the nutcracker found this mesmerizing

the nutcracker found this mesmerizing

only in winter do we get Hooded Mergansers

only in winter do we get Hooded Mergansers

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Daily Six Pack

That arctic outflow has us in its grip, but only very loosely. Temperatures hover around the freezing mark, leaving icy patches about but also wet places where the sun shines for a while. On the lake the water level must rise at night, evidenced by the suspended ice plates I often see on days like this.

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With brilliant sun and cold we seem to get more birds. This Barred Owl was sitting directly above the path,  unperturbed by my attention, swiveling his head as I circled round to get a better angle. He  was still there when I returned an hour later, but another photographer had taken my place and no doubt filled his memory card with owl pictures.

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Across the floating bridge there were the usual crowd of Mallards and this lonely Hooded Merganser.

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Across the lake I had a brief look at this Cooper’s Hawk before it split in a hurry. Maybe it was hungry. They don’t sit still for long.

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The lake has flooded the surrounding lowlands and in a seasonal slough behind the ring of bush that borders the lake I saw a large flock of ducks and geese. I walked through the closely cropped grass past a gaggle of grazing Canada Geese to get a closer look. Quite suddenly the flock erupted and headed to the air.

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On the return leg a Bewick’s Wren was picking at the bark of a tree.

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The last bird I saw was this one, a male House Finch.

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Three of a Kind

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A few more for your viewing pleasure:

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Strolling in the Park

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Today in the park, I saw some new wildlife at long last. I can’t fathom why the past month or so has seemed so utterly barren of birds out there. But today all seems suddenly better. There was a Great Blue Heron preening as I walked out onto the floating bridge. Then a Cormorant came along.

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Nothing exciting, I carried on to a bridge over the creek that flows out of the lake.

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Then I spied the Hawk in a tree. Haha! It was back. I stepped off the path and took a picture with the long lens, then hurried forward. By the time I reached the tree in question the hawk was up circling.

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Nearby I saw a Cat on the path.

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I carried on, and came to a Spider that had just strung a line of web across the path. It must have just done so as only minutes prior several runners came along from that direction, and the web was at chest height.

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Further walking and I detected a soft squeaking noise Looking up I saw a Woodpecker excavating a deep hole in a dead branch. It went right inside and came out with a beak full of wood fibre.

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Carrying on I saw another Cat in the field, and it seemed to be waiting for a Mouse to come along.

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Not far beyond I came to a man holding a Snake he’d found beside the creek. He was looking down at another Snake in the leaves. He told me that he’d seen a Barred Owl yesterday. So they are here, but I haven’t seen them yet.

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Besides this there were numerous Towhees, Tits, Sparrows, Robins, Gulls and Squirrels black and grey. Also a man taking pictures, and another one shoveling wood chips from a pile into a wheelbarrow.

Now I must to my typewriter to write my daily words for NaNoWriMo. I’ve done it 5 times already, so it’s a habit now. This year I’m trying something different, a memoir… if only I could remember everything.

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That gnome, known ‘m?

who's that new gnome?

who’s that new gnome?

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Filed under Animal psychology, Birds, Poetry, Sketching, Typewriters

To Buy or Not to Buy

Not forgetting National Poetry Month

That is the question, or is it?

Oh that people would pay to read this discontented blog and make it a glorious monetizing scheme this summer. Alas poor blog, I don’t know it, whomever.

As we honor William Shakespeare again, and again, and again – I mean there have been countless writers in the world in the last four centuries, have there not? I take this opportunity, or not, to write a sonnet and accompany it with some more pictures of eagles, which are irrelevant to the occasion, and the sonnet, or are they? Feel free, meanwhile, dear gentle readers, to read my words and feeling inspired, buy my book.

FRIDAY NIGHT

Down the gutters water runs in torrents
Springtime wind and rain returned today
Early heat had lulled us into torpor
When cold wet breezes blew as if to say
Sun or rain, who knows what blows tomorrow
The wild wind is this and here to stay
As rain washed down with sweet cold drafts of ale
Friday night’s the time for pizza treat
Listening to cool jazz tunes on the hi-fi
Sip sauvignon blanc with chocolate sweets
Rapid fire guitar notes set the tempo
Fading sky from blue turns into black
Flying fingers dance upon piano
Resting on the couch, we settle back

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Day Shift

Hobbled to the park to check on Bushtits
Left camera’s memory card plugged into computer
Returned to get it
Weather warm
Changed into lightweight shirt
Pollen everywhere
How long does a sprain last
My aching foot wants to know
I swallow some medicine
To ease my paltry suffering
But still I revel in being alive
Considering the alternative
What have I to whine about?

Endings Beginnings

And today on my shift:

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Song of the Bushtit

From Wikipedia: The American bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is the only species in the family Aegithalidae found in the New World, and the only member of the genus Psaltriparus. In North America, it is referred to simply as “bushtit”.

the bushtit

If I Was a Bushtit

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Be Careful on the Stairs

Three weeks ago I missed a step going downstairs. There was a terrifying crunch from my left foot and within no time I was lying on the basement floor in shock, spewing curses and hoping the pain wouldn’t get worse. I can walk now, but my foot still aches. I stubbornly refused to get an X-ray, confident that my bones don’t break that easily. I’ve only ever broken one bone, a cracked finger due to a hockey mishap. Don’t ask. But a sprained foot is bad enough. It is amazingly difficult to get around with the use of one leg, I have learned.

I blame the poor design of the stairs in my house for the accident. Of course it wasn’t MY fault! It was the ARCHITECT’S fault. These stairs are built thus: the rise is 7 1/2″, the run is 10″, with a 1″ nosing in addition. The nosing is fine for going up, as it allows for an effective tread of 11″. Going down however, which I am 110% certain is the operating direction of most stair accidents, the tread is still 10″ long. Now look at your feet. How long are they? Mine are longer than that. This means that when descending stairs my toes generally hang out beyond the tread nosing. If you overstep a little too much, as I did, it’s very easy to miss the step entirely, and then WHAM!

In architecture we had manuals giving standards for things, like chairs, tables, closets, doors,ramps, stairs and a thousand others. The old rule for stairs was 2R+T=25″. That meant 2 times the rise plus the tread length should equal 25″. The stairs here conform to that old saw, i.e. 2 (7.5) + 10 = 25. I am living proof that rule is not good enough! I always thought it wasn’t, to which end in my working life I have endeavored to make stairs less steep than that formula allows. I have measured and observed lots of stairs, and here’s my conclusion: ideal stairs should have a 12″ tread, with 6″ rise. Per the formula: 2(6) + 12 = 24. I have measured and tested many stairs as I said, and I can confirm that 6 x 12 is both comfortable and very safe. You can practically run down stairs of that slope, but don’t try it. Note the slope difference here: 6×12 is 50%, while 7.5×10 is 75%. Both conform to the old rule but within that rule you have the possibility of slope variance factor of 1-1/2. When descending stairs you should: 1. hold onto the handrail, and 2. watch your step. I was doing neither when I fell, as I was carrying a ladder using both arms, and couldn’t see my feet. It will be a long time before I make that mistake again.

Lesson over, here are some photos from my walk/limp around the lake the other day. The bushes were teeming with birds, and many more were deep inside brush, chirping, hopping, flitting, pecking, eating and doing what birds do. They do seem to be very active these days, full of spring fever.

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The Oliver Courier

Last weekend I happened upon an interesting looking typewriter case in a local “curiosity shop”. I didn’t recognize the case nor the machine when I opened it up, and the badge was missing. I found the nameplate on the back however, which said it was an Oliver, made in England. Now I know what it is. The Oliver Courier, aka Patria, and a number of other names. I returned with a box full of old cameras and we made a straight trade. It dates from 1956, and works very well still. I particularly like the typeface, which is pica of a most beautiful style. It is rather loud, and heavy of touch – it’s a man’s typewriter! Built to last. Heavy duty.

Oliver Courier c. 1956

Oliver Courier c. 1956

The missing badge bothered me, so I found a photograph of it on line and made a quick imitation badge which slipped neatly into place through slots in the depression for it. Close enough, we’re not going for heritage status here.

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THE TYPING SHELF

Wait – there’s more! Inspired by my serendipitous discovery of the art easel as typing desk I decided to make a portable shelf to use at the dining table, rather than be stuck in the basement where there are no windows. So I came up with this idea, and built it in a day from a 12″ x 48″ piece of 3/4 birch veneer plywood. It works very well, and I’ve tested it with heavy typewriters – it’s solid. By lowering the machine I find it much easier to type, and of course it’s a lot more pleasant to sit in the dining room where I have a huge window beside me, and where I can also look right down the hall to the backyard, where a pair of House Sparrows have taken up residence in one of the birdhouses I installed in the trees one year ago. Tenants at last!

PLANS

If anyone’s interested, here is a drawing and a downloadable pdf file of it.

plan for a typing shelf

plan for a typing shelf

TYPING SHELF PLAN

My new tenants…

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