I look for birds – January 20, 2013 – by Annie Pang

It began in early January.  I had been sick again, but then, after weeks of grey, dreary weather, the sun shone brightly and no bodily weakness could hold me back.  I grabbed my camera and barely managed to start the old car.  But it finally turned over and after a few circles around the block I knew the battery would get me to the park.  So off I went and arrived safely, car humming very happily by then.

It was January 2nd.  I’d made it to another new year and the sun came out.  Dizzy and weaving about, I didn’t care.  I was enthralled with the sun, the sounds, and…..then I spotted a solitary Annas Hummingbird way up on top of the tip of a branch.  I knew any shot I got would be poor, but I didn’t care.  I was out in Nature again and the healing had begun.  I took the shots.  It was a male and this was the best I could do.  It was the only Annas I saw there and that was very odd.  Gorge Park is usually quite filled with the sight and sound of them, but there was only one.

P1180785 Annas male hummer HP crpd with verse

In previous years I’ve been able to get quite close to them and could go daily and find them in very predictable places, but this has become less and less the case with each passing year.

I took a few shots of the park and sunshine because I love this place and soon it will be transformed by man.

P1180792 Jan 2 2012 Gorge Pk HP edged

P1180777 Park fieldHP crp

A community vegetable garden is proposed and I have no idea what affect this will have on the remaining wildlife.  It is only on one side of the park, but I worry that any further encroachment on this park will further turn it into what has been becoming a deadzone for the abundance of birds and butterflies I once used to see here only a few short years ago.  I feel it could either be a very good thing or….not.  Time will tell.  Right now, it is mostly just lawn, but I have seen Western Azures nectar on the tiny daisies that grow in both fields.  Still the flowers of the veggie plants as well as any complementary companion flowers might attract pollinators and butterflies as well as hummingbirds so I am taking a “wait and see” sort of attitude while hoping for the best.  I do know that the butterfly numbers have decreased in the last five years quite drastically, so it will be interesting to see if there are any at all this year.

The next time I was able to get out was later in January as well as today, January 19, 2013.  But this time we walked along the Gorge Waterway.  Another stunning day, and lots of people walking their dogs, but the disturbing thing for me was the lack of Buffleheads, Mergansers both Common and Hooded, and the small numbers of Wigeons all of which I have found in good numbers in previous years.

P1190019 Male Buffliehead Jan 20, 2013 edged

There was one spot where I used to like to sit and it was a favourite landing site for a Great Blue Heron at low tide.  I pictured it in my mind even though, as we arrived, there was nothing.  But then, out of nowhere, one swooped in and landed….and stayed to feed.  What a bit of magic for me to grab with my camera.  I was elated.

P1180914 Blue Heron first pic HP cpd with verse

We continued our walk and I spotted very few winter ducks, but then saw two Mute Swans near the beach at the end of the Waterway walk.  It was too good a chance to pass up so I hurried along and managed to get close enough to capture them in a number of shots, one of which follows.

P1180947 Two Swans HP crop with edge & verse

The following day, I managed to get out again and the Blue Heron was in hiding, very well camouflaged through some branches, but I still managed to capture him with my camera and was thrilled that this picture turned out.

P1190015 Blue Heron thru branches Jan 20, 2013 HPcrpd edged

Just being out in the fresh air and seeing what I saw was so very healing to my spirit, even though I was troubled by what I didn’t see.  So I felt compelled to write the following poem because the bird count appears to be drastically down.  Am I surprised?  No.  The butterflies already told me what was coming.  I wonder if anyone is listening sometimes.  But in the meantime, I can only take pictures and write poems….and hope that all the insanity of this world somehow turns around.  But at least for today, I felt the kiss of Nature and for now it will sustain me.  I hope you enjoy these last two poetographs that follow this double-sonnet  I shall end with.


I look for birds


In January now I look for birds,

the ones in such abundance I once saw

along the trails while writing all my words,

in love with Nature, holding Her in awe.

A solitary Annas do I spot

atop a tree, and only for a time

just time enough to get a far off shot

then he was off with no reason or rhyme.

Another day along the Gorge I walk

and so few winter ducks have come this year

that it has left me feeling sick with shock

until a Great Blue Heron lands quite near.

Then two Mute Swans engage my hope anew

despite the fact that winter ducks are few…


Old feathered friends, I feel your absence keenly

and so I’m gripped by tightness in my guts.

We’ve treated our environment so meanly

at times I feel I’m really going nuts.

I used to call it “Ducksville” long ago

when rafts of Buffleheads paraded by.

Where are they gone to, why do so few show?

These empty waters can’t be left to die.

Back to the park I’ll seek and try to find

where birds in January ought to be.

I hope upon a prayer they’re just behind

and that they still may come to visit me.

But hope seems like an empty thing somehow

because they should be here, should be here now…

P1180967 Swan end shot HPcrp with verse

P1180790 Sun thru trees Gorge Pk HP crp with verse

© Annie Pang January 20, 2013.


About annieandterry

This is a blog shared by two friends who have never met in person, Annie Pang and Terry Thormin. We both live on Vancouver Island, Annie in Victoria and Terry in Comox. All communication to date has been either by email or telephone. We are both passionate about nature and conservation and we are both nature photographers. Annie is also a very fine poet and was a concert violinist, while Terry worked as an entomologist for the Royal Alberta Museum until he retired in 2005. We hope you enjoy this joint effort to share our nature musings with anyone who is interested.

Posted on January 21, 2013, in environment, Nature, Photography, Poetry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Hi Annie! So good to have you back writing and to see your beautiful photographs. As usual you remind me to stop look around me and actually notice what is there and what is not. Now that you have pointed out so poetically the absence of winter birds, I have twigged on to the same fact here in Ladysmith. However, I have been seeing and hearing a large number of Swans while walking out in Cedar. The Swans are parked on Micheal Lake and it’s wonderful to hear their voices.
    Thank you so much for giving us the view of your neighborhood!
    Cheers, Peggy, JJ and Annie Pants the Papillons

  2. where do you suppose the ducks have gone? we live in Duncan, and except for Quamichan Lake, I have seen only a few ducks of different species. can it be just too much hunting? or something more?

    • Hi Vicki; The bird count in southern B.C. is down by up to 35% I have heard. As far as here on the island. We ARE an island and the rate at which habitat is being overrun by development is truly alarming. There have also been oil spills, weather “irregularities”, and more and more boats on the water ways as well as more people moving to the island. But the winter ducks come here from the mainland and colder areas like the interior so I am assuming there has been some other disruptions there as well. And let us not forget increasing electro-magnetic devices all to prevalent with nearly everyone having a cellphone or android device these days. All these things do affect us as well as our wildlife. At least that is my understanding. Thanks for your interest. Annie

  3. Those photos are amazing! My favorite is the one with single swan. Very graceful. How long have you been doing this?

  4. Hi Jay, Thank you for your kind remarks. I’ve been doing photography since 2007, following birds, butterflies, dragonflies and other wildlife and their habitat. Nature has always been a healing experience for me and has inspired much of my poetry as well. But there is nothing like being out in nature and taking those pictures. Annie

  5. Hi Annie! Sorry it’s taken me so long to read your blog. Stunning photography and beautiful poetry as usual! You’re really giving me the itch to take the trip across Canada to view your lovely environs.

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