Welcome to the Island Rambles Blog

Hi my name is Nora and Welcome to my blog world. This is a nature and birding photo blog about Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada. I am trying to be a birder and I take photos of the birds and scenery I find. I hope you enjoy your time here and please come back again. PHOTOS WILL ENLARGE IF CLICKED. The photos are slide show enabled if you click on them. If you click on the top lighthouse photo it always takes you to the most recent summary list of my postings.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Banding Tiny Hummingbirds


Recently we went to the Annual International Migratory Bird Day at Beaver Lake Park put on by the Victoria Natural History Society, Rocky Point Bird Observatory and the CRD Regional Parks.  It was so much fun and I watched them band a hummingbird.  The hummers are trapped in a feeder trap and very gently banded as they are so teeny tiny.  (This week at ABC it is the letter "t" so I will be trying to add them to my theme.)
First they tuck a little blue tissue tunic around the hummingbird's torso and tie with a clip.  I believe this is a Rufous Hummingbird.   She seems pretty tranquil and tolerant.  (for non-blogging readers..I am using "t" words for a game we bloggers play...I have not lost my mind yet.)

Then they measure the leg to see the size and if it is swollen.  She waits patiently "Here I am all wrapped up for you".
The band is applied with a tool. They check the feathers to see the condition of the bird.  On larger birds they would blow on the feathers and could tell if it was a female; if the breast feathers were missing it was female and sitting on a nest and they would check the wing coverts to see the health of the larger birds.

If you lay a hummingbird on its back it just lays there motionless in a trance.  They were counting the shinny throat spots but I am not sure why. This hummer came back twice it liked it so much!
They also had tables and booths from local nature organizations that were full of interesting and educational items.

I think this was a swallows nest, I had to take a picture of the beautiful feathers.
This is a photo of the bones of a hummingbird.

More pictures of the tables and displays.
Here a youngster gets a close up view of a local dragonfly.

Then I was totally shocked and so happy to see this below.  This is a nest we took into a local Nature House last year from my son's house.  The baby hummingbirds were just about to fly when we had a terrible cold spell.They nest in February.  The babies did not make it. I was so upset.  We took it to the Nature House and it is now used as a teaching tool for the childrens' programs.
Here is the nest below when it was still viable. These are Anna's Hummingbirds.
Here is the momma on the nest last year.  She would have gone on and just made another nest.  Still it was very traumatic to me.

Then I thought of another hummingbird picture that was sent to me.
Picture credit on above picture to Muzza, my talented brother-in-law, as I did not take this one picture but all the rest are my shots.  I was not there that day when a friend had a hummer get trapped in the garage and he had to rescue it.  It was fine. Flew away.  I hope I get more of Muzza's photos to share with you.

Back now to the Bird Day.  The Pacific Northwest Raptors came and brought three birds.  They had a Turkey Vulture who seemed quite tame. He liked to play with daisies or he would nip your fingers. They were on tethers.
They brought a Peregrine Falcon. Very fast flying.
Also they had a lovely Harris Hawk.
They did flight demonstrations.  However this turned out to be most entertaining....both the hawk and the falcon promptly flew away to nearby trees.  The handler had to work quite hard with tempting and tantalizing dishes to get them back.  I am sure the birds really enjoyed that. These birds from the Raptor Center are very well looked after and it is an incredible place to visit in Duncan, B.C.

Well that is it, I tried to get lots of "T" words in even though my text was quite terse.

Special thanks to the Victoria Natural History Society, Rocky Point Bird Observatory and the CRD Parks for putting on such an amazing display.  I can't wait till next year to go again.

The memes for this week are:  ABC Wednesday the letter "t". Thank you to these memes for allowing bloggers to share their story.  I may not remember to enter them all but I still list them as this is the quick way for me to do it.  (For non-bloggers, Memes are games we bloggers play to get together.)
Show off Your Shot
Our World Tuesday
Sweet Shot Tuesday
Tuesday Tweets
World Bird Wednesday
ABC Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday with Words
Nature Notes Wednesday
Outdoors Wednesday

edit note:  I sometimes have to republish after I see how many errors I made or links not working. 





Monday, May 21, 2012

Sleepy Owls



The species for today's subject is the Great Horned Owl.  We are doing "s" for sleepy owls at ABC this week.   I took these snaps a few days ago when we went in search of baby owls born this spring. All the shots were slow and somewhat in shade.  I was  shooting back lit, hand held with the sun behind the owls so some shadows and silhouettes.  If you can count the "S" words you will be surprised at how many I can cram in here.




This is how I found them, baby owlets, they were sneaking a peak at the stalker and acting so silly.


The adult female gave me a scornful squint as she stands stately on the branch. I think to myself perhaps she remembers me from past years.  She is unconcerned that I am there alone below her tree again with my camera.  She scowls at me, scolding me with her stern looks and sly winks.  She does not bother to leave.


The babies continue to stare at me...did I startle you or scare you I wonder? No, they are just spying on me as I spy on them.  I make some encouraging  owl sounds for them. hoo-hoo-hoo They are amused with me.  We begin our dance together. All things in nature remain a spiritual wonder for me, we are all so interconnected. I mean no harm to them and they sense that.




Now they shuffle along the branch to check me out, each step a little more steady.  They will  proudly give me a saucy look or a serene look as they step along the stick branch.  Here the babies show me their sizable feet..with such sharp talons.  They scratch and peck at their new feet.


The mom just turns her back and gives a huge shake and shiver of her speckled feathers.  She is glad to be out of that nest. Look at those strong legs.





See my spotted and soft feathers and look I have tail feathers too they seem to say to me as they show off  their delight to be out of the nest also. Look I have wings too!



After a short while the baby owls are tired and sleepy.  They sit still on the branch ready for some shut-eye.  As I silently sneak away I hope they stay safe there on the branch and don't slip.



Sorry this is so short, it is summer here and a busy time.  How many "s" words did I achieve without even mentioning the one that I step in all the time!!!

The memes for this week are:  ABC Wednesday the letter "s". Thank you to these memes for allowing bloggers to share their story.  I may not remember to enter them all but I still list them as this is the quick way for me to do it.
Show off Your Shot
Our World Tuesday
Sweet Shot Tuesday
Tuesday Tweets
World Bird Wednesday
ABC Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday with Words
Nature Notes Wednesday
Outdoors Wednesday

edit note:  I sometimes have to republish after I see how many errors I made or links not working.  Sorry this duplicates my posts sometimes.



Monday, May 14, 2012

Race Rocks and Sea Lions

This is a Northern Sea Lion at Race Rocks.   We call them Steller's Sea Lions.  I am working on "R" or Race Rocks for ABC Wednesday.  The Sea Lions spend the winter months here at Race Rocks and now seem to be around almost all year.  Also mixed in the pictures you may see a Californian Sea Lion as they all seem to hang out together.  I think the Californian ones are darker and Steller's are more golden, I really don't know so you can look at the shots and see if you can pick out the darker ones.
The Californian ones will bark more and the Northern ones will growl.  The Northern Sea Lion is the largest of the sea lion species and are threatened.  Mostly the very large males will lay in the sun here on a good day but in bad weather they will be under the water.  A male can weigh around 1,245 pounds.  My husband thinks they weigh more.
The males will live for around twenty years and the females can live as long as thirty years.  They only produce one pup each year.
They feed at night on fish, squid and octopus and the males are very aggressive and territorial.
It is always a challenge to take photos from a small boat that is going up and down with the waves.  I am lucky to get anything that turns out at all. We do not get in close to the sea lions, they are protected here and I use a long lens.  I try not to get the front of the boat in the shot as we bob up and down and I scream at the driver.  (poor husband!)
You may notice that these shots look different from my other shots.  I was experimenting and I put them through a photoshop paint program.  Not sure I like it.  What do you think of it?  They are photos I took in the past as we have not been out in the boat yet this year.  They look so cute below and they love to lay out on the rocks in the hot sun. 

Now here are some shots of the actual Race Rocks lighthouse.  This area is an ecological reserve and all shots were taken at a distance with a long lens.
There are several rock cairns and stone mounds on the rock indicating that it was used as a First Nations burial ground during period of AD500. (look closely below and you will see the sea lions surrounding the lighthouse)
On Boxing Day of 1860 the light at the rock was first turned on.  It was to help the ships navigate in the Strait of Juan de Fuca going to Victoria, Vancouver, Seattle and the inside passage.  It was impossible in the early years for the tall ships to make it into Victoria harbour at night and many ships went aground here.
Race Rocks is so named as the tide races swiftly around here.  It is located just off Rocky Point, the most southern point on Vancouver Island, B.C. Canada, and also the most south you can go on land on the Pacific Coast of Canada. It is very exciting to go here and I love it when the water is as calm as it was this day.  Not so much fun when it is choppy and you are in a little boat.
The tide is the strongest of any tide on the coast as all the tide for Georgia Strait, Haro Strait and Puget Sound rushes through here twice a day.   It is only around twelve nautical miles from the U.S. shore.
The first lighthouse keeper painted the black and white stripes on it to try to make it stand out from the shoreline.

The granite to build the lighthouse was cut in Scotland and shipped here and then barged out to the rock.

The memes for this week are below and thank you to those bloggers who give their time to host and screen and reply and collect all the bloggers up together so we can find each other in this huge web world of bloggers. What would we do without our memes. Thanks.
The memes for this week are listed below:  ABC Wednesday the letter "r" for Race Rocks. Thank you to these memes for allowing bloggers to share their story.
Our World Tuesday
Sweet Shot Tuesday
ABC Wednesday
Wordless Wednesday with Words
Nature Notes Wednesday
Outdoors Wednesday

edit note:  I sometimes have to republish after I see how many errors I made or links not working.   I don't have a lot of time during the summer so my text goes rapidly downhill.




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