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Friday, April 18, 2014

Brant Goose

Here's another common bird species that I don't remember ever seeing before I took up birdwatching. This is a Brant goose (also known as Black Brant), Branta bernicla nigricans. I saw this one and a half-dozen others grazing in the sea lettuce near the shore at Clover Point. I've seen Brant there before but never so close to shore. While I was mentioning the differences in appearance between male and female birds the other day, I didn't mention another fairly common phenomenon - cases such as the Brant where there is little or no difference in appearance between the genders.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Mourning Cloak

While the topside of the wings visible here is a deep russet shade, this butterfly is named Mourning Cloak because of the dark underside of its wings. People used to wear black to indicate they were mourning the death of a loved one. I suspect this is a custom that is dying out. I always associate butterflies with hot weather so I was pleased to see this one at Swan Lake recently though our weather is still a bit cool.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


This is the season for Giant White Fawn Lilies here. Every bit of wild land that's left in or near the city is a riot of these splendid white blossoms. Those above were photographed at the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary but most of the other city parks are similarly decorated.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


We're all aware these days of the many ways that the genders are treated differently amongst humans. Similarly, I have noticed lately that bird photographers also tend to treat the genders differently. Google "Red-winged Blackbird" and take a look at the images. Nineteen of the first twenty photos that come up are of male Red-winged Blackbirds. This is much the same with other birds; the brightly colored and patterned males are much more likely to be photographed and identified than the less ostentatious females. It is possible to ascribe this imbalance to a natural preference for bright colors and sharp contrasts but this begs the question as to why that should be the case. Anyway, to redress the balance a little here are two photos of female birds: above is a female Red-winged Blackbird and below is a female Northern Flicker.

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Rite of Passage

There is something so utterly timeless about sitting in a grassy field on a sunny day with your friends, surrounded by a sea of daisies. - Fern