Sunday, July 24, 2011

Of Bugs and Birds


I went out today, walking to the Starbucks downtown for tea and then back home again. On my way back home I saw a magpie sitting on a white SUV parked in a lot. It was chattering away looking into the windshield in earnest before hopping over to the passenger's side view mirror. After taking an extending peek underneath his feet into the mirror, the magpie starting staring into and chattering away at the passenger's side window. Later it was back to the windshield before hopping up to the sunroof. It was at this point I became certain that it wasn't itself that the magpie was chattering at, but something inside that it desperately wanted. I watched as it pecked at the sunroof and tried picking away at the sides of it before flying off to a tree.


One thing that Lower Mainlanders don't experience with any frequency are "bug explosions". I recall a couple of ladybug explosions (very cool) and one mosquito explosion (not cool at all) that I have yet to see repeated with the same severity. Since moving to Saskatchewan I have seen one bug explosions after another summer after summer. The explosions are as follows:

2008: Gnats/thrips in June and July. Hornets in August.
- The thrips and gnats would try to fly up your nose, in your ears, open mouths and in your eyes
- The hornets were aggressive, plentiful and everywhere.

2009: House flies, end of July to September. Maybe other species, but they were all black and plentiful.
- They were everywhere, more everywhere than the hornets in 2008. There was nowhere you could go to get away from them, just places with less than others. When I went to take garbage out to the dumpster by my old building, I had to fire it over to the dumpster from at least 10 feet away to avoid the explosion of flies that would erupt from it and form a thick, black, buzzing cloud for the next 20 minutes.

2010: Mosquitoes all summer long.
- Not as bad as the explosion I saw in the Fraser Valley back home, but it lasted a lot longer and made life miserable. As I recently discovered, I am allergic to mosquito bites. It made life here really unpleasant. Night or day, the little bastards were out for blood and it seemed they were particularly fond of mine. After my holiday in the middle of August, they seemed a bit thinner by the time I got back, but they still persisted into September.

2011 so far: Mosquitoes and Dragonflies.
- Around the end of June to about three weeks ago we had a repeat of last summer. It was damned near impossible for me to enjoy a walk, so I was just staying home. But then three weeks ago there was an explosion of dragonflies. It was a sight to see and a personal dream come true for me. I love dragonflies. I love to watch them flying. And I love the fact that they feed on mosquitoes. They have really made difference in the mosquito populations here, so much so I can walk out side at night and the early morning in peace.
The larger blue and green dragonflies have been dwindling, but a new population of smaller dragonflies have appeared. They are metallic yellow, orange and green and I have seen a couple of blood red ones as well. They were darting around the grass at City Hall and here in my neighbourhood of City Park all day in near swarms. Beautiful and sanity saving.