Nose Prints on the Window

The rabbits know it’s spring. They’re doing what rabbits do, breeding like rabbits. The young ones are rather naive and often sit out in the open. Don’t they know there are eagles nesting in the trees close by? They will be wanting to feed their babies. Hasenpfeffer is one of their favourite meals.

And what about the owls that call at night? They’re hoping that when they call, “Who? Who?” a rabbit will be stupid enough to answer and say, “It’s me — Dumb Bunny.”

Hawks, owls, eagles — all are hoping for a meal of rabbit stew.

Bugsy is getting nervous and runs for  the hedge. “I’m out of sight. I can’t see any danger,” he thinks, with his juicy hindquarters sticking out for any passing predator to size up.

The worst, most dangerous predator of all is the English field cocker spaniel who is straining to get her nose through the window.

“I just want to play tag,” she says.

Cool Days for Baby Robins

Everyone knows what robin’s egg blue looks like. We often use that term to describe a pretty shade of blue, perhaps on some piece of clothing or a paint colour, but I think it looks best on the shell of a robin’s egg. I found this half shell two days ago on a cold miserable day when the little bird that hatched out of this shell probably wished he were back inside it.

It is a testimony to how tough the robins are, when they risk nesting so early. It is also evidence that they  need as long a growing season as possible for the young birds to grow to adulthood before the fall.

I took this picture of the egg shell when the sun was shining through the living room window for a few minutes that day.

Later I took another picture with the robin’s egg on a piece of white paper, next to a chicken egg as a size comparison. Somehow the “robin’s egg blue” colour looked more faded and greener. What a tiny egg it is, when you consider that the baby bird will grow to be the size of a robin.

“That’s my boy,” the robin chirps. “He’ll grow up to look just like me!”

As a point of interest, this photo of the robin in the dogwood was taken on April 29, 2016.

This year on April 25, this same dogwood tree is just getting tiny leaves and there is no hint of flowers yet. What a difference in temperature. It’s a very long, cold spring this year.

Brant Time

The arrow in the photo below points at the roof of our house, just above the white house on the hillside. From there we can see, with the help of a spotting scope, that the black brant (Branta bernicla nigricans) are on the far shore of the bay.

They come here every spring to rest and feed and gather their strength.

We drove around the bay to the beach where the brant are congregating. A friend had told us that the day before, there were many more, and we think some may have left already on their long migration to the north to nest.

Here they are, sitting at the edge of the water in a place where they can see danger approaching from land or the water.

They come from as far away as the Baja coast of Mexico, and will go all the way up the continent to Alaska where summer daylight hours are very long and the food is plentiful for raising their young in the short weeks of summer, so they will be ready to make the long migration back south in the fall, to winter in Mexico again.Here, in one of many staging areas on the east coast of Vancouver Island, they gather at first in small flocks, gradually joining up into bigger flocks as they are closer to leaving for the north.

I’ve often wondered how they decide when it is time for the flocks of thousands to lift off and begin the journey. Who says, “Okay folks, it’s time for liftoff”? Looks like plenty of discussion going on here. The widgeon in the background are being kept out of the loop. See them in the background with their pale heads?

Notice that these geese are similar to the Canada goose but they don’t have the white cheek patches or the long necks. If you saw them side by side you’d see they are quite different.

If you go walking on the beaches at this time of year, please be sure to keep your dog on a leash. When the brant are disturbed repeatedly, it prevents them from feeding. They need daylight hours and low tides to feed on the eel grass they prefer above most other food. If they can’t feed, their bodies will not have the reserves they need for the long flight ahead. Emaciated birds don’t have healthy clutches and this results in weaker young and lower numbers of brant.

You can do your bit to help keep the brant population healthy. Keep your dogs on a leash at brant time.

Easter Bunny Does it Again

I have always wondered why rabbits deliver Easter eggs. Let me backtrack on that – why rabbits paint Easter eggs. Of course they’ll deliver them once they’ve gone to all the trouble of painting them.  As a child I wondered more about that than I did about what Santa has to do with Christmas, but I learned to accept that the goodies each provided were worth putting up with the stories adults make up.

So each year I haul out the Easter eggs and wonder who painted them and how …and whether that rabbit would be any good in the pot, after eating all the vegetables out of my garden.

When I encountered this rabbit in my backyard, I asked him how he paints the eggs. Did he use a brush like I’ve seen in some of the children’s colouring books, or did he use a rag, or did he dip them?

He said:

“Oh … it’s simple. I dip my paw in the paint pot. Then I take an egg and I just rabbit on.

Happy Easter!”

DSCN8259

DSCN8264

Brother and Sister

Emma, our field bred English cocker spaniel came from the Edmonton area. That’s a long way from here – about 1400 kms. She is three years old now and has a brother, Gus (from a new litter – same parents), living in town. Gus came for a visit the other day. We kept Emma outside for this visit. It was Gus’s special time.

The bowl of walnuts and hazelnuts that was on the coffee table was the first thing to be investigated. Bowls seem to have special meaning to both Emma and Gus.

One leap onto the table  and the nuts were all over the floor. I had to laugh because it brought back so many memories of puppy fiascoes that I had to deal with when Emma was Gus’s age. Everything had to be explored and there were still many rules that needed to be tested.

Like Emma, Gus is energetic, playful, and loving. He showed us how smart he is by lying down and waiting for the treat he knew was coming. A little piece of cheese makes a great reward for good behaviour. 

Notice the big mitts on him? Proof that he is Emma’s brother. She has the same big paws. In the photo of Emma (below) her head looks big because of the way I had the camera right in her face. In this picture she is the same age as Gus is now.

Here she is several months older, but she still has some growing time ahead. Her ears are not yet covered in long curls and the tail doesn’t have all the “feathers” that will make it look like a flag waving.

We loved meeting Gus, and recognized so many behaviours and physical traits that were so much like Emma’s. Their parents both have pedigrees a mile long, loaded with Field Trial Champions, and these puppies have the best of their genes. Sweet and loving and very smart. Can you tell I’m over the moon about them?

 

 

 

 

Learning to Quilt

After finishing three bags at the quilting retreat, I was looking through some red scraps and found this elephant. I was about to cut the material up to make a bag with an elephant on one side when my quilting buddy suggested I make a coffee table topper.  She has a good eye for possibilities and suggested the corners to accent the center. It was also her idea for me to make a flange. 

I had never made a flange before, and in case you don’t see it, it’s the narrow dark border around the elephant square. The really neat thing about a flange is that this little trim lifts up and has a 3-D look. My free motion quilting is still … let’s say … in its developmental stage, but I had fun sewing swirly elephant-trunk-like designs all over the work. In the end, I was happy I didn’t make yet another bag out of this elephant.

Herring Time

When the herring roe fishery happens each spring on the BC Coast, the seine boats and herring skiffs congregate close to shore because that is where the herring can be intercepted as they rush the beach to spawn. At night when the boats have their anchor lights on, it looks like a floating city just offshore.

Sea lions and seagulls and eagles patrol the area in hope of some tasty bites.

P1020586

Photo courtesy of P. Knettig

??????????

It’s a bluebird day. Hard to believe it was rough and windy just a couple of days ago. Still it was fishable and the herring filled the seine nets. Then disaster struck as an extra heavy net caused a boat to list  and not recover. The fishing community lost a fellow fisherman. His brother is quoted on CTV News:

“They had a really big set. The boat was listing and Mel went down into the engine room to turn the pumps on, and while he was down there the boat rolled over.”

It brings home to all of us once again, how dangerous fishing is. While the fleet mourns the loss of one of their own, the fishery goes on, as it must. The pretty night lights, and the bluebird daytime sky and sea belie the sombre mood and the heavy hearts of the fishing fleet.