Squirrelly crow


Yesterday I saw a crow finishing off… well, it wasn’t quite clear. It had been a mammal with long fur and a furry tail. My guess is that it used to be a squirrel. I was reminded of last January’s raven and mice.


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On May 1st I posted the first male Rufous Hummingbird that I had seen this year. They are the first to arrive. Now the females are here in good numbers. Also, the Black-chinned Hummingbird males have arrived, as yesterday’s pictures reveal.

A female Rufous Hummingbird

A male Black-chinned Hummingbird

 A male Rufous Hummingbird


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Two bear species


As I reflect on the time writing this blog, it strikes me that yesterday was the first time I have seen both of our bear species in one day. Both animals were foraging.

The grizzly bear was seen first in the predawn light. While not assured, it was an anticipated sighting. In the afternoon, the black bear was seen. Although it was an animal I had seen before, it was unexpected. 

This prompts a question about black bears and why are they plentiful in the valleys at this time of year. Have the snows aloft and the rainy weather in the valleys driven them down?

A grizzly bear was foraging in the predawn light.

A black bear, wearing a blaze, visited my home while scrounging the neighbourhood. 


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Nelson’s Horned Owl


This is the first time I have photographed the Great Horned Owl in Nelson. But, here it was with its partner and its three chicks, the latter in down. The spot could be considered as ideal for raising a family — just think of all of those pigeons for food. And the admiring crowd of people are probably not much of a nuisance for they are far below.

I visited them early this morning in a light rain. 

The one adult sitting alone was probably the male.

Elsewhere a lone downy was still sleeping.

Another downy chick was resting beside a sleepy parent, probably the female,

That chick looked at me wide awake.


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Chickadee nest


Nearly a month ago, I watched a Black-capped Chickadee couple excavate a cavity nest in a snag. The exercise went on for quite a few days. There was no guarantee that they would occupy it for they tend to dig several cavities before deciding which one can be their ideal home. Then activity stopped and nothing more was seen until today. 

I saw one chickadee (the female) vanish into the cavity. Soon, the male arrived with something in his bill. He vanished into the cavity and in 12 seconds returned with an empty bill. I will keep watching it in the hopes that chicks may be seen.

After the female has entered, the male arrives with food. 

And in 12 seconds he is off for more food. We may see an average of 7 chicks. 


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A good day


It was sunny, so time was spent wandering. The pictures are in the order they were taken.

The first shot of the day was a muskrat. 

Then came a Wild Turkey in display with a female indicating a willingness.

There were many wild ducks seen, but the only I took notice of was the Cinnamon Teal.

A number of types of swallows were photographed, but the only spectacular picture was a Tree Swallow. This male had just fed a female in a nest box.

The first bear that was seen was a black bear with two brown cubs up a tree.

Probably the highlight was two fighting Turkey Vultures fighting over a female. They went at it for about 2 minutes. One male arrived with her, and one left with her, but I could not tell them apart and so it is not clear if she left with the original male or not.

Then there was another female black bear. 

And it’s cub.


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Proud eagle parents



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Yesterday afternoon I was visited by a black bear. It was just rambling through yards looking for overflowing garbage cans. Alas, it found little other than a few dandelions at my place.

It was amiable, generally ignoring my tagging along and taking its picture. It knew I was there, but it wasn’t concerned. It wasn’t until I looked at the pictures that I realized that this bear wore a blaze. 

A blaze is the whitish V-shaped mark on its chest. A large proportion of the black bears in the east wear a blaze; very few in the west do. The last local black bear that I saw sporting a blaze was five years ago.

At one point, it stopped and munched on a dandelion, but the pickings were slim.

Nevertheless, it now and then travelled with its mouth open trying to find something.

Before vanishing into a neighbour’s yard, it stopped and looked back at me as if to say, “You could have been more helpful.”


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Tuesday’s halo complex


On Tuesday, there was overrunning of cirrus over the Lake. On Wednesday, there was rain. Lorraine Symmes took a picture to the west and sent it to me. It showed a halo complex, something that often precedes rain.

All of the optical phenomena in the picture are the result of tiny ice crystals in the sky bending the sunlight. While popular consensus is that ice crystals falling from the sky are uniformly the beautiful stellar crystals, most are not. Most crystals are either simple hexagonal plates or columns. And these fall differently. The small hexagonal plates fall nearly horizontal rather like dinner plates spread haphazardly on a table. Small columnar crystals fall at right angles to the plates, rather like endless pencils spread on the table. This halo complex is made of both types of crystals: plates and columns.

We start at the top of the picture. 

Circumzenithal arc: This is caused by the refraction of the sunlight through the 90° edges of the oriented hexagonal plates. This one is a tad faint, but is the portion of the circle with the zenith (off the frame) at its centre.

Supralateral arc: This arc is tangent to the 46° halo with which it is often confused. It touches the circumzenithal arc but is curved down. This is caused by the refraction of the sunlight through the 90° edges of the oriented columns. It is quite bright in this picture and its centre approximately on the sun.

Upper tangential arc: The optical phenomena in the lower portion of the picture appears separate, but is caused by the same types of crystals. The upper one appearing like a graceful bird’s wings is the upper tangential arc. This is caused by the refraction of the sunlight through the 120° edges of the oriented columns. The 120° is accomplished by light passing through alternate sides of those separated by 60°. This arc evolves quickly depending upon the sun’s height.

22° halo: This is the most common of all the phenomena. It is located at an angle of 22° from the sun. Like the others, it is the result of refraction but of randomly-oriented small plates or columns. It is caused by refraction though 120° prisms.

A halo complex usually presages rain.

Photograph courtesy Lorraine Symmes.


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Well, it is May first and a Rufous Hummingbird male came to visit. May there be more.


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