A repeat of yesterday's activity - walk by the dyke

Great day to take a walk by the dyke today (at least it's better than yesterday, when I was drenched by the time I got home) - no rain and not too cold either.

And I think I ran into the same Northern Shoveler at the same ditch as yesterday. Only this time, I managed to take better pictures. It was a lot more patient with me this time. Thanks!

And then the clouds slowly cleared up.

While I was in the Terra Nova Rural Area, there was a bird up on the tree that doesn't look like a crow at all.

Then I realized it is some kind bird of prey. But it flew away and a couple of crows chased after it too.

I went after it to see where it went but couldn't find it. So I gave up.

However, when I continued with my walk, I came across the same bird again? Is it a Northern Harrier with that smallish body size and the long tail? But how often do they perch on trees? It's times like this when I wish I have a better camera and binocular. Sigh.

Then some kid and his guardian walked by, loudly, causing me to around (to glare at them) and then only to watch the bird flew away from me again. Arghh.

Off in the distance, the Snow Geese are still here and making tons of noises when they took off.

This tree stump is kind of like a highway system (for insects). I saw at least four or five species of insects walking across this stump as I was feeling bored and taking pictures of the spider. Pretty soon, I was taking pictures of other insects too.
Then the fog slowly rolled in as I was walking back home.

Before going back, I went back to the same spot in the Natural Park to take some more pictures of those interesting-looking insects. I think there was more today than yesterday. And it turns out that these aren't insects at all (according to wikipedia). Head over to Wanderin' Weeta for better pictures and links with more information.

As I was leaving the dyke trail, the setting sun was giving off this beautiful orange-pinkish color to the clouds.


Busy air traffic day

Today's weather was not nice. Almost constant raining and the sky was just gray, and well, not fun at all (in terms of sky watching and mood uplifting). I braved the rainy weather to go out to the dyke for a walk. One really noticeable thing today was the numerous helicopters flying across the Sturgeon Bank this afternoon.

Not too much wildlife activities out there today, except for the usual Mallards, Great Blue Herons, and Northern Harriers. However, I did came across this regurgitated remain of a rodent. I took some photographs first and then collected some of the bones to take home for a closer look.


While I was on the Terra Nova Natural Area, I saw many small critters inside a crack on the rail. They should be the same species as the ones that I saw last time. But there were also brown ones that I didn't noticed last time. Maybe I should submit these pictures to BugGuide for help. [Edit: Never mind, turns out Wanderin' Weeta recently asked the same question as I did. Great!]

I was also trying to photograph this Northern Shoveler, but it kept avoiding me. It always stopped for a while before I catch up, and then it swam forward again, and ahead I went again. Therefore, it resulted in many poor pictures. When bad pictures occur, just think of them as an unique artistic style, at least that's what I always tell myself when sorting through these pictures. And then the bird got tired of playing with me and flew away.

That's about all I saw today. Not too much wildlife, but definitely a lot of helicopters.

Here are the photos that I just took of the lower right mandible of the animal. Going to have to dig out my old mammalogy lab manual to see if I can identify what species it is. Wish me luck!


Quick stroll during lunchtime.

I haven't had a decent 1-hour lunchtime in a while where I can eat my lunch quickly and go out to get some fresh air. I'm always busy with one task or another or the weather is terrible. Anyways, today's weather was decent so I made an effort to try to go out after my lunch.

Glaucous Gull...waiting for its love?

A female House Sparrows (Passer domesticus). They aren't actually sparrows, but belong in the family of Old World Weaver Finches (who are known for the ingenious nest-building techniques).

The male (above) has the black bib, while the female (below) has the buffy eye stripe. But juvenile males resemble adult females too. These birds are looking all round and ready for the cold winter.

Today's sky watch picture. If only the buildings don't exist...


Biking by the dyke and seeing Bald Eagles

Today was another beautiful day. Too tired from yesterday's hike so I decided to stay home and go to the dyke when I feel rested enough.

The sky was so clear today that I could see the beautiful North Shore mountains from Terra Nova. I don't have panorama setting on my camera so this is the overlapped version of the beautiful scene that I enjoyed today.

The view from the distance.

This beautiful day also brought a Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) pair to this tree. I wonder if they were looking for a home to settle in or if they are already settled (not sure since I haven't been here for a couple of weeks now). I also wonder if one of the eagles was the same one I saw earlier last month. Nevertheless, I truly hope they will stay so that I can come visit them every weekend. As you can see from the pictures, one was standing guard while one was inside the nest.

And of course, no visit to the dyke can be complete without coming across a Great Blue Heron (actually, I was just wondering about that before I came this first one). Talking about perfect timing.

I saw a couple of interesting birds today, such as this male Green-winged teal (Anas crecca), which is one of the most common teals around here. The male can be recognized by its chestnut head with the dark green ear patch highlighted by white lines.

A male Green-winged teal (Anas crecca)

Then I took these pretty pictures as the clouds slowly covered the setting sun.

I came across the lonely Snow Geese all on its own feeding on the this field. It feels very strange to see only one here when I had seen a few hundreds on the same field before.

I also observed this male Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata) followed by two females, this species is a resident here and breeds throughout British Columbia. One interesting fact from here: "When flushed off the nest, a female Northern Shoveler often defecates on its eggs, apparently to deter predators." I wouldn't want to be the offspring who was born smelly.

I also saw a female Greater Scaup (Aythya marila), I think. It was moving back and forth so it was very hard for me to take a decent picture. But at least I can identify a female Greater Scaup when I see one now, thanks to last time's mistake.

Two things I like about writing a blog are: 1) It keeps me in check with my connection with nature and forces me to write about it (so that I can come back when I am older and reminisce the old times); 2) It also forces me to identify the creatures that I saw and to search a few interesting things about them that I can put on my blog.

I am very thankful for the weather this weekend so that I can go out and enjoy the beautiful Georgia Depression.

Hiking in Pacific Spirit Regional Park...until my battery ran out (Ocean Edition)

So after I left the forest behind, the ocean view was right in front of me. So gorgeous. West Vancouver looked great in the distance.

In the distance, you could see many Goldeneyes, Scoters, and Buffleheads floating on top of the water too (which turned out to be little black specks on my pictures).

And then were some brave ones traveling closer to the shore for food. I noticed that sometimes fishes would jump out of the water while the birds were diving. I am guessing the fishes are just avoiding being captured?

Surf Scoter (on the left); Common Goldeneyes (on the right)

I took these beautiful pictures as the sun was slowly setting.

A small group of Common Goldeneyes.

Now, one sad scene that I came across was this carcass. I am guessing it's a seagoing mammal- either a seal or a sea lion because of its blubbery body. It had been decayed for a while as the smells were quite bad when I got close. The animal was at least 1-m in length and about 100-kg. From the pictures, you could see the head was missing, and some parts of skeleton were observable - I wonder if animals or humans had to do with that. I was trying to cover it with sand, but it didn't work too well. Not sure why it was here or how it died, but I hope it will have a better afterlife than this. R.I.P.

I continued walking and arrived at the Tower Beach (where I did my bird survey for my class last year). Little had changed except with the new graffiti on the tower. I took this last picture before my camera warned me of low battery. Then I headed back home.

Hiking in Pacific Spirit Regional Park...until my battery ran out (Forest Edition)

I made the most out of today's amazing weather by hiking in the Pacific Spirit Regional Park surrounding UBC. Wanting to visit both the forest and the beach today, I decided to hike down the Spanish Trail, walk along Acadia and Tower Beach, and walked back up Trail 3 to the campus.

The weather as I said was amazing, beautiful blue sky with some clouds. It seemed to bring many people outdoors today as I encountered many people during my walk - resulting in less animals observed. Boo!

The only cooperative organisms that I could easily take pictures of were these fungi and slimes - the two groups of organisms that I have little knowledge of. I should have taken courses of them back in university.

All found on the same dead fallen tree, amazing source of nutrients!


I still saw and heard many animals though, such as the following:

Energetic Bushtit on the left - very hard to photograph. The (easier to photograph) Spotted Towhee is on the right.

This Bald Eagle pair flew over the forest several times.

A woodpecker of some sort on the distance. Stupid bikers and joggers kept going by me and scaring the animals away before I had a chance to better see it with my binocular.

Many dead trees with evidences of primary cavity producers, e.g. woodpecker, trying to make a cavity - for food and/or shelter.

Came across this Douglas's Squirrel feeding on something. It was a little bit bug-eyed. After it left the spot, I went and checked out what it was eating. And it turned out to be mushrooms, go figure.

Deceased spider in a tree hole. R.I.P.

A small dammed pond (formed by beavers?) is present next to the University Golf Course, and it created this interesting habitat. I wonder if I can find frogs and salamanders here during the summer.

A view of the blue sky by looking downward at the water.

And a direct view to the top.

Me trying out the Shutter Sister challenge - "Hold your camera down a bit and capture a shot of yourself with the sky as your backdrop. Then point your camera down and capture your feet on the ground."

Epiphytes, i.e. an organism that grows upon or attaches to a living plant!

The end of Spanish Bank Creek before it flows into ocean.

Good time to end today's post. I will post the "Ocean Edition" later - because I took way too many pictures (leading to running out of camera battery) and had too much to describe.
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