Documentation of an Hour

The weather was brutal, as I headed to the pond with Max-man, something between pouring rain and snow, but not of the ‘flake’ variety.  I thought that I sited 12 Goldeneyes, from a distance.  Having left my camera in the car due to the weather conditions, I quickly began to have my regrets because the mating dances and the chases around the pond were so theatrical and even funny.  Somewhere during the circle of the pond, I realized that the count was actually six male Common Mergansers, one female Merganser and three Goldeneye couples.  So much brilliant white on the grey landscape!  Absolutely stunning!

Once I got Max settled back in the vehicle, I had to grab the camera and attempt some documentation.  Unfortunately, the Mergansers were shy and were slightly out of my range for focus and the Goldeneyes, not much better.  However, I’m posting a few here, as a matter of context.  I had the most enjoyable time, literally laughing out loud.  I feel overcome on behalf of the females for the intense circus they must negotiate at this time and the wild frenzied flights as they attempt to ward off aggressive males as much as they can.

Things will only be more crazy over the coming weeks.  There are so many pristine, clear photographs of these species on line that I’m almost embarrassed to post these, but heh, today I was caught up in the wonder of having experienced these birds and I’m grateful.

IMG_3965

Crash Landing on Ice ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3963

Walking the Ice: Mirror ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3939

Restful Poses in Inclement Weather ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3918

Atmosphere at Frank’s Flats ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3916

Six Male Common Mergansers Vying for Attentions of One Female ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3913

Does She Look Interested?  Did she even do her hair?  ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3893

Female and Male Common Mergansers ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3882

Imagine Multiple Male Goldeneyes Performing Like This!  ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3880

Over and Over Again! ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3879IMG_3878

IMG_3873

Time to tidy up! ©Kathleen Moors

IMG_3871IMG_3857

Facebook Profile Updates

Three days now, I’ve been deactivated on the most popular social media website since sliced bread.  I document my father’s music in the hours I might have wasted on early mornings, while drinking my coffee.  I listen to Chris de Burgh music on Youtube as background, while reading Al Purdy poetry.  His words make me weep at times.  I would have posted that on Facebook.

I imagine filling in that small space…I don’t even remember what the prompt was?  Say something about yourself…or what you are doing…what came to be known as a status update.

I would probably post a link to this post.  As a way of weening myself from the process, I thought to update my status here…what would I say?

July 5, 2016  A dark cloud fell upon me when, from no where, a friend invited me to go chase dark clouds.  He parked his car across the street and magically appeared when I needed a friend.

July 6, 2016 My hair was dirty, so I didn’t join my girlfriends for a night of listening to live music.  I didn’t paint at Rumble House, again.  I read Al Purdy poetry and used a sock as a place-saver.

July 7, 2016 I feel sad that I’m seeing the changes in the pond, all on my own, and that no one else sees exactly what I see.  Mr. and Mrs. Sparrow are trying to raise another family in the neighbour’s vent.  I relent and put seed in the feeder that I had pulled out of service because of the growing population of voles.  But, now, with the children’s incessant cry for sustenance, I give in.

July 10, 2016 What does it mean that I have 13 hits on my blog from Macau SAR China, today?  Some times these connections, through writing, just surprise me.

Yesterday’s photographs…documentation of train graffiti, imagining that the artist would want to know where his art had traveled.

I like that the red-winged black bird made it into this shot…

IMG_9280

It’s been wonderful to see the great Cormorants coming through.  They are closer to the river…this, a lone female.

IMG_9228

Mama Savannah Sparrow watching out for her young sprout…IMG_9226

Youngster…sitting a short distance from Mom…about half her size.

IMG_9214

My partner in crime.IMG_9208

A herd of 20 geese, four adults and the rest, progeny, slip into the water as Max and I tippy toe through the goose poo.IMG_9204

For the Birds

I never imagined I would be so overcome by the mystery and magic of birds.  My body, mind and imagination are being blessed by the standing-still of this…the breath and light and patience of entering into a seldom-noticed world.  If I sit/stand still, it is as though a secret world unfolds to me…even comes to me.  And I remain still, in awe and in gratitude.

The Cormorants are on a migration and have been stopping in to the pond of late.  A Great Blue Heron is alternating between this location and over where the Osprey nest is located, just south of 22X.  At one time I thought that there were two herons, but recently, have decided that there is just one.  The Coots did very well this season and I’ve been watching the juveniles running on the water with their paddle feet, preparing for the next step, flight.  I’ve seen, but not been able to archive, yellow finches.

I’ve recently watched adult Hawks sitting on light standards alongside their offspring, teaching them the ins and outs of stalking and hunting down field mice. I’ve been intrigued by the hunting techniques and feasting of these raptors.  Compare the length of the tail feathers on the adult hawk with those of the juvenile.

Kath's Canon August 24 and 25 Birds 044

Kath's Canon August 24 and 25 Birds 069

©Kathleen Moors :Adult Marsh Hawk

Today I captured a photo of the youngsters, on its own.  From what I can tell, this is likely a male Marsh Hawk, also known as a Northern Harrier.  You can tell  it’s a juvenile based on its size, length of tail feathers and the maturity of the feathers.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

The three juvenile Osprey and one adult have been hunting together from the deadwood and the power poles that edge the pond for the past week and a half.  The other adult is most often seen now, closer to the river. I have not seen any of them at the nest until today.

It’s Sunday and I think that as a special treat, a fish was again dropped at the nest because for the first time in quite a while, all three juveniles were in the vicinity of the nest and the adult hung out some distance away.  I didn’t stay long because alarm calls were being given by the two birds that were feasting at the nest.  A somewhat obtrusive photographer with a two foot long lens was laying down in the grass above the nest…so, I don’t know if I was the problem or if the other photographer was.  My photos are taken from a long way off and as a habit, I never get out of the vehicle.  Radio off.  Engine off.  Silent.  Max seems to know the drill also…and even though he is sitting in the driver’s seat, he remains seated and perfectly still.

I like this little series of images of the one left standing on the pole…

Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 044Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 036 Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 039 Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 040 Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 041 Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 042 Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 044 Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 046 Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 047 Alarm calls coming from the nest.Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 048Today, Max was very co operative at the pond when I sited the Belted Kingfisher that I had noticed yesterday.  I had no camera with me yesterday, so today, I made certain that my battery was charged.  I heard the Kingfisher’s call today and grabbed a few photographs to celebrate my first siting of this species in nature.  It was very thrilling.  I sat down on the worn path and just watched for the longest time, Max on leash and tied to my waist so as not to disturb the moment.

Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 134Kath's Canon August 29, 2015 Osprey, Hawk, Kingfisher 096The Great Blue Heron, while elusive, has been a constant companion at the pond for two weeks.  Continually relocating as I travel the circumference of the pond, I have seen it fly and watched it feed at the shore.  It’s been heavenly.

Kath's Canon August 26, 2015 Heron Dying Bird 084 Kath's Canon August 26, 2015 Heron Dying Bird 021

IX. As Patience

Then it picks up one stem leg. This takes time.
And sets it down just beyond the other,
no splash, breath of a ripple, goes on
slowly across the silt, mud, algae-
throttled surface, through sedge grass,
to stand to its knees in water turning
grayer now that afternoon is evening.

Now that afternoon is evening
the gray heron turns blue, bluer than sky,
bluer than the mercury blue-black still pond.

     –from "The Blue" by David Baker

Rumble House: August 26, 2015

I was late and when I arrived, I was kind of jostling and trying to find a spot to sit.  The proper etiquette at Rumble House is to arrive in time to set up and when the artists are painting, yes, interact, but don’t blow the beautiful flow of painting and creating that is happening at the time.  I was ‘the bull’.  Thanks to Jess and Rich for helping me get sorted.
I sat to paint, but had been filled with a bit of a melancholy all day.  I never really know how it’s going to go.  Do any of us?

Presently, I’m listening to Vance Joy’s music on Youtube.  It’s beautiful.  Thanks, Jess.  Two mamas have a little teeny son, August, and Jess woke at 4:00 a.m. with the sweetheart and listened to this.  Such a beautiful song…and it leads to others.  There is so much amazing joy in being engaged with life…but, there is also huge struggle.  Yesterday, my cousin Jaime’s words of sadness and loss hit me very hard as well.  The experiences that we are offered and challenged to face with grace and gratitude are limitless.  Cayley has told me that I’m a bit of an empathic, so again, I feel a lot of this in my bones.

I went out on my walk at Frank’s Flats yesterday early afternoon and the extreme variety of life experiences was exemplified in the glorious and the gut-wrenching pain to be found in nature.  I stalked the great blue heron that had been perching for the past week or so at the pond’s edge…a very nervous bird who shifted its location at the sound of the train or a person walking the path some distance away…agitated…so powerful in flight…so truly amazing in its structure and appearance.

Eventually, I grabbed some shots, not technically astute, but a testament to what I experience daily at the flats.

Kath's Canon August 26, 2015 Heron Dying Bird 080

©Kathleen Moors

This, just across the pond from a coot with a broken wing, trapped in the water some distance from shore.  And…I came home and wrote this.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

Last night, I tackled a very small panel. I combined a feeling of the claustrophobic experience of grey skies blanketing the sun these last many days due to raging forest fires in Washington, Oregon…dangerously dry country, it seems, everywhere this summer and this bird raising up out of loss and injury and finding wings to fly.  I made an effort to shift the consciousness and to honour the life energy of a single bird.

Congratulations to Jess Szabo on her exhibit of last night.  I’m looking forward to Changing Face, featuring artists Daniel Audet, Amy Gaulin, Aaron Sidorenko, Rich Theroux, Nick Rooney, Brian Flynn, Doug Nhung, Ness Nelson  and Shon Anderson.

I was glad to have connected with Andrea, who took this bird home after auction.  She has such enthusiasm and such an ability to project hope in otherwise hopeless situations.

Kath's Canon Rumble August 26, 2015 051 Kath's Canon Rumble August 26, 2015 050 Andrea and Kath Rumble August 26, 2015I love the energy of the people at Rumble House.  Enriquito, my heart is for you on this journey.  If I can give support, your Godmother-in-art is here for you.

One of my favourite people tonight…Kai, featured here with his painting of Smudge the Shark.

Kath's Canon Rumble August 26, 2015 004

Bird Tails From the Hood

Feral cats roam free throughout the seasons on our circle.  A few of them congregate on the ‘cat lady’s’ step because I think she gets them through the winter.  One of the cats belongs to her, but he is definitely an outdoor cat.  The other three come and go, but always sit, when she’s gone, on her smoking chair. The one that has managed through the most years is a tortoise shell long hair who often stalks my bird feeder and routinely catches and tortures mice.  I watch, stunned, from the window.  Yesterday, this very cat sat on the sidewalk directly across from my house…crouched and ready to bolt.  Max, my dog, barked wildly from the living room window.  I stepped outside to see what the commotion was all about.  Looking carefully, I saw puffs of feather circling the cat’s mouth.  It looked funny until I saw the fledgling robin on the yard below me.

Both mother and father were posturing anxiously in near proximity to the evidently scruffed up youngster.  I shooed the cat away as it bolted and hid beneath one of the cars parked along the street.  Bit by bit, I coaxed the young dude east along the street and up onto neighbour’s steps where he/she might be able to get some height on the next flight attempt.  Prompted by its parents, it continued bob bob bobbing along, however exposed to the crows, the cats, the magpies and the great big world.

As I looked more closely at the young robin, I saw that it had been attacked on its chest and definitely on its tail feathers.  I don’t know that it will at any point be able to fly, given this disastrous result.  Once again, I contemplate the tough world of nature.  I think about the challenges of adults, in this case, the hatching and feeding and raising up of young birds in precarious nests and then, teaching them to fly.  In nature, there is so much fighting against birds, animals and plants.  Sometimes I am amazed that species continue to populate this earth, where now, there are so many forces operating against them.  Natural predators are one thing, but the forces that human beings exert upon species and the devastating development of natural environments is truly, staggering.

I managed, yesterday morning, to delay the violent ending of a young robin.  The lesson, however, is that ‘out there’, it is the strong that survive.  I guess it’s the same for us.

©Kathleen Moors  Mama bob bobbing, frantically.  Her antics, steering the cat's attention away from her progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Mama bob bobbing, frantically. Her antics, steering the cat’s attention away from her progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Dad, looking as puffed up and red-chested as possible, distracting predators, the cat and me, from his progeny.

©Kathleen Moors Dad, looking as puffed up and red-chested as possible, distracting predators, the cat and me, from his progeny.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors Youngster, his own feather caught within his beak, survivor of the first attack.

For the Birds

I am spending quiet times at the pond, given that Max is injured.  He’s at the end of the umbilical leash, quiet, but cranky about my dawdling at the pond’s edge and making only one circle of the water…stopping frequently to gaze at various species.

I’m learning to use my camera bit by bit, but really have a lot to learn.  Honestly, the most amazing things I’ve seen recently are rarely photographed because I’m either too slow or I really don’t care.  I get wrapped up in the moment.

I’m learning how much light has to do with photography.  I always knew it…light and, more importantly, dark are essential to painting and the establishment of contrast, but to photography, even more so.  I think there needs to be a degree of drama and also narrative in a good photograph.  I dawdle so much because I’m looking for those sorts of stories.

I’ve been watching the American Coots a lot lately, just because of the shear numbers of them at Frank’s Flats.  Here’s Audubon’s version offered up by the Toronto Public Library.

aud-plate-239 Toronto Public Library American Coot Audubon, John James, 1785-1851I haven’t taken a single photograph of the coots, but I’m very caught up in the drama that surrounds these strangely disproportionate birds.  They are constantly picking fights with other water fowl, same species or not.  Wild chases erupt most times when they are around.  Also, they get extremely amorous, sticking their beaks into the water and fanning out their rear feathers, all the while, shaking their butts.  Most amazing, are their young!  Long strings of eight, nine and ten ducklings following mamas and then day after day…fewer and fewer in number; likely good pickings for crows, magpies and other like-spirited birds.  But the most amazing is the physical appearance of the baby coots!

Rob English of Birds Calgary took this photograph in July of 2011. What’s NOT to love about these goofy red headed little guys?

Photo Credit: Rob English Birds Calgary 2011

Photo Credit: Rob English Birds Calgary 2011

I don’t even know what these birds are called…just a sec…I’ll look.  Uh huh…a Savannah Sparrow, or as Audubon would have us know it, a Savannah Finch.

Savanah Finch_090706110723 AudubonMy capture this evening…

©Kathleen Moors  Photo Credit Please

©Kathleen Moors Photo Credit Please

and…more animated, but perhaps less focused (and heck if I know).  These are so petite and so delicate…it makes me wonder about the complexity of my Father-Jesus-Spirit God that these creatures are so ‘wonderfully’ made.

©Kathleen Moors Photo Credit Please

©Kathleen Moors Photo Credit Please

I checked in on Mr. and Mrs. Osprey.  I have no idea how to accomplish a photograph of a bird in flight, but if ever there is one that should be properly captured flying, it is an osprey.  The male has been such a diligent partner and I have seen him feed mama daily.  I’m getting the feeling that she has wee ones because today her behaviour at the nest was very different.  Or, perhaps she just found a fish dropped in front of her.  Not certain.  These photographs are always taken a great distance away and I’m not getting the best quality as a result.  I find that photos early in the morning, while aiming west, are the best.  I’m so grateful that I have had opportunity to watch this nesting from the very first stick that was dragged across the width of all lanes on 22X.

Osprey by Audubon: Toronto Public Library

Osprey by Audubon: Toronto Public Library

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

Dad was a long way off, but always faithful to his duties.  Bare tree branches were filled with crows and magpies.  They frequently hang out with him, as they like to have such a great fisherman as their very best friend.

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

http://columbiawireless.ca/?fb_ref=Default

This guy…some type of hawk and his buddies find lamp posts to perch upon, no matter how busy the neighbouring road or high way.  At a moment’s notice, they dive down and I’ve seen them carrying all sorts of rodents.  He was marching about in the tall grass at one point.  I’m not certain his specific variety, but I wouldn’t be messing with those talons, if I was a mouse.  This character seems to have a thing for numbers. I think this may be a Harlan’s Red-Tailed Hawk, but my Dad will confirm once he checks out this post. (Hmmm…thinking it’s a Swainson’s Hawk…YUPPER!  Forget everything I said about a Red-Tailed Hawk!)  John James Audubon referred to the Swainson’s Hawk as being a Common Buzzard.

Swainson's Hawk (common buzzard)

Audubon: Harlan's Red-Tailed Hawk

Audubon: Harlan’s Red-Tailed Hawk

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

Kath's Canon June 19, 2015 Garden Frank's Flats Birds Super 3s 145

©Kathleen Moors

Hmmm…I was going to bash out tile tonight and it’s already eight in the evening.  The spaghetti squash is done.  It’s time for me to get going. (Nah…one more!)

I met up with this guy at one location and stood quite a distance away.  His antics stepping in and around the water were fabulous, but of course, I was watching and not shooting.  A very fuzzy capture of a Black Crowned Night Heron.

Audubon: Black Crowned Night Heron

Audubon: Black Crowned Night Heron

©Kathleen Moors

©Kathleen Moors

In the meantime, in the neighbourhood, the magpies squawk at the feral cats…the sparrows continue their romance in the vent across from my kitchen window,  the robins go bob bob bob along, tugging long worms out of the grass after every rainfall and one beautiful song bird visits a large back yard tree on the alley every morning. I delight in nature…in what grows.  I am grateful that I am able to enjoy such wonders.

May 8, 2015

…my 60th birthday!

Whoot!  It was a wonderful day!  And, yes, I taught the full day.  But then I had the pleasure of sharing a late afternoon walk with my daughter, Erin and pooch, Max. We did our bird, coyote and muskrat watching and enjoyed the warmth.  The afternoon with my students, was spent needle felting with Leah C. Donald, visionary for Art Felt Studio.  With our previous experience painting spring flowers, this was an amazing extension and a great opportunity to create a more-than-special Mother’s Day gift.  I enjoyed connecting with Leah and learning that one of her favourite spots is the Custom Woolen Mill near Carstairs, Alberta.  I told her that I had grown up with the smell of raw wool and we gave each other a big hug.  Thanks to my gang of grade three friends who made the arrangement for this magical activity!

Some people might be fearful of age, aging and the changes that passing years bring.  For me, being 60 means a freedom to be and I stand firm in my gratitude for that.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Cell May 8, 2015 Franks, Needle Felting, Birthday 009

Birds Carrying Sticks

It was so cold and windy this morning, that I didn’t capture photos so much as I observed and sat with and enjoyed nature and her glory.

Spotted carrying sticks…osprey, heron, crow and hawk.

Birds are nesting and it is wondrous.  Nothing gives me more peace then seeing their instinctual determination.  I’m going to post a couple of my phone photos (YUCK!  I take them just to maintain an archive) and a few that I snapple from the web.  I saw a new couple today.

My photo of a Canvasback couple…lol.

Cell May 1, 2015 Birds Osprey Franks 009Here’s the real deal…Photo Credit: Craig Turner through the Chesapeake Conservancy.

CanvasbackI watched the osprey nesting for a good hour early this morning.  I remained in the car as it seems this is a very important time in the nesting schedule.  Max sat quietly the whole time.  The male kept leaving and coming back with more small twigs and tucking them in around the female.  It was so beautiful.  This was the period of time when I saw the heron gathering, as well as the hawk and crow.  It was so beautiful.

My sad little photo archive.

Cell May 1, 2015 Birds Osprey Franks 008

As I rolled away very slowly, five vehicles pulled up some distance away…the tripods and cameras came out and Calgary’s finest, the bird watchers and photographers were lined up and at it.  They seemed to be focusing on the huge gaggle of gulls that had arrived, as well as the variety of water ducks and geese.  I will watch the Birds Calgary blog site closely over the next while and hope to see some wonderful photographs.

The Enmax Osprey cam is on the nest located near the zoo…you can view activity here.

In the meantime, my grade threes continue to watch, daily, the activities at Duke Farm’s Live Eagle cam, recently noticing that the dark feathers are coming into replace the white baby fuzz on our two eaglets.  The student drawings are scientific observations and so darned sweet!

Cell April 26 and 27 Osprey Elm Tree 010Today, the pond and Frank’s Flats were overwhelmed with bird sounds and activities.  Max was on leash for much of the time because things are ‘happening’ and I don’t want him to create havoc.  The red winged blackbirds are busy courting; the crows are hanging closely around the nests and feeding areas of other like-minded hunters.  I saw one crow incessantly pick away at the osprey, perched on a telephone pole, tearing apart a ground squirrel.  What an amazing world we live in!

Did Mr. Take a Mistress?

I know!  You thought that because Mrs. and her fledglings seemed to be goners, that I would stop watching their nest, right?  Wrong!  Mr. sat and howled redundantly for two days and then disappeared for a day.

He looked like this.

P1170634I will never know if the nestlings fledged…any of them, successfully.  I have no idea if Mrs. was just off with them, doing flight lessons.  He appeared to be widowed by all of his behaviours, but what do I know?  Of course I then went to a variety of sites to read about the widows of the nest.  Interesting stuff.  I learned that even while building a nest and establishing a family unit, Mr. goes off routinely and messes around.  It isn’t unusual for the male sparrows to go off and find a mistress when they have been widowed and visa versa for the female sparrows.  I’m guessing with the huge magpie and grackle populations and with a lot of outdoor cats, the incidents of loss are also huge

I’ve looked at the images and I can’t really tell if Mrs. is Mrs. or if it is in fact, a new partner at the nest, but today…after days of beating around the grief bush, there is another.

This is the last photo I have of Mrs. the day before Mr. was spotted alone.

P1170590 P1170622This is lady-friend (Mrs.?) this morning.

P1170882They all look the same…right?

I’m just happy that Mr. is wearing a smile again.

P1170891P1170892 P1170893He’s doing a bit of performance puffing…she’s doing this jittery thing with her wings.

In following them to the feeder, I DID see a juvenile in high branches and a female feed it and then encourage it higher, into the branches above the house.  I’m wondering, of course, if the female and maybe one, two or three successful fledges weren’t just held up in high branches.  One will never know…but certainly, it makes for a good story!  lol

P1170889 P1170890Above…the lady of the house doing her wing shakes.  The story continues.

 

Feeling Bad For Dad

It was just yesterday that I photographed Mr.’s beautiful family…three babes and his lovely Mrs.

P1170607However, last evening held a huge wind storm and a driving rain.  This morning held no cries and demands from the nest.  I noticed as I was pouring my first cup of coffee.  It appeared that Mr. and Mrs. were hanging onto the duct tape searching into the nest, when an angry male (actual Mr.) swooped in with tremendous aggression…the female flying away and the male battling with Mr. and falling to the ground.  Mr. then moved in to his territory…but, alone.  It was such a sad sight.  I’m imagining that some situation was encountered in the night that left Mrs. fighting on behalf her young ones.  For some reason I’m not imagining a positive outcome and I feel a sense of loss.

Dad made himself as large as he could at the entrance to the nest all morning long and still calls out redundantly from the eve’s trough.  Instinctively, his role has disappeared.  I wonder how long before he accepts his loss.

P1170633 P1170634