wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Hiding the Children

 

I know she’s got that nest someplace nearby. I’ll just watch where she goes and then I can get some scrambled eggs for breakfast.

 

“You murdering so-and-so. You keep away from my children.”

Well, I’ve hidden the nest really well, so they should be okay. No one knows where it is.

I know where it is. But don’t worry I won’t tell. I can see it from here. See? Right over there by the house.

It’s right in that thick yew tree.

I even peeked inside and saw the four little kiddies-to-be.

Be careful, robin, hide your nest,

The scavengers like eggs the best,

Don’t show them where your darlings lie,

Or kidnappers will make them cry.

 

They’ll snag them and they’ll fly away,

And you with anguish and dismay,

Will shriek and call and cry out loud,

As robbers take them to a cloud.

 

So take good care and be alert,

And you will tragedy avert.

You know the crow has got a hitlist,

It’s survival of the fittest.


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Spring Ditties

It was a day of surprises. Yesterday, this plum tree had only tightly bunched up buds. Today the sun came out for a few minutes and the plum tree called out,

“Look at me! Look at me!

Every flower a plum will be!”

The next surprise lay at my feet as I stopped to admire the plum tree. It was just lucky I didn’t step on it.

Robin baby, where are you?

Found your shell that you picked through,

Lying by the blooming plum,

Just the size of someone’s thumb.

 

Morning, sparrow, golden crowned,

You don’t mind me being around,

Posing for me for so long,

Before bursting out in song.

 

 

 

Waxy petals calling out,

Any hummingbirds about?

We’re the colour that’s the best,

Not much sugar, that’s a test.

Try it putting out your two lips,

We are truly tasty tulips.

 

You rang?


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The Fat Herring

“Junior! What are you looking at down there?”

 

“Nothing interesting, Ma. I’m just wondering who’s going to clean up all the mess those seagulls are making. After eating all those herring and the herring roe, I bet it’s pretty slick and hummy on that roof.”

“The squawking and shrieking is ear piercing. They have no pride. Slithering around on that roof as they digest their shreds of herring. But I guess they do a good job of cleaning up the beaches. If only they’d clean up the roof after they … you know ….  But wait! What’s that I hear the seagulls saying?”

 

I heard seagulls squawk a joke,

Hermann Goering was the bloke

That they picked on for his fat,

Not so nice, but that was that.

 

Herring seller in the town,

Cried his product all around,

“Herring, herring!” he would shout,

“Fat as that old Goering lout.”

 

Then police took him away,

Told him that’s not nice to say,

Off you go, two weeks in jail,

And you’ll stay there without bail.

 

Two weeks later he was out,

He was careful what to shout,

He had herring, don’t you know,

Fat as just two weeks ago.


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Brant Migration

The black brant are back from the coast of Mexico and California. These small sea geese are on their northerly migration to their nesting grounds, mostly in the  coastal areas of the Canadian Arctic.

The long daylight hours of the far north allow plenty of time for the young to feed on plants and insects that are so prolific there.

But right now in the early spring of the year, as these adult black brant take a rest from their travels here on Vancouver Island, they are selectively foraging on marine vegetation. They especially like eel grass and bits of sea lettuce or other greens. Many of them have their beaks in the sand, rooting out plants, and small bits of grit. At this time of year, just after the herring have spawned, the brant might also get the odd mouthful of herring eggs stuck to the seaweed.  Caviar and green salad. Gourmet dining.

The brant have a long flight ahead of them and they need to recharge their strength and stamina for the next part of their northward journey.  This is why they spend so much of their time feeding. They are limited in the availability of the food by the tides. On high tides the grasses and seaweeds are underwater and not as easily accessible, so the brant prefer lower tides when the plants are uncovered. They eat during the day, so they have to make the most of the low tide and eat while the table is set. Low tides at night don’t do them much good.

By the way, do you see one bird who doesn’t seem to belong? It is being tolerated nicely though.

The snow geese are doing pretty much the same thing, heading north to nest, and eating as much as they can before the next leg of their flight. The difference is that they are not as particular about what they eat, and will happily enjoy some grass roots meals.

Our brant numbers seem to be down from past years. I don’t know why that is, but those that are left are a precious sight to see.

Coastal communities have put up many signs for visitors at the beach not to disturb the brant. While these birds are here, it is not helpful to them to let dogs run on the beach. It disturbs the birds,  who then use up energy in flying out of reach of the dogs, before they can then resettle to continue feeding.

While I watched from a distance, I saw a young father take his daughter down to the beach and walk right up to the brant, pointing at them, obviously showing his little girl what wonderful birds these are.

But here is the result of his naive, misguided good intentions.

While I was there, I saw two young fellows go down to the beach to play frisbee, right beside the brant, disturbing them yet again. They could just as easily have played frisbee on the grassy park area across from the beach.

A nearby kiteboarder had sense enough to go along the beach a little farther so he didn’t upset the geese.

The Captain and I drove on a few miles up the road to check out another beach that often had brant on it. Beautiful as the beach was, not a bird was to be seen. Perhaps the landscape here allows the tide to come right in  much faster and doesn’t leave as much “brant food” exposed.

We enjoyed the empty scene for a while before continuing on the road home, happy to have seen the brant earlier in the day.

 


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Reflections of Love

The other day I finally got around to cleaning some of the windows. I wondered if Quentin would be at the front door even more enthusiastically than before, talking to his reflection, hoping this “friend” would come out to play.

Sure enough, he appeared in a short time and had a conversation with himself at the window next to the front door.

Then he hopped onto the railing and sunned himself. (By the way, he does have two legs. Maybe he’s just warming one leg in his feathers.)

I told him he’s making a mess of the railing. What if someone wanted to hold onto it to steady themselves as they walked down the steps? But he just looked at me incredulously and said, “Well, I have to go somewhere!”

Just look at his beautifully designed head. So many different feather sizes, shapes, and colours, all in perfectly arranged sets of patterns.

Quentin Quail is beautiful,

Still his search is dutiful,

Hunting for his long lost mate,

Lonely living is his fate.

 

Yet he visits at the door,

His reflection to adore,

Thinking this is Queenie Quail,

Though he once again will fail.

 

Pondering his solitude,

He does nothing to intrude,

Quietly he soaks up sun,

Waiting for his only one.


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A Different Drum

I’d been reading a book in my living room. The sun shone in through the window and I dozed off with its warmth on the back of my neck.

I woke to the sound of someone dragging a big metal appliance across the concrete outside the downstairs family room. Emma barked like crazy to tell me that someone was burgling the house.

I ran out onto the deck to see what was going on. I saw nothing, but I heard the noise again. Strange!

The metallic rattling came again and I looked up towards the sound.

A flicker was sitting on the top of the new flue to the gas fireplace.

 


Just listen to his drumming!


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Caviar, anyone?

This Vancouver Island beach is very popular at this time of year. The western gulls flock here literally by the thousands.

What’s the attraction?

It’s not exactly a pretty, touristy beach of white sand.

But the gulls know what they’re after.

Lunch is being served. The gull in the top left of the photo below has a beak full of caviar.

It’s herring time and the roe is all over the beach. Gourmet dining at its finest.

A word to the wise: if you are walking this stretch of beach at herring time, it might be a good idea to bring an umbrella even if it’s not raining. When the gulls get riled up and are wheeling overhead, some of them can’t always contain their excitement. Best to have that umbrella ready.


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Quentin’s Return

I may have mentioned that a few years ago we had so many quail here, they crossed our yard like a living carpet of quail, forty or more.

As more houses were built, cats and dogs and people have disrupted the quail’s natural habitat, and the fate of the quail population was doomed. In a few short years the quail died off. One lone survivor has hung on, all alone for at least three years.

You may have met Quentin Quail in one of my previous blog posts. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2021/04/11/quentin-quail/

He still is the loneliest quail I’ve ever seen. I thought for sure this past cold winter would have killed him, but even after deadly cold blizzards and bone-chilling north winds, he has survived.

As usual, he is looking for the friend he thinks he sees in the window by our front door. Even with the glass so dirty from the weather and from Emma’s nose prints, he must see his reflection in it and think it is another quail. My heart breaks for him.

 

“I just don’t understand why she won’t come out to play.”

I really hope Quentin is careful. These past couple of days I’ve noticed what I think is a merlin hanging around. I tried to get a picture of it today, but it flew to a nearby pole and the picture is not as good as I’d like it to be. But here he is, the potential quail killer.

I hope he finds a mouse or a rat to eat instead.

 


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Over- and Underachievers

Seems that when spring is near, the increased daylight hours spark something in chickens that gets them laying more. Some of the younger birds lay tiny eggs, and then they skip a day and lay a double-sized egg (usually with a double yolk). It takes a while to get it all sorted out and they start laying regular-sized eggs.

The people who own the free-range chickens where we get our eggs have a contented flock of hens. These chickens have the run of the yard and the family’s big black labrador retriever keeps an eye on them. The dog and the hens are good friends. She wouldn’t dream of harassing the chickens.

It’s a happy farmyard.

Some of the hens lay green eggs; others lay brown ones. At this time of year, the size difference in the eggs can be dramatic.

I’ve tried to arrange them so you can compare the sizes. One green egg and three brown ones are huge (I felt sorry for the hen’s bum). I put a normal-size egg next to the big ones for comparison, and then there is a small … very small … brown egg.

You may wonder what the speckled egg is all about. It is a quail egg – one that I’ve had for years and is blown out. Remember in the old days when we painted Easter eggs and put a pinhole in the top and the bottom of the egg? We blew on the one pinhole and the contents of the egg came pouring out of the other. Then the shell could be preserved without a rotting egg inside.

I put that quail egg beside the small chicken egg so you can see how tiny they are.

And that reminds me. I had a very special visitor yesterday. In my next blog I’ll tell you about it.