Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Connections -- Generations, Species

The girls and I enjoyed our walk yesterday and they had fun trying to identify what vegetables might grow from what plants, based primarily on what kind of leaves they saw. There's a Little Diggers program at our Community Gardens, and the girls were curious about, then envious of, all the neatly-arranged child-sized tools and implements.
But even more exciting was our stop by the heron rookery where the younger generation will soon be getting a big shove out of the nests but for now are still enjoying free meals. At first, from the ground and through the tall trees, the girls couldn't see what I was pointing at, although they could hear the impatient, incessant squawking of the youngsters.
But as they kept watching carefully, some of the shapes began to move, and they were soon able to distinguish individual herons and count the numerous nests.
It was especially exciting to follow the incoming flight of those adults returning from their grocery-shopping expeditions with bills full of fish.

And quite thrilling to watch the transfer of such food to young mouths -- and either sobering or inspiring (depending on one's age and perspective) to realize how much work these adult birds do, hunting and transporting food in quantities sufficient to feed something else almost their own size. I know I first remarked on this phenomenon quite a few years ago as I walked home carrying heavy grocery bags filled with milk for my then-teenage son and felt a certain kinship with these oddly beautiful birds and their unlikely homes in the sky (the size of those nests! the brilliant inattention to gravity!).
We were also lucky enough, from the girls' perspective, to have this summer's edition of Rocky the Raccoon stop by the front door to check whether the cat was interested in sharing her food. Both nights, so far -- enough so that perhaps they will come to share my ennui with the enterprise and take to scaring Rocky away along with me. When the rain lightens up, we'll go for a walk and see if we might surprise a deer -- I haven't seen one for a week or two, so it's about time, and I know they'd be delighted. What about you? Any wildlife in your neighbourhood?


  1. Fabulous pictures! One of the things I enjoyed about my short stint of boat living back in the 1980's was being surrounded by wildlife: herons, otters and the like.

    We have lots of crows, the occasional red-tailed hawk, a pair of mallard ducks who summer in our neighborhood and can count on many of our neighbors for food, many squirrels who love to taunt my dogs, and the occasional skunk or possum.

  2. The only wildlife I have seen are tiny gekko lizards which wizz around the driveway and then disappear into the decorative brickwork.

    I'll be offline for a couple of weeks - driving to Italy tomorrow, then through to the south of France (wooo!). Enjoy the rest of your summer, look forward to catching up with you at the end of the month. Patricia

  3. We have oodles of bunnies that live all around our building. Where we lived before we had red fox, squirrels, raccoons, bunnies, chipmunks and the most fantastic birds. It is so nice to share your environment with other animals( as long as they are outside;-).

  4. How wonderful to witness and capture such great moments. Thank you for sharing the photos.

  5. Pseu: Skunks, eh? -- yikes! I hadn't realized these guys could adapt so well to urban living 'til I came across one waddling down a West End Vanc'r street one night several years ago. Since then, I've found that kind of meeting to be a fairly regular event, and I shudder to think about those poor dog-owners returning to their 500 sq. ft. apartment with a pup who surprised a skunk on his evening walk!
    Patricia: I love those little lizards (which we don't have here, sadly) -- enjoy your vacation! sounds wonderful!
    LBR: Yes, I like a clear division between inside and outside -- neighbours have had their kitchens torn apart by raccoons -- definitely not cute.
    Gina: I was happy to be able to grab these shots, although I wish I'd had the better camera.

  6. Wonderful photos and story...wish I was there to see the girls faces...they might have told you we followed the baby eagle website and they really enjoyed....local wildlife on our back porch of late would be the spotting of fruit bats that seem to enjoy flying around our cherry tree.....reminded me of our experience on Queens Avenue with the trapping of the sure Hilary remembers well...

  7. We have would you believe a Heron Rookery in Beckenham park, close to where we live. It is an amazing site and watched by 7 or 8 twitchers during the nesting season. I am always brought to a standstill when I see a heron flying overhead or in our garden. They have such majesty.
    My favourite adolescent birds are the teenage crows that despite being old enough to feed themselves continue to stalk and harass their parents around our local park, like mini harridans.
    You can't beat however the House Martins that fly so fast I am continually amazed they do not collide.

  8. We have possums (who occasionally come inside), many birds (including the sulphur-crested cockatoo), frogs, native bushrats and an unfortunate number of spiders! And we're five km from the centre of the city.

  9. Kathy: We get bats here, but I forget what kind they are -- just know that they're great for keeping the mosquitos at bay. I also know that while I love seeing them at dusk, outside, I wouldn't be too happy to have one inside!
    Alison: Does your rookery reek as ours does? Nothing like a diet of fish and an on-site toilet!
    Tiffany: That's an impressive line-up so close to the city centre -- do the possums make a mess when they come inside? and are they hard to evict?

  10. What a great holiday they're having with you, and how lucky are you to through their eyes!
    we have a gully just behind our house so we get all sorts of wildlife in our area.There's a beautiful woodpecker that wakes me up lots of mornings. I've been spooked my a huge owl twice on my morning dog walks. Marleys' been sprayed 3 times by a skunk! and I've almost tripped on a possum that snuck out of a bush just in front of me(very very creepy). And yes Kathy's right I do remember the bat in the house,still have nightmares about it.

  11. Hilary: We are having a great time together -- I've even been reading them Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, first time I've had a chance to read to kids for ages!
    I had no idea we had opossums in BC so I did some quick googling after I read your comment, and I see they're pretty much limited to the Lower Mainland AND that you have to be pretty savvy to spot them -- lucky you!
    Not so lucky you, having to contend with a skunk-sprayed dog, but at least you can leave him outdoors unlike the unfortunate West End apartment dwellers. btw, I hope Marley's recovering from his surgery.

  12. We too have an unusual amount of wildlife for downtown city living , because we live near a spit that's a wilderness area. Besides raccoons and skunks, the occasional fox. Many birds, and once, a vibrant exotic parrot (escaped! I called the Humane Society.) But bats are not welcome; we had a cat who hunted them (and then dropped them on bed while we slept); we used to track his 'batting average'.

  13. Duchesse: I hope your cat made sure they were dead before he deposited them -- if you read my sisters' comments above, you'll see they had a nightmare episode with a bat indoors.
    What an array of wildlife you have right downtown!

  14. It's funny how the herons really blend into the twigginess of the tree branches...And their bodies sort of repeat the shapes of the nests....No, I didn't just smoke pot, I promise!

  15. Oh meant to tell you about the hundreds of wild peacocks in our town. They are beautiful, but a nuissance to many for their loud cawing and their large poops.

  16. Karen, you're absolutely right -- even big as they and their nests are, it can be hard to spot them in the trees until guided by movement or sound.
    As for those wild peacocks, hundreds would be some crazy, crazy cacophony! I remember an apple orchard we used to visit years ago had a few pair and their screeches were not what I'd want to have next door. How did yours end up there? Are they all descendants of a few introduced pairs that got very comfy in their new environment?


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