Category Archives: Wildlife

Hummingbird Nest Day 3

Back to the nest this afternoon, and the momma was sitting there when we arrived. No babies yet. Once again it was sunny and windy. I sat on the opposite side of the sun and tried to get some shots but the light was bad. Just then I looked up and there right above the nest, perhaps within 20 feet, sat a very windblown red tailed hawk. It too had the sun at its back so I had to move about to try and get a shot from a better angle. I was going from hawk to hummingbird, adjusting my camera and trying for a good shot all the while the wind was blowing the hawk’s feathers and the hummingbird nest all over the place.

female Anna’s Hummingbird

I bet the hummingbird knew the hawk was there – she hardly moved while we observed her, the hawk right above her nest.

 

Red Tailed Hawk

A few people passed by and didn’t notice anything, so we didn’t bother to tell them what we were looking at either. Further on we saw numerous birds and one oddity – a Rufous, or Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), an uncommon bird hereabouts.

Rufous or Eastern Towhee

The regular crowd was out too; one Great Blue Heron, Mallards, Song Sparrows, Coots and Stellar’s Jays

 

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Foolsday Follies

More scenes from forest and field:

Stellar’s Jays are back for a while in transit

established lodgings for sparrows, after years sitting empty

Grape Hyacinth (muscari) in the field

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They Came in Pairs

baby hummingbirds

I received a reminder today of what photos I had taken exactly one year ago. Google does this, for reasons that escape me. All I wanted was a place to backup my picture files, but this is what you get when you join the big machine. However, it was synchronous with a thought I’ve had mulling in my head for some time, which is the phenomenon of pairs – the duality of things. When you get right down to it, everything started with a singularity, which was simply everything in the universe compressed into a point with no dimension. It had no dimension because there was nothing to measure with. Try to imagine the concept – it floors me, so I avoid thinking about it. Maybe Steven Hawking could have explained it to me, alas, but we shall never meet.

So what happened? It expanded, fast. But, mathematically it had to go from being one thing to two, didn’t it? I mean if mathematics holds true in all universes, then the whole number that follows one is two. So I say that two is thus extremely important. With one, there was nothing, but with two there was instantly something, because the 2nd thing made the first thing a point of reference, before which there was none.

Before this gets too confusing I just want to share some pairs of things that I have recently encountered, just because they were a pair. Some were alive, others man made.

Here we have a pair of Smith Corona Sterling’s; a 1951 and a 1956 – one pica, one elite = a perfect set. Since I had collected a few of these, as wonderful as they are, I decided to sell them both. One sold in 2 days. The other just went on the market. What’s the point of having only one of them? So I have to sell the pair. I’m hanging on to my pair of Silent Supers however.

A pair of Olympia SG1’s, both 1963. Both had the same problems – including a disintegrated right margin stop. How odd – clearly a design defect. One elite, one pica – is this a pattern? One sold, the other still for sale. The advantage of this pair coming along in short order is that I have had a chance to examine the engineering closely, since they both required a fair bit of tweaking.

Buying and fixing these is not only fun, but also is a small contribution to keeping these great old machines from the dump. There are no repair shops left in this town, so when I get a typewriter back on the road I feel like I’m contributing something, and the money I make helps me buy and fix more machines, so I’m not out of pocket. Still, they are cheap when you think about what they are worth and what it would cost to buy one in today’s money.

Smith on the left, Corona on the right

Now we move on to wildlife. I always thrill to a pair of bald eagles. This pair was first encountered in one tree, then they flew away. Later on my rambles I saw them again in another tree. To see a pair of them take flight up close is a wonder to behold.

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I saw a pair of ducks we could eat!

Moving on we find some ducks. They tend to hang out in pairs, male and female, but I wonder if they form couples? I think not, but they say geese do.

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Filed under Birds, Philosophy, Photography, Typewriters, Uncategorized, Wildlife

Flies I Have Known

I knew him, fly

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Olympian Steroids

Olympian on Steroids

The Olympics are on again, and everyone knows that those some cheaters (uno who) won’t be there because they were caught using banned performance enhancing drugs. Steroids, mostly, which make muscles bigger and stronger. I get my muscles however from lifting my Olympia SG1 typewriter. That machine has appropriately been described as a typewriter on steroids, for it is larger and stronger by far than most every other typewriter I’ve encountered. I recently brought it home from a thrift shop, where it sat on the floor because the staff found it too heavy to lift up onto a shelf, no doubt. Perhaps that is why it has a removable carriage. It does help to take the carriage off when carrying the thing, but even so the base unit remains one heavy sucker. I only brought this home because it is something to be seen and admired. Under the bodywork, which is thick bulletproof steel, is a cast steel structure that more resembles part of a building or a bridge than any other typewriter. The only real problem I encountered with it was the sliding metal block of the right margin control, a piece that incomprehensibly was made of cheap pot metal. That stuff is infamous for self destructing due to internal oxidation. Why Olympia made those parts from such bad material is puzzling, as everything else on the machine is made of extra large extra strong steel.

side view of the inner framework

I salvaged the part by gluing it back together with JB-Weld and little pieces of scrap steel cut from a tin of canned tuna, the sort that peels open with a ring pull. Lets hope that steel holds up. It works again, and the carriage stops at the set point. However, the space bar releases the margin stop, unlike any other typewriter I’ve known. Inspection of the mechanics indicates to me that this is normal, but it does seem odd. Once I got it all back together I gave the ribbon a rubdown with WD40, which revived the ink very well, and then I wrote the following piece. Forgive the typos, I just dashed this off as a test. The SG1 certainly works well enough, but I see no reason for having such a monstrous typewriter around here, so I will sell it. Whatever I get will not cover the many hours of disassembly, repairs and cleaning, but that was part of the fun of having it here for a while and admiring the engineering that went into it. Among other things I did was to disassemble the tabulator brake to get that working, another marvel to behold as the carriage glides slowly along and gently comes to rest when the tab bar is tapped.

the escapement gears

rear view of guts

half naked SG1

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A Taste of Spring

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January 17, 2018 · 10:18 am

Santa’s Eagle

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.

A Christmas tale with a Pacific Northwest theme…

There was a chill in the air, and the pathway around the lake had patches of ice wherever a small rivulet ran out of the field on its way down to the water to eventually join with the sea, a few miles away. If you watched closely on some patches you could see water drops moving under the ice soundlessly as if they were sneaking downhill for a secret reason.

In the bushes a small fluffy furred vole scurried across a blanket of decaying brown leaves and jumped up onto a dead branch that crossed over a pile of more deadwood. There it sat, with its tiny pointed nose that resembled nothing more than a small raisin, flanked by two tiny dark dots that were its eyes. Then the vole turned and slowly, deliberately shuffled off to do whatever business it was doing before it was observed. Like a puff of air two tiny wrens flitted out from the bush on the left and disappeared into the bush on the right, making no sound. No matter how hard one looked in the bushes, nothing could be seen, so blended into the sticks and dead leaves were the wrens.

In the sky several gulls meandered, unmistakable with their light coloured feathers and pointed wingtips. Then came a noise like a voice, but not words – a raven moved slowly overhead, circled and landed in a tall tree, then gave another cackle. Across the fields in the far distance were low hills, covered in a dusting of snow, not yet entirely white but soon to be, as foggy clouds moved over the land just waiting for seeds of what would soon be snowflakes.

On the edges of the lake and in the flooded fields on either side of the shore, or whatever fluctuation of brush, bush and swamp you might call it, swam ducks three by three, brothers and sisters, father and mother and son, or perhaps complete strangers who preferred the company of other ducks. Whatever the reason it seemed that one duck was always following another one, until such time as they switched places and the leader began to follow another.

A man with a red and white trimmed Santa hat strode along the path and muttered hello to others who passed by. Merry Christmas said one. A child with a stick poked at some thin ice, breaking it into small, sharp, clean, clear pieces. Nothing was happening in any sort of hurry, and yet it seemed that the world was waiting as if there was some sort of agreement that everything would soon be resolved in its own time, at its own pace.

Before the path ended at the pavement, where one left the woods and clomped up the hard grey road, high on the top of a tall fir tree, gazing over the scene below like a sentry sat the eagle, holding the world in its merciless glare, just as it held its prey in its razor sharp talons. But this day there would be no death from above for voles or hapless gulls that ventured too close to the white head with yellow eyes and a pirate hooked beak. No, this night the eagle was on duty.

The eagle watched for signs of danger, ever ready to take to wing and patrol its territory as it did every Christmas Eve, ensuring that the sky was safe for flying reindeer. After it had surveyed the land from its treetop perch the eagle spread its wings and leapt from the branch into the air, dipping slightly then with one flapping motion of its mighty wings it went soaring aloft and sailed away over the water into the distance.

The eagle with its unerring vision saw a tasty fish swimming just beneath the water, but even the promise of a fresh meal did not deter the eagle from its mission. One mile it soared and then turned and soared back in a wide arc over the lake. Then, when it determined that all was well, the eagle gave a powerful flap of its wings and gained speed until it was whistling through the cold air, flying due north as fast as an eagle could fly.

It wasn’t long before the eagle saw another of its kind in the distance coming to meet it. At top speed the pair of eagles closed quickly and then spun around each other for one brief turn before they parted, each to their own home territory. This eagle flight was soon repeated, again and again until the eagle from the lake had passed the signal of all-clear, eagle to eagle to eagle, all the way to the North Pole, where Santa Claus was ready to board his sleigh.

The last of Santa’s eagles came swooping down from the clouds as if Santa was a tasty fish, but at the final moment before the eagle had to pull up or land with a crash, it spread its wings out full six feet wide and with a whoosh it settled on the front rail of the big red sleigh. The eagle looked Santa Claus in the eye, and by that look Santa knew all he needed to know about the part of the world where eagles reigned in tall trees.

The eagle dallied but a few moments before it jumped into the air and climbed back to the sky. Ho, said Santa Claus, raising his long leather whip. The whip flew back and forth like a fly on the end of a fisherman’s line and gave a shot like a firecracker. The reindeer began to pull and within seconds were racing across the snowy field, throwing up a storm of snowflakes in their wake as if the wind itself was made of snow. Then with another crack of the whip, the lead reindeer took to the air and the team made one upward tilt and were off before the snow settled back onto the moonlit ground that sparkled under the clear, black, starry sky.

One by one, the eagles slowly made their way back to their homes, where they all settled down in tall trees, firmly grasped their perches with razor sharp talons, and stood guard until morning, when they knew Santa’s mission was done. Then, like eagles do, they all took to the skies, to find Christmas dinner.

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A Mushroom, a Duck and an Owl …..

What do mushrooms, ducks and owls have in common?
I like them – read why.

Mushrooms come and go quietly and surprisingly and are harmless, unless you eat the wrong one.

Ducks quack a lot but are endlessly amusing and never run down pedestrians while texting.


Owls sleep all day, make soft pleasant hooting noises and fly silently.

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Autumn, Day One

Birdhouse #1 – a sparrow roost

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.

house 1

nest 1

house 2

nest 2

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Camping With Typewriter

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!

Underwood 378 – $10 cheap!

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.

French Beach

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

djn
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.

Kin Beach

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

djn
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.

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