Friday, July 18, 2008

here and there, this and that

Here,when I photographed the yellows and whites in my garden last week, the Romneya Coulteri (California tree poppy) buds were still doing this, beautifully. They're not at all subtle now, but they are stunning. I'm lucky to have a spot that is perfect for them, all gravelly and in direct sunshine, so the plant my friend Barb gave me several years ago has settled in nicely to remind me of her (now living in Saskatoon, where there are probably no romneya in her garden!)
And the nodding yellow lanterns of the clematis tangutica have turned themselves quite delightfully into these silky-tasseled seed heads. Very charming.
There, walking along the Caminho Florestale on the hillside opposite Quinta Moenda where we stayed in rural Portugal, there were also white and yellow flowers (and purple, yes) in this wild garden.

And in Lisbon, the wonderful, astonishing purple of the jacaranda tree
In the rural areas, the stone walls supported gardens of succulents
and various rock plants (something saxifrage-like, I think)
and again, in Lisbon, how gorgeous is this purple!
Here, on our little island, out for a run the other morning, I heard horrendous sounds coming from the heron rookery. Our resident biologist has been keeping us posted and apparently, of the original 22 active nests, at least 5 have failed to bald eagle attacks. So I approached the colony a bit anxiously, thinking that the noisy squawks might be aimed at a predator and that one of the young ones was in danger. At last report, over a week ago, there were 37 young left, then about 4 to 6 weeks old, but I'd heard that some had been taken from their nests since then and worried that I might be witness to another loss. Our biologist neighbour is involved in a Heron Working Group, a BC and Washington study of Great Blue Heron populations, and she says that overall it's been a very poor year for these dramatic, beautiful creatures with many larger colonies having failed -- ours is the only one left from Crofton to north of Parksville, with bald eagles the culprit everywhere.

But I saw something much more pleasant and enjoyed a very entertaining diversion from my run: perched right at the edge of a huge nest, a fledgling was actively resisting the efforts of the parent birds to push him out. They crowded him right to the edge, squawking their blood-curdling squawks, shoving and flapping their wings 'til eventually he reluctantly flapped his wings a bit and moved to a branch only metres away. Then as soon as he saw an opening, he was back at the nest. And lather, rinse, repeat, they went through the whole procedure again. Much determination on both sides, and I think by the time the old folks get that young 'un out, they'd better padlock the fridge and change the front door locks! I was there for ten or fifteen minutes, and it was pretty clear this was going to be an all-day undertaking and mom and dad might need a Scotch when they're done!

And in case those horrid squawks are still ringing in your imagination's ears, let me leave you with this from our daily walks to the village of Alvôco from Quinta Moenda. Passing this ruin, which appears to date from 1740
which is, unfortunately, as much as I can decipher from this inscription,we could look through this opening at the source of a gorgeously rural, very happy sound. It finally dawned on me one day, while saying that I wished I could record the auralscape as well as capture the visuals, that my camera would let me do exactly that. There's some chat in the last second or two that I didn't dare erase for fear of wiping out everything, but the sheep bells are well worth the ten or so seconds of listening time -- I'm sure they'll lead you into the weekend with a smile!


  1. I know the sound of herons shrieking very well, having lived across the street from the rookery in Beacon Hill Park! It's how I imagine pterodactyls would have sounded, only more so. The one consolation for me is that while the eagles harass the herons and attack their nests (often in the early morning hours- making sleep difficult for human neighbours) the crows harass the eagles. I'd often see 3 or 4 crows working together to aerially accost the local eagles.

  2. What beautiful music those bell make, thank you!

  3. Miss R: maybe the biologists need to work with crows so their attacks can be more strategic, in defense of the young herons!
    duchesse: aren't they lovely? I'd go back just to hear that music again (meanwhile, I just play my little video)

  4. Wow, those bells are amazing.

    How fun that you got to have your own short National Geographic special. Yesterday when I was out walking the dogs, a mockingbird was making a sound like an radio static and dive bombing a nearby crow. Your bird moment was much more charming.

    We have jacaranda trees here too, planted in the neighborhood park and as street trees on one side street. They don't get as brilliant as you'll see further south (Mexico), but they are really pretty in bloom. The downside is that they're very messy. The blossoms are sticky and will pit the paint of cars if allowed to sit.

  5. good description, Pseu. I did feel as if I was in a National Geographic documentary. We don't have mockingbirds here, so I'll have to try to imagine your scene -- not too many birds take on the crows though.
    And I'm glad to hear there are downsides to the jacaranda -- otherwise, the envy would be all-consuming here!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...