Archive for the ‘birds’ Tag

Leading the Pack   6 comments

Canadian Geese, geese, Canada, British Columbia, Reifel Island, birds, formation

Found these Canadian Geese on a summer stroll at Reifel Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary south of Vancouver in British Columbia, Canada.



Black Stare   12 comments

Sea gull, gull, seagull, black eyes, eyes, bird, sea, beak


Day 233 – How About Some Whiskey, Jack?   2 comments

Whiskey Jacks at Whistler Summit in BC

This title came into my head about three weeks ago and even with age, it’s still not very clever.  This bird is a Gray Jay, also known as a Canada Jay or as a Whiskey Jack. These birds are known for their boldness in approaching humans for food. We encountered these birds around the summit of Whistler. As soon as we entered their territory (about 7km into our hike), they started checking us out.

As we stopped by a pond for a rest and some photos, a few gray jays came in to check us for food. At one point, I was taking pictures and one of my friends says “Mike, there’s a whiskey jack right beside you”. I turn to see and can’t see anything. I’m looking around and she says, “No, it’s right beside you”. I’m turning back and forth with my camera at the ready and still can’t find it. Finally I lower the camera and there it was below my camera less than 1 metre away looking up at me expectantly. It was so close, I couldn’t even take a picture. I had a long lens on the camera that doesn’t focus closer than 1.8m.

This is when my friend explains how bold these birds are and they’ll even come land on your hand if you hold it out as she proceeded to demonstrate. Because these birds are so bold, they are very easy to capture (with the camera). So, it you want some pictures of Gray Jays, just head on up to the summit of Whistler. It’s a beautiful view and the birds are very friendly.

Day 219 – Duck!   4 comments

Okay. So, if I’m going to continue telling camping stories, I have to admit something about the way we camp. I have to admit to being a car camper. Sure, we tent. We’re still roughing it. Sort of. But I must also admit to using air mattresses. Back in my youth, I remember roughing it with one of those flat blue pads that you roll up and tie with nothing more than a piece of string. In grade 12 I even did a 24 hour solo and camped out in the snow with nothing but a sleeping bag and a big sheet of plastic tarp for a tent.

Since then, I’ve grown soft. Comfort has apparently become a higher priority. We graduated from the blue mats to thin, self-inflating sleeping pads. They’re okay, but a bit thin. Most recently, we’ve shifted to full-size inflatable air mattresses. The kind you might put out for guests in your home if all the real beds were full. Honestly, I’m still a bit embarrassed. It really kills my camping cred when the air mattresses come out. To make it worse, we now fill our air mattresses with an electric pump that we power from the car. Back country campers we are not.

On the bright side though, I like to think we now save lives. A little while back, we had set up camp and were just watching the campground slowly fill up as we prepared dinner. A couple in a car pull up next to us and get their tent setup. Like us, they enjoy the comfort of air mattresses. Unlike us, they did not have a pump. I realized they didn’t have a pump when the woman had her boyfriend turn on the car and then she held the valve on the mattress to their exhaust pipe!

Recovering from the shock of this remarkably bad move on her part, I ran to the car to get our pump and brought it over to offer them a safer alternative to the slow-death-by-carbon-monoxide-poisoning that they seemed to have planned for that night. The boyfriend just laughed and said “Yeah, she’s crazy. Does this all the time”.

[sorry, I know that story had nothing to do with ducks, but the duck picture caught my eye tonight.]

Day 218 – Fly Away! Fly Away!   8 comments

Speaking of camping, if yesterday’s story was about a dry camping trip, today’s is about a wet one.

This particular weekend, we decided to set out northwest of Melbourne to a campsite called Mount Franklin. The campground sits in the crater of a long extinct volcano. We arrived early in the afternoon and set up camp a few meters back from the road under a big, sprawling tree.

We then headed out to check out the nearby town of Daylesford. While we were there, we got caught in a brief, but heavy rain. We scrambled for some shelter. After 15 minutes, it was all over. Thought nothing more of it. After spending the afternoon out, we headed back to camp only to find the rain had hit pretty hard inside the crater of the long extinct volcano.

While we were away, our tent found itself in the middle of a flash flood. There was a clear path where lots of water had rushed down the hillside and around our tent. Mud had flowed down the hill and buried the sides of the tent. Plus, the tent was now sitting at the edge of a newly formed lake that made the road virtually unpassable. While the tent was thankfully dry inside we thought it best to move to higher ground.

At our new spot, we set up our dining tent – helps keep the flies away – good for eating in peace. It has a top, but the sides are all screened. It’s not waterproof. That was okay though. The rain had passed.

Of course, while preparing dinner, it started raining again. We took shelter in our dining tent to eat. It afforded us a bit of protection, but we were definitely getting a little wet around the edges. After a little glow-stick entertainment for the kids, we packed off to bed. Come morning the rain was still coming down and while we had stayed dry, our dining tent did not fare so well. It managed to capture a good 10cm (4″) of water. Our very own wading pool.

We decided to cancel that camping trip and fly away home after just the one night.


Day 217 – Kookaburra Sits On The Old Gum Tree   2 comments

A year and a half ago, we were camping northeast of Melbourne. We had found a campground that was nestled around a lake whose name is eluding me at the moment. We hadn’t been there before, but based on the state website, it sounded good. We arrived on a hot afternoon. The sun was high in the sky and the temperature was in the low 30s (C). The camp sites  themselves were dry and sandy, but they were surrounded with a lot of greenery.

As we were getting out of the car I sent the kids off to check out the lake “just on the other side of those bushes” (as per the map) and I and the wife started setting up the tent. The kids came back about five minutes later telling us there was no lake. Well, I don’t know about your kids, but when mine say they looked really hard for something, it usually means they had a quick glance around and whatever they were looking for didn’t jump up and say hello. I rolled my eyes and took them in hand to see what there was to see.

Needless to say, they were right. There was no lake where the map clearly showed there was a lake. Our campsite was there, the fire pit (as per the map) was there. The tie-ups for the boats were even there. But no lake. Ok, we thought. That’s a bit of a mystery, but there’s a park ranger about five minutes back up the road. We’ll just go ask.

Speaking to the 20-something ranger, I learned that the lake had receded some years back. I asked if we could walk to the lake from our campground. She said “Sure, but I’d pack a lunch”. Turns out the lake was some 3km from our campground. I see. I asked her if the campground had actually been lakeside in living memory and she said “not mine”. Not in her living memory has the lake been camp side. Interesting. On further questioning, I learned the lake had actually dried out back in the 80s. They were actually really excited this year because the lake was deep enough to take boats out on it.

I think now I know why these particular kookaburras were sitting in their old gum tree having a good old laugh at us.

Day 216 – What Is It About Pelicans?   8 comments

Apparently there’s something about pelicans for me. They are such a photogenic bird. I’m thinking that may be enough of pelicans though. While I have plenty more, my blog might start being mistaken for a blog that’s just about pelicans.

So I mentioned yesterday that we spent the weekend outside Banff NP. Well, it wasn’t just us in the Banff area. I went out to do some shooting on Sunday and it looked like most of Calgary was taking advantage of the last long weekend before winter rolls in.

If you’re going to stay overnight in the National Park or visit any of the hikes/locations outside the town of Banff, you need a park pass.  If you don’t have an annual pass (we do), you need to pick up a pass on your way in. As we approached the entrance, we came upon what looked like a hundred cars queuing up to buy passes. We thought we’d made a mistake heading into the park until we saw the lane for people with annual passes and just sailed on past.

As we passed by all the parked cars, the kids started saying something along the lines of “Haha! Suckers!”. I told them that was wrong and we shouldn’t say things like that. Of course, I may, possibly have been thinking the same thing. Probably not, but you know, just maybe.