My birdhouses are empty now, so today I emptied their contents. We watched several sparrow families use the 1st house this summer, but we didn’t see any birds using the 2nd one. However, there were nests in both houses. House 1 has a 1-1/2″ diameter hole, while house 2 has a 1-1/8″ hole. The nests I removed were very different from each other, the first being very deep, from the bottom up to the hole, and rudely constructed of sticks and straws. The 2nd nest was entirely different, made of small soft threadlike bits and the top surface lined with fluff, that looked like fine cotton wool.
Category Archives: Wildlife
We had 5 days out camping around Southern Vancouver Island. On day 1, before we got to out first destination we stopped for lunch then went to a thrift store nearby, where I bought a typewriter for $10. I hadn’t thought to bring one along with me, but this seemed like an omen. If it wasn’t for that I would not have written these two poems. I present their edited versions, and some pictures. We had a variety of geography on this voyage, from the ocean to a lake to the alpine zone. Lucky for us to live so close to all this!
First stop was an ocean-side camp at a rocky beach called French Beach. We camped in the forest of tall trees, and rode our bikes down the road to the beach where we swam in the frigid water in wet-suits. This was on the Juan de Fuca Strait, looking across at Washington and the Olympic Mountains.
Ocean Beach Summer Night
Briefly a rush of truck tires from the road nearby
Then a softer sigh, we look to the sky
A raven so black whooshes through the air
Voyaging from perch to perch in treetop bare
Campers pass soundlessly with dogs
None barking, quiet like beach logs
Tiny flies flit there and here
End up dead in our beer
We pick them out and drink up
We have no fear
Next to us the water tap and garbage bins
Two outhouses, one women’s, one men’s
Through the trees waves endlessly pound rocks
Where earlier we stood without socks
Watched them rolling thunderously, splash
Sometimes offset, sometimes one great crash
A zipper dumping energy like a long liquid spear
Which makes its mark and instantly disappears
To reappear in the following frame
Tag for the ocean is a favorite game
Any hour may bring change
Fast, unpredictable as a sneeze
But tonight there is a warm breeze
And the happy waves play without fights
Like children do on summer nights
August 28 2017
French Beach, BC
Up the road a ways we camped on another coast, beside the air force. Jets and big choppers were flying around. We were on the inland waters, looking eastward into the endless mountain ranges of British Columbia. Some of the most inaccessible territory on the planet, yet so close by. There are no roads north from there, no “civilization” for hundred of miles, only countless square miles of forest and mountains.
The Force Is With Us
Roaring jets remind us how
Beside this camp an air force lurks
Ever ready to strike if called
Who or what we don’t ask
Sitting in this field of grass
Writing, reading as the sun sets
another long day in the car
another camping meal enjoyed
chirping crickets and songs of birds
announce the end of their day
chirping and hunting for prey
the road gets longer year by year
how long it seemed to get here
travelling is not so easily done
a short trip is as hard as a long one
or are we weary from the sun?
still, we do enjoy these camps
discovering new places like tramps
later we remember them again
forgetting how we endured pain
remembering sunshine forgetting rain
fondly recalling pleasures from simple things
reading by lantern light and optical illusions
playing cards against a chain link fence
warm nights and stars, noises from cars
snuggling into a narrow bed, banging your head
tired and dirty we are now
in a day or two we’ll have forgotten how
we walked across a field before bed
felt the cold descending, instead
sitting inside on comfortable chairs
do the wash, arrange socks in pairs
go upstairs to bed, turn on a light
lie inside the covers, say goodnight
set the alarm, close our eyes
sleep to be awoken by surprise
August 30 2017
Kin Beach, Comox, BC
From here we made a day trip to hike in alpine meadows. Driving from the beach we looked ahead across the valley to a huge glacier on top of the mountain. Once in the alpine we walked through a pristine wilderness of forests, lakes and meadows full of berries and flowers. Then a rescue helicopter arrived to help an older lady who was backing up to take a picture and fell off the boardwalk, breaking something in her shoulder. A strange sight to see a chopper setting down between tall trees into a tiny clearing.
What a great day, and more to come later! Canoe rides, hot dogs, ice cream, music, old cars, frogs, typewriters… It all began last night at the thrift store with a rare typewriter.
This is not one that gets much publicity in my experience, but wow, what a great machine! This is seriously up there with the modern hall of famers like the SM3, SC SS5, H3K, and what have you. I don’t know what to call it, any suggestions? TGE perhaps?
I even weighed it because it felt so light: 5kg, or exactly 11 lbs. The case is made of super thin cast aluminum or something, and the machine feels featherweight for one of its size. It has carriage shift, but it’s relatively light and speedy. The tab function is amazing, as it moves rather slowly, not with the usual sudden zip-thunk of most machines, even ultra good ones.
The platen is still soft! At first I thought it looked like one of the SM3 cases, but it’s made of lightweight plastic, and has a removable base plate. There were several minor issues; the whole innards were full of tiny white correction specks, which I brushed and vacuumed up for the most part. A soft round pointy paint brush did the trick. Then there was the poor paper feeding. I couldn’t see what was the matter, so I thought I’d fiddle with the platen to see how simple it was to remove and I could look at the pinch rolls. To my delight the platen comes off in 30 seconds flat, simply by unscrewing each end knob. Stuck to the surface of the pinch roll tray was the answer – an old sticky label that fell in there and adhered itself to some rolls. I cleaned it off and reassembled things to find that all works perfectly well again. Maybe some unfortunate PO had so much trouble with this they decided to give this away, but this is pure speculation. There are no repairmen left in this town though, so it’s strictly DIY here.
More pictures below, after this poem and a frog.
Here are a few more pics of the TW. I should mention the keyboard – I think it’s Dutch. But it is QWERTY! How lucky is that?
March 24, 2017
1.30 pm – back at the nest waiting for the mother hummingbird. Got the 500mm lens on the camera now. Checked my focus and exposure ten times. Been here 5 minutes. Saw hummingbirds flying here and there but not near the nest. When I arrived I saw a squirrel heading down the trunk of the tree. Did it find the nest? I suppose not, as the nest is intact. Much chirping in the area.
Waiting… waiting… saw two Hairy Woodpeckers and a Red Tailed Hawk. People pass by on the trail, but I just sit here. No one sees the nest, and I don’t point my camera at it.
1.50 pm – the mother has to come soon. How long can she stay away feeding herself? Hold on, she’s over there on a branch. I blink and she’s gone again. Where did she go? She’s on the nest! I missed her fly 15 feet in a blink. Camera up, start clicking.
Today on the trail I met two chaps observing something through a huge 3′ telescopic lens. I stopped to chat, curious about what they were looking at. It was a hummingbird nest.
I looked but didn’t see it at first, thinking it must have been 100 feet away. But it wasn’t – it was close at hand right on top of a bare branch, exposed to the weather. The mother returned and flitted around for a minute or so before a lighting on the branch, whereupon she began feeding the babies. I could see wide open tiny yellowish beaks from where I stood, but there was no sound. The big camera began clicking away and I didn’t want to horn in while watching, so I waited until many pictures had been taken then raised my own camera and focused on the mother. She stopped feeding, looked up and flew away. I did get one picture of her, however.
Not far from there I saw a squirrel lying unusually still.
The field nearby is full of daffodils.
Going through the pictures from the last month I was struck by how much the weather has changed. In February we had plenty of snow.
Today when the sun came out it seemed like winter was long gone. Three days ago I saw a turtle, sunning.
People here are saying spring is a month later than normal.
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!
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.
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.
Across the floating bridge there were the usual crowd of Mallards and this lonely Hooded Merganser.
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.
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.
On the return leg a Bewick’s Wren was picking at the bark of a tree.
The last bird I saw was this one, a male House Finch.