Heron with Punk Haircut and Other Birdie Delights

I know..I know. Everyone complains right now about travel –the strait-jacket restrictions, barriers to healthy, care-free vacations overseas and in our home countries, during this covid-19 pandemic.

Yellow-rumped warbler. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Spontaneous Air Flights Impossible
I feel the same pain. It can be more complicated, when one has loved ones and family living in other provinces in a huge, freakin’ expansive country like Canada. Then layered on top, several family members who work full-time in various health care facilities in Toronto. I just can’t take a spontaneous airflight to see family.  It’s not that simple.

Friendly black-capped chickadee. Bow River, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Last year, I didn’t even sneak off on a bus side trip to the Rocky Mountains and Banff.  What was the point if I couldn’t even rest easily inside a restaurant over a great meal there, after a hike or bike ride?  I know other locals have tripped off to the Rockies by car for a day trip and back. They just don’t talk much about it because it really requires a lot of precaution and distancing from other tourists.

Pine siskin searching for pine cone seeds far up in blue spruce tree. Inglewood neighbourhood. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

For me, the mountains can wait and will be there when a vaccine arrives.

European starling –close-up reveals irridescent feathers. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

So during covid time, it has been simple bike rides and local walks where I had some more delightful encounters with Nature. Just be patient. Aim for the right time of the day –either early morning or just before sunset. That’s just right for me since I’m not keen cycling long in night-time blackness, even with bike lights in a dark expansive park with leafy corners and turns. Besides, I’m still working full-time from home.

Female hairy woodpecker. Species very similar to downy woodpecker, except for length of beak. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Zooming into Treetop Lumps
For surprise encounters, I’ve learned to observe for strange lumps high up in the trees. Sometimes it’s just 2 tree branches twinning together. Or a bird. Twice I’ve spotted a light blue feathery oval lump high up –it was a blue heron. Usually I’ve seen them, standing one-legged by the water’s edge or flapping elegantly overhead.

Blue heron high up, privately resting. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Once, the blue heron high-riser, was sleeping with its back to walkers. Another time, 2 blue herons were hanging out on a half nude tree over a pond, for whole world to see. The blue heron at the highest branch tier, was cleaning its chin under its beak, while balanced on one grippy strong leg. Then later it bent down in a yoga-like stretch to see below. Its feathery slick back fronds fell forward –like punk rocker haircut.

Blue heron grooming or scratching while balanced on treetop –at least 8-storey tall building height. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Later in the evening, this same funny heron was featured in several local birder Internet photos.  Clearly a local rock star in bird kingdom.

Blue heron -feathery elegant star in bird kingdom for a day. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Other times, it’s trying to find where that bird rocket lit off inside the tree. Especially if the bird is a tiny zipper through the air. Often some bike park paths are lined with thick bushes, where several birdie zippers panick dive across my path ahead, into the undergrowth before I reach them. Not sure what they are –warblers, sparrows or finches perhaps.

Pine siskin. My neck was nearly killing to look up for so long to get zoom-in photos. Inglewood neighbourhood. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Pine siskin. Inglewood neighbourhood. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

The cutest birds are the tiny plump ones and I have yet to capture hardly any by camera. They whizz by in lightning speed.

Red-breast nuthatch likes to hang downward on tree branches. Inglewood neighbourhood. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

Just Living Magic Fleeting Moments
Or another time during a late fall, a downy woodpecker with its red back cap, was flitting alongside with me, from tree to next tree. I didn’t stop to haul my camera from pannier since I was afraid it would flee forever. Too bad, I didn’t take the stop for a camera. It would have left me eventually anyway.

Yellow-rumped warbler well-camouflaged among autumn leaves. Inglewood Bird Sanctuary. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong
Robin. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

So wander over to your nature parks nearby or backyard for moments of hidden Nature –alive, flighty but it’s there for you already. You just need to be quiet, alert and revisit several times. One day Nature will pop by, for a few seconds to exchange curious glances with you.

Robin among berries. Calgary AB 2020. Photo by J.Chong

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Pit says:

    Beautiful pictures! 🙂
    We’ve been to nearby state parks a few times, first for day trips [in the middle of the week, when only few visitors were there], but later also with overnight stays in cabins. Social distancing never was a problem. Shortly before Christmas we went to Port Aransas in a rented RV, just to try this way of travelling out. That also made social distancing easy. Of course, in all these instances we could not go out to restaurants to eat, but take-outs worked fine with us. We’ll go back to Port Aransas in a few weeks to a condo. That should work out, too. So, we did change our ways of travelling, but are not totally housebound.
    Have great 2021, and stay safe,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Super, Pit. Glad you can enjoy nature with little other human close interaction for now. Enjoy the quietness and cleaner air now. May 2021 be a good one.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sue Slaght says:

    Jean your beautiful photos are inspiring and show how much joy can be found in our own backyards. I am surprised by the herons I must say.
    As the year begins I see hope and light in the months ahead. My only sibling lives in California so like you I await a visit till safe to do so. Wishing you all the best today and in the year ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      Hi Sue, hope you and family will remain safe and content in 2021 and onward. I’m wishing you surprising birds and flowers sitings –no matter where you are. While our numbers still high re covid, I’m still grateful we live and are in Canada.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sue Slaght says:

        Jean I agree completely. Grateful to live here. Thank you for the kind wishes too.


  3. Jane Fritz says:

    Spectacular pictures, Jean, simply spectacular. I feel mean saying that the herons are the stars, because they all are, but there’s just something about herons. Your messages within are equally significant. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      My partner had to be reminded that I am actually photo shooting up the tree with a pocket camera, where often it’s over 4 stories high where a bird often is. The heron roosting on tree was a surprise to be…a pedestrian birder who likes to look for birds but not take time to learn how to distinguish by bird song.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Marta says:

    I love the last picture in particular!

    I feel your pain about not seeing family. I haven’t seen my parents in a year and a half and maybe it won’t even be possible this year either…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Jean says:

      It must exceptionally hard since they are across the ocean and other continents apart. I’m sure your parents enjoy their grandson.


  5. Mabel Kwong says:

    Stunning vibrant photos of the birds in the trees in your area, Jean. Amazing they are taken with a pocket camera. Also loved your descriptions, especially of the heron looking like it has a punk rocker haircut. Glad you have stayed home and haven’t ventured too far out. Here in Australia we are doing alright with very low COVID cases and we can fly interstate. However many here are cautious about that as different states are known to close their borders when another state has one or a handful of new outbreaks. So right now I really am just enjoying my neighbourhood and the neighbourhoods close by.


    1. Jean says:

      At this time, travel between provinces in Canada is strongly not encouraged. People do drive or take plane between provinces but it truly has been alot lower by plane. I did fly twice to Vancouver since Mar. 2020. The airports here and in VAncovuer were very quiet and very little people which is what you want. Of course, we have mandatory masking on plane and thankfully I was on plane flights where each plane was 40% full or less which allows some distancing. It’s only 1 hr. flight one way.

      Liked by 1 person

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