Thursday, December 21, 2017

Farewell to Fall

With the arrival of the Winter Solstice, it is time to say farewell to fall.  And what a fall it has been!  The colours were vibrant and lasted longer than I can ever remember - from early September, through a beautiful October, surviving heavy rains and strong winds in November, until the last of the reds and yellows floated to the ground within the past ten days.

First colours of fall - Sept 4, 2017



Early December

There seemed to be many more varieties of birds, and more wildlife visible also, this fall.  I saw owls and pileated woodpeckers,  sapsuckers and spotted sandpipers and kingfishers, many varieties of waterfowl including little pied-billed grebes that I'd not seen before, nuthatches and varied thrush and cormorants and oh-so-many types of sparrows.....and that just covers a fraction of them.

Bufflehead duck

Common Goldeneye
Female Common Merganser

Male Common Merganser, I think
(though it seems to have too much white on its body)

Male and female Hooded Merganser



Pileated woodpecker

The Trumpeter Swans have returned for the winter - I saw the first flock in early November, and now spot large flocks in or near many slow moving waters.  These ones were a few of the ones we saw on the flooded swamp area in Hemer Park a couple of weeks ago:

Yes, really, was THIS big!

There he goes again.....he's such a braggart. 

We often see otters and seals along our shores, and this fall they were in greater evidence than ever.  Most mornings Maggie and I were entertained by at least two otters and sometimes a seal or two as we sat near the old wharf and watched the sunrise, but we also saw many on our various hikes.

Seal on the shore of Mudge Island, across from Dodd Narrows

Seal in Osborne Bay

And of course the deer were plentiful, wandering down the streets of town and across highways, often with little fawns in tow.

This fall I also saw a number of bear - fortunately from the safety of my car and not face-to-face on a trail!  The bears don't seem to hibernate here - I saw a mama and two very young cubs (standing up on their hind legs, for gosh sakes - how cute was that!) just two weeks ago, and in past years have seen them in late December and January.  This one I photographed in late October:

Most of the time, though, the 'wild' life I see are the four legged furries that live with me and my friends - a whole lot safer to be around than bears!

Maggie says the leaves match her colouring!

Pat's pom, Lexi, insists on carrying her own leash!

While November had some very rainy days, they were interspersed with sunny days too, and so all fall I have been able to hike on Mondays with Sally and Fridays with Pat.  So many beautiful places - some new, some familiar, each unique.

Cowichan River Trail

Dodd Narrows, Cable Bay Trail hike.

Fall grasses on Holden Lake at Hemer Park

Cowichan Bay

Rushes at Westwood Lake

An old car spotted while on a hike down the Trans Canada Trail

Pat and the poms at Osborne Bay Park

Sally on Trestle 70, Trans Canada Trail just east of Cowichan Lake

But my favourite experience of all, this fall, was the early morning walks with Maggie.  She loves our walks to the beach - along the seawalk, out the berm, sit on the rocks and watch the sun rise - often twice as it appears over Salt Spring Island, then disappears behind a part of the mountain before reappearing all over again.

Then we continue along the seawalk, watching the boats in the bay or in the marina, sometimes going past the ferry terminal to watch the boom boats shuffling the logs around, and the cargo ships being loaded with their goods, and the tugs pulling the barges in and out of the bay.  We are a deep sea port, and for a tiny town, we have a lot of waterfront comings and goings.

Sometimes we sit for an hour or more watching the otters play or the seagulls catch their breakfast of starfish or clams or the herons fishing from the dock.  It is never boring and ever changing.

One of two otters that were fishing near the wharf

The very large full moon this fall meant king tides - very high tides - which made for excellent reflections of the fall leaves along the seawalk.

And sometimes the day was so beautiful and the moon so bright that we returned to the seawalk for our evening walk too:

Sunset walk

It was an amazing fall, a stupendous fall, and I hate to see it end.  But the upside is that the days start getting longer again.  Sadly our walks for now are curtailed because Old Man Winter brought snow and ice this week, which makes for unstable footing.  But it also makes for pretty photos of dogs in snow:

Happy Solstice, everyone.  If winter is here, can spring be far behind?


Ellen Nickerson said...

Thanks for this post. Merry Christmas to you and Maggie and all your hiking buddies.

Marie said...

If winter is here, can spring be far sentiments exactly!
Have a very Merry Christmas, Jean and many more adventures with beautiful Maggie, in the New Year!

CarolineA said...

What a wonderful post chock full of pictures! I feel we were given an early Christmas present! You live in a gorgeous part of Canada and it is so appreciated that you share it with us!
Merry Christmas to you, Allie cat and Maggie!

Donna Negrin said...

Beautiful photos Jean....and lovely script as well. It truly was a spectacular autumn...and you captured it all so well!! I thank you for sharing with us! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! And all the best in the New Year!! We will all await anxiously for your photos to show up here again!