Polar Bear Swim? Crows at Lynn Creek

I was walking along the edge of Lynn Creek the other day, where there is a park just east of theNorth Shore’s Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC).  They are working to help restore the creekside, get rid of invasive plants, etc.  It was a very cold day, gray (so what’s new in Vancouver).  The creek was really full, it fluctuates often, depending on amount of rain and all that. But this was really in full spate.

There were dozens of crows in the spindly tall trees along the bank, and they would wheel and turn, rise up, spiral down, and launch themselves into the water.  I could see it was turning into the crow version of the annual Polar Bear Swim, where non-feathered folks take the plunge on New Year’s day in Vancouver.  I took pictures and then a video.  A really fun time, watching them!







Of course, they were oblivious to me, and never let up their bathing, cawing, swooping down and out.  Sort of a Polar Bear merry-go-round!  and here’s the vid – maybe a bit long (97 seconds), but I couldn’t resist!



New Year’s Jog- laneways & fence art

New Year’s Eve and Day can be a mixture of emotions – treasured times, sad times, looking forward with positive anticipation, looking forward with dread.  So a peaceful, lengthy jog, with beloved Hodge, noting the beauty — and the trash and ageing vehicles and the decrepit buildings and brand new ones, all of this is to the good, I find.  Last year I ran along the waterfront, on a sparkling day.  This year I was wary of the bits of ice here and there so I stuck to the flatlands of the laneways.  They often are blacktop and absorb the marginal sunshine better, so are less likely to lead me into some crashing, ignominious fall.  Nice fellow taking out his trash took this picture of me and the pup, and I focused on the miniature beauty to be found on the fences –wooden or chain link.

new years 2018 -in lane

Then there are the sleds– I’ve been going by them, following their slow deterioration, for years.  They still are beautiful, though!

sled fence art 1-1-18

and the roses – there are so many kinds and I think there is no month in the year when there are not some in bloom!  of course, ivy is so tough, it is everywhere — really a pest, but forming marvelous shapes, always able to find a niche for themselves.

curved ivy fence art 1-1-18



Even the chain link fences offer moments of beauty– in fact, whole mini-environments in themselves — you just have to keep your eyes open and avoid negative stereotypes about chain link!

wire fence art 1-1-18

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO US ALL — and in whatever ways we do this, may we pray and act in our daily lives for peace!






Last fruits of summer (ok, a veggie too)

We’ve been almost trapped at home by the rains here in Vancouver.  And with the shortened days it can be pretty oppressive.  Finally a bit of a let up in actual downpours, though still overcast, got out for a real jog this morning.  Was struck by the last vestiges of fruit and veggie gardening along the way.  The beads of moisture were like individual Christmas tree lights.  No videos– just portraits.




Japanese persimmon

Last apple

















never not seeing something of wonder — to love!

Downy woodpecker and new beaver signs

Some days there seems to be little to see or hear along my jogs.  Fewer birds, more urban buildup by the block.  Today’s jog was a long one, with frequent stops, along the waterfront and up McKay Creek a way – across from that huge blue crane.  On the way, at this little bit of restored creek, just east of the Burrard Yacht Club, I heard pecking, looked up, and there in a small pine tree was a downy woodpecker.  Got some blurry snaps, but a good video.

The other day I read that the brains of woodpeckers are not “floating” in a very thin cushion of liquid, as our brains are, so the hammering doesn’t cause brain damage from the collision of brain tissue with skull – no room for the brain to move.  When you see the rate of pounding, you can see that there has to be something major to keep them from having perpetual strokes!  and here’s the video–

Now for the beaver indicators.  I have been on the McKay Creek trail at least within the last 6 weeks and there was no sign of beaver.  But today- very obvious signs – that tree has been hacked and hewed to a great degree!  The tree itself has recently been topped, about 20 feet up.  It didn’t look very rotten and who knows if this was some preventive move by the City in the face of the beaver ventures!  Then I looked upstream, above a right angle curve of the stream, and it surely looks like a dam is being built!  The whole creek here has a number of flood control features – barriers of large rocks/boulders crossing the stream at right angles with just one open area in the middle, etc.  I wonder if it will be necessary to get rid of the dam.  It doesn’t look very large at this point and who knows, it may be a help for when the rains really come in.  I must do some informal monitoring.

No vids – didn’t see any beaver in person, but the indicators are very apparent for sure!  Love the waves of crescent dents in the tree trunk, from the top and bottom teeth.  Working both directions.  Very neat and precise.








That’s it for today! oh, did see two Red Admiral butterflies – but couldn’t get close.









flicker challenge above

This just a few days ago – outside of Wild Birds Unlimited, where there is a wooded, vine-y bluff, with a few trees going up the slanting ground.  This is a fir tree (?not too good on trees), right at the store doorway.  I was out for a few minutes and heard this kind of chirping, piping sound, with lots of fluttery activity.  Looked up and there were three flickers just hopping around, flipping up and down, beak-fencing, two at a time, and then the third came in, maybe replacing one of them.  It was hard to tell them apart with all that quickness.  Could tell one was female, one male, but didn’t get a good enough chance to tell the third one.  They did this utterly undisturbed by traffic, people going below them, the blue jays heading to the feeders.  The pictures and videos aren’t National Geographic quality, but they do tell the story!  I don’t know what/why this kind of activity this time of year, maybe viewers will? I did a google search but didn’t come up with anything.

So here are some snapshots, then the video.  Don’t you just love that brilliant red/orange of the tail feathers?  and notice the spiky ends of the tails, that woodpeckers use to get a good grip on the tree trunks while they feed.






And now for the vid– even through the branches, in poor light, and relatively far away, it’s still a spectacular sighting!  and I love that “whickering” sound they make!

Keep in touch! drop me a note if you get a chance!





Getting Down and Dusty!

well, if there’s not much water, dust will have to do — to clean feathers and deter mites. There is a family of house sparrows, with three young, hanging out near Wild Birds Unlimited – they feed, drink, twitter, chase each other — and today they’d created a dust bowl to bathe in. Get’s kind of crowded! Vid taken through a window, so the dust on it combines with the dust they’re stirring up to make for a “soft” focus.  But you can see what’s happening anyway!








And here’s the vid – it’s really doing a thorough job!  Excellent avian hygiene!



Pileated woodpecker –working hard for its grubs!

A marvelous sighting just a couple of weeks ago.  A lovely sunny morning, near some playing fields not far from home.  This is a pileated woodpecker on one of the few truly old and rotten tree stubs in my area. The tree must have lost its top in a wind, or maybe cut for some reason – whatever, it clearly has a lot of grubs to search for. It is fascinating to see the power of the bird, using every muscle in its body- reminds me of watching body builders doing some major lift. I watched for many minutes, finally went away, the bird still oblivious to me and the sounds from the nearby playground.  Got a number of stills and videos.


Really digging in here!


And here’s the vid– slightly over a minute.  You can see it quickly cleaning its feathers – -maybe a bug got to it!