Things I am Thinking About Right Now...

  • 1. Finally Updated; A busy ( and not-so-birdy fall ) fall
  • 2. A smew in Ontario ??? And I got to see it !
  • 3. Thinking about summer vacation...
  • 4. And Sping trips too !
  • 5. Quite a few Winter rarities around. May try to add a few more to the list
  • 6. Still no snow on the ground...
  • 7. Project FeederWatch is going strong. Two eports submitted...
  • 8. I think I have convinced my wife to visit Cape May next summer !
  • 9. The Elephant Pepper Development Trust ( Check out their site ! )
  • 10. Tying to decide how to spend my remaining gift certificates !

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Niagara River + December = Gulls !

And back again...An insanely busy fall has made posting an endangered activity but now that the big holiday has passed, we have time to reflect on fall birding. Of course, my fall birding was limited but for one road trip. After years of wanting to go but never quite going I finally made it to the Ontario Field Ornithologists Niagara River Field Trip. This trip is one of their most popular trips and this year was no exception with a solid 60-70 people plus many others along the route. The weather was great, balmy for an Ontario December ( the exception to the rule ). The kids were at home, as this trip was my delayed birthday present. And the target for birders on this day...Gulls. Yes, the most frustrating family in ornithology ( despite what people watching a flock of "peep" sandpipers will tell you ). Unfortunately no pics but here are 10 key points about this field trip if you are interested in going.

1. It is hard to pick out gulls but the presence of experts makes it a little easier.

2. Getting close enough to hear the experts is tough. This field trip is insanely popular for people who have tried to add gulls to their list before and failed miserably.

3. Bring a scope and binoculars. The overlook of the Sir Adam Beck Hydro plant is one of the most impressive places to bird as one looks down ( way down ) into the gorge onto the hundreds of gulls congregating on the river. Seeing the sitting birds in any detail is impossible without a scope. However, once they take off and start to fly you need a decent pair of binoculars to track them. I had two life birds and with both I was able to see diagnostic features with 10 x 40 binoculars.

4. The scope is even more impotant when birding sites above the falls, like the Chippewa Control Gates or the river immediately above the falls.

5. When birding above the falls, try to stand in the middle of the group. If you end up on the periphery of the group, you will be asked by non-birders what this crowd of people on the sidewalk is looking at. Which means explaining that everyone is looking at seagulls.

6. The Slaty-Backed Gull may be the most frustrating bird to identify in North America. To identify a Slaty-Back in North America, you must essentially eliminate all other possibilities ( i.e. all the normal gulls ). Thankfully, I have my life Slaty-Back but every time I see a possible candidate, it makes you realize the challenge that birding provides.

7. Jaegars are cool. After missing out on jaegars completely in Newfoundland this summer, I wrote off these birds as overly fat, nasty seagulls. And while there is some truth in my assessment, seeing one in action was impressive. The POMRAINE JAEGAR at Adam Beck was a great surprise. It was gliding with the other gulls, then bolted towards it's target and began harassing it relentlessly in the air, then into the water. As I stated before, even with my binoculars i was able to see the typical white flashes on the wings.

8. Waiting for the gulls is part of the game. Sleeping gulls show just enough to be intriguing but of course, there is always one other feature that remains hidden. Our group spent nearly 20 minutes waiting for a potential CALIFORNIA GULL to show it's legs. Finally, it stood up to reveal....pink legs !!! No California Gull, although the birders with more expertise mused that this might be California/Herring gull hybrid. Ah, hybrids. Another reason why gulls cause birdes to assume the fetal position.

9. There is more to this trip than gulls. PURPLE SANDPIPERS, HARLEQUIN DUCKS, TURKEY AND BLACK VULTURES(!) in addition to the gulls ( including my life THAYER'S GULL ). The scenery is great too. This trip gave me my first look at The Whirlpool, which is impressive.

10. This trip rates a 2 out of five on the kid-meter. Staring at seagulls requires patience beyond that of young children. I would recommend leaving the kids at home for this one, despite the chance to see the falls.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

And the saga ends ???

And so Happy Feet is on his way to somewhere. A nice ending to an interenting story

Newfoundland - Part 2 - Shearwaters

It seems odd but I have never seen a shearwater before. Most people probably are in the same boat as me, although probably more apathetic to the issue than I am. However, I want to see shearwaters and have had ample opportunities. Despite living in and visiting Nova Scotia and despite several trips to Newfoundland, shearwaters never made it into my field of view. Or maybe they did and I couldn't ID them. Whatever the reason, the recent family visit to Newfoundland held promise to break this streak.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Newfoundland Vacation - Part 1 - In search of whales

The family vacation to Newfoundland is over. Despite butal summer weather, even by Newfoundland standards, everybody enjoyed themselves. Now it is time to get back into routines, prepare for back to school shopping and blogsome trip reports. From a birding perspective, the trip brought 6 life birds including some nice pelagic species. In fact Newfoundland is a great place to indulge in the outdoors and get closer to nature. One of the activities that I would recommend is a whale-watching tour and there may be no better place than Bay Bulls, a small town about 40 minutes south of St. John's.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Newfoundland update

I am halfway through my trip to Newfoundland. It has been great. The family is having a great time and I have added 6 lifers. Preparing a trip report when I come back. Check out my new sightings on my Birdstack feed below. And check out the videos I have on my twitter feed. Later !



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Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Newfoundland

Plans can go awry when planning/preparing to go on vacation. I had grand designs on posting some pictures of Newfoundland and Newfoundland birds but unfortunately time dwindled and here I am in Newfoundland, staying at my in-laws with wife & kids in tow.
Despite an late night departure and early, early morning arrival, everyone is in good spirits. Even the birding is off to a good start. A walk down to the bay netted me my life ARCTIC TERN. Tomorrow is a whale watching trip that I will post ASAP. And then... well who knows ?


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Saturday, 23 July 2011

Sign this petition please !

There are plans to build an Ethanol Plant beside the Second Marsh Wildlife Area. This provincially-significant wetland is a wonderful place to visit. The location of the plant is directly adjacent to the marsh; the worst possible location, really. The history of ethanol plants in Ontario is not very reassuring. In addition, this project is heavily opposed at the local level. Oshawa city council has made numerous objections in the past but FarmTech, the company that hopes to build this massive plant, keeps coming back with a fixation on this location.
The Oshawa council is still mounting opposition by preparing a petition to send to the Fedeal Government. Please sign this petition or research the issue further. Thanks

Link to petition: http://www.oshawa.ca/cit_hall/harbour-petition.asp

Friends of Second Marsh ( if you wish to visit or learn more ) :   http://secondmarsh.science.uoit.ca/

Monday, 18 July 2011

Brickworks, Toronto

The birding may be slow but the parenting never stops. Here are a couple of pictures from the Brickworks in Toronto. Anyone from around the Greater Toronto Area should check out this wonderful facility. Some decent birds including PURPLE MARTINS and a BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. Lots of dragonflies, frogs and turtles too !




Looking into one of the many ponds at The Brickworks





Dragonfly on THE DAUGHTER'S finger





Purple Martins

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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

My native plant garden - Early Summer

With birding is a slow period, one can turn their attention to other things. Like looking for rare ferns(!) or working on my native plant garden at home...



Inglis Falls, Owen Sound - Falls and Ferns

So what does a birding parent do when the birds go out of sight for the summer ? Well, fortunately there are plenty of options for a parent that enjoys other aspects of nature. On Canada Day, we had a family outing to Inglis Falls. This conservation area is located west of Owen Sound, almost two-and-a-half  hours north of Toronto. It is known for two things: the falls and the high diversity of ferns. Yes, ferns...the ignored cousin of the plant kingdom. Still if there is a Fern Capital of Ontario, Inglis Falls Conservation Area might be it !

 
And for those that don't care about ferns, there is always the waterfall

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Corporate Responsibility ? Wow...

Good for Telus ! Of course, there is always a cynical slant to these situations but I don't know of too many cases where I have seen such positive action...

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Doldrums are fun...

June has been a big bird news month...Willow Ptarmagin in Southern Ontario...The Peregrine Falcons breeding success at the building that houses Harlequin Publishing...An Emperoro Penguin taking a wrong turn...and now THIS ! You know, if turkeys are the biggest problem on your commute, you should count yourself lucky. And be thankful; turkeys are capable of worse...

Friday, 24 June 2011

Summer Doldrums...

Not much to post...The birds have better things to do...The bugs are out...Canada Post is on strike, delaying delivery of new books...We'll wait for the Canada Day weekend and see if there isn't something to report. Until then, if you are in Toronto, check out the new Penguin Exhibit. Again, I probably have a little pro-zoo bias ( I used to volunteer there ). For those that remember the old indoor penguin exhibit, the new exhibit is vastly improved. THE SON has adopted penguins as his favourite animal and judging by the reactions of children when we go, he is not the only one...

Speaking of penguins, here is the king ( or emperor, if you will ) of all vagrants. And I thought a Willow Ptarmagin in Southern Ontario was impressive !

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Willow Ptarmagin at Darlington Nuclear Plant

The Birding community in Ontario is abuzz with the sighting of a Willow Ptarmagin on the grounds of a local nuclear power plant. So much buzz that it made the paper...

Of course, the one ( and only ? ) trip to the facility coincided with a big party for my Dad's 70th birthday, which goes to show that I have my priorities in the right place. However, I now find myself living the experiece vicariously via Youtube:

To explain this odd bird sighting, I will use the power of Copy/Paste from Ontbirds ( the Ontario bird sightings page ) and Jean Iron:

 "Last winter there was a very large irruption of Willow Ptarmigan and even a
few Rock Ptarmigan into south-central Quebec. The Darlington Willow
Ptarmigan is likely an extreme overshoot from last winter's irruption.
Remarkably, there was a specimen taken near Whitby, which is close to
Darlington, on 15 May 1897 following a large irruption in the winter of
1886-1887."

Hopefully, there will be another trip arranged so even more birders can enjoy this amazing sighting !

Monday, 13 June 2011

Baby Muskie ( or Muskellunge if you prefer... ) and other aquatic stuff


THE DAUGHTER and I participated in three sessions at the 2011 Carden Nature Festival. The first was an early-morning but unfortunately quiet Birding by Ear workshop. The second was a Fossil Finding activity at a local quarry which was rained out by some torrential weather ( although I did learn that limestone attracts lightning, a fact that I am sure will come in handy at some point in the future ). Upon our return and a near-simultaneous clearing of the bad weather, we ( really me, via executive decision ) went off and found my life Golden-Winged Warbler. After this triumph, we returned to Festival Central to take part in our last session: Aquatic Organisms. When I originally signed us up, I felt that this session would appeal to my daughter because it was fun. I remember participating in stream studies and finding all kinds of cool stuff. However, with a session that my daughter looked forward to already cancelled, the pressure was on. Would my daughter really enjoy dipping her net into water and catching little slimy, muddy beasties ? Thankfully the answer was a resounding YES !

A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon !

Peregrine Falcons in Toronto...

Here is an update on the Peregrine Falcons in Toronto, ON. The Toronto Star has been following this falcon pair, thanks to their connection with a certain publisher of romantic books. Now, a new baby has been welcomed into the family...I'm assuming the star will continue to update this nice little story throughout the summer.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Plantlife from the Carden Alvar

Just beecause I never have huge success with photographing birds, here are some wildflowers pics from the Carden area. Late May-Mid-June is a great time of year to see some of these highly-adapted alvar plants. They tend to be fairly rare in other parts of Ontario. Although there are many places one could go, I highly recommend Cameron Ranch or Prairie Smoke nature Reserve if you are interested in seeing the diversity of plantlife on the Carden Plain.

Prairie Smoke is everywhere...This picture was taken on the Windmill Ranch

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Golden-Winged Warbler !

The Golden-Winged Warbler is my favourite warbler. Maybe even moreso, now that I have seen one. A visit to the Carden Plain always brings some nice birds. I still remember my first visit; 6 life birds including a HENSLOW'S SPARROW, SEDGE WREN and Loggerhead Shrike. Last year's visit to the Carden Nature Festival brought my first CLAY-COLORED SPARROW and VESPER SPARROW. However, every visit also missed out on the Golden-Winged until Saturday...

What is an Alvar ?

For anyone visiting the Carden Nature Festival or visiting the Carden area on their own, they are destined to run into the term Alvar. Alvar habitats are globally rare, found in the Great Lakes basin, Quebec, the United Kingdom and Baltic Europe. From the North American perspective, Ontario has 75 % of the alvar habitat with notable alvars scattered around the provice from the Napanee Plain to the Bruce Peninsula to Pelee Island. The Carden Alvar ( with respect to the others ) may be the most significant alvar in the province. It is identified as an Important Bird Area and has been the focus of conservation efforts from a number of different organizations.

A typical alvar habitat in the Carden area
  So what is an alvar ?


Carden Nature Festival 2011

The Carden Nature Festival is one of those annual events that every nature-lover should try to attend at least once in their lifetime. Hyperbole ? Perhaps I'm still buzzing after attending the 2011 version last weekend. However, the festival revolves around a habitat that many people do not get a chance to experience and features numerous activities that range from birding to observing aquatic wildlife to mosses and lichens to hunting for fossils. I could go on but suffice to say, if you like nature, there will be something that will appeal to your taste. Even better for parents, kids are welcome !

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Tommy Thompson Park Photos

Foggy day at Tommy Thompson Park
THE SON at Tommy Thompson Park

Spring Flora and Fungi at Thickson's Woods

 

Trying my hand at plant and fungi ID...

Trout Lilies - Early May



A NEW LIFE BIRD ! and other things in Thickson's Woods

Well, first to get this over with right away...my new life bird is an ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, seen at Thickson's Woods on Friday, May 19th. It wasn't an easy ID; I originally thought the bird was a Palm Warbler, albeit an immature bird. However that identification did not sit well and with a bit of research, I found that it may be a tad early to expect immature palm warblers. So what was this little bland/brownish bird with light indistinct streaking on its breast, a wash of yellow on its flanks and a yellow vent ? Orange-Crowned Warbler !!! Not the best looking specimen, I'd say but still a new bird for the big list !

Thickson's Woods has been a good place for birds over the last week. MAGNOLIA, CHESTNUT-SIDED, CAPE MAY, BLACKBURNIAN, BLACK-THROATED BLUE, CANADA and my first WILSON'S WARBLER of the year were highlights. I also had a wonderful BLUE-GREY GNATCATCHER; this one was more blue than grey and made me wish I had my camera. However, the trees are starting to grow out their leaves so the remaining weeks of migration season will be a bit more challenging...

Every so often, I find myself amazed/entranced/enthralled by something I see while birding. These events are unpredictable and do not necessarily correlate to life birds or rarities or anything that comes close to birding glory. Most of these events feature birds I have seen before, most of them common. The first time I saw a Yellow Warbler sing...The time a Blue-Throated Blue Warbler serenade THE DAUGHTER at close range...The first time THE DAUGHTER and I fed blue Jays by hand...THE SON's reaction to a very close chickadee... The fight between a Flicker and two starlings for a nest hole... On Saturday, I was given a wonderful serenade by a beautiful Chestnut-Sided Warbler. The warbler was close, so close that I probably could have got a decent shot with my camera. The little bird was feeding in a dilligent manner but once in a while would throw back it's head and unleash a pitch-perfect version of its pleased-pleased-pleased to meet you song. I watched for a couple of minutes until the bird finally flitted away into deeper brush and was enthralled for that whole time. Afterwards, I reflected that these are the moments that make birding special to me far more so than lifers or listings or spotting the latest rarity.  The moments where I can marvel at the birds themselves and how amazing they are...

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

A Victim of Taxonomy: RIP Yellow-Rumped Warbler

So the Yellow-Rumped Warbler is gone. The poor little "Butter-Butts", as THE DAUGHTER calls them, have a new name. To serious birders this news is not news at all. However, this is the first spring where the changes have been in effect and it has been a learning process to replace the old with the new. The species was the victim of the sometimes loved and equally dreaded taxonomic split. Taxonomy changes with time and science, as we learn more about individual species. Sometimes we learn that species we thought were a species were not actually a species but several species. Confused yet ? Welcome to birding...

Monday, 16 May 2011

Saturday, 14 May 2011

This & That from Thickson's Woods

Inactive on the blogging front but busy on the birding front; that is the best way to describe the last couple of weeks. Slowly but surely, I have added more species to my year list via after work visits to Thickson's Woods. Of course afternoon visits are never ideal for birding but I have expanded my warbler list beyond yellow-rum..I mean myrtle and palm warblers. COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, BLACK-AND-WHITE, BLACK-THROATED BLUE , CHESTNUT-SIDED, MAGNOLIA and a BLACK-THROATED GREEN WARBLER, along with a NORTHERN PARULA were all observed this week and boosted my warbler species count for this year. I also had a nice SWAINSON'S THRUSH; nice in the sense that I could tell it was a swainson's and not a hermit thrush. Lots of WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS were moving through. A few CHIPPING SPARROWS, BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW and an ORCHARD ORIOLE were all firsts for the year. Finally, the highlight for me and THE DAUGHTER was our first glimpse of the resident GREAT-HORNED OWL. The looks were great but when the owl started calling, well, it was just an excellent moment for us. However, from a strict birding perspective, the RED-BELLIED and RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS were nice surprises for a place noted more for  small, flashy birds. Hopefully, I will post a few pictures from "the Woods" ( trademark, THE DAUGHTER ) as well as a recap of our trip to the Spring Birding Festival at Tommy Thompson Park, Toronto.

Friday, 29 April 2011

On Bugs and "Butterbutts"...

The opportunity for some after-work birding finally came to pass this week. Combined with some favourable weather, it looked like I would also get my first warbler of the year. Today, I also decided to pick up my daughter and when I told her of my warbler ambitions, she looked at me and asked "Do you think we'll see some butterbutts ?". My daughter is awesome...

Monday, 25 April 2011

Father/Daughter Review: The Crossley ID Guide


The Crossley ID Guide was released to a lot of fanfare this spring. Birdwatchers certainly have never seen anything anything like this guide before. Does it live up to the hype ? My daughter and I will attempt to answer this question.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Thickson's Woods and Lake Ontario

I've finally had the chance to do some afterwork birding this week. Yesterday, it was Cranberry Marsh. Today, Thickson's Woods.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Falcon Romance...

A nice story about the trials and tribulations of two Peregrine falcons nesting at the headquarters of Harlequin Publishing...
http://www.thestar.com/news/article/976254--falcons-find-high-flying-harlequin-romance

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Emergency Scope Repair

My poor, poor scope

New Behaviours...

So far, the dabbling ducks are not showing up at Cranberry Marsh. On Wedensday, the only migrants I spotted were a small group of RING-NECKED DUCKS and a single, lonely ( I presume ) PIED-BILLED GREBE.
However, Lake Ontario was much more active. RED-NECKED GREBES were out in decent numbers ( 30-50 ) with 4 HORNED GREBES mixed into the loose flock. COMMON and RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, LONG-TAILED DUCKS and BUFFLEHEADS made up most of the other water birds. Most interesting, a group of about 50 TREE SWALLOWS were buzzing back and forth, far offshore. I've seen swallows in groups before, even over water but never as far from the shoreline as I witnessed Wedensday.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Little Gulls are back at Second Marsh !

A sure sign of spring for GTA birders...LITTLE GULLS are back at Second Marsh in Oshawa. The gulls are migrating from their winter locales off the East Coast of the U.S. to their nesting grounds in the "Far North". Second Marsh provides one of the most consistent places to see these little guys. However, the window of opportunity for gull viewing is short...they are generally gone by the first week of May. There will be special Little Gull viewing days on Apr. 30th and May 1st, hosted by staff and volunteers of the Canadian Wildlife Service ( Dawn - 10:00 am ). However, you can try The little gulls intermingle with the very similar and far more numerous BONAPARTE'S GULLS, so brush up on your IDs ( look for black under the wings ! ). Second Marsh is great for waterfowl viewing, with 22 species reported Apr. 11th.

To get to Second Marsh, exit the 401 at the Harmony Rd. in Oshawa. Turn south onto Farewell St. and drive until you reach Colenol Sam Drive. Turn East onto Colonel Sam Drive and follow the road to the GM Headquarters. Park in the west parking lot close to the marsh. The viewing platform can be seen from the lot. Make sure you bring a scope ! If you have time, you should also check out the McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve. For more information, check the Friends of Second Marsh website.
Good Luck !

Monday, 4 April 2011

Hawk vs Man...Hawk wins !

Is it wrong for me to cheer for the hawk  ?

Lynde Shores coming to life ( slowly )...

For anyone in the eastern portion of the GTA, Lynde Shores Conservation Area offers a lot of birdwatching opportunities. I had the kids out on the Chickadee Trail ( named for the abundance of fearless and apparently hungry little birds ) on Saturday, as the mercury finally climbed into double digits. Lots of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES ( of course ), RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, COMMON GRACKLES and a nice looking pair of TRUMPETER SWANS who seem to be nesting in the marsh by the parking lot. It's always a fun walk but Saturday was particulairly noisy with lots of blackbird bravado. The only interruption came from a brief COOPER'S HAWK flyover; a pair of these hawks may be setting up a nest in the north-west corner of the trail loop. Look for it in the hemlocks...

On Sunday, my wife joined myself and the kids for a long walk at Lynde Shores. The east side of Cranberry Marsh can be reached by taking the long trail loop that traverses the entire conservation area. I even convinced my wife that I should take my scope. She seemed a little dubious when I said that it would only get a few minutes of use. Alas, that's all it recieved. Waterfowl numbers in Cranberry Marsh are still low, with RING-NECKED DUCKS being the only noticeable migrant. Nice to see this bird, as I feel they are one of the nicest looking ducks around. Songbird numbers are still generally low, although the sight and sound of SONG SPARROWS is great to hear.

Of course, two wonderful walks are ruined by the fact that there was snow in the air on Sunday night *sigh* Here's hoping for a warming trend this week and some more walks next weekend !

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Rotary Park, Ajax




I will state, right here, right now that the Lake Ontario shoreline in the GTA ( Greater Toronto Area for non-locals ) is extremely underrated for both nature and birding. Yes, the natural bits are isolated islands in a sea of roads, industry and subdivisions, but they are wonderful in their accessibility. And for birders, these areas are migrant traps for many species. Fans of Point Pelee, Rondeau and the north shore of Lake Erie may snicker but believe it, friends...birding lives in the GTA.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Whitby waterfront

A nice walk along the waterfront today. Lots of spring-like stuff of note. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS calling, BUFFLEHEADS diving, COMMON GOLDENEYES displaying...Spring may be here !



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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

A Weekend in Windsor

A trip to Windsor is usually an opportunity to hit the nearby parks and look for birds. Point Pelee, Ojibway, Lake St. Clair et al are among the hotspots for migrant birds, as well as resident birds that are difficult to find in Canada; mostly southern species that are at the extreme north of their range in the southernmost area of Canada. This weekend, however, was more social than bird-related...I ( and the rest of the family ) will be back in the area later in the spring when migration really kicks into gear.

However, the early signs of spring were noticeable. RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS were singing. THE SON was amused by three vocal KILLDEER. RED-TAILED HAWKS were everywhere along the 401 and I have my first COOPER'S HAWK sighting of the year.

Can't wait to go back !

Monday, 7 March 2011

Ralph the Pelican...

Here's a funny story my brother told me about a while ago. Ralph the pelican is heading back to the U.S.

A Day at the Museum

What to do when it's raining in March ? Go to the museum, of course. Some highlights from the Royal Ontario Museum...

THE DAUGHTER with T-Rex in the background

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Honduras - Rio Amarillo and Home - Part 3 of 3

Ready for a hike ?

My Fourth and Fifth Day in Honduras - Rio Amarillo Nature Reserve and Bird # 500 ?

Honduras - Copan and Macaw Mountain - Part 2 of 3

Looking over the ruins at Copan
My Third day in Honduras - Copan Ruins and Macaw Mountain

Honduras - La Chorcha Lodge - La Laguna-San Francisco Rd.- Part 1 of 3

Welcome to Honduras !!!!

My First two days in Honduras - La Chorcha Lodge and the La Laguna-San Francisco Rd.

THE SON and the Owl

My son is an interesting character. He is a nice, cute boy who is very empathetic, crying whenever his sister cries or if there some other "distress" occurring around him. However, he is also temperamental...very temperamental.
Anyways, I took THE SON out for a little expedition after picking him up from daycare. The subject of our expedition: A BARRED OWL that has been hanging around Cranberry Marsh this winter ( see my post from Feb. 26th ).
The owl was easy to find, as it decided to sit out in the open and attracted several photographers. I carried my son down the icy trail to join this group. The owl was clearly unfazed by the attention, turning it's head now and then but doing nothing else ( To their credit, the photographers were keeping their distance ). I tried to point the owl out to my son but, between the owl staying so still and the distraction of the photographers clicking away, I'm not sure my son even saw the owl.
So after a few minutes, I'm ready to leave and I precede our leaving by saying "Bye-bye Owl". To which my son responds with a hell-hath-no-fury scream. At this point, I'm walking up the trail as fast as I can to get him away from the photographers and all the way my son is bawling out the words "NOOOOOOOoooooooo, OOOOOWWWWWLLLLLL". Even when we got to the car, his crying continued and the only way I could bring him back was to ask him what noise the owl made ( to which he responded with the saddest hooting noise possible ). I think I have an owl fan on my hands...

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Cranberry Marsh

A nice morning at Cranberry Marsh. A few interesting birds beyond the omnipresent chickadees. WILD TURKEYS were feeding on the trail from the North Parking Area, which THE SON was quite impressed with. There was a small flock of HORNED LARKS feeding on the edge of Hall's Road. A really nice winter day when all was said and done. Not too cold, a nice layer of fresh snow, a few birds and my family. What could be better ???


The chickadee is right there...Right behind you !!! Just turn around !
Hide and Seek

THE MOTHER stirring up trouble with poorly aimed snowballs
THE SON and THE DAUGHTER having some fun outside
( Yes that is a sled in the background and yes, that was the preferred mode of transport on the day )

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Hall's Road

My son fell asleep in the car as we were heading home from errands. What better time to take a drive down Hall's Road and look for some birds :)
Got a nice iPhone pic but you'll have to look/enlarge to find the subject of this photo.



A lot of red-tailed hawks around today. I counted six while out on our little run of errands.

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Thursday, 24 February 2011

My Second Post...Sleeping Gulls !!!!

My second post is about seagulls. Looked down upon by many, gulls are among my favourite birds. It would be difficult to explain my appreciation for these birds to a non-birder ( or even many birders, for that matter ). One thing I will point out is that gulls are never boring, showing more personality than the average songbird. However, larophile or not, check a flock of seagulls for this behaviour. Fascinating stuff.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

My First Post

Hello cybernet...Just a quick introduction to me and my blog. My profile summarizes the push/pull in my life, although my wife has her sphere of influence as well.

Non-birders will surely scoff at how I have placed birding as an apparent equal to my son and my daughter. I will defend myself with two points. Number one...my love of birding is tied in with my love for nature, the outdoors and environment. I read "Last Child in the Woods" by Richard Louv and it resonated. My family lives a typical suburban lifestyle but I am determined that my children will not have the "nature defecit disorder", described in Louv's book. An antidote to the consumerism that surrounds us. Being outdoors with my children means a lot to me, in terms of my short-term joy and the long-term impact.

Birding, however, is something that I enjoy immensely. It is attuned to my personality. The listing, the use of observation and deduction, the role of taxonomy, the potential to travel and, of course,  the birds themselves. Even if it were indoors, I would be hooked by everything birding gives me. Since it is an outdoor activity, well...there you go. So yes, it's birds and kids; equal in their own way.

I will also point out that my interests spiral out widely; beyond the birds and the kids. I am a sports fan, follow politics and cheer on any initiatives that are working to do good things in our world. My posts will touch on other things ( hence,  "other stuff" in my blog title ) but they will emphasize positives rather than negatives. After all, the Detroit Lions and Toronto Blue Jays are two of my favourite things so I have enough negatives to deal with ( although things are looking up ).  

The basic facts are now posted but why should I write a blog. First, I like to write and here is my chance to practice. Second, it will give me more impetus to come up with stuff to write about ( which hopefully means more time outside...). However, if I think of an ultimate goal for this blog, it is to describe how I balance my two favourite things in the world ( and how my wife puts up with it... ).

To sum up: If you would like to hear ideas, opinions, reviews and ramblings on nature, the outdoors, birds, birding, kids, birds and kids, birding with kids and a whole bunch of other stuff, this site may interest you. Check it out, explore and enjoy !

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My Favourite Books ( Right Now... )