Rained Out

My hopes of a pleasant Sunday’s birding have been washed away by a rotten deluge. Said deluge has also soggified my deckchair, diluted the nectar in my hummingbird feeder, and attracted a pair of wet, miserable crows to my balcony. All the food got eaten hours ago, but the crows are still here, roosting in the planters. I haven’t seen my song sparrow, the one with the wonky toes, all day. I’m a little worried about it. It’s usually here several times a day, rain or shine, crows or no crows. (Ha, ha; I nearly wrote “rain or shite,” right there. My, but I loathe this weather.)

Yesterday, the wind was blowing so hard the hummingbirds couldn’t land on the hanging feeder: they had to use the window-mounted one. That wind — it must’ve blown in the clouds. Nice job, wind; where are you now, to send this weather on its way?

On another note, my neighbourhood is host to a ridiculous number of plastic owls. I’ve counted six along Moberly Road (and I’ve never been all the way down the road! — there could be more!), one along Bucketwheel, two right next to each other near the trees with all the starlings, and one overlooking Leg In Boot Square. I don’t much mind the owls: the birds don’t mind them, either, so they don’t spoil my birding. But every so often, I spot one out of the corner of my eye, just this great bird-shaped mass…. I whirl to face it, all excitement, thinking I’ve inadvertently snuck up on something brilliant, and bam. Another bally fake owl.

Just once, I'd like to turn round and see this.

Just once, I’d like to turn round and see this.

I ought to be able to see an owl in Vancouver, but not without venturing as far as Stanley Park, at least; the heart of the city isn’t known for its owly hordes.

One bird I SHOULD be able to approach without leaving the neighbourhood is the hitherto-elusive double-crested cormorant. Mother says the perch I found wasn’t the perch she meant. There’s another just like it, on THIS side of the water, close enough to snap. I followed the directions she gave me (or I thought I did), but I couldn’t find it. Maybe I went the wrong way, or not far enough, or too far; maybe there was a boat in the way. I’m really a terrible birder. This is an awful hobby for the perpetually lost. Ah, well; when the sun comes out, my search shall continue. Stay tuned for cormorants (one hopes)!

Doggy Interference

I saw a bird, today, in the water, by the seawall. It wasn’t a goose, a mallard, a cormorant, or a gull. It wasn’t anything I’d seen before. Of course, I was very interested in this bird, and possibly willing to venture beyond my usual, eh…sphere of influence? Comfort zone? Prison of terror? …on its behalf. Possibly willing. It took a while to decide. I waited around, for a bit, where Bucketwheel gives way to Leg In Boot Square, putting my foot out, pulling it back, putting it out, pulling it back, till I realised I looked weird, and started walking.

I got to the “Caution: Sewage” sign, and waited some more.

I got to the “No Littering” sign (or is it a “No Dog Dirt” sign?), and paused again.

I kicked myself in the shin, and kept shuffling. I got all the way to…well, there weren’t any more landmarks, after the dog dirt sign. I got to…a point about fifty yards beyond the last boat docked at the marina, and maybe another fifty from the bird. I was getting there. I was going to make it. I was SNAPPING that bird, and adding it to my list, in a flourish of bird-spotting triumph.

Then, a great boisterous dog came, barking its way down the seawall, and — phoosh! — off went the bird, to the safety of deeper waters.

The bird.

The bird.

Dogs are the worst. Cowardly birds are the worst. Not having a boat is the worst. Not having a birding scope is the worst! Birding is the worst, other birders who’ve seen more birds than I have are the worst, and windy days are the worst: my ears hurt, from getting blown in.

Ah, right; that’s the spite out of my system. Back to the bird: for some reason, I’d got it into my head that it must be a grebe, of some sort. The colours, I think — they reminded me of grebish winter plumage. But the shape was all wrong, especially round the head. Sheepishly, I went to the bird forum for help, and (egg on my face!) it’s a Pacific loon! Here’s the worst part: I knew there were loons. I’ve been looking for loons. A lady I met in the garden, while Mother was visiting, even TOLD us there were loons. But I got mired in a great snarly welter of grebey thoughts, and missed the obvious answer.

I’m the worst birder ever! Ha, ha, ha!

(Also, that loon is on notice: it and the cormorants. They can fly; they can float, but they can’t hide forever. They will be photographed, and crisply. Eventually.)