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Monday, February 28, 2011

Very odd...yet magical dayl!

Making days count 59.

An odd sort of day, with a mixture of strange weather, touches of colour, and magical mysteries.

The morning began with robin-song outside my bedroom window. As I looked down at the Pink Dogwood Tree, there were at least six fluffed-out robins settled on snowy branches. How unusual, I thought, but how springlike! 

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Before I was ready for a morning walk, I became involved in other things during which time the clouds gathered. Not so unusual, I thought, and how winterlike! Mr. Downy Woodpecker, perceiving signs of another snowfall, pecked up some sustenance before scurrying up the tree. The burnished chest of a Varied Thrush caught my eye as a sunbeam added a glimmer of colour and warmth.

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And not to be outdone, spring flowers perked up their petals.

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I ‘spotted’ a couple of Spotted Towhees on the Winter Jasmine near the front door, but they had vanished before I could get a photo...but what was all the mess below the front step? I had noticed some scritchy marks at the edge of the walkway yesterday and a few leaves scattered about. Today every dried leaf  had been strewn onto the path. What a mess! Not exactly a Welcome Mat!  Could it have been those two troublemaker Towhees hunting for seeds? 
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....Aha, apparently so:

Behavior from this site
Mainly a ground-forager, the Spotted Towhee uses a two-footed scratching method, kicking both feet backward at the same time to locate food under the litter. This movement is often quite loud, and when the birds are in thick cover, the sound of them foraging is one of the best ways to locate them. Towhees prefer to forage in areas with a thick layer of leaf litter and a screen of foliage and twigs low to the ground.


Snow grains began to fall! These little granules of nothingness soon expanded until huge flakes the size of cotton balls filled the airspace, and, after an hour or so just as quickly stopped. With the return of the sun at 3 p.m., I donned my winter wear and headed off to see Harzel

Oh my, he was glistening! His buds were a-popping, and all seemed right in his world.

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Close by, on the opposite side of the lane against a wooden fence, Harzel’s friend Buddleia (Butterfly Bush) was sporting fairy-wing leaves that cast magical shadows in the sunlight.
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On the lane, deer tracks meandered amidst footprints of two and four legged ‘soles’.

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Perhaps I will sweep all the leaves back from whence they came, and see if the Towhees return. Here’s a photo of a Spotted Towhee I took atop Harzel's thicket at the beginning of January.  Now that I know about their scratching behaviour, it seems they must be the ones making all the undergrowth thicket racket! (say that 5 times fast).

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And that concludes the odd sort of magical last day of February. Time to March on! (sorry ;))

Sunday, February 27, 2011

February Scavenger Hunt Photo Collage

Making days count 58

Here are my photos for the February Scavenger Hunt, the photo search that I joined last month at Postcards from the PP.


Clickable.
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  1. Beacon Hill Park’s Stone Bridge (1889)*, Victoria, BC
  2. A striped painted building
  3. Musical instrument -My pump organ
  4. Big trucks filling up
  5. Round clock - Town clock at night
  6. My footwear (snowboots)
  7. Bench by my sea walk
  8. Newspaper headlines
  9. Postbox
  10. Eyes of my stuffed piggy
  11.  Heart shaped plate and muffin
  12. Red wall at a restaurant
*William (John) Blair designed the formal landscaping of Beacon Hill Park in 1889. The design included five man made lakes with Goodacre Lake, at 2.43 acres in area, being the largest. The design of the lake included the stone bridge crossing a portion of it. The bridge and lake where constructed in 1889. This is a very popular place for wedding pictures during the spring and early summer when the park is in full bloom.

My January collage can be found here.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Winter's Song plays on

Making days count 57

The snow remains and so does the cold weather. It's below freezing, and is 5 - 10 degrees colder than is usual for this time of the year.

Although hardy, my Hellebore 'Winter's Song' is feeling the effects.

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The daffodils, thinking that their timing was right, are now stunned and frozen in time.

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Not many birds are frequenting the feeders, but the odd one shows up. I have learned more about the Dark-eyed Junco from this site.

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Although the weather forecast shows the temps rising from this -8C we've been experiencing, it's still cold!!!

Sun
Rain and Snow
2°C | -3°C
Mon
Snow
1°C | -4°C
Tue
Snow Showers
0°C | -1°C

So...I whipped up some pizza dough, searched through the fridge and cupboards, and whomped up a pizza!

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Friday, February 25, 2011

Tiger tracks!

Making days count 56

The first thing I noticed this morning was that the snow was still there and more deer tracks patterned the front and back yard. This observation led to an interesting discussion with my son as he shared the following excerpt with me from the book he is reading.

The Tiger : a true story of vengeance and survival / by John Vaillant.—1st ed.

For most of our history, we have been occupied with the cracking of codes—from deciphering patterns in the weather, the water, the land, and the stars, to parsing the nuanced behaviors of friend and foe, predator and prey. Furthermore, we are compelled to share our discoveries in the form of stories. Much is made of the fact that ours is the only species that does this, that the essence of who and what we understand ourselves to be was first borne orally and aurally: from mouth to ear to memory. This is so, but before we learned to tell stories, we learned to read them. In other words, we learned to track. The first letter of the first word of the first recorded story was written—“printed”—not by us, but by an animal. These signs and symbols left in mud, sand, leaves, and snow represent proto-alphabets...

As I ‘read’ the front and back yard, I could see that the nightly visitations of deer followed certain routes, but via different paths. I was thankful to notice that the back fence deterred visitation to the neighbour’s fenced garden plot.
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A heart-shaped hoofprint in the snow!

It was a beautiful clear cold day, and my walk was a mixture of clear road, slushy sections, and deep snow!

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Harzel glowed in his snowy surroundings, and with the white seagulls glimmering against the cerulean sky, it was quite breathtaking.

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Majestic snowcapped mountains offered an outstanding backdrop.
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A beautiful bright clear day.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

'Snow Wonder

Making days count 55.

The good news, no more snow fell. The not so good news, yesterday's snow remains. It has been so cold, although the sun was shining today. I didn't venture far, and was pleased I had picked up groceries earlier in the week. It is forecast to be a sunny day tomorrow, but with low temps. of -9C. Depending on the road conditions, I may walk down to see how Harzel is handling the chilly weather.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blanketed!

Making days count 54

A bright morning ... because of the snow beginning to fall at 9:00 a.m. and continuing all day until it reached over my boot tops.

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A short video of the only birds I saw at the feeders today.



With everything else going on in the world, a snowfall is a cause for celebration, for digging out from this is nothing at all in comparison.
My heart goes out to those in New Zealand suffering through such a monumental disaster.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It worked! and a closer look at Crows

Making Days Count 53

Well, it worked! The sun returned...but brought the wind with it. That wasn't part of the request. However, a bright blustery day stirs up the waves, so out I went... in the car.

Whitecaps were roiling, with the picturesque snow-capped mountains adding another layer of white. Obligingly, a seagull flew into the scene :)

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I drove out to my favorite place. When the tide is out, of course the birds are out there with it and for the most part all I saw was a vista a bezillions rocks to trundle across.

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A couple of Merganzers were floating along, but as I got closer they flew off.

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A gusty day blows the clouds about, but they managed to pluck up some courage, gather themselves together and embrace the colourful sunset.

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No use being inside when the sun shines :)

Mo mentioned in a comment that she was interested in hearing more about the remarkable memory of crows, after I mentioned in my recent post, Capers in the Park, that I am particularly kind to crows, especially after seeing a documentary. 

Just across the US border at the University of Washington in Seattle, Professor John M. Marzluff has been studying corvids for many years, and his interest and experiences evolved into a book, "In the Company of Crows and Ravens" co-authored by Tony Angell. Their study group banded 7 crows to follow their whereabouts, and what ensued was amazing. Here is a link to an interview with Professor Marzluff. There is an excerpt from the book here.

A one hour "Nature of Things", CBC documentary was aired last fall (which I may have mentioned in a previous post): "Murder of Crows" which follows the crow study and I found it absolutely fascinating. I have been able to find the link online if you are interested.
A Murder of Crows is a visually stunning one-hour documentary that offers a rare and intimate glimpse into the inner life of one of the most intelligent, playful and mischievous species on the planet - the common crow. It is also a film that explores a unique pairing of science and cinema as world-renowned scientists, including crow expert Professor John Marzluff, joins forces with an award-winning camera team to explore the secret world of crows. A scientific exploration with a compelling twist, the film is a visually stunning HD documentary that reveals new insights and understanding into this haunting and elusive species.

There is also a TED talk by Joshua Klein on the intelligence of crows, and the Vending Machine he created, with a four step plan.

That's enough cawing for now :)

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Brrrrrr...ing back the sun!

Making Days Count 52

Yesterday I spotted a Song Sparrow on the rim of a plate of sunflower seeds I put near the bird bath. I have since removed the dish, as for two mornings in a row, it has been entirely empty. It could be a raccoon or squirrel that’s removing every last one, so I don’t want to encourage either possibility around the bird feeders.
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A sweet little Kinglet was fluttering around the feeder this morning.
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Tantalizing glimpses of blue sky soon disappeared as I began my walk today, and by the time Harzel came into view, a squall seemed to be in the offing.
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Luckily my waterproof winter jacket stands up to this kind of weather, with a warm zipped in lining, and a hood that can be cinched. The tide was out, so I carried on down the path. Splotches of rain blew on my camera lens, turning the already grey seascape blurry. Finally, I tucked my camera in my pocket, and started for home. Snow began to fall before long, large flakes that melted on contact with land. By the time I arrived back home, snow was steadily falling. Once I was inside of course, the snow turned back to rain, and eventually stopped. Here’s a photo taken through the kitchen window of what the weather forecast described as a 'snow shower'.
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The next few days are going to bring colder temperatures and more rain and snow, and by Thursday the high will be -4C and the low -8C. 

Mon
4°C | -2°C
Tue
2°C | -4°C
Wed
-2°C | -7°C
Thu
-4°C | -8°C

As ShySongbird remarked in a comment, as soon as she mentioned signs of spring and snowdrops, winter returned!

Brrrr-ing back the sun!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Capers in the park

Making days count 51

As forecast, yesterday was a bright sunny day, about 7C. When driving south, I often enjoy looking at the view shown in the following panorama. The freshly fallen snow on the mountain with the blue sky background encouraged me to get out of the car and take a few photos. Often there are horses grazing in the field which add a pastoral touch!

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I drove along a few back roads rather than travel the main highway. When I have the time in good weather, it is a pleasurable way for me to travel. After living in a quiet community, Victoria seems very lively. In comparison, of course, it is, although nothing compared to a larger city such as Vancouver. There were many people out enjoying the day, some walking with dogs, others jogging, families in the park, etc.

Now, get yourself ready for a lovely walk in the park, or if you prefer you can travel this way ~ (check out the sweet little face peering at the top)
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Spring is just beginning to show its colours. Soon there will be daffodils springing up all over the green dappled grass, but yesterday I saw only one! It is still February after all, but I am searching for every little sign of Spring.  I saw one tree in blossom. There were a few clumps of snowdrops, but nothing like the beautiful spread of them here on Juliet's site.

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There were many ducks quacking and splashing, seagulls soaring and squawking and crows cawing and following me around once they saw I had food. The duck near the Mallard in the bottom left section is an American Wigeon.

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Ever since watching the program about crows being able to remember for a loooooong time, I am always especially kind to them ;)

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I brought oatmeal and sunflower seeds, but I must remember next time to bring some peanuts. This guy was playing peek-a-boo, much like Hilary's friend. Check out her priceless photo on her Lookin' up post.
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This is a vertical panorama of the tall, impressively gnarly 'squirrel tree'.  He's up there somewhere!

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And a sure sign of Spring, as a couple had their wedding photos taken on the stone bridge:

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In a comment, Flighty was wondering 'whatever will happen next' in the escapades of Phoebe, Philbert, Elsie-Mae and Dobie. Well, it all seems to have turned out fairly well for everyone. 

Philbert, in particular, is enjoying getting out of his suit and tie and wearing his tropical shorts; Phoebe is being catered to for once on the cruise ship; Elsie-Mae has started to whomp up a mess of vittles for her Imperial painter, and Dobie was doubly delighted to learn that Elsie-Mae's friend also had a pet of the female persuasion. Need I say more?

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And they all lived happily ever after.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

News report

Making days count 50


Gosh, we're 50 days into the new year already, but who's counting?


It's a beautiful clear day outside this morning, so I'm heading out! I thought I'd go and check out Victoria and Beacon Hill Park to see if spring has arrived there. It's usually a few weeks ahead.


In the meantime, there's news from Phoebe, Philbert and Elsie-Mae.
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Friday, February 18, 2011

Snow grains and sunset silhouettes

Making Days Count 49

I began my walk around 5 p.m. once the crazy-weather-day finally settled down. 'Snow grain' was in the forecast today. Snow grain? Click here. And I actually saw one ... or maybe even two. The temperatures are going to drop, although tomorrow promises sunshine. Flakes or grains, or sleet...something wet and cold is forecast for next week with temps around -2.   Keep your heads covered for a little longer Snowdrops!

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I see minute signs of bud growth!
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Sunset photos of mountain/clouds taken from the bottom of the road on the walk home.

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Playing with the full 'Snow Moon' last night; photo taken from front door path.

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