Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Snow Report

"The first fall of snow is not only an event, but it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of world and wake up to find yourself in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment, then where is it to be found?"
J. B. Priestley

Snow decorating one of my gargoyles
We often have some snow in November, so I don't know why I was surprised when I got up one day recently and it was snowing. Not a blizzard, but a small snowfall, and short lived. I have heard quite a few predictions of a colder winter than usual; only time will tell.

My first reaction to snow is child like wonder: snow muffles sound, changes the light both day and night and has a way of catching my attention and slowing the world down as it slowly floats to the ground. Then I remember that snow in the city makes getting around by car, transit, bicycle and foot difficult and unlike rain, it needs to be shovelled.

Some of the garden plants were surprised by the early snow. Many trees were still hanging onto their leaves so the heavy wet snow caused some downed branches and trees. First here are some pictures of my garden with its early carpet of snow.

The paths and walkways and fields were briefly covered with snow and I managed to get a few pictures.

The sky was heavy long after the snow had stopped. Here are pictures of the beach and view across the water towards the local mountains.

The snow is starting to build up on the mountains, ski season will be starting soon.

Here's another snow spotting, my first sighting of the Snow Goose this year.

The Snow Geese arrive in our area in large flocks in mid October to November. The Snow Goose is a North American species of goose that gets the name from its typically white plumage.
The snow goose  breeds north of the timberline (in Greenland, northern Canada, Alaska, and the northeastern tip of Siberia) and winters in warm parts of North America, from our area of southwestern British Columbia, through parts of the United States to Mexico. The goose population that overwinters here come from an island (Wrangle Island) off the north coast of Siberia.
Outside of the nesting season, they usually feed in flocks. In winter, snow geese feed on left-over grain in fields. They migrate in large flocks, often visiting traditional stopover habitats in spectacular numbers. The Reifel Bird Sanctuary and adjacent fields are a popular stop over each year. The estimate of snow geese wintering in our area is 75,000 birds.

I photographed this small group of birds in a waterfront park near Steveston, B.C, not far, from Reifel Bird Sanctuary as the goose flies.

Pink feet and beak of mature bird in contrast to duller colours on immature birds

Known as Lesser Snow Geese they are white except for black wing tips and bright pink legs, feet and beak. The immature birds are not the bright white colour yet nor have they developed the distinctive pink beak and feet.

The pink bill with black tomia ("cutting edges"), gives them a black "grin patch." The heads of these birds are stained rusty-brown from minerals in the soil where they feed. Snow Geese are very vocal and can often be heard from more than a mile away.

So to get back to the weather, will it be a largely snow-less year here in Vancouver or will it be more like a the winter we had three years ago? Here are some pictures of that snowfall. The first two are fairly close to where I live, and a main road usually full of traffic.

I took a walk through the snow down Spanish Trail (#23 on the map) to the beach and got these beautiful snow pictures:

Part of downtown Vancouver is visible in the distance

So what kind of a winter will we have this year? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, the snow geese are around for the rest of the winter feasting on the fields and delighting bird lovers.

Winter Snow-Audrey Assad Cover-Kelly-Lynn Live:

I have been working on a commission painting (of a pet) most of the week, not quite finished yet, but close. I took a break from it today to do this watercolour sketch of Snow Geese, as a sketch it's OK but will need work and probably a better starting photograph, before it turns into a painting.

Happy Whimsy Wednesday, thanks for dropping by, until next week.......