Category Archives: Nature

Kamloops, British Columbia

Calgary, from the airport

Way back in August, I took a trip to Kamloops, British Columbia, to visit Pat and Mike. I used to work with Mike at the Graduate Center years ago. Pat invited me to come and visit them, so I took them up on their offer. I flew from JFK to Calgary, getting stranded there because of storms in the Greater New York area. So I arrived in Kamloops the next day, and Pat met me at the small airport. I was there for nearly a week.

I stayed in a room that’s for people who know people in the complex way up on a hill above the downtown, and I house-sat for Pat and Mike’s friend Joanne. Her house in the complex was very nice.

What I loved was the faux running stream outside; it ran on the other side of her patio wall. Though you couldn’t see it unless you peered over the wall, you could hear it. The first evening I was there Joanne had a little get-together for the four of us. Joanne used to be a librarian. Pat was a medical librarian; Mike, like me, is an academic librarian.

Mike was usually busy at work, so I hung out with Pat. Mike works at the Thompson Rivers University, which Pat took me to the first day I was there.

It is an up and coming university, and the campus is beautiful. Pat showed me an auditorium based on a First Nations communal house. Though the acoustics isn’t too good, the interior was beautiful. And the door was absolutely gorgeous.

We went walking along the trails above Kamloops. This is what the interior of British Columbia is like: much more arid than the coast. Pat told me that the area was usually much more brown and yellow at this time of year, but they had more rain than usual. Matter of fact, Pat arrived at my room the first morning with a coffee. She was soaked as it poured around her. “This is not a typical day in Kamloops,” she explained.

We also went walking along the Thompson River–North or South I couldn’t tell you. Pat explained that the river is known to have a

Path along the river

very swift current. It is a very cold river as well. People drown in the river every year, fooled by the docile look of the river.

One day Pat took me to a nearby provincial park. This area is what people–at least people I know–think of when British Columbia is mentioned: green, green, green, with water. It was very different from the arid area not too far away by car.

Kamloops held its fourth annual Pride Parade. Pat, Mike and I attended. The parade was about fifteen minutes long; we stood three times that waiting for it to start. I have never been a fan of parades, but this one was nice and short. However, there were very many people marching in the parade, and there was a nice crowd looking on from the sidewalks. Afterwards, there were vendors in the street and in one of the parks.

I enjoyed myself in Kamloops. I ended up as an unofficial judge–and celebrity–at a drag show that we attended the night before the parade. The MC asked who was from out of town. Pat just had to point me out. I came the furthest than anyone, and the MC would occasionally ask my opinion on this performance or that one. It was all in good fun, but I am not used to being a focus of attention.

Sid Vicious and I confer

Pat and Mike have a three-legged cat, Sid Vicious. Sid could be vicious if he was played with too long. Pat blamed it on Sid’s not being socialized as a kitten. (Sid was a rescue cat.) You needed to know when to break off the play before things got nasty. I was good at this. For three legs, Sid could move around quite well. Sid was certainly the king of his domain. He had a penned-in area open to the weather, and grass growing on the balcony for him to snack upon.

Pat, Mike and I took a walk in one of the downtown parks where they have music in the summer. There was another path in the city along one of the rivers. The path was also a place to display art.

Before I knew it, it was time for me to go back to New York. I had a fun time with Pat and Mike. Actually, I was sad to go. Still, the old saying about fish and guests smelling after three days is something to keep in mind when visiting friends and family. Pat and Mike saw me to the airport and we said our good-byes.




Filed under Nature, Travel

What is this?

I spotted this little animal in Fort Tryon Park, nosing around not too far from people sunbathing.

Is it a hedgehog? I know at least one person out there who will know.


Filed under Nature, New York City

Birds at the Cloisters, in Chelsea, and Sleepy Hollow

Over the past several weeks, I was able to interact with the local fauna, namely birds.

My friend Caroline and I went up to the Cloisters, taking the train all the way up to Fort Tryon Park. This was our annual pilgrimage. We walked through the park and got to the Cloisters pretty early. Nonetheless, it was packed, being a holiday weekend. We were, however, able to avoid most of the crowds. We took, instead, photos of the architecture and flora. We got some great pics.

We have taken so many photos of the art in the Cloisters that neither one of us was the least bit interested in taking any more photos. We were parched and went to the little cafe in the Cloisters to get something to drink, and Caroline was hungry. We were stunned to find that the birds flying around the courtyard where the cafe and seating is located landed very close to us and walked within inches of where we were. What did we do? Why we took pictures, of course!

Caroline gets advice on nature photography from expert

Caroline gets advice on nature photography from expert

The most  interesting one I have already posted, the bird that landed on Caroline’s hand and cell phone, (I’ve posted it again), but it needs a bit more of an explanation. Caroline was surprised by the bird’s attempt to land on her, and there was some guy there with a big camera with a very long lens who snapped photo after photo of the action. My camera is small and cannot simply snap photos one after the other. (It might be able to, but the setting would have to be changed.) I was able to get the one close-up where the bird does, indeed, look as if he is giving Caroline advice. (She latter tweeted the pic.) The man showed us the photos in his camera, then walked away. He never offered to send Caroline copies of the photos, in which he caught Caroline’s surprise and shock. I thought that this was in poor taste. After all, if you take a clear, close-up photo of someone, it only seems right to offer the person a copy.

Weeks later, I walked to the Magnolia Bakery in Chelsea with two friends. We ate our goodies across the street in a little park. The birds there came right up to us, basically begging for some food. Baked goods always have crumbs, so I started tossing crumbs to the birds, which quickly gobbled them up, at which point the pigeons, who were a distance away, came running. (Probably had the cute birds trolling food.)

Finally, I snapped some pics of the Canada goslings that were born this spring. Last year I snapped some photos of goslings that resembled fuzz balls. This year, I got the babies when they were a bit older.



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Filed under Nature, New York City, Sleepy Hollow

Spring at Last: Bird Feeding

The following pictures were taken through my window as I watched the local birds fighting to get to the bird feeder. And I do mean fight: I could hear the squawking and chirping as the birds fought to get into the four openings to the seed.

I decided to feed the birds in winter, spring and fall. They don’t need to be fed in summer, since food is plentiful. I’m actually using up the seed I bought last year.

Those birds really are pigs. Within two days, the feeder is empty. I don’t have to worry about checking on it, though. There’s always a chirp-chirp-chirp, a lone call, that comes right through the windows. Maybe the birds take turns. I don’t know, but the lone chirping is how I know that the feeder is empty.

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Filed under Nature, Sleepy Hollow

Finally, Spring!

(2015-03-16 001)Though March 20th marked the official start of Spring, the weather had other ideas.

We got a snowstorm that day; the snow didn’t start laying until after three. By evening, it looked like a winter wonderland–on the first day of Spring. Most of the snow melted yesterday in the 40 degree-plus weather. I wasn’t surprised. I knew that Winter would give us one last kick. However, we are moving too close to the sun for this type of weather to last much longer.

This pic is of Canadian geese. (Thanks for the identification, Mary!) This is the same flock that I wrote about a few weeks ago. The birds were looking for ground not covered in snow. The small park near the Tarrytown train station was perfect.

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Filed under Nature, Tarrytown

The Hudson, soon to be Ice-Free

What a different two weeks makes!

The image on the left was how the Hudson River looked near the Philipse Manor train station at the end of February. The right image is how the same area looked on March 11th, during a week of temperatures that were above freezing. There’s still ice in places on the Hudson, but it’s finally melting!

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Filed under Nature, Sleepy Hollow

Winter Birds

(2015-02-26 001)Last week, I was surprised by the group of ducks in this photograph. They were across the street from the elderly apartment building. As soon as I stopped to take the picture, they came toward me, thinking that I had food for them, which I didn’t.

I saw a group of birds once before this and the evening after I took this photo. Both were in the small park down from the Tarrytown train station, but it was not this group of birds. That group were swans (geese?) and they were BIG.

Most of the park’s walkways are not plowed, so they were on the big area that was. (Still, that concrete must have been COLD!) I had to make two of them move to get by. The next night, they were again in the park on the concrete.

This winter has been hard on everything. I have a small bird feeder on my back porch that I try and keep filled for the birds, but the ducks and swans are too large to eat from it. Because it’s on a post and open on all sides, the birds usually use my living room window sill as a place to eat. (I discovered this when I heard their wings bumping the window.)

Below are photographs of the Hudson River over the past two weeks. You can see how iced-over it is; the colder it is, the more ice forms. This week we are supposed to have a day with a high around 45 and it’s supposed to rain. I don’t know if that will help or hurt, as everything freezes again every night.


Filed under Nature, Tarrytown