Friday, August 7, 2009

Wednesday, Thursday, Friday hikes

With the heat wave of last week behind us (and hopefully never to return - it was brutal!), Charley and Sadie and I took advantage of the cooler weather to hike three days in a row. Wednesday we went to Crofton Lake for the Wednesday Walk (where the shots of Alva in yesterday's post were taken); Thursday we returned to Crofton Lake with our friend Chris and her English Mastiffs, Luke and Beau; and Friday we went to Swallowfield with Else, Else's dogs, and her dogless friend Liz.

On Wednesday, I was running late as I had someone helping me install a storm/screen door which took a lot longer than anticipated. And so the others had gone on ahead. As the dogs and I were trotting up the path on our own, it occured to me that a cougar had been spotted not too far away a week or so ago, and with blackberries everywhere the bears might also be around. Suddenly, as we rounded a bend, there was a huge crashing in the trees to my right, just slightly above my head. For a split second I was frozen with fear, until a huge owl swooped out across my path, literally inches from my face. With his wide outspread wings he banked in a graceful circle and disappeared into trees at a safer distance. He was a little too far away, and in the darkness of dense foliage, for a good picture, but if you look very closely at the area circled in red you may see him.


And he left behind a feather for me:

Owl's feather

As we approached the lake, the other dogs heard us and joyfully came towards us en masse. What a greeting! Archie and Hugo and Tess, Quinn, Pearl, Vimy, Alva, Dolly, Drew, and Luger all racing down the path to check us out and then racing back again to the lake. Alva afforded us much entertainment (other than a heart stopping moment when she flew into the deep water with the bigger dogs and found she had overestimated her ability - for a moment there I had visions of having to swim out to rescue her), and all the dogs had a great time.

Dogs in water :Dolly, Alva,, Archie and Drew

Dogs in a row

Charley and Sadie, nonswimmers, enjoyed lying on the dock where the cooling breezes could ruffle their fur:

Charley and Sadie

The dogs took turns checking out an interesting spot in the grasses by water's edge. There I discovered a small dead fish, and a freshly killed snake. I thought to photograph the fish before tossing it out of the dogs' way, but was a little hastier getting rid of the snake. Drew has a habit of whipping them around in a frenzy, I'm told, and I really didn't want to be snake-whipped.


And of course, no Wednesday Walk would be complete without the obligatory photo of Her Royal Whiteness, Princess Pearl:

Pearl, the dog who never gets dirty

Thursday, Chris and Beau and Luke accompanied us back up to the lake again. Beau and Luke enjoyed just standing around in the cool water. Big, big dogs, they are able to stand in areas where the Wednesday group could only swim. Luke was particularly entertaining as he attempted to suck the lake dry!

Gulp, gulp, gulp, gulp


Luke's idea of swimming (photo by Chris)

Luke and Beau (Photo by Chris)

We didn't see the owl this time, but we were entertained by two kingfishers swooping and diving and calling to each other a few hundred feet away. And without splishy-splashy stick-chasing joyfully barking dogs of Wednesday's walk, we were also able to see many fish in the water - live ones, this time. Chris took this picture:

Fish in water

And she also took this lovely photo of Sadie:

Sadie (Photo by Chris)

Friday, at Swallowfield, large birds were everywhere - perhaps they, too, are glad of the cooler weather. Large wingspans of young eagles or similar birds were sihouetted against the sky; several herons flew through the trees by the river; and a flock of geese landed on the cool water a distance away. Sailboats drifted in and out of sight in the bay on the far side of the estuary. The dogs ran and played and had a good time, and we ate our fill of very plump, sweet blackberries that lined the path along most of the route. It was a very good day.

Birds overhead and above the trees

Swooping Skies

I love the arbutus trees that grow on the coast - their bark ever peeling, their trunks twisted and distorted as they cling to rocky crags near the water.


I found this most interesting and informative link on the Arbutus tree. The site,, is actually a travel planning site, but full of interesting information about B.C. in a very readable format - I'll be going back there to surf around often.

This morning I am off to the RCMP Musical Ride, sans dogs. Retirement is a busy time - how did I ever find time to work for pay????

The estuary at Swallowfield

1 comment:

Black Jack's Carol said...

I have only seen a couple of owls in the wild. Each time, I was overwhelmed with my good fortune. When I was teaching science (don't ask:), I took one class to the birds of prey sanctuary in Delta, and will never forget their resident barn owl, Oddey, born with deformities due to pesticides. The kids loved meeting him and so did I. He was afraid of the dark, stamping his foot if the lights were turned off at night. I think he also hated the color green, but don't quote me on that one. He is no longer living, but was an amazing ambassador for the centre. You probably know about it but I'll post the web address just in case some of your readers are interested: All of your post was great fun to read, but as you can see, that owl photo totally caught my attention:)