Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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.


Dog Trains Owner

My neighbours across the street have been trying to get shrubs to grow along the edge of their property. I say “trying” because it is a challenge to grow anything with leaves in an area inhabited by starving town deer.

I sympathize because for the past 23 years I’ve been trying to do the same. I had to put a fenced compound in the backyard if I wanted to grow any roses or fruit trees. Even a hedge at the property line was impossible. The deer were hungry.

Recently, a greenway was forced on us, even though it is a detour of the original walking path. Even with the deer eating most of my gardening efforts, I did not like the idea of fencing my yard. I’ve had to give in though, and we now have a fence.

I could handle the deer, but not the dogs running at large. People come from far and wide. They don’t walk in their own neighbourhood, but drive here to walk their dogs. As soon as they see a stand of trees, they unleash their dogs to play “Born Free,” allowing them to tear through everyone’s yard, and do their business whenever the urge strikes them. Some dog owners even pick up after their dogs and then fling the plastic bags into the shrubbery in front of the homes along the path.

Below you see our neighbours’ continued brave attempt at preventing the deer from eating their shrubs. The little bag of blood meal seems to keep the deer away. But they are paying the price inflicted on us by the dog walkers. Many of their shrubs have been attacked by dogs who rip off the bags of blood meal. Where are the dog owners? I met one today.


You see in the photo below where the path is. This is where the dogs and their owners are meant to walk. There is even an untamed grassy area where a dog might do its number and the owner can pick up. Why would a dog walker allow her dog to run over to the shrubs on private property and watch the dog as it attacks the blood meal bag?

015I was in my front yard with my own dogs when I saw a golden retriever run over to the neighbours’ shrubs and start pulling on the branches. I walked over closer and called to the dog’s owner. I saw then that she had him on a long retractable leash, but was allowing him to do whatever he wanted. I thought I’d just watch to see what she would do. Nothing! She did nothing at all. Only watched.

“Why are you letting him do that?” I asked her.

“I’m not letting him.” She turned her attention to the dog and pulled on the leash. The dog wouldn’t budge. He had his jaws locked on the blood meal bag and was not letting go.

The woman pulled and pulled. She begged him to come away.

I said, “The people have put those bags of blood meal on to discourage the deer and I know they’re upset that some dogs have been eating them.”

She gave me a look, and then let out a big sigh. She pulled a bag out of her pocket and took out a doggie treat. The dog let go of the shrub to take the treat and the woman dragged him away.

Now, who has learned a lesson?

The woman seems to have already known that she can get the dog to let go of something by offering him a treat. Do you think she’ll do it again? Yes.

The dog has learned that he can do what he wants and be rewarded for his disobedience. Do you think he’ll do it again? Yes.

The nosy interfering neighbour has learned that some people should not own dogs, and that her day would have been better if she had not tried to look out for her neighbours. Will she do it again? Yes.

So it seems that life will go on without any changes, at least until the neighbours also give up and build a fence.