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Thread subject: Victoria gets a taste of Winter.
Name Date Message
Marie 12/01/05 07:40 pm For the second time in a week Victoria gets a little of the white stuff. I must admit, having lived on the Prairies years ago I had enough of the winter weather. I moved to '' Lotus Land '' on the west coast, to get away from snow and freezing temps. A day like today is not welcome, but it could have been worse. I am not working today or having to drive in the stuff. As I sit here the snow seems to have abated for a while and only rain falls. My resident Hummer had great difficulty flying in the big flakes. Guess it gets stuck to his little wings. Funny to watch...he looked drunk at times, weaving his way in and out to avoid the flakes. He now is patrolling his territory( my balcony) and is seeing off an interloper who had hoped to share some of the sweet nectar beverage, that helps fuel their little engines. I have two feeders so why this little male is so possessive beats me. Such a tiny bird with an eagle's ego.
Meanwhile, this morning before the snowy blanket swept across the water and engulfed Victoria I went out for a commune with the birds. When the weather is changing the birds seem to know. It isn't as if they watch the weather channel and get the latest info. They just seem to know. I wonder if it gets into their bones like it does for humans.?
Watching their behaviour can always lead one to suspect that a change is going to occur if one had missed the forecast. When I went for my walk this morning many of the little shorebirds were up on the grass feeding in the small park by the bay. Dunlin, Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, and Black-bellied Plover were milling around. I didn't see them till I walked across the grass. They blended so well with the leaf litter blowing around. The tide was very high so there was no foraging among the crevices in their favorite bunch of rocks.They took off as soon as I showed up and settled on a rocky peninsular some ways off. Past the Marina I wandered and found 7 Harlequin Ducks as well as a pair of Hooded Mergansers, showing off to one another. These two species are relatively skittish but today they hung- out on some rocks close by watching and waiting. Usually they are so intent on feeding but today they behaved differently. Between the the moored boats I found a flotilla of 2 dozen black and white Buffleheads. Usually these sea ducks are well out in the bay. Even a pair of Northern Flickers hugged the tree trunks while feeding in the park. A lone eagle took to the air at one point and spooked the bird life around. A warning call from a gull a top a look-out point shrieked to let us all know a predator was on patrol. Even I know that call. ;-)
An hour into my commune I could see the changing weather on the horizon. The grey blanket was engulfing the distant San Juan Islands, creeping slowly across the water and heading straight for Victoria. It was like some sticky ooze from a horror movie. It wasn't long before I felt and saw the first snow flakes. My observation of the bird life was cut short. It was now time to pack up and head home.
Once more in the late afternoon light as I sit here typing, I see the white stuff falling. I am so glad I am inside and looking out. At times like this I appreciate that I am not a BIRD. Finding a sheltered spot to spend a miserable night can be a challenge, I would imagine.
Madeline 12/02/05 02:32 am I enjoyed taking the walk with you this morning, Marie. Thanks for letting us tag along and take in the all the sights.
Celeste 12/02/05 06:41 am Victoria always sounds so beautiful, good weather or bad!
cathleen 12/02/05 09:05 am What a nice visit - why do they call it "Lotus Land"? I'm still chuckling at the sight of the little snow-covered belligerent hummingbird...
Pam 12/02/05 09:49 am Hi Marie, it did look pretty "FOWL" in your neck of the woods yesterday ....
Nancy L 12/02/05 01:22 pm I would have loved to see that hummingbird!
Marie 12/02/05 02:02 pm Cathleen, ' LOTUS LAND' is a saying that makes reference to a land of the Promise land of Moses. My reference is associated with the promise of good things here in Victoria. Lots of cultures use this saying Lotus Land.
It has ancient roots in Egypt because of the Lotus flower( water lily like flower) that has grown there for thousands of years symbolises new beginnings'.
Out of the flooded waters in the beginning of time, rose the lotus flower. Google Lotus flower in ancient Egyptian mythology............great reading. I love anything ancient, but curiously not modern day has to be real ancient artifacts.
karen 12/02/05 02:52 pm as always your writing gives me a break from work and a peek into the beautiful area you live in ...I had no idea that hummingbirds stayed north in the winter always imagined them in tropical climates when I started reading your report I thought you meant the car called the Hummer!
cathleen 12/02/05 04:52 pm Marie, what an interesting tidbit on Egyptian mythology. It is depicted in the art, but I never knew the myth. I immediately thought of the sacred Lotus of the Hindus, Buddhists and also the Lotiphagia (Lotus-Eaters) featured in the Odyssey who drugged themselves on the sweet fruit of the lotus. In all cases, a magical plant. How lovely and appropriate to have Victoria be associated with the lotus. I loved my one visit to Victoria Island and Vancouver - different than Monhegan Island but just as appealing.
Marie 12/02/05 08:40 pm Karen, we have only one Hummingbird that stays all year now and that is the Anna's Hummingbird. It didn't use to but since mankind hangs sugar water feeders during the late fall, winter and early spring regularly, these little birds know they don't have to migrate out.They have learnt to survive when it really gets cold. They go in to a state of TORPOR. This means they drop their metabolic rate, ie heart rate and respiration rate till they appear almost dead on a branch. There they stay till they warm up in the morning, just enough at first light to get to a feeder and then they stay at the feeder for sometime till all systems are up and running. On the Christmas Bird count which we do every year , we found last year that there were almost 1500 of these little birds within the Island. The biggest concentrations of these birds were in Victoria so they know who loves them best! Sometimes they do perish if it gets very cold, but that isn't usual for Victoria. We do get visits from another hummer each year called the Rufous which is smaller than the Anna's and has even a bigger EGO. The 4 inch Anna's hummer have been seen chasing a 12 inch Cooper's Hawk...that is how fearless these birds are. Rufous hummers arrive from Mexico in late March and leave us generally in late August... These hummers have one brood a year. Some fly to Alaska to breed and all along the BC coast. Anna's however nest x 2 a year for they will start nesting in February if the weather is relatively mild so their numbers are exploding on Vancouver Island, where I live.
Amazing little creatures.
Madeline 12/03/05 03:33 am Nice bit of info on the hummer and being in the state of TORPOR. Never heard that word before. Kind of reminds me of being in a (drunkin stupor). Not that I would know anything about that . OK; in my much younger days. LOL

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Tom Throwe
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