Cue The Ravens

I’m feeling a little sorry for myself today. Nothing too serious — just a sudden tweak to the back sustained, somewhat ironically, while tying the laces on my exercise shoes.

As I’m currently housebound, it’s time to access the memory vault of recent raven encounters.

Corvid-like, I cache these recollections like an emergency rainy day fund, or a jar of home-canned apricot jam set aside for a hopelessly dark and wet morning some time in January.

In peering into the raven pantry I hope to cheer myself (and you too, if you need it) with a reminder of all the raven beauty out there. The fact that it’s certainly going on right now, even if no human is watching, is always a source of comfort to me.

Here are some highlights from three recent trips to the back country.

Raven Reminiscence 1 — Dog Mountain

Near the end of August, with the diminishing of heat and crowds, and the completion (more or less) of major home renovations, we ventured out for the first hike of the summer. The short trip up to Dog Mountain was made tricky by the latticework of wet and slippery roots everywhere. The view at the top was just becoming veiled in cloud with nary a raven in sight.

A group of walkers had wandered off, leaving their lunches and backpacks unattended at the viewpoint. Rooky mistake — and yet  the bags were left unmolested, leading me to believe there couldn’t possibly be any ravens on the mountain that day.

Still, it was lovely to be up there and I was resigning myself to a raven-free expedition (it happens) when, out of the blowing mist …

Well, hello!

And where there is one raven, there is usually a mate

Summer’s End Raven

Raven Reminiscence 2 — Lillooet Lake

Right at the end of August we visited friends who live on Lillooet Lake, near Pemberton. So much space, and the distant sounds of ravens.


On one particular early morning walk along the lake shore we heard some raven calls I’d never experienced before.

A solo raven sat in tree by the lake making a few general “Here I am. Where are you?” calls to his mate, along with some gentle “water dripping from a bamboo pipe” sounds. There were small birds skimming across the surface of the lake too and we noticed that the raven began to turn his considerable vocal talents to mimicking their cheeping calls.

Moments later some distant dog barking inspired this next bit of impersonation …

Next, we see the raven couple enjoying a quiet moment in their enviable back yard. Raven real estate listings would include “Miles of lake, hundreds of kilometres of forest, towering cliffs for soaring, few people, birds of all kinds to imitate …”

Raven pair at Lillooet Lake

Raven Reminiscence 3 — Black Mountain

The third, and most recent, experience actually involved some amateur raven conjuring.

We’d hiked up to the Black Mountain area of Cypress Bowl. It was a beautify morning with not another human to be seen. The view was breath taking, the weather was perfect.

Geordie in his happy place …

Me too!

Taking it all in, I said “This is so perfect. Only one thing could make it better . . . ”

I don’t need to tell you who landed with a dignified “quork” before I finished the sentence.

Only one single feather out of place, in spite of a light breeze.

 

Raven obligingly posing in front of the landmark Two Sisters peaks — also known as The Lions.

We walked around the whole area for a couple of hours and every once in a while we’d see our wish-summoned ravens in the distance. As usual, there was a pair of them.


The most surprising raven thing of the summer happened when we took a last break at Cabin Lake before hiking back from Black Mountain to the parking lot.

Our raven showed up once again. Popped up, in fact …

There was a bit of a raven promenade along the boardwalk …

One of them confidently took up a post on top of a park sign.

That still wasn’t the amazing thing.

Nor was it the fact that the raven stayed there, quite unperturbed,  as several hikers walked along the boardwalk inches away from him.

No, the amazing thing was that the humans didn’t seem to even notice him!!

How can anyone walk right by such a commanding bird, so close and at eye level, and not even cast a glance their way — or at least offer a respectful greeting???

My mind was a bit boggled, but then again, perhaps those people were obsessed by lichen, wholly consumed by cloud formations, or just fitness-fixated and on to the next peak.

We all have our foibles, I guess.

But I would always, always advise taking a moment to greet a raven.

Sometimes they’ll even greet you back!

And, speaking of backs, time to go get the heat pad on mine after this little delve into the repository of raven recollection. If I start feeling really low I may have to revert to watching my “ravens playing in snow” videos on repeat.

Some other raven posts you might like/need:

P.S. Some of the new raven images featured in today’s blog post are available as prints in my shop in sizes up to 16×20-inches.

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© junehunterimages, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

The Tiniest Owl

I have been so slow at writing new blog posts — not because of a lack of things to write about, but Too Many Things!!!

I have a backlog of news about teenager crows and molting crows, ravens, some books I love and pressing local tree issues.  But I’m putting all of those on the back burner for today to write about today’s big (well, tiny, actually) happening.

We decided to squeeze in a short walk on Cypress Mountain today. I had numerous errands to do before we left, so it was a lot later than we usually like to hit the trail. A perfect, crisp, sunny day in the last week of summer holidays and it was, predictably, kind of busy, but we were happy just to make a quick jaunt up to Bowen Lookout.

The lookout was pretty crowded and I was just talking to some fellow visitors about the Whisky Jacks when I noticed, only a few feet from our heads, an impossibly small owl. I’ve seen Northern Pygmy Owls a couple of times before, from a distance, and they are SMALL. But this bird was about half the size of an adult Pygmy Owl — a little fluffier, a lot fiercer, but not much bigger than the juncoes that were hopping and clicking around.

So tiny, she would fit into the palm of a hand  — but judging by that expression, not something to be contemplated.

The lookout was busy with juncos, Steller’s Jays and Whiskey Jacks — all anxious for bits of trail mix or crumbs provided by the many human visitors.

Like their crow cousins in the city, the jays were all well into moulting madness season.

The distant raven looked pretty sleek, however.

But back to the breathtakingly small raptor. She was not content just to sit around  being cute and fluffy.

Oh no, she was there on a mission.

She’d swivel her neck in an impossibly wide scanning arc (owls can rotate their heads up to 270 degrees without doing themselves any damage)  and bob her head up and down, triangulating the exact position of her chosen target.

Her quarry did not seem to include the juncoes that would have been more realistic prey — she had her enormous eyes on bigger prizes — the Steller’s jays and Whiskey Jacks that were twice to three times the size of her.

She’d watch, swivel, triangulate and dive, over and over, at the relatively enormous birds. She didn’t have any success that we saw and the jays didn’t seem too worried about her presence. I wondered if her parents had left her there for the day just to practice her technique.

Day camp for baby owls.

I was so excited to see her so close that I neglected to take any wider shots to show just how tiny (did I mention how SMALL she was?) compared to the other birds. Ah well. But in the video below a Whiskey Jack lands beside her by accident and they scare each other. You can see in the blur of action at the end now big the jay is in comparison to the owl.

So, sometimes you set out on a trip, late and  with modest expectations, and the universe surprises you with a fierce and wonderful baby owl.

 

 

 

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© junehunterimages, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to junehunterimages with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.