One Tree: One Hour July 8, 2020

This afternoon, while at the river, I decided to stand still beside one tree for an hour and document what I saw. This was an amazing exercise as I was able to reflect on springtime at this location and what I have observed since the snow melted and things came to life.

Steven (my grandson) and I discovered a nest in this tree quite early in the spring. An adult Robin was seen nesting for a matter of weeks and next, we noticed an adult Cedar Waxwing, her banded eyes, popping up above the nest. Today, mother Robin was the first bird that I spotted in the tree.

One of her ‘fledged’ was redundantly chirping from a higher branch…so…in a matter of minutes…

I watched the adult deliver the goods and saw the youngster move from branch to branch, eventually leaving and finding rest in a neighbouring tree.

The Cedar Waxwings seem to have some investment in this tree…its location…its resources because they were agitated, but not dive-bombing, because I was there. I always think that photographs of Cedar Waxwings look ‘fixed’ or manipulated. These birds look so unreal. But, no, this is how they look and the experience of them in real time is even more fantastical. These are only three representative photographs.

The Grey Catbirds are still very skittish, but this batch seem to be getting to know the lady who stands around and really does no harm. I found that they were more courageous today, even doing their remarkable call that secures their name, in my presence.

I kept looking over my shoulder into the brush behind me because Yellow Warblers were playing couples chase games, weaving in and out regardless of the blustery wind. I haven’t had a clear photograph of a Yellow Warbler this year, so I was delighted when I turned back to the tree and saw this little guy fully present and almost looking at me. Quick! Snap!

A female Eastern Kingbird took time to land and say hello, and then in her typical style, she took off, circled, landed, took off, circled, landed. I saw a male a short while earlier, but won’t include him here because these were all visible in a single tree.

A quick photo after noticing a Least Flycatcher…of course she turned her back on me and disappeared into the wood immediately after this shot.

And what would one nesting tree be without a female Brown Headed Cowbird? I’m sure that at this time of year, she is ferrying about, taking note of what birds are feeding her progeny.

And finally, as I looked down at my feet, this Northern Flicker was happily consuming ants on the pathway.

I managed to garner a few more mosquito bites than usual, but I enjoyed standing still to observe what birds might visit a single ecosystem over time.

As I continued on my circle at the river, these were a couple of the sights I took in. Another magical afternoon! Juvenile Spotted Sandpiper balancing on fencing in a huge wind. I got some really comical photos in this series.

Another clutch of Mallards…

The two juvenile Bald Eagles were holding on for dear life as their nesting canopy was swinging in the wind. I didn’t see Mr. or Mrs.

Advice to my readers…sometimes, just sit/stand still. You will be amazed.

Tails From the Vent!

The only people who ever read this blog are people who know and love me.  Some of the content is simply ridiculous.  My readers know, all too well, that I am also all about ritualizing my life…circling a pond every day, watching an eagle’s nest every day, following the nesting narrative of a Suburbian vent every spring…and it goes on and on.

Well, this spring there has been a twist at said vent.  If my readers look back into my archives, they will note that the vent has changed shape over the years as one piece after another has dropped off.  This, I believe, has contributed to the evolving bird narrative that makes up the history of the vent.  I’ll make it easy for you. (Laughing my head off.)  Here are the links!  I’m now going to pour a glass of wine.  After all, it’s Friday!

Uh Oh: Bird Tales From the Vent 2020

What a Difference a Day Can Make: 2019 at the Vent 2019

Venting! 2018

Venting…Again! 2018

You Know You Want to Ask!! 2018

Evicted! 2018

Drama Out the Kitchen Window 2018

Birds Art Life by Kyo Maclear 2017

May and June 2016

Mr. Found a New Mrs. 2015

Did Mr. Take a Mistress? 2014

Nesting 2013

Life and Death 2013

Livin’ ‘er up at the Ritz! 2012

This year, I’ve had the opportunity to watch a new sort of drama unfold as I’ve observed a single adult Pigeon nurture two wee Pigeons to life, one egg being tugged out of the nest, fairly early in the game, or we might have had three.  (And yes, I did see Pigeons, this season, but some distance from my house, in the act of copulation.)  I’m really getting an education!

It’s interesting what rituals birds hold, as watching Pigeons has been very different from watching House Sparrows or Northern Flickers.  Every evening around seven, I hear the adult (I like to imagine that it’s Mom.) cooing from the top of my roof. (I know.  I’m almost certain there are some surprises-not-surprises up there on my roof, as a result.)  No other Pigeons show up, though, just the one mauve iridescent adult.  This has been very-much a solitary exercise.  And who knows…what the heck is she feeding them?  Pigeons have always struck me as being a little dumb.  Are they?

Before this, I always wondered why I hadn’t ever seen a young pigeon…in fact, I’ve wondered the same thing about American Pelicans.

Well, this year, I’ve seen the funny little guys….and of course, I’m going to document.  These aren’t great photos because they are taken through the screen of my kitchen window.  Every year I learn something new about birds while washing up my supper dishes or while making my morning coffee.  Life is so very good and so very interesting.

Mom thought this little guy was being a bit too adventurous this evening and from no where, a big flutter and the two disappeared into their cave.

This is the sweetest….if you look at the silhouette, you will see her.  I’ve never seen her on my roof.  She is very discreet.  But, I’ve captured her presence, singing the evening lullaby to her two little ones.

 

 

 

 

 

Uh Oh: Bird Tales From the Vent

Just recently, I’ve been publicly shamed on social media for asking for photo credit and explaining my distaste for the blast of photographs being published on line of members of the public, hoarding or standing in long lines in store environments. Just my opinion, but these photographs fall into the same category as Wal-Mart shopper photos, babies having temper tantrum photos and Fat Lady photos. I just don’t get what the purpose is? Oh…I received the explanation that publishing the photo of a profiteer who was bragging about the resale potential of a cart load of thermometers had shifted the behaviour of the big box stores and convinced them to limit sales. (all myth and absolutely no idea WHO the person was and what the product was and what the motivation was) Bull Winkle Twinkle Fairy Dust! Are you kidding? Social media photographs do not convince companies such as Home Depot to change their policies? And as a follow-up, it’s interesting that Reddit has deleted the photograph, while the legacy of hateful comments remain spouting off about Capitalism and such. Haters need to hate.

I digress. Because I spoke out about the negativity of such content being shared over and over again in formats such as Reddit and Facebook, I was labeled a lunatic who takes pictures of baby deer and eagles and was reminded that I am dumber than door nails. Too bad. I look at the fact that this person didn’t read or take in my concerns or my views on this subject. He only saw his own perspective and then BLACK OUT….the thread disappeared and the big BLOCK happened. Wow! UH OH!!! I’m telling my readers, we are living in very troubled times. Kindness is required.

And…back to the ‘baby deer and eagle photos’. It is my choice to try to retain a positive expression of social media. If I get so rattled, in real time, about something political or what I view to be a social injustice, I might post, but you will notice those discussions/threads disappear off of my social media within days. I think that what the world needs at the best and the worst of times is positivity, enlightenment and gratitude. If readers/posters want to be miserable all of the time, it’s their prerogative. There is room in the world for all of us. Just don’t block me, shut me down, silence me when I wish to share an opinion along the way.

Check out ethical practice when it comes to posting photos, specifically to shame others.

On the subject of this post…another big UH OH! Some of you have followed Tales from the Vent over the past seven years. At my kitchen sink and window, I find myself in close proximity to my neighbour’s vent. Over the years, this has typically provided a nesting site for House Sparrows, but the past few years, there have been nest wars between Northern Flickers and House Sparrows. Well, look here, what was spotted this morning at the vent. OH NO! Pigeon poop potential! It’s going to be interesting to see what happens this season. I’ll keep you up to date!

Just a Peek Through a Secret Door

This morning at Mass, Father Krzysztof spoke of those moments of grace when a person experiences a flash of insight where revelation arises.  He talked about the importance of taking pause and giving time to reflect upon these insights in order that these not disappear into memory, but rather, so that they might impact the present moment, our actions or possibly even the course of our lives.

He began with the story of a night when the stars fell.  Over 200,000 meteors blazed through the night and into the morning of November 12, 1833, astounding people of the entire world. Can you imagine how such a sight such as this might take your breath away?  I know that almost every day, I feel that I’m watching 200,000 meteors flying across a dark sky.  In fact, I feel this way every time I am with my grandson.

In the telling of this story, I reflected a little on the circle I walk each day at the river and how by taking pause, I come to an experience of peaceful revelation and renewal.

I also remembered my student’s magic journals, written over the years.  Based on the journals written by protagonist, Douglas Spaulding, of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, I asked my students to write down their daily revelations in a ‘magic journal’.  Some of the students strongly disliked these.  And, a lot of the time, their parents disliked them more.

But, as I pondered these matters today at Mass, I have no regrets for my efforts with these students.  This is a practice of ‘noticing’ that I deeply treasure.  If the students approached this journal with a lack of sincerity and if my efforts were not appreciated by parents, it matters not…to this day, I am grateful that I followed through with this exercise.  This is insight that we can all benefit from.

Wonder and Awe

Yesterday morning, at the edge of the Bow River, I met the new female Bald Eagle. I’ve been observing for the same nest for six years. I’m uncertain, still, about what happened to Mrs., the older female that had raised several young successfully over the years. She was a powerful bird, but last year, was looking a little haggard. From what I’ve read, she would have been either killed or pushed out of the territory by a younger female eagle. It is the way of youth and age.

This photo archives the last evening that I observed Mr. and Mrs. together at the Bow. The female is always slightly larger in breadth than the male. She is sitting on the left.

The photo, below, is from one of the last series I took of our Mrs., this after a series that showed that likely she had an injury to the talons on her left leg.

A young four/five year old appeared out of nowhere soon after, replacing Mom, in her amazing efforts to raise and feed the newly fledged juveniles. I took to calling her ‘the huntress’ because she had such a remarkable speed and was so generous in providing food for the two juveniles. I never captured a clear photograph of her with my Canon Powershot, but will see if I can’t get permission to post a friend’s photograph later.

The juveniles, now a year old, if they have managed through the winter, are now called Immature Eagles. They show slight mottling of the brown feathers and a little bit of yellow coming into their steely blue-grey beaks. I think that only one remains, but not really certain because after six weeks with the adults, they are pushed out of the hunting territory and forced to hunt on their own. I’ve made several sightings this winter of an Immature Eagle and also a two year old that is likely the one surviving fledge from the 2018 nest. Only 2% of Bald Eagles make it through their first winter.

A huge cold snap locked Calgary into -40 temperatures (with wind chill) for over a week and during that time, the huntress disappeared, although I made several sightings of Mr.

Then, something curious happened. Several of the Bow River birders and photographers were posting photographs of a new raptor, easily identifiable by her beautiful streamlined head and beak. My first observation of her was at a great distance above the river, looking down at her feeding on a deer carcass with an Immature eagle.

And now…I arrive at the ‘wonder and awe’ theme. Yesterday morning, I arrived at the river’s edge while the weather was still a melt. The wind blew ferociously the night before and melting snow puddled the banks and the pathways. I spotted her immediately and archived several amazing moments as this beautiful new female brought two large branches to build up railings at the nest. Shortly after, she and Mr. began to hunt together, soaring in circles, flying south, then returning to me until finally, she landed in a branch on my side of the river and with a good view of hundreds of Common Goldeneyes that were gathered too close for their own good.

My mouth dropped and I quickly started snapping photos. Three times, she left and returned, each time swooping low above the alarmed birds and then returning. This new female Bald Eagle is incredible and it will be a fantastic year, watching any nesting outcomes. Clearly younger, she is sleek looking and is very powerful.

First Fledge: A Photo Journal July 12, 2019

Adult eagle is supporting the fledgling.

From my distance, it looks as though the youngster is bound up in the branches.

I am in awe of the adult who is listening to the vocalizations of the youngster, all the while, trying to problem solve.

At this point, I am wondering if the adult has tried to feed the youngster.

Junior is so upset and the adult just patiently stands by.

This is not a place where the adults have ever set down…balance? how?

The adult swoops down low and flies over the river, setting down just across from me for drinks and a quick bath. At this point, this is looking like Dad. I’m assuming Ma is over addressing any needs with Jr. still at the nest

Dad goes back to a location near enough Jr. that he can keep an eye…and a place where he can have some comfort.

He watches.

At this point I’m noticing that Jr. has enough wiggle room…something that worried me originally.

Wondering what the night will hold, but so excited for flight and for small things, growing brave.

Download

It has been a cool and wet few days in Calgary, even to the point where we received a skiff of snow in September!  I was cautioned that I had no room remaining on my cell phone, so yesterday I downloaded from my album onto my desktop hard drive.  The thing about downloaded photographs is that I was, once again, reminded that life has sped by, filled to the brim, even in the most simple or dark circumstances.  There is so much that I haven’t written about or recorded.

I’ve read several books since spring and would really like to update my reviews, even if they are sparse.  So, that will likely still happen.  But, for today, I feel my thoughts are incredibly influenced by the book I am presently reading, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.  It is my new favourite book.  I am profoundly moved by it and I’m hanging on every word.

As a result of this reading, I want to post a few photographs from recent walks at the Bow River.  Yesterday, Max and I headed out in the rain.

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When the earth is wet, there is such a rich and beautiful aroma that surrounds me while passing through the woods and beside the river.  I am at a loss for words to describe this because any description would not do the experience justice.  Also, there is a hush, apart from the drops of rain coming down from the tree canopy…it is a mystical silence…peaceful, even though I know that the entire landscape is vibrating with life in hiding.

Yesterday, stepping about in tall overgrowth, Max and I took pause…listened.  I heard a hollow clomping sound on round river stone, just to our right.  Uncertain, we remained still.  I held my breath and listened.  Max was alert.  I was alert.  A few more steps.  Stop.  A few more. Stop.  When once we began again, with a great explosion, a young deer sprung out and wildly flew deep into the trees.  Max erupted into a fit of barking and it felt like everything around us woke up!

I watched the juvenile Bald Eagle, an Osprey, a Hawk, Cormorants and Pelicans all struggle to find sustenance.  It was so amazing to watch the dynamic and to appreciate the effort involved.  At a point, the Bald Eagle, displaying his remarkable wingspan, swooped down upon an American Pelican.  He is not yet adept at his hunting and is frequently cutting corners by having others do his work for him.  Similarly, he dove into a gathering of Cormorants, investigating the possibility that there might be food among the opportunists.

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The Osprey, tucked secretly in the dark shadows of trees, swooped out aggressively, in order to give chase to the Hawk…crying out desperately as he flew so fast that I couldn’t identify him.  He had shared the east side of the river with me for a while, tearing into the hedges and thick shrubs and sage, likely in pursuit of rabbits and other small animals.  There was never a chance to get a good photograph.

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The Bald Eagle juvenile was looking intently from his low perch,  at these Killdeer…there were scores of them across the river from me.  If you’ve heard a single Killdeer, you may understand why the Bald Eagle is drawn to a location where twenty…maybe thirty…are calling out.

Can you spot two in the photograph below?

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Can you spot the Osprey here?

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I have watched the eagles for a little over a year now…given Michael’s prompting to leave the pond during the rip and tear of the Southwest Ring Road development.  I am so grateful for the life I have been able to observe at this location and for the healing experience this daily walk has begun in me.  As I write this post, I am feeling very blessed for a whole lot of reasons.  I hope that if my readers feel sometimes that life, like a sweater, is unraveling, one source of divine life and love can be found in an intimate relationship with nature.  I know that it’s helped me.  Here are a few other moments with the raptors this year.

 

 

I have been blessed by my walks at the river this weekend…I keep saying to myself, through winter, I don’t want to forget the purple.  I don’t want to forget the gold and red.  I will carry it with me.

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Stern Border Service Officers

All I could think about was getting over that border and getting to my treasured friend, Ramona.  The morning light was heavenly.  I left the little town of Raymond, drove east and then at the intersection, turned south for the Sweetgrass Hills.

To the right, I passed wetlands and identified American Advocets and a large group of Black-necked Stilts.  On road trips, one can not possibly stop often enough to capture all of the wonder as it slips past.  I was happy to see many winged friends and to see the vast beauty that is southern Alberta.  The past ten years or so I’ve made my life all about the fleeting moments and the tremendous beauty that reveals itself in familiar places.  I’m not big into world travel…but, I’m big into deepening my relationship with what is close up, if that makes any sense at all.  We all do life in our own particular way.

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At the border, I was met by a very stern border service officer.  Oh my goodness…a 63 year old lady approaches and ‘you have the need to be miserable’.  Mayhaps I was bringing some sort of bias to the experience. “Pull around and park in the back.  An officer will meet you there.”  Sure…okay.

The officer who joined me a short while later was much more pleasant.  She covered an agricultural survey with me and shuffled through my belongings in the vehicle…most concerned with plant matter, foods…yes, I get it.  And then I was on my way after sharing with her some pleasantries about high school years in Great Falls.

Continuing on to Shelby, I thought about the lack of gun controls…the shift in thinking.  I remembered how grateful I was to be a Canadian.  I looked forward to making Great Falls.  Once there, I contemplated taking time to visit special places and special people that remain.  I sat in the parking lot of the Flying J and felt so close to the memories of home that my family built in this place…thought of my friends and the house on Fox Farm Road.  I decided that this wouldn’t be the trip for packing in too much.  I needed to sip on my lemonade and enjoy the landscape.  I would have to make another opportunity to do all of the rest of it.

I love the landscape just south of Great Falls…Holter…and Prickly Pear.  There is only one place to stop and so it’s a chore to be overcome with the extreme beauty and at the same time, in a photo-crazy world like ours, not to be able to archive it.  I pulled over at the only stop on my side of the I-15.

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I thought about my Dad and wondered why the heck he wasn’t on this road trip with me.  I love to drive with my father.  These are places he knows and loves far better than I!

Onward!

In Helena, I had my first learning about roaming data charges.  Sigh.  Enough said.  Bob and Dan, I tried to track you down.  I thought I had an hour to play with in Helena.  Sorry.  I left your deets at home in my address book. (roaming, YOU SUCK!)

I had no recollection of the places I saw south of Helena, although I’ve traveled that road…a couple of times with a long-haul trucker, a few times traveling to see my parents in Colorado Springs, Colorado and likely before that, travels to various speech team competitions.  What I haven’t done is turned off into la la land at the Divide exit, west…Wise River…Wisdom…and all of that.  There were zero opportunities to take photographs of the wondrous landscape that unfolded after that turn off from the I-15 and my mind set to wondering as I saw such beauty reveal itself.  I thought about my new-found cousin, Charlene, who lives in Idaho Falls and a bit of a remote feeling took over me, that likely I wouldn’t be able to meet her on this trip.  All of a sudden, I heard the words escape my mouth…

“This is all for you, Kath.”  And yes…there were some tears.  The crystal blue waters weaving through verdant miles were beyond description.  The rugged rock reached vertical to either side of me.  I was overcome with beauty.

As I pulled to the right into the Big Hole National Battlefield, I felt exhausted, but so grateful.  Swallows seemed to beckon me.  I knew that Ramona would be working her shift in the visitor’s center, but decided to spend a few quiet moments looking over the valley.  Again, time just for me.  I knew that this place held huge spiritual energy and that the history for the Nez Perce peoples on this land held such provision and at the same time, horror, that I wanted to be present to the moment.  And then…Ramona.

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Today’s Birds: May 13, 2017

I should be out gardening.  I am typically well ahead of the neighbours, but with owwies in the elbow this year, I’m lagging.  That doesn’t stop me from feeling fired up, however, as I listen to the sound of the neighbouring trimmers, lawnmowers and the stchhhh stchhhh of their sprinklers.

It’s pretty nice getting outside for long hikes, without the lawn work, I’ve got to say.

Here are today’s birds…all at Frank’s Flats.  I continue to hope that the pond on the other side of the chain link fence isn’t drained until the fledge happens.  We’ve a lot of nesting water birds at the moment.  We have one widowed Goose (female, I think), as well as a widowed Mallard (male).  They were hanging out together for quite a bit today. However, as I snapped a photograph, the Mallard flew out of frame.

No smiling at the pond these days!  If I smiled, I would eat my weight in bugs.  Must be the reason for the excitement on the water.  The gulls, laughing in a wild frenzy, are annoying the other birds.  The Yellow-headed Blackbirds seem to be pecking away in the huge batch of blooming dandelions.

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Giving me the Stare Down!

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Female Blackbird

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Female Blackbird

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Black Headed Gull

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More than a few…and Noisy!

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One of the Male Grebes Having a Float

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Overseeing his possibilities.

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Female Blackbirds checking out the Men. So many visible, while for weeks, the men were out there doing the soft shoe on the cat tails on their own.

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Cranky Pants

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Widowed Two Weeks Ago

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This must be my O’ Canada Photograph

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Looking Up

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Chain Link Fence and Wigeon

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Gadwells and Gull

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Savannah Sparrow

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Male Red-Winged Blackbird Giving a Shout

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One Photograph was edited today. Guess which one? (Not this one)

Today’s Birds: April 12, 2017

My favourite image captured today was a simple one of three geese.  They seemed to be suspended or floating on perfectly calm pond water.  Obviously just as curious about me, we spent about five minutes exchanging gazes, alternating with times looking at the environment that surrounded us.

I spent a great deal of time enjoying the antics of the Goldeneyes, also, but, at their preferred distance from me, very little again, in the way of successful capture.

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Likely 50 male Goldeneyes at Frank’s Flats today and a continued effort at capturing their ridiculous courting rituals.

I think this little girl is a female Wigeon.  (Thank you, Miles…I’ve had a ‘real birder’ let me know that this is, in fact, a Gadwell.) I had seen a male at the pond on April 11.Today, I also spotted a single male Bufflehead.  He was unobtrusively wandering through the Goldeneye chaos.

A very fuzzy image to document his presence…