Squatter in the marina

coot preening
I captured this coot on the back of a motorboat last summer while walking around a marina on Lake Geneva. Judging by the greenery behind the coot, it appeared to me that s/he had set up housekeeping there.

 

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It’s a dog’s life…

 

dog chasing ball, motion blur

I was down at Blackie Spit yesterday, on the other side of the peninsula from White Rock, where most of my beach images are captured. It was a cloudless day, mild but a bit cooler than we’ve been getting in the past week. It was crowded! There’s an off-leash area just behind the beach parking, with quite a few dogs and their people hanging out and playing. I spent a little while watching and these are a few of the images I brought home, mostly of the lab. She was having great fun monopolizing the chase. I also have images of her running companion and a few others that I’ll post another time. Playing with my motion blurs again. 🙂 In the last one the dog is running through long grass, and I like how the dead grass heads break up the image.

 

Waiting at the gate

donkeys-6563-

I featured this adorable donkey foal in a post last summer. Here’s a different image of her with her dam. They were waiting at a cattle grid/gate when we arrived half way up the mountain in the Haute Savoie region of France, fairly close to Geneva, Switzerland.

 

Oregon Junco

male Oregon Junco

Here’s another local woodland cutie, a male Oregon Junco (Junco oreganus), actually a medium-sized sparrow that is commonly seen both around woodlands and in the garden throughout North America. I captured this image in a local wooded area. Females are similarly colored but with a paler head. Some populations migrate north for breeding while others are resident in their territories year-round. I find it interesting that these resident populations can have shorter wings than their migrating relatives. They seem to be quite long-lived, the oldest recorded individual was apparently over 11 years old.

Juncos are ground birds, not only feeding off the ground but usually nesting at or near ground level as well. They’re generally seed-eaters but will eat small insects during breeding season. When foraging, Juncos typically hop (rather than walk) on the ground, pecking or scratching at the leaf litter, or flit very low in underbrush gleaning food from twigs and leaves. They sometimes fly up from the ground to catch insects from tree trunks. Flight is very agile as the bird maneuvers through its tangled habitat. Male juncos are very territorial in summer, chasing off intruders in rapid flights accompanied by excited call notes. When males court females, they fan or flick open their wings and tail, hop up and down, and pick up pieces of nest material or moss; females seem to prefer males that show more white in the tail. Juncos often forage with other sparrows and bluebirds.

Text derived from http://www.allaboutbirds.org

House sparrow on cedar hedge

male house sparrow on cedar hedge

When I shot this male house sparrow, he was about to take refuge inside the hedge. The hedge ran the length of the garden, and the birds used the inside of the hedge as a relatively rain-proof super-flyway, while also keeping the youngsters fairly safe from the resident cats…unless they ventured out of the hedge right beside where a cat was sitting waiting patiently. 😦

 

Spring heather

Well once again I’ve missed the week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge. Not so subliminal, I just found myself resistant to processing anything that lacked color. Color helps but longer days is what I really need and they can’t come soon enough for me…

Still, here’s another little splash of color. I don’t have a macro lens, but I’ve had an inexpensive set of extension tubes sitting around for ages and I finally dug them out to capture a couple of images of the heather starting to flower in the garden. Interesting to see the shape of the individual flowers…

 

Today in the garden and at the beach

We are getting such a mild winter! No snow for the skiers nor a snowpack for the summer’s water supply, but I have to say it’s been really wet, dark and grey. Now the plants are beginning to think it’s spring already…

There’s a rhododendron in the garden that is always early to bloom, but this year the first flower opened two weeks ago. Today – which started out quite foggy before the sun broke through for a beautiful, mild sunny day – the whole rhodo bush came to life with blossoms scattered over it. A pot of crocuses that I’ve had on my doorstep for a few weeks now, has one flower in full bloom and one rapidly expanding bud. I watched one honey bee repeatedly crawling all over the crocus flower, flying off a little ways then coming right back and crawling all over it again.

I decided it was too nice a day not to go for a walk beside the beach today, especially with low tide just after sunset. It seems it was an idea shared by everybody else too! Not only were there absolutely no parking spaces available when I arrived, but the traffic was nose to tail the length of the waterfront, crawling along at a snail’s pace when it wasn’t completely at a standstill. I’ve never seen it like that before, even during the summer. I got about 2/3 of the way along the waterfront and decided that was for the birds, turned into one of the parking areas and drove right back out to get turned around. Undecided about what I wanted to do, I pulled into one of the other parking areas on my way back out  to give myself a moment to think…and a car backed out right in front of me. Perfect!