Four birds


 Here are four (species of) of birds seen yesterday.

Most Osprey have migrated, yet this juvenile was feeding in a tree along the lakeshore.

The only striking thing about these Wild Turkeys is that while walking across a field, one chose to lift off. 

These are a few of  many Pine Siskins feeding on (birch?) catkins.

Derek Kite found this Great Horned Owl near his home.
Derek Kite’s image is used with permission.

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Fog, turkeys, hoboes


In the cool early morning, steam fog rose from a stream and drifted over the countryside.

Wild turkeys are silhouetted in the morning mist as they feed in a field.

As the fog drifts by, its droplets are intercepted by the threads of funnel webs of (what is probably) the hobo spider.

Drops on these webs are captured from the fog; they are not dewdrops.

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‘Tis the season of fall colours and my favourite is the larch, a deciduous conifer.

When this posting was made, I believed the trees shown here were alpine larches. Doug Thorburn, a man who knows his trees, assures me that, no, they are western larches. The title and text has been corrected to show this.

The colours of the western larch spill down the mountain side.

When trees are viewed across the valley, contrast and colour is muted.

The western larch is brilliant when seen close by.

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Eagle gathering


Here are a few images taken during a local congregation of eagles. They gathered with friends, to feast, vent, and dry out after a long wet night. 

To see all five eagles in a tree, move the cursor up or down over the image.



Drying out after a long wet night.


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Bighorn mating


When it comes to the mating of Bighorn Sheep, the sequence is well known.

The first step is to establish dominance over competitors. A good head butting should do this.

The second step is to pursue a fecund ewe.

The third step is to mount her…

and penetrate her. Let there be lambs.

Finally, the time has come to relax together. Life is good.

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Bighorn wooing


For most of the year, adult bighorn rams and ewes live separately. This is obviously not conducive to species propagation, so in the fall, they come together and the wooing begins.

Rams gather and jostle one another probably as a way to establish dominance.

When jostling does not settle dominance, head butting does.

Ewes show scant courtship towards rams. Their contribution seems primarily that of turning up. Here they are pouring down to the valley floor from the cliffs. Let the wooing begin.

Six rams follow one ewe.

A ram must determine the state of a ewe’s oestrus and this might involve licking her flanks and gently stroking her rump with his foreleg.

This ram obviously hopes the ewe is ready.

Five rams tagging along behind one ewe have probably smelled her pheromones.

A ram in hot pursuit has already smelled pheromones and has now opened his mouth to expose another organ which aids in determining if the ewe is in oestrus.

A young ram tries unsuccessfully to mate.   

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Bighorn portraits


There are no Bighorn Sheep on mountain slopes on the sides of Kootenay Lake. The forest is just too dense. However, there are many herds of them within a hundred kilometres of the shoreline. This is the first of what will probably be three postings about our local Bighorn Sheep. It is merely a group of portraits to set the stage for subsequent postings.

The first distinction to be made among Bighorn Sheep is between rams (males) and ewes (females). The ram with large curled horns is on the left and the ewe with shorter horns is on the right.

A profile of rams shows a horn curving strongly around the face.

While a profile of ewes shows a much shorter horn.

A group of rams holds court.

And one stares into the camera.

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Observational physics


I do little to promote my blog or website as each was created primarily for my own satisfaction. Occasionally, I mention an avian posting to a birding group, but that is about it. That others look at my material is of interest, but it is not paramount.

In the last four years, I have made 777 postings and most now receive anywhere from 50 to 150 viewings; viral is not a term that can be applied to anything I do (nor would I want it to be). So, I was curious to discover that a posting made four years ago had an ongoing and considerable viewership. What poignant combination of images and words could possibly have resulted in such continuing interest? As most of my postings are about the local natural world, might it be about a rare bird or possibly a cute bear? No. Such things pass out of viewer consciousness shortly after being posted.

Yet, the perpetually popular posting is about the natural world. Before revealing the identity of this oddity, I have to acknowledge that the ongoing favourite has not had the substantial viewer numbers as have my three hits: the desecration of a pictograph (2,920 viewings), a train wreck (2,831), and the sighting of an ogopogo (1,600). Three things characterize these postings: They are not as much about the natural world as they are about human foibles; Interest in them dies to virtually nothing within a week or so; Viewers are predominately local (western Canada).

By way of contrast, the ongoing favourite, with nearly a thousand viewings so far, has different characteristics: It is about the natural world, rather than about people; Interest has percolated along at quite a few viewers per month since the beginning; Viewers come from forty different countries and every populated continent. Links to this posting come from Wikipedia in three different languages, discussion groups, question-and-answer sites, and from searches seeking an explanation for precisely the question I attempted to address. 

It is a posting that uses physics in an attempt to explain lake-surface patterns seen during rain

Go figure.

The posting attempted to explain patterns such as seen in this picture.

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There was a lunar eclipse in the early hours of today.

When the Moon is in the Earth’s umbra (totally in shadow), sunlight cannot reach it directly. Yet it glows with two different colours: red and blue. Both are the result of light that was bent as it passed through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The red, familiar to all, is the light that passed right through the atmosphere after much of the blue had been scattered in other directions to give the blue of the daytime skies. Seen from the Moon, the Sun is blocked and the Earth’s atmosphere appears as a ring of the reddish light of many sunsets.

The blue is more subtle and, to see it, timing is important. For a short time just after entering or before leaving the Earth’s umbra, the Moon’s rim is illuminated by light that passed through the Earth’s ozone layer. Ozone absorbs reddish light but allows bluish light to pass through to give the otherwise reddish moon a soft bluish edge. 

The Moon has just entered the Earth’s umbra and appears reddish with a soft bluish edge in the northeast.

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Grizzlies in a tree


Can Grizzly Bears climb trees? Yes. They aren’t as good at it as are Black Bears, but as long as there are plenty of branches to grasp, they will happily climb. This is the story of grizzlies in a black-hawthorn tree.

It is October and steam fog rises from the fish-filled streams that flow into Kootenay Lake.

A family of Grizzly Bears patrols the shoreline.

However, these grizzlies seek berries from trees rather than fish from the stream.

Alas, the Kokanee salmon are in the deeper water out of easy reach of bears. This will change after the fish spawn, die, and float towards the shore.

The sow (centre top) and her male cub (right top) climbed high in a black-hawthorn tree. The female cub (centre bottom) tried to climb, but was too small to manage it. 

The sow fed on black-hawthorn berries,

as did her son.

Because her hungary daughter could not climb the tree, the sow tried to break off a branch to drop it to her. She failed and so climbed down, found a smaller tree and knocked it over so her daughter could feed.

The family then wandered off in search of more berries. Soon they will feast on Kokanee salmon.

Posted in fish, mammals | 8 Comments