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Thread subject: First day of Autumn 2005.
Name Date Message
Marie 09/21/05 07:49 pm With the shortening days of fall, the leaves are showing signs of CHANGE. The hint of bronze, red, and gold are now seen on many trees in woods, forests, gardens and boulevards. Even the wind has a chill that was not there in August. I am sure most of us feel the change coming as do the birds. No wonder they head south in most cases. The Heermann's gull, here on the west coast that breeds south, Mexico way, heads farther north in fall and winter. I wonder why?

Have you noticed that the beautiful sound of birds that one heard in the Spring chorus has now become a dismal chip, chirp or even silence. That territorial breeding song has been shut-down for another year ever since the ''kids-left-home.'' Now everyone is very busy filling their winter storage cavities. Hoarding , is the name of the game and if birds want to survive, those that don't migrate, they must focus on this activity.

Down at the Lagoon where I like to sit and watch the birds, I see new arrivals coming 'HOME' almost daily. The young and mature ducks that frequent this lagoon arrive in different stages of molt. They are not seen at their most attractive colours. There is a certain excitement in the air but this feeling contrast heavily with the pang of loss of favorite species. The migrating Swallows have left and so have the Ospreys, one by one. Many other species have also gone, while others put down here, to feed along the shores while on migration south. Tiny shorebirds that camouflage so well with the shoreline pebbles are hardly noticed until one calls out an alarm and the whole flock lifts into a swirling mass of winged bodies. They twist and turn in unison as a patrolling peregrine falcon tries to catch its supper. Once danger has gone they descend to be lost among the different colours of the beach debris. There is always something to catch ones attention when watching the birds.

I have noticed since the weekend that the sun is lower in the sky and the shadows much longer. People are wearing jackets to cover T-shirts, although shorts are still evident. The wind off the open ocean side of the lagoon is quite cold, but these changes have not encouraged two of my favorite ospreys to depart as yet. I have seen them catching fish, but never at the same time. Yesterday I watched one climb the thermals and disappear as it set its wings in a fast glide across the heavens. Not sure if this was the last time for me to see this individual. Meanwhile at the other end of the lagoon an adult osprey remained on its favorite snag and then disappeared before I saw it catch a fish.

On Sunday I had watched the male osprey virtually attack an adult eagle as it lazily flapped by. This eagle had returned to the lagoon that afternoon. This behaviour I thought wasn't very smart given the difference in bulk and size, but the osprey out- manoeuvred the eagle many times. It was faster on the wing and able to dodge the eagles talons even when the eagle turn over and presented them. The osprey managed to send the eagle on its way and return to the lagoon to fish. I could hear the young osprey calling in the trees but never able to locate it. Perhaps Dad's bravado was all for the young one to see. I was truly amazed at the fearlessness of this male osprey.

Now that changing skies, weather fronts and different cloud formations are seen I know it won't be long before all our ospreys will have left Victoria. The winds that call millions of birds southward, and to different parts of the globe, are blowing. This inherent, genetic programing must be obeyed for species survival so once again we say
''Good-Bye'' to our feathered friends that have provided so much pleasure in 2005.
Lori 09/21/05 09:07 pm really ought to write for a living. You do it beautifully! Your narrative pulls at the heartstrings ; makes me feel melancholy; yet offers hope for a new & promised beginning. Keep it up; I'm sure you will develop a following! :-)
cathleen 09/22/05 12:02 am Truly lovely writing. This and your eye for photography make you a natural for some kind of publishing about birds/nature.
Anne 09/22/05 06:46 am I agree with Lori - you are very talented.

I am interested in the Heermans Gull. I think the clue will be its preferred food. Does it eat shoreline carrion like the Ross's Gull? If it does, it could be that there is more of this food further north.

Things are quiet here too as the summer visitors depart. But we do have a lot of winter visitors from the Arctic, Fenno-Scandia and Russia, so we look forward to those arriving in October.

During September we pray for east winds, because then we get falls of birds that are on their way from Scandinavia and eastern Europe to Africa. They get blown to our shores if they fly on the edge of a high pressure system. I went to the east coast last weekend and saw a Yellow-browed warbler that breeds in Siberia and winters in India and SE Asia. A few turn up here every year and the thinking is that these birds have something wrong with their 'compass' and they perform a reverse migration. Some of them actually survive the winter here if they get into a good habitat of thick gorse or conifer.

What I really wanted to see was Sooty Shearwater. These birds breed on Tristan da Cuna in the S. Atlantic but then migrate to the northern oceans for the winter. There was a passage of 2700 on Friday but unfortunately my boat trip on Sunday dident find a single one!

It is interesting to note though that Manx shearwaters breed on Scottish islands but they migrate to the S. Atlantic for the winter. I wonder why two similar species have opposite strategies?
Marie 09/22/05 01:46 pm Thank you........I always aim to please...;-).
( I do write articles and publish photos in our bi-monthly Nature magazine for the Victoria Natural History Society)

Perhaps my own melancholy can't be hidden at this time of year. I really feel the changes/losses that each season brings. I speak generally of Spring and Fall as summer seems to be a season of abundance. I should have been a Bear for I would love to hibernate during those dark months of Nov, Dec and early January. Although to be honest, Jan 1st is my favorite day of the year for it brings HOPE, excitement, and longing for the new life that remains hidden etc etc. The lengthening days of late January are noticeable too.
;-) Fall to me represents Sadness and shutting down of things, even death despite its apparent colour and beauty. Winter is the BRIDGE from death/Fall to new life/Spring so it is a period of rest, quiet and tranquility. It is during that period of STILLNESS when I wait in anticipation... I feel it rise in my soul and I start to look for that magic moment when I find my first snow drop. Shortly there after, even in January, one can find early hardy, pink rhododendrons starting to bloom. Spring can start real early here in Victoria, given a relatively mild winter. By February crocus's are sprouting and the first tiny buds of cherry blossoms are evident. Ohhhhhhh Roll on Spring!

Anne, I believe these migration HABITS of species must be something to do with food sources. Another question to find answers to.
Glad you get out to see all these great birds on the ocean. I am a poor sailor so won't go out unless it is flat calm so I miss much.
Madeline 09/23/05 03:01 am Beautiful Marie, Lori " Hit the Nail Right on The Head" Your writing is so heart felt.

Today was a beautiful day hear on Long Island. I know the squriels in my yard thought so. They were digging a burrying pine nuts all over the lawn to my husbands dismay. I should give them post-it note pad to keep track of all thier buried treasures. LOL.

On a sadder note. I hope and pray that hurrican Rita takes it easy on the people of Galveston Tx and the New Orleans area. They don't need a repeat of Katrina.
karen 09/23/05 08:38 am Marie ... Fall on the East Coast has always been my favorite season, maybe because of the humid summers. I love those first brisk days when suddenly you reach for a sweater and the blue skies of late September are amazing. As always thanks for the wonderful posts you make it seem as if we are with you on your travels.
Celeste 09/24/05 05:35 am I do agree Marie, as much as I love the change of seasons, Fall is beautiful yet bittersweet. I dread the long winters, but perhaps they are necessary to fully anticipate and celebrate when Spring finally arrives!

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Tom Throwe
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