Sunday, April 26, 2009

Earth Day Spotlight - Coyotes

This past Saturday was the 9th Annual Earth Day Event at Everett Crowley Park. Here is the event description, borrowed from the Earth Day Canada website:

"Everett Crowley Park was once used as Vancouver’s landfill. VanEast Parks Department in cooperation with Everett Crowley Committee Members and Community Volunteers have turned this abused site into the “jewel of East Vancouver.” Planting of native species and removal of invasive alien plant species is undertaken annually by the Community at each annual Earth Day Event and created a beautiful park for all to enjoy. The site has Viewpoints which offer stunning views across the Fraser River overlooking lush green market gardens and to the East a magnificent view of Mount Baker. Eagles, hawks and owls fly overhead, nature walks and birding tours are offered by the Committee. People of all ages now walk and play in open areas surrounded by towering evergreens. In 2008, 5,000 people came to enjoy a day of free live entertainment, learned new things, got down and planted and had a wonderful day in the Park. Educational booths offer information on how each of us can make small changes in our daily lives to help protect our environment for today and for future generations. We expect a large turnout this year to enjoy what has become an eagerly anticipated event."

All three of my children and I walked over around noon to see what was going on. This was the first year that we attended. It was wonderful! So much to see and do, and there were so many friends and neighbours there to wave to or stop and chat with.

The Stanley Park Ecology Society had an information booth set up which focused on "Co-existing with Coyotes". I found it to be very interesting - I've seen many coyotes in the city - from a distance as well as a few 'too close for comfort' encounters. The SPEC steward who was manning the booth had a homemade 'coyote shaker' that he was demonstrating and passing about. I had never heard of one before, but now that I've seen one, I've decided that it is going to be this week's craft project with the kids! Here is some infomation from SPEC's website:

The Coyote Shaker

•Pop or juice can
•About 40 pennies
•Aluminum foil
•Duct tape

1.Place the pennies in the can
2.Cover the opening with tape
3.Cut a piece of foil and tape it around the can

Using the Shaker
Shake the tin at the coyote while slowly moving towards an area of increased activity. The shaker scares the approaching coyote in three ways, through:

1.Aggressive hand motion
2.Loud noise
3.Reflective light

The shaker easily fits in a pocket or bag.

Also from the SPEC website, "It may surprise some readers that the Co-existing with Coyotes program encourages people to harass coyotes. Coyotes are opportunists and always learning, it's a major factor in their success. By harassing a coyote that shows no fear of people, or follows your dog, you send it a message that they have been recognized and that they need to keep their distance. Without a reasonable fear of people, coyotes and other urban wildlife will often become habituated, thereby increasing the potential for conflicts with humans. The most common conflicts involve coyotes attacking pets."

Certainly a good perspective to keep in mind! Happily, I know two little boys with big imaginations and lots of energy for adventure who will be raring to head back to the park to make some noise with their newly constructed, SPEC sanctioned gadgets! I'll arm myself with my ecologically sound, reusable coffee canteen and my camera of choice and I'll be just as eager to head out, in pursuit of little boys' laughter, sunshine, and good photo ops! Fun for all ages!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Morning on Good Friday...

Good morning, good morning, what a good morning it is! The sun is shining, the birds are singing...and I mean, the birds are really singing!! They are quite a lively, busy, active little bunch around here! In fact, at times they sound almost lunatic - such a rapid, fervent cacophony they make. Some of my neighbours complain about their noise, but I love it. I welcome it! It always heralds the arrival of spring, and I will celebrate that always! True, the little winged wonders do start up on the early side each morning - sometimes while '4' is still the first number you see on the digital clock glowing beside the bed, but I will never complain. My mood, my energy, my frame of mind depends too much on the spring and summer seasons, and the weather they bring, to ever grieve any non sequitur like birdsong.

I feel very fortunate to live where I do. I believe that one of the things that British Columbia, and Vancouver, is recognized for is our abundance of wildlife, trees, and greenery. The neighbourhood I live in within Vancouver is almost a parklike setting. Woods and trails and ponds and creeks, all just above the mighty Fraser River. During the summer, I can look out my living room window and barely be able to make out the townhouse complex next door to us, or even my neighbours houses across from my backyard, for all the full, broad, mature (mostly deciduous) trees there are. They are a wonderful privacy screen, and they provide such great sunshade for the children out playing in the summer. It's somewhat startling, in the autumn, to have almost all the leaves fall away to reveal (gasp!) civilization! So dense, and so close - just on the other side of the fence!

I used to associate 'birdwatching' with either odd, antisocial, professor-type men, or your stereotypical 'little old lady' - ancient and frail, looking out her kitchen window at her generous array of birdfeeders, making sure all of her dear little birdies have their seed through the winter. Well, darned if I am not turning into a bit of a birdwatcher myself! How could I not?! I'll be sitting on the couch in front of the big window in the living room when a flash of movement catches my eye - what was that?! I turn and look outside, and a robin has landed on the balcony railing. A minute later - flash of movement. I turn my head. Two little chickadees are skipping about outside on the deck. I look out at the empty playground. Nothing going on out there. Or is there? The more I look, the more I see. Little birds swooping quickly by and out of sight....another robin hopping about on the grass...a couple of crows perched above, overseeing things and waiting perhaps for a sign that the robin might be on to something tasty...And farther above in the sky overtop of the neighbouring townhouse complex, some seagulls are circling about. Seagulls...well I'll be. There's nary a sea around here, and we're a bit more than a stone's throw from Kitsilano...I have seen woodpeckers, blue jays, hummingbirds, hawks, great blue herons, Canadian geese, bald eagles and more - on the ground, in the trees, and in the sky above - right in my backyard.

So here at my house, spring is springing, birds are singing - and there is no place I'd rather be!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

All Geared Up and Ready To Go!

Today was opening day for Vancouver Minor Baseball. This will be Casey's third year playing. He spent two years in 'Blastball' and has now moved up to 'Mini Tad'. While Blastball has the kids hitting the ball off of a T-stand, the Mini Tads have graduated to a pitching machine, which means new equipment is required. At this level, the team supplies the batting helmet, but it was time for a new glove as Casey had grown out of his old one from last season (Cody happily inherited it), and the other new piece of equipment required at this stage is a jock. Sounds like a Daddy job to me! So, a few days ago, Steve took Casey out to look at getting a new mitt and his first jock. Casey wasn't quite sure what a jock is, so Steve gave him an explanation, involving what I don't know. Casey processed the information and then asked, "You mean like armor for your penis?" I can always count on Casey for a chuckle!

Friday, April 3, 2009

This Month's 'The Inspired Scrapper'...

I am so pleased to say that I was asked to be the Guest Designer this month for 'The Inspired Scrapper'. This fabulous blog is the brain child of Sonja McLean, a whirling dervish of talent and drive whom I have admired for a number of years now, since I first met her at a LSS. I alternate between 'flattered' and 'sheepish' to be included for the month among the very clever and accomplished Design Team members Sonja has working with her at The Inspired Scrapper. This is the layout that I did for this week's 'Rain' themed project. Thank you Sonja, and the rest of the team, for inviting me over to play!


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