Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Aha...perhaps I have found my mystery bird?

Monday, May 30, 2005

Down at the Dallas Marine this afternoon, I went to sit on the dock overlooking Snug Cove and read a little. I heard a strange bird call, a loud CHEEP above me and saw a small bird flying out over the water with a short glide and relaxed but rapid wingflaps. The bird seemed a little smaller than a crow and much slimmer in profile. It had white wing bars. It had a very prounounced V-shaped forked tail with a long tail feather in the middle extending past the tips of the V

I thought it was a common nighthawk at first, as it had the wingbars and the stuttery flight. What puts doubt in my mind was the call was less raspy than the nighhawk's - a CHEEP rather the nasal PEENT - and the forked tail. Also the flight seemed a little less frantic and the bird was aloft during the height of day. The bird also perched on a branch, instead of the ground, and it was very slim and sleek looking in profile, sitting about 40 meters from me up in a cedar tree.

The deeply forked tail makes me wonder. That was very obvious, to the point where I continued watching the bird as intently as I could. The white wing bars almost certainly make it a nighthawk, but I can't quite square that bird, which I know well, with what I saw.

Any thoughts?

Sunday, May 22, 2005

All Islanders at some point have forgotten themselves and showed up on a Saturday evening in Snug Cove for a 7:05 sailing to Horseshoe Bay, or (more frequently) rush to make the 7:35 home and remember once they get there that there is no sailing at that time. From 7-8pm on Saturdays, the Queen of Capilano ties up in the Cove and the crew spend an hour doing drills - mostly fire drills I think. And every ten days on a crossing, the ferry will stop and the alarms will sound and the crew will muster at the the Zodiac on the ferry's sundeck, lower it into the water and head off to rescue a target.

Occasionally people moan and complain about these drills. But today the value of all those "un-sailings" and mid-sailing drills paid off.

The ferry was nearly an hour late today as we waited to board the 12:35. It's not unusual on a weekend for the ferry to run late, and we just rolled with it - what can you do after all? When it arrived it didn't take long to learn of the reason for the delay.

We have had a pretty wicked spring storm the last day or so and the waters of Howe Sound are sloppy - chop on top of rolling swell. There were still heavy winds out this morning, and around 11:00 the mate glanced off the bow and noticed two men crab fishing in an open 12 foot skiff. They were waving frantically. They were swamped and in danger of capsizing and motoring as hard as they could towards the ferry. The alarm was sounded and the rescue team got into action, and by the time the Zodiac had reached the men, their boat had capsized and the men were in the water. Howe Sound is never very warm, especially in spring, and you would have a hard time surviving for more than a few minutes if you were swimming in this morning's seas. The ferry crew rescued the two men, brought them on board and - quite literally - saved their lives.

When the captain announced the reason for the delay on the loudspeaker, the passengers broke into applause for the crew.

During the ferry worker's strike a couple of years ago, lots of disparaging things were said about the ferry crews. BC Ferries even tried to staff up a ship with less than a full crew, many of whom didn't have rescue training. Despite the inconvenience of that strike, many Bowen Islanders - especially those that spend any time on the water in boats and kayaks - had lots of time for the ferry worker's cause. They don't just sell coffee, load cars and vacuum carpets. These folks play a significant role in coastal safety and anyone who knows that holds the training and professionalism of the ferry workers in high regard.

This evening, there are two more people who now know this too. Lucky to be alive.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Last night a thunderstorm over Vancouver, the sky above Whitecliff flashed with blue between 10 and 11pm. Above us the moon veiled hung in the south, lightly illuminating the thunderheads to the east. There was no wind and I sat on the porch watching the storm and listening to the muted and distant thunder. Heavy showers passed over us all night, some of them as heavy as we ever get, rain pounding on the roof. But there was no wind and in this respect this was rain unique to mid spring - showers, warm air, sea fog in the morning clinging to the mountains 1000 feet above the water.

Every year the warmth of early spring gives way to a period of cool and wet weather for a few weeks before summer takes hold. It's different than the fall or winter, a different kind of transition; it is the decay of the low pressure systems off the coast and the building of a high, and so the storms come and go gently and gradually, take their time building in and leaving us, and the sun warms the land and water when it finally burns through the fog.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

A couple of new Bowen Island blogs showed up on my radar. The PIKO Experiment is the blog of Chris Hansen who is heading up a screenwriter's retreat for five writers over five months. John Mark Huckabee, whom I previously noted, is one of those writers. I'm meeting Chris for coffee tomorrow morning.

Also today, surfing through the Blogger profiles of people who list Bowen as their location I found "A work in Progress" which, judging from the tagline "Government is too big and too important to be left to the politicians" is one of the better double entendres for a blog name I've seen in a while. Give us a shout Eileen, if you read this. Y'all have been added to to noosphere!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Here is a not untypical work day:

This afternoon, I biked down to the Cove and sat in the newly revamped Snug, drinking espresso and working on a report. While I was there, I shared a few jokes with a neighbour, bantered with Holly who was proudly making shots of coffee and I surfed the Snug's new wireless service. Dr. Sue walked in and joined me for lunch (after borrowing five dollars for a sandwich - she left her cash in the jeans she wore while volunteering at the recycling centre this morning). We talked about Ontario and Bowen and I found out she has started working one day a week on the island. While we were talking our RCMP Constable Mike strode in and asked me to show him how to start a blog so he could journal his Cops for Cancer fundraising initiative. Our outgoing Corporal Greg was there too, and we tried selling the new cop on the merits of the Bowen Island Taekwondo school.

I made an appointment to see Dr. Sue and she took off after lunch. Finished writing and went up to see Sue, who returned the five dollars and gave me a good referral. While there I talked to my friend April, who also looks after our Taekwondo school and who shares some similar interests with me around groups facilitation and writing.

Biked home where we ate lasagna made with stinging nettles picked yesterday at Cape Roger Curtis.

Everyone does two things around here, and we know one another from circles that intersect with circles. It's these multiply aspected relationships that keep things tight - sometimes uncomfortably so. But in general, knowing that you'll see someone in a few different places makes it hard to hold grudges, be negative or act dishonourably. It just behooves everyone to make small contributions to everyone else's well being.

That's not to say that Bowen is some idyllic community without politics and alliances and gossip and histories. It's just that, in the bigger scheme, we all get along here pretty well, a condition that is supported by the intricacies of social relations in a small place.

Monday, May 9, 2005

The whole Cove has been trasnformed. There is a movie being made - a remake of John Carpenter's The Fog - and Bowen Island is standing in for Anotonio Island. The lower Cove is covered in red, white and blue bunting, which is the traditional sign that a Canadian location is standing in for an American one. The Bowfest field is covered in styrofoam and wood headstones and mocked up as a really convincing graveyard, and all the young girls are going ape over Tom Welling walking around the place.

It's a bit of a circus actually. It's funny having 150 people invade your community and treat it like a set. They're nice enough and all, and they're dropping a lot of cash on the island but it's clearly just a workplace, like any other film set. Seaplanes have been carrying the high priced talent in every evening and away in the morning and the whole scene is urreal.

I'll post some photos soon.

Salmon berries


Ann Mann photgraphed these Salmonberries along Miller Road, and Finn and I came along yesterday and ate them, our first handful of the year. Seems a little early for them, but we aren't complaining.

Lots of warblers still around, including Wilson's and Orange Crowned spotted at the Cape yesterday.

We have a humming bird nest in the back yard. It sits and shakes on an Ocean Spray bush as the little ones wriggle around within.