Thursday, August 27, 2015

Fences, Properties and a Nail Trim

Here are a few Good Fences that caught our eye lately.  If you start looking for fences around you, you may be amazed at the interesting ones that turn up.  Check out TexWisGirl's fabulous meme for inspiration (thanks, Theresa!).  I'm betting it will be impossible to resist contributing a few of your own next week.

Sometimes, as Theresa has noted, it is not so much the fence as the stuff around it.  These daisy-like flowers hosted a Cabbage Butterfly..
 that agreed to share pollen with a bee.
 This next one is possibly my record for three different insects in a small space (that is, assuming the one on the right is not a bee).
 Walking home after our outing that day, we discovered a hide-a-way in our neighbourhood we hadn't seen before.  
We weren't sure if we were on private property,
 but the only warning signs informed dogs not to do their business.
Black Jack's "business" was acceptable (I think) since no one asked us to leave.
 This is the oddest excuse for a fence we've seen in our part of town.  Fence art?
The next day, we biked around the Coal Harbour route.  Though I've shown the Rowing Club before, 
 I thought its reflections that day..
 were especially awesome.
Bill, by the way, says "Hi" to Theresa and to her fence-loving posters.  Here, he patiently holds my 500 mm lens while I go to a smaller one for the longer view.  
The day after that, we rode in the opposite direction to Olympic Village Park.  The streams are wall-to-wall algae these days, most likely because of the drought.  (The good news is that rain is supposed to arrive tomorrow and is expected to last for several days.)  Sunlight on the algae left some rather neat fence shadows.
 My own image was startlingly clear.
 No fence here, but I spent a little time looking closely at the algae and noticed some bees in its midst.  One bee appeared to me to be struggling.  That triggered the question: "Can bees swim?"  At this site, I found some interesting information.  Here's a quote from it:
"From what I have observed, bees swim on their backs and use their wings to drive themselves along. They tend to curl up head towards tail, but they can't retain a vertical position in the water so they flop over on their left side. I haven't seen any flop over on the right side yet but it's possible. Maybe they do in the southern hemisphere. Flopping over means that when they swim they don't swim in a straight line, but in circles. These can be quite wide, so even though they can't swim directly to a place to climb out, they will eventually luck out and either hit the side of the water barrel or a piece of floating wood.  The only time I have seen them get into trouble is when the water is cold and they get chilled when they fall in."
I was still left with the question of whether the bees might get trapped under the algae and not be able to right themselves.  Perhaps, there is a bee-expert reader who also happens to likes fences :) 
On August 24th, Bill and I had no idea of our destination when we set out on our bikes.  We started up a rather steep hill, and perhaps Bill sensed I was flagging because he suggested locking the bikes up and exploring the area.  In fact, as we started to walk, I realized we were not all that far from The Pet Shop Boys on Cambie Street.  Every few weeks we go there because David does nail trims for dogs.  The charge of $10 is very low and he is the only person we know who does a completely stress-free trim for Black Jack.  That in itself would be enough, but there's a huge added bonus.  ALL of David's earnings for nail trims (at least a few hundred dollars each month) go to animal rescues. He and Christopher (and the other staff) decide together on the rescue of the month and I for one, deeply appreciate their commitment and concern for animals in need.  All to say, we made a snap decision to walk up to their shop and get Black Jack's nails trimmed.  I didn't want to bother David for yet another photo of him, so the one below is from June, 2014.  Don't you love his smile?  
But, back to fences.  The streets along our walking route were delightful.  Such a range of colourful and unique houses greeted us, and yes..
 the fences and gates..
 were unique and wonderful too.
 The house above is a heritage Queen Ann cottage, built in 1895, as described below.  It dates from the early European development in the Mount Pleasant area of Vancouver.
Bill and I both liked this little bridge-ramp leading down the path to the house.
The colour schemes for each house were fun,
with no two alike.
I loved this blue fence..
and we were both impressed with the lights in the pillars..
by the gates on this property.
The fences were kept in good repair..
and the gardens behind them, even in the drought, seemed quite healthy.
There were some cute critters..
and some character art..
and something to admire in just about every property.  Bill had his hands full..
curbing Black Jack's desire to squeeze between the railings.
McClean House, one of the grander houses we admired, was also a heritage..
building with an interesting history.
The long stairway in the building next to it was guarded..
by this happy gnome.  I loved our walk and our visit to the Pet Shop Boys.  Thanks for stopping by to view our fence sightings this week.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Seagull Story and Some Other Critters Enjoyed Lately

I have a seagull story, three Dachshunds, a Belted Kingfisher, a Blue Heron,  a few Canada Geese and happy Black Jack to share with Saturday's Critters today.  Sorry to be posting late.  Thanks, Eileen!  Such a fun meme!

A couple of days ago, Bill and I sat by False Creek watching a young gull. (I will name him Dylan and assume he is male for easier storytelling.  He was nagging the parent (I'll assume his mother) for food, as juveniles do when parents begin to insist that the kids become more independent. 
We guessed Dylan's home was a nest between the concrete blocks and rocks under the centre of the Cambie Bridge, halfway across the creek.  I went back to find two old photos of the bridge to set the scene for you.  We were sitting by this sculpture, but it was low tide so the concrete and rocks were more exposed.
 Here's another old photo of the bridge.
Back to the photos taken at the time. As we sat by the sculpture, Bill noticed..
that Dylan was in trouble.  We missed exactly what happened but he was stuck between two of the rocks.    
Then, Mom seemed to be pulling at the corner of his wing.  Perhaps, she was punishing him for the aggressive nagging, or perhaps, s/he was trying to help him regain equilibrium. (I've a hunch it was the latter.)
Dylan is at the bottom left of this next photo with his head peeking up from between the rocks.  He didn't move for several minutes and  I worried he was dead.  Mom watched him, but after a few..
minutes, he managed to stand upright (centre of the photo) and at that point,
she left him to take care of the other kids.
With my attention on her, I didn't see Dylan slip into the water.  Then, Bill told me he was swimming toward us.
He left the water and walked up the shore.
He was favouring his left leg.
Perhaps the injury happened when he was trapped between the rocks,
or perhaps even as he made his way along the shore toward us.
He calmly stopped to check us out and then limped past us and over to our right.
I zoomed in on Dylan's feet to see if I could detect the nature of the injury.  There was nothing obvious (to me) so I am hoping it was a sprain that will heal.  That right foot looks wonky but it was the left that he favoured.
I took some close-ups of him as he stood looking at us.
I feel pretty sure..
we were being sized up.
Whatever happened under the bridge, Dylan was no longer interested in..
nagging for a handout, even though..
his mom swam by..
nonchalently as though just wanting to check that he was okay.  They appeared to ignore each other completely.
After foraging in the hot sun, Dylan silently opened his mouth.
I cropped the photo for a better look at his features.
From the side, the tongue was easy to see.
I hope Dylan survived.  Stories like this stay in my mind but are rarely resolved. I have heard the "50% survival rate" theory bandied about quite a bit.  Several have told me that only 50% of fledging birds survive their first flight.  The last couple of days, I've done a little research to see if I can find more concrete evidence of survival-in-the-wild statistics.  This article made it clear to me that the subject is more complex than I realized.  Here's a quote from another article:
"Adult survival rates are usually between 0.4 and 0.6 with first-year survival rates often being between 0.1 and 0.2 - so roughly a half of all the adult birds and nearly ALL the baby birds you see will be dead in a years time. It’s a sad thought, but this has to happen if the population is to remain roughly constant."  
Dylan looks shocked at the implications of both articles.  Let's hope he defies the odds and goes on to live a long, healthy life.
We are fond of the sculpture, Time Top.  It was painstakingly assembled by the sculptor's widow (according to carefully documented instructions before Jerry Plethick died), and delivered to this area by barge.
Watching Dylan's story evolve through the sculpture's "feet" adds one more memory to those Bill and I have shared at that location.

As for the other critters seen lately, there was only one duck (a Gadwall, I think) in the Coal Harbour pond when we rode there a few days ago.  There were a couple of younger ones that hid most of the time; they managed to avoid my camera.
Because we have had so little rainfall in Vancouver, the water in the pond was stagnant, and there were thousands of tiny little flies around.  They were getting in our eyes so we walked across the path to look over the harbour.  With my long lens, I caught site of three Dachshunds through the openings in the fence.  They weren't brilliant shots, but they were clear enough to make me smile. The one on the right seemed okay with tail swishes in the face..
 and with being herded to the right, though..
 s/he did request a bit of alone time here.
They had had a little swim and a play in the sand and were..
enjoying the day immensely.
All three headed for that spot under the fence, tails wagging enthusiastically.
Bill and I walked along the seawall path, and were happy to see this Kingfisher.
After sightings almost every outing, s/he had disappeared, so the return was one to celebrate.
We took Black Jack down some steps to the beach area.
That always meets with her approval.
A heron..
floated by,
wings moving up and down so slowly,
I had time to savour the beauty of each position in space.
Black Jack..
was in fine form,
a big smile..
and perky ears adding to the perfect day.
I guess the geese thought if I was going to admire the herons, I might as well..
take a look at real beauty in the air :)
Thanks, as always, for stopping by to take a peek at the critters encountered over the past few days.  Happy Tuesday to each one of you!  Until next time!