Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Flights of Fancy

So, not much weaving has been happening here! Besides the necessary garden work, I was busy getting ready for some special company and then there's cleaning up after all the fun!  My Dad and brother came for a short visit and we had a lot of fun.  Good food, lots of stories and laughing... and best of all, lots of time to simply be together.

My Dad has a love of birds of prey and so when he heard that we have the Pacific Northwest Raptor Centre  just down the road from us, we were on our way! We lucked out and caught a bonus flying session in addition to the normal 30 minute show at 3:30!  We saw many birds in large outdoor pens either as recovering patients or permanent residents. By the entry we saw two kookaburras and two large ravens.  We slowly made our way down to the viewing area and saw Great Horned Owls, Red Tailed Hawks, Prairie Falcons, and a Vulture. Their enclosures have small trees and greenery in them to reproduce a natural look and feel but it still is a cage, so they are all given time to fly each day. Clearly the Vulture thought she was due to stretch her wings!

This youngster was first up: (click on any picture to make them larger!)

This is a young Bald Eagle or Haliaeetus leucocephalus  Not sure what sex this bird is until it becomes mature but it will assume the adult colours by the end of this year. The woman doing the demonstration wore a heavy gauntlet and judging by the talons on this twelve pound bird, good thing!

There is no denying that steely gaze and narrow focus when flying! The guide told us the birds more or less do what they want and they  shape the show around it. We were sitting on low benches just mere feet away from these free flying birds with just a little fence to keep people back. I wondered if I should move a bit further back? Dad sat right up front and was loving it! His camera was doing bursts of eight frames a second. The noise 'annoyed' some of the birds but it went well.

Next up: Harris's Falcon or parabuteo unicintus    These birds are used to guard airports and wineries against flocks of birds straying through or feeding on the grapes. They are super fast divers as the video link shows if you click on the latin name.

A beautiful bird, not native to these parts. She (or he) was a calm steady flyer and seemed to know the routine and which perch to fly to next.

Then this dainty killer! Peregrine Falcon or Falco peregrinus. It has a lightening fast flight and can dive at amazing speeds and can catch other birds on the wing. This technique was demonstrated by twirling and launching a lure for the falcon. Its a fake bird lure filled with quail meat. This one flew so close over my Dad's head that it could have parted his hair!

It all happened so fast that if you blinked, you missed it!

This is Phoenix and she is a Turkey Vulture.  It was not a good day for her! She finally got a chance to stretch her wings but she decided to be cranky instead and charged the lady's feet and legs. She was rather determined to teach her a lesson about something. They finally lead her off the field and let her chase the woman back to the pens! Talk about cranky!

Now here's my personal favourite, Elton!  He's a Spectacled Owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) from south and central America,  and was simply too cute! He did the classic head weaving motion owls do to see better (their eyes are stationary in their heads) and the neatest little churring noises. When his portion of the flying demo was done and she motioned for him to come back to her from the fence post, he turned his back and ignored her. He liked being out and didn't want to go into the little stand by house.

Isn't he handsome?

Sunday, we drove north to Yellow Point, a peninsula just south of Nanaimo,  to check out a different type of bird!  "The Crow and Gate" kind!

It is an authentic British style pub out in the country side. My brother and I went there about 18 months ago and decided that we had to bring Dad there for a visit when his health allowed. This was the day! The day was bright, warm and not overly hot so perfect for touring the grounds and enjoying a meal. They have amazing gardens there and its all beautifully maintained year round. (Hubby and I have been there mid winter with fresh snow on the ground and a large logs blazing away in the hearths... picture perfect!) Lets take a look!

All this is what you see after parking your car! There's been a lot of work done here and it shows beautifully. They have a large pond on the property and encourage wild birds to nest there. Then next to the pond is their private residence:

We sat inside near a doorway out to the back garden and enjoyed steak and mushroom pies with crispy fresh salads.

We sat here in the corner and where the gent is standing is one of the two bars, where you order your own food and beverage 'Brit- style'. Afterwards, we went for a stroll through the gardens in the back of the building. They have a large outdoor patio for patrons there as well.

Here are some pictures of the gardens....

And my favourite... peonies!

We noticed a few years ago that the pub has some stained glass windows and one is rather special:

If you enlarge the picture you will see its an Airedale! We had heard their last dog, Hobbs, had passed away and they had a new pup this spring, then while out for a walk Bruce and Calli met the new Airedale by accident.  'Swede' is ten months old and quite fair. The two of them played like demons, lay on the grass to catch their breath, then did it all over again. A conversation later and we discover that they both have the same father! So they are half brother and sister and we are invited back for another romp on another day before the pub opens. It really was a Family Reunion weekend!

Calli, 15 months old

I'd like to thank my Dad for the use of the bird photographs and the special one of Calli.  The pub photos were taken by either me, or my brother, and flowers were taken by my hubby, Bruce. It was a very memorable time and over far too soon!  I'm still working on the clean up (three men in the house!) and hope to be back at the loom shortly.


LA said...

Sure sounds like a great visit! The pub sounds amazing!!!

Sandra's Fiberworks said...

Stunning bird photos; a most handsome owl!

Theresa said...

Well, you know, it's tough to be a Turkey Vulture! ;)
The bird pics were fantastic. We have lots of birds of prey in the vicinity and one never knows what they'll see riding the thermals while driving down the mountain. How wonderful Callie has a half sib for a playmate. She is looking beautiful!

dorothylochmaben said...

What a great post to record a very special time with your Dad and Brother. The bird pictures are amazing so well done to Dad !
The 'English' pub looks lovely but no rain !!!
What a memorable time and great fun by the sound of it. Many thanks for sharing.

Leola's Studio said...

Wow, the warps I can see in these feathered beauties.
They are so inspiring, I must go.
Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures

Anonymous said...

Callie is growing into a beauty! Wonderful that she got to play with one of her half brothers, now you have an excuse to go to the pub!

Sharon said...

Thanks to you (and your father)for the bird photos from all us bird watchers. Loved seeing Callie, too. She's a beauty!