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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Before I left Victoria for the trip home, I took some photos of the Provincial Parliament Buildings which are usually all lit up with white bulbs.  During this time, the buildings were outlined in a more seasonal display.  Quite magical.

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As the door of one year closes, another one opens :)

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Here is a link to the Parliament Buildings.

And speaking of magical ~ I found this New Year's wish in my files ~ 
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Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nearly MMXI !

I shared a wonderful Christmas with my sons and four others ~ lots of fun, food, gifts, family games, and laughter. Everyone has returned home; the house is back to some semblance of order, and the tree is left standing!
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There are a few Christmas goodies left (I just finished off the last of the steamed pudding and custard), some turkey for sandwiches and soup or pie, and various little bowls of this and that. I even sent turkey and sandwiches away, and there is still more left. I don't mind :)


Tomorrow will be a relaxing day, and on Wednesday I plan on travelling to Victoria to see my brother and friends and relatives down there.


I also have to deliver a Persimmon tree to my son en route. In order for them to locate this present, I created a 'Treasure Map' and then cut it into puzzle pieces. Once they had remade the Map, we all donned our coats and boots, and followed the trail to find the 'surprise'. We didn't open gifts until after dinner, so we had to go out in the dark with a flashlight! What fun!

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During the day, the dogwood tree was aflutter with tiny kinglets ~ my little ruby-crowned kinglet must have brought his extended family together for a Christmas treat. I was only able to capture one out of the front window.

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By the way, I received an e-reader for a gift. I love books, (and also technology) so this will be a most interesting transition!


Again, I'm so happy not having to think about going back to work after the holidays. I think it's taken a year for this to finally sink in!


Soon we will be starting 2011! Isn't that just simply amazing ~ as the saying goes, "Instead of counting the days (weeks, years), make the days count!"


Here's to a terrific new year! All the best to everyone :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Twas...

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Edited to add:

Here are two links that show the Winter Solstice eclipse - time lapse and still photos by the same person

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Twilight

I have been busy puttering around the house lately, so not many photos.  My brother had mentioned that he was trying to finish up some projects before the end of the year, and I thought that was a great idea, so I have been attempting to do the same.  Much better than thinking up new resolutions...finish off some of the old ones!

I see the little ruby-crowned kinglet nearly every morning at my front window, which always brightens the day, however no new photos.  He seems to be the only one of his kind around, whereas there are many dark-eyed juncos flitting around in the tree with the suet sticks.  


On the way home from shopping last week, I stopped at a beach as the twilight approached and have stitched together a few photos for this shot.  


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Since it is a week until Christmas, I am busy wrapping, baking etc. and it is so lovely to have the time off to prepare. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

A surprise visit...

*Edit has been added.

I have spotted a new visitor in the back garden recently. I don't know if you can spot him, but he was attempting to feed from the suet block on the apple tree.  By the time I had the camera aimed at him, he had jumped onto the cherry tree. Hard to see him, but he's there... Spot the Squiggle. Sorry the photos are not very clear.  

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*Edit to add: After Flighty's comment saying he had washed his glasses twice and still couldn't see my visitor (which is a grey-black squirrel) I have attempted to point him out (not Flighty, the squirrel). As mentioned, somehow my camera had put itself (nothing to do with me ;)) on a weird setting and my photos were all out of focus. So perhaps you don't need new glasses after all, Flighty. Now can you see it?    (Eek, it looks like my cherry tree is wearing glasses and peering in the window)

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Meanwhile, at the front, there have been squawkings of Jays, the presence of Northern Flickers and many little Dark-eyed Juncos flitting about, frequenting the suet feeders and gleaning nature's offerings.





But the best surprise of all was the sweet chirpings of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet that has visited here before. (there's a clickable audio on the link as well as info) He's such a little sweet thing that I couldn't believe he had such a warbly chirp. It was his call that brought me to the front window. Yesterday, his bright red head was very visible, but my camera seemed to be at the wrong setting, so I wasn't able to get a good focus! I was slightly perturbed! This is the best I could do:


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Here's a clearer photo I took in October. I was pleased to know he had survived our snowy cold spell.

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Today, I heard his chirp, and there he was in the window box once again, but this time he decided to have a quick bath. No sign of his red hair when he was splashing.



He is just the cutest thing and makes my day! When I glanced at my horoscope in the local paper today it read: "A red head surprises you!" That brought a chuckle.


The woodland garden that is close by is hosting a winter wonderland of lights. It was a nice clear night for the walk there and back, and quite magical.  The Gardener's cottage is filled with teddy bears ... a toy train runs through their midst.

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I hope I have another surprise visit from my little red head tomorrow because I think I've figured out what was up with my camera :)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mostly Trumpeter Swans

Now that my Christmas tree is up and twinkling, I can get on with the rest of December's excitement, such as mincemeat pie making, shortbread...oh, and I probably need to do a bit of Christmas gift buying for my sons ;) Well, that was my plan until yesterday dawned bright and blue...frosty, but clear. So, packing up my camera, off I went to check on the Trumpeter Swans. Although my finger ends became a little numb, I managed to get a few shots I was happy with.

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This really is a superb location to see wildlife. There were so many different kinds of sea birds ~ and, as usual, the patrolling sea lions popping their heads up every so often. There were a couple of eagles about, but not as many as usual. Maybe they took one look at those very large Trumpeter Swans that winter in this area, and decided to head for other locations.

Here is a video I made of "Mostly Trumpeter Swans" - try full screen and make sure your sound is on!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Rainbow Weather

The Arctic flow has moved on and we have returned to more seasonal temperatures, although it's still hovering around 0 C at night. A rainbow beckoned me down to the beach, and then off I went to my favorite wildlife viewing location.  (click on photos to enlarge)

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Whoops! I splooshed along the trail ~

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above, poised for flight ~
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vista ahead ~

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under the bridge, in the mist ~

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and in the distance....

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Trumpeter swans
! the first I've seen this year.

Swans on one side and a Great Blue Heron, seemingly unsociable, on the other.

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Along with the myriad of ducks,  the heads of a few sea lions were seen drifting through the waves as well!

It was a most invigorating afternoon!

Not knowing then, that later on in the evening, my vehicle would slip on black ice, nearly sending me into the ditch!  After a few terrifying moments of losing control and slithering from one side of the road to the other, my vehicle righted itself and I made it home OK.  Luckily no other cars were on the road, otherwise it might well have been a different story.  I am most grateful.  

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Frozen Still

I have just replied to the comments on my previous post, thank you :)  We are still experiencing the Arctic Front (Arctic Back and Sides, also ;))  The wind chill took us down to -16C which is more like the northern climes than here.  However, since I am retired, the problems with travelling to and from work, plus dealing with related issues involving students, parents etc. are alleviated.  Also last year I bought new winter boots and a new heavy duty snow shovel, which weren't needed then, but have been well used recently.  The following photos were taken from the front room window, the kitchen window and through the deck doors.  Warmer temps (+8C and rain) are forecast for the weekend. Here's a poem I wrote to sum it up.

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monday, November 8, 2010

More Eagles, Harlequin Ducks, and other sea birds

Today I was back at my favourite place where the river meets the sea because the sun was shining. More sea birds and signs of seasonal change.  Also I was watching where I stepped, as there were many fungi in amongst the grass and moss.

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I hope this isn’t getting to be too much of a muchness, but I thoroughly enjoy being in this location taking photos ~ each time it is amazing.

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Today, along with the usual sea birds, I was happy to see a log full of Harlequin Ducks. I found the link very interesting and informative and hope you do, too!

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On this panoramic collage, the eagle in the centre photo is perched on the pole nearest the sea on the bottom panorama. There is another bald eagle on the shore ... next to a seagull. I guess when there is an abundance of salmon in the sea, there is no need for an eagle to chomp on a seagull!

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Watch the video at full screen - sea birds provide their own sound track, along with the odd small plane overhead!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

To everything, there is a season ...

Eagles, Seagulls and Scenery

Before meeting my son and brother for supper yesterday, we stopped to take photos at various scenic locations. While we were in the park a couple of bald eagles flew low overhead. One, apparently, had caught a seagull in mid-air. The 'result' landed headless on the grass close by, while the eagles perched in the trees keeping watch.

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Oh, dear!
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These seagulls may be contemplating the merits and potential hazards of taking a turn in the park ~ not to appear heartless, but doesn't there seem to be one missing in the space second from the left? 

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Later we visited some viewpoints and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine, another opportunity for photos / panoramas.

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There were a few splashes of brightness in the park as a few winter rhodos were coming into bloom.
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Earlier in the day, I took this photo of a tree with little ferns growing out of it.

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The birthday dinner I was treated to for the second night in a row was delicious as the six of us gathered together and enjoyed each others company. It was a clear night for the 2 hr. drive home, getting back about 11:30 p.m.


Closing off with a few silhouettes of branches reaching out to the beautiful sky ~ 

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Catching up!

Earlier in the month, on the Saturday of our Thanksgiving weekend, we broke tradition, and headed over to a small island where my son has a cabin. It was a rainy trip across on the ferry, and then we trudged along the trails until we reached our destination. Nine of us gathered around the table for dinner. We had a great time! On the way home, it was still raining...and dark, which gave me an opportunity to take some photos as we headed back to the ferry dock. Here is a panorama of this dark and quite spooky scene just in time for Halloween:

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Also, before I get on with some photos from today, I took a few sequential photos of a very tall tree as I looked up and up and up, and made a panorama from them. The resulting 'stitch' looked like the tree had been felled, however, I managed to stand it back up where it belonged and here it is:

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The other day when I was out for a walk, I noticed this large fluffy fellow, who looked like he did not want to be disturbed by anyone at all! In fact, if you look at him for a few seconds, you'll see what I mean!
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Today I decided to go for a walk to search for more cones. It was a bit damp, but I dressed for the weather and headed out around the neighbourhood. Here are some photos from my little jaunt:

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Does anyone know the name of the mushrooms in the photo above?

I only found one more of the long cones; perhaps someone else is collecting them. Here is my fall basket of some of the gatherings (the opened cones are older ones) and the new large closed one is in the foreground of the photo and looks kind of grey-coloured). Uphilldowndale mentioned she'd like a basket of cones, and although it's not a huge basket full, I hope she likes it...now how to send it far across the sea? ;) I guess a photo is the best I can do!

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This afternoon while I was 'lounging' on the sofa with my laptop, I noticed the difference in the colouring of the trees out of the front window and back sliding door.

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Today I also made some blueberry muffins, and worked on a little 'project' for tomorrow. Can you guess what I'm going to do with this?

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