Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Sometimes I wonder!

Today I was on my way back from visiting my mother, a one hour trip in rush hour, when I saw something unbelievable. I was on the highway travelling north west after just coming over the Alex Fraser Bridge and was heading into Richmond; I only give the details in case anyone else witnessed the same event. At that point there are 4 lanes of traffic in each direction (highway speed), I noticed people swerving ahead, and to my amazement there is a mother duck and at least 6 ducklings half way across the four lanes of traffic. There is a small median and then four more lanes going the other direction. You just know this can't end well. They were not yet in my lane but I hope I would not have endangered other motorists lives had they been.

I have heard of the Darwin Awards for behavior of people not conducive to the continuation of human lineage, but I thought animals had more sense!
From the Darwin Awards site: "Named in honor of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, the Darwin Awards commemorate those who improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it."

Here is a 2014 Darwin Awards story about traffic.

Anyway I got home in one piece, thank goodness, and I don't want to know what happened.

Here are a few pictures I took a couple of weeks ago, first a few more Great Blue Herons taken at the heronry in Stanley Park.

Herons are magnificent in flight.

Then pictures from a walk around the Stanley Park seawall to Siwash Rock, beautiful skies but there was a cold wind.
A view out over English bay with the ever present freighters.


Love the whimsy of this:
I thought it was just a bit cold for this, but each to his own. On a cool day with the water even colder a good sense of balance is essential for this kind of activity.

Siwash Rock seen from the south first and then after passing it looking west. 


The Canada Geese here seem to have found some exclusive waterfront property!

A Mallard and ... 
Wood Ducks enjoying the afternoon sunshine.

I end with these beautiful Magnolia buds.
I guess I must be dreaming of warmer weather because this was what I painted this week.
It is a watercolour and I called it "Ready for Action":
Until next time...

Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post.
Thanks for stopping by,
happy Whimsy Wednesday,

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Lots of activity at the heronry

The heronry at Stanley Park is a very busy place this time of year; a heronry or a heron rookery is a nesting and breeding place for herons. The heronry in Stanley Park, on the south east corner of the park (by the Fish House and tennis courts), is the breeding place for dozens of Great Blue Herons and has been for many springs.

This heron seems to be announcing just that.

 "The Stanley Park Heronry is one of the more awe inspiring sights in the Park in the Spring and Summer seasons. A cluster of around twenty trees has become the largest nesting site for Great Blue Herons in the region, a sight that draws many bird watchers, naturalists and visitors to the park to observe the dozens of pairs and their squawking young. The Herons will nest until their young are able to fly, leaving Stanley Park and returning the next year. The Heronry is a unique experience as these reclusive and elegant birds are never usually spotted in large groups."

Read more: Heronry

Even though it seems early to me appartently herons usually start to return to the nesting sight mid February to mid March. These pictures were taken at the end of February.
Herons do not mate for life, instead they pick a mate at the beginning of each breeding season. They don't always return to the same nest every year or even the same nesting sight.

In Stanley Park they nest in about 20 large trees and the nest remnants stay in the trees from year to year. The male will pick an existing nest or a new site for a nest then use the plume feathers around his neck to attract a mate.

The finished nests are about a metre across and about half as deep. The male gathers twigs for the nest and the female "weaves" them into a nest or adds to and repairs an existing nest.

The nests can be quite close together, I think this must cause occasional friction between neighbours.

The male below is puffing out his neck feathers to impress his mate, as I watched this was followed by clacking their becks together which is part of courtship behavior.

Then on to the serious business of getting the nest in order.


Fascinating to watch and because the trees are only just starting to bud, even from 40 feet below we still get a good view.

Magnificent in flight too.

 I have been working on two ink and watercolour sketches this week.
The first is a "collage" style sketch of Cathedral Place on Georgia Street in downtown Vancouver. Cathedral Place replace the old Georgia Medical Dental Building and is decorated with copies of the "nursing sisters" from that building. The original statues were badly worn and were extremely heavy(made of terra cotta); the copies modelled from one of the repaired originals are made of fiberglass. The Nursing Sisters decorate the exterior of Cathedral Place at the third floor level, much further up the building are gargoyles with waterspouts. I combine these two decorations with a sketch of the buildings exterior in "Creature Comfort" at Cathedral Place:
The second features the Arbutus Tree, a broadleaf evergreen tree that that grows along the coast of BC and on the Gulf Islands between the lower mainland and along the inner coast of Vancouver Island. They grow in dry  rocky sunny areas. The arbutus stump below shows the strawberry tan coloured  bark typical of the tree and is an example of the odd shapes that one sometimes sees along the gulf island shores. I call this painting "Arbutus Steer":  

Thank you for all your kind comments on my last post.
Thanks for stopping by,
happy Whimsy Wednesday,
Until next week,

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Spring blooms already

It has been very mild here recently and spring blooms are appearing earlier than usual.

We set a record of sorts on the weekend when we cut our lawn for the first time (February!) this year; that seems to be about a month early.

Feast your eyes of these early cherry blossoms:


Not just a blossom here and there, but entire trees and rows of trees. 



Crocuses and Snow Drops are also blooming in abundance:

Forsythia is welcome for it's colour and fragrance.

 Hellebores in many colours: 

A few daffodils are blooming and still more are ready to burst into flower.
I love the "furry" buds of the magnolia:


One of my Camellia bushes is in bloom too.
Oregon Grape bushes are ready to bloom:

I can't remember what this one is called:
A robin taking advantage of early mild weather:

 Of course the weeds are growing well too!  There is a bee in the bottom left of the first picture.
I don't know the name of the plant above, I like it, but it is a pest when it gets in a lawn.
Below, well you know.
I hope Spring is here, can all these plants and the birds and bees be wrong?
I hope not, but I am not holding my breath.
The squirrel below had found a treat and settled safely behind some branches, not sure he realized I could see him quite well still.
This one was in the park; we are not happy with squirrels at our house since one or two of them chewed the lights off several strings of our Christmas lights! Seriously.
I have a couple of new paintings for you too.
I have been trying something new, painting watercolour on stretched paper and then varnishing it so that it does not need to be placed under glass.
The first is "White Hellebore":
The second "Early Clematis", below, is already in a frame:

Both paintings are watercolours, what do you think?
I also finished a painting of Gastown for the Vancouver section of my PS Whimsy website. It is ink and watercolour:

 Thanks for stopping by,
happy Whimsy Wednesday,
Until next week,