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In the Early Days of Fall – Annie Pang

How disheartened I was when my custom-made feeder came apart this summer! I had no idea whom I could even call on to fix it (I had not made it) and had neither the tools nor strength to do it myself. Everyone around here is always busy, busy, busy with their own daily tasks and affairs and so I decided it would just have to be left to fall apart for now. Last winter it worked reasonably well, although the suet feeder had to be hung too low so I could refill it from ground level and, as a result, many of the shots I was able to get from the kitchen window were rather distorted. Still I was able to get many good shots and I could reach the feeder to refill it.

As the seasons have been changing, I became more and more concerned about how Andrea and I would keep swapping pictures. Andrea is my best friend, but unfortunately, for me she lives in Saskatchewan. However, she is a determined soul and was not about to let distance stand between her wish to see my pictures of birds they don’t get there, over what she saw as a mere technicality. She made the necessary arrangements and, much to my surprise, I came home from an appointment one day and found the perch repaired with the suet feeder hanging higher up for good measure. This is a much better angle for picture taking!

I was so very touched and pleased, and apparently so were the birds as they seem to have wasted no time in returning. A small foot ladder from Home Hardware solved the problem of accessing the higher placement of the suet feeder and I now look forward to seeing my feathered friends on a daily basis again. I have not been disappointed!

On Tuesday September 16th I was able to get these bird shots. This time the tiny bushtit (that many of you like so much) is a female. The male bushtit has brown eyes while the female has yellow-gold eyes with tiny black pupils. At least this is what I’ve been told by birders. These little critters move very fast, so it is always a neat challenge to get pictures. I hope I don’t bore you with any number of them this coming fall and winter, but they are such cute little characters!

P1300707 female bushtit 1

A pair of Downy Woodpeckers have also been coming along which I included in the poem that follows along with some pictures. The male has a brilliant red tuft of feathers on the back of his head. He fed after the female and then, much to my surprise, parked himself on the trunk of the feeder stand and ….had a nap!

P1300706 female Downy 2

P1300733 Male Down headshot great rev 4

P1300737 Male Downy napping 5

There is also a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches but as yet no good shots. And as always, there are the House Sparrows, House Finches and Starlings that are starting to show up now that they’ve found an easy food source. I am not as enthused about these birds since they were introduced and do their best to pester and crowd out other indigenous species.

The last of the moths are also still making the odd appearance at night, so I did manage to keep two overnight and get some shots of them during the day before they took to the air.

The first one in the poem (and poetograph) is a Brown-lined Looper. I’ve had quite a few of them these last few weeks.

P1300721 Borwn lined looper rev 6

The second one is from Europe, known as the Lesser Yellow Underwing, so-called because when it spreads its wings there is a brilliant yellow underneath. Unfortunately for me, this time it took off after sitting on my hand without spreading its wings, however I did see it flashing yellow in flight and was lucky enough to get a close up shot of its sweet little face. It is a remarkable sensation to feel their tiny feet on my hand when they do decide to stay there long enough for me to take pictures. Then…all too soon they are off to live out their short lives and carry on until their days are over.

P1300715 Dorsal shot of Yellow underwing 7

P1300717 Lesser Y U faceshot 8

On top of a fair amount of yard work, indoor work and grocery shopping, I took time out of a busy day to take these pictures of the moths….always a tricky business at best. On a lucky day, like today, they hang around long enough, but sometimes they are off as soon as I remove the lid from their overnight “guest chambers”.

The frustrating part for me in the kitchen, where I see the birds, is that it is usually when I’m up to my elbows in rubber gloves and dishes or juicing veggies or other messy activities (it is a kitchen after all!) that the best photo ops occur! But isn’t that the way of all things?

I hope you enjoy this little tale, poem, and poetographs, and on a hope and a prayer, my suet feeder stand will stay up for some time to come. As it is made from an old tree trunk and branches, I know its days are numbered, but hopefully it will see me through for a while.

My very best to you and yours as the days get shorter and the tell tale nip of fall becomes evident in the air. We’ve been fortunate to have all this sunshine and it comes as a shock when the skies turn grey. I am grateful to Andrea for insuring my birds come to keep me company, as well as the generous help from the kind fellow who repaired the feeder.

Read on, have a look at the poetographs and pics after the poem and keep in touch. It is always good to keep in contact. For someone as “low-tech” as I am, it is nice to hear from people….and to see my birds and have Nature in my life.

In the early days of fall

In the morning come to call

in the early days of fall

there’s a lady at my perch

on a greedy eating search.

Eyes of yellow-gold has she

but she pays no heed to me.

With her flock she’ll feast on food

in her rather thankless mood.

Messy Downys in a pair

never waiting for their share.

She eats first, off in a flap;

he eats next – then has a nap!

Looking like a carpet cloth

you may say “it’s just a moth!”

but then it dances through the air

more brilliantly than Fred Astaire!

Here is one more in my palm

tiny feet a soothing balm.

Sweet of face and large of eye

off it flies to live and die…

Soon the moths will all be gone

and birds I will depend upon

to keep away the darkest thought

reminding me…..today…..

is all I’ve got…

© Annie Pang September 16, 2014.

P1300731 Male Downy looking at me with caption 3

The Garden of my Dreams – Annie Pang

Perhaps this is a strange title for a blog, but it centers around my garden, a friend’s garden, as well as the few shots I got along the Gorge which I have been walking regularly up until my garden called. 

 But I must include a picture I managed to get of a lovely Golden-crowned Sparrow right from my kitchen window.  It posed so beautifully on the suet feeder and considering these birds are ground feeders, I felt I must include this shot first.

P1190421Gold crowned sparrow

 Golden-crowned Sparrow

 While on some of the walks along the Gorge I took very few pictures.  On one walk, even though I had my camera, I was unable to get photos of two of the three butterflies I did see there.  It was quite hot and so they were not landing.  The first one I saw was a Mourning Cloak and what a surprise that was!  I hadn’t seen one along there before.  Then suddenly it was chased off by a Satyr Comma, which landed so briefly I could not get a shot of it either, but could see it clearly.

 On another walk, I was able to get a rather poor picture of a Cabbage White butterfly which I will include below.  It was such a long shot and I was lucky it landed at all, frankly.  It had become so hot in Victoria so quickly that it made anything I saw impossible to photograph at the time.

 P1190444 Cabbage White

Cabbage White

 But it was interesting to see an Arbutus tree growing out of the rock wall!!  How resilient are our native species.  If man vanished from this planet suddenly, is this not proof of how Nature would just take over and soon cover any evidence of our prior existence?  It is a humbling thought indeed, and also a comforting one from an ecological point of view.

 P1190445 Arbutus tree on Gorge

Arbutus growing out of the rock wall

 The day the garden called was the day that three generous people from the Gorge Tillicum Urban Farmers group volunteered to come over and help me start getting my garden ready for planting.  The task was far too overwhelming for me to undertake in my present state of health, and so my friends put out a call for help.  Although everyone else in the group was busy, my friends, Kendell, Laurie and Brad showed up on a Saturday and I ventured out to try to do what I could which wasn’t too much. 

 That was when a little miracle happened.  In all the years I’ve had my gardens, I’ve seen only three butterfly species; Cabbage Whites, Western Tiger Swallowtails (not out yet) and Lorquin’s Admirals.  But this year was very different and it transformed me completely at the time.  Brad and I were digging compost and later, Laurie and I found a shady spot to sit and weed….and when I saw a Cabbage White appear I went to grab my camera.  When I returned, I was very surprised at what happened next.  Every time the Cabbage White tried to land, something very dark swooped in and chased it off.  And then it landed – a Mourning Cloak.  I couldn’t believe this.  I’d always gone searching for them when I’d had more aid for field trips, and often never found one, yet here was one in my backyard??  Well of course I took pictures. 

 It took off and returned many times.  It even landed on Laurie’s jeans.

 P1190486 on Lauries jeans

Mourning Cloak on Laurie’s jeans

 Then it landed on my head!  I knew it was attracted to my hat so I removed it and stuck it on a pole in the garden, and sure enough, the Cloak landed there many times. 

 P1190499 MC on my hat May 4, in garden poetograph

Mourning Cloak on my hat

 Several times it landed on some Yarrow seed heads.  Yarrow, when in bloom is a very good butterfly nectaring source and if I keep the faded blossoms dead-headed it will flower throughout the summer. 

P1190506 MC on Yarrow in garden May 4 poetograph 

Mourning Cloak on Yarrow

Here is a sideview of the Mourning Cloak.

 P1190474 sideview of Mourning Cloak in my garden May 4, 2013

Sideview of Mourning Cloak

 The gardens were being prepared for both human and wildlife consumption, especially hummingbirds, bees and butterflies.   The Red-flowering Currant is quite a favourite of the hummingbird although mine hasn’t gotten big enough to be of interest as yet.  Once we have the plants in the ground I imagine they will grow rapidly. 

 P1190389 Flowering Red Currant poetograph

Red-flowering Currant

We were all very happy to have such a visitor to watch us at our labours, as if to bless the garden.  Kendell was good enough to bring along organic snacks for all to sample and so, with a Mourning Cloak in my garden, I had my very first tea party of sorts after our hard work.

P1190516Brad, Laurie and Kendell poetograph

Brad, Kendell and Laurie

 GTUF, short for Gorge Tillicum Urban Farmers, is a group dedicated to producing our own food on the land we have.  Being on my own now, that task is overwhelming as I mentioned, but I do hope, with enough helping hands, that many will benefit from my gardens this year.  I just want to see the land used and my gardens there to welcome the butterflies and other insects.

 Later that day, Laurie emailed me a picture of two butterflies for identification.  They were two more Mourning Cloaks and it appeared that they were mating on the side of her Mason Bee box.

 photo of Lauries mating Mourning cloaks

Mourning Cloaks, photo by Laurie

 The next day I was invited over there to see what I could find in their garden.  There was a fair bit of activity but my camera was only able to get this honey bee and a Paper wasp, or Thread waisted wasp, Mischocyttarus flavitarsis, as well as a Bumble Bee.

 P1190527 Honey Bee at Laurie's May 6, 2013 poetograph

Honey Bee

P1190531 Paperwasp at Lauries poetograph

Paper Wasp

P1190540 Bombus species on Laurie's Lillacs

Bumble Bee

Laurie also had a different Bleeding Heart than my cultivar, and she felt it was probably the indigenous one. 

P1190532 Bleeding Heart at Laurie's indigenous 

Bleeding Heart flowers

Meanwhile, here at home, there was activity at night as well for awhile.  I turned on my porch light and this attracted two different moth species.  The first was a good sized one and although it decided to plaster itself on a window far above the ground, I was still able to get a serviceable shot.  This moth is known as the Crucialis Woodling Moth (Egira crucialis) and it was a welcome sight indeed.

 P1190413 Crucialis Woodling Moth (Egira crucialis)

 Crucialis Woodling Moth

The other moth I have found a few times is a “micro moth”, Alucita montana, or Montana Six-plume Moth and I have even found it in my office tonight as well as outside.  Here is my best picture taken as I write this now in my office.  The little guy let me get really close!  Originally I was going to show this moth taken outside, but this picture turned out better.

 P1190566 Six plume moth in office May 9

Montana Six-plume Moth

 Although I was certain I saw a Green Lacewing outside, I couldn’t get it to land so there were no shots to be had until a later date, but I did manage to find this male Cranefly at the time (family: Tipulidae).

P1190545 male cranefly, family Tipulidae. 

Cranefly

Here is the Green Lacewing I got at a later date, again, at night.  It was another long shot, but better than none.

 P1190575 Green Lacewing

Green Lacewing

So while I am still here in my home I am trying to enjoy as much of the wildlife as I can find.  The Mourning Cloak returned briefly the next day, but then was off.  They are mating now and I suspect, worn as they are looking, they will live longer still before they depart this world. 

In closing, I will leave you with my best wishes, as well as a poem and one last picture of my Bleeding Heart cultivar.  It is the food source for my favourite butterfly, the Clodius Parnassian, that I doubt I will see again since I cannot go back to the hills where they are found.  But one never knows….one never knows.

 I did once find one in a very unusual place that was not too far away….but then that is another story I may tell sometime….

 

The Garden of my dreams

 

What soothing balm does Nature bring

what wonders in the garden

with butterflies and birds that sing

with trees that fence my yard in.

I wander in my solitude

along the Gorge at times;

a Cloak of Mourning greets me there

and speaks to me in rhymes.

But there are times that come along,

and suddenly there’s life

for Nature sings her special song

and sings away my strife.

And in the Garden of my dreams

outside my very door

an ocean full of sunlit beams

now calls me to its shore.

The honey bee is buzzing and

the moths might come at night

for life is always all about

and flying to the Light.

May people join their hands to help,

to save my bit of land.

May kindness shown stay with me now

and help me understand

that Bleeding Hearts have beauty too

and Nature always heals.

May faded blossoms bloom again,

through cracks in concrete seals.

Though hardship faces all of us

in Nature must I trust,

to have this Phoenix  rise again

from ashes and from dust.

 

 P1190390 Bleeding Heart cultivar End poetograph

Bleeding Heart cultivar

 

© Annie Pang May 9, 2013.