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Monday, 30 July 2012

First Time Seeing an American Bittern!

Out for a usual walk to Halls Rd. and a look out over Cranberry Marsh. Well, thanks to an older gentleman and avid birder from Lindsay, Ont., we were able to realize that there was a lone American Bittern sitting out in the marsh. He was a bit of a reach for my lens but the pic at least shows him. We were allowed to view him through the man's binoculars so I knew where to look for him after :-) He said that he had an MP3 player with a speaker on it and would try a call of the Bittern to see if it would respond. Well, another appeared, flew into a tree, and both were calling. We were treated to 3 then, flying around, probably due to the playing of the call. I got ok shots, not fantastic, but enough to see some markings and shapes of these new to us birds. It was real fun and quite a treat. This person we ran into told a funny story about a snowy owl call he used from his MP3 player at one time, explaining that these bird sound recordings sometimes have a bunch of different calls all in a row and you'd not know what one call over another would mean to a bird. Turns out he used a snowy owl call at one time, it scared a ton of small birds out of trees and caused the snowy owl to fly at him lol!

The Bittern has the most odd call, almost like a large frog. Googling American Bittern and looking for videos of it's call bring up many examples. Speaking of frogs, there were also quit ea few of those of varying sizes to be found at the marsh. Beautiful moon was in the sky as well.

NOTE: We have since discovered that what was pointed out to us to be an American Bittern was most likely a juvenile black crowned night heron.


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Cranberry Marsh - Whitby - Blue Heron Hangout

Ok, this is the second weekend morning we've gotten up early to head out on a walk before 7am hoping to see these famous mom and baby deer that we keep hearing about. This morning, we got distracted by a hawk that was crying out from a distant tree. 2 hawks were flying around and you could hear them easily. They were small and appeared to be sharp shinned hawks.

As we were viewing the hawks, John saw the deer and then the babies were there. I missed them as the sun was in my eyes and the babies were hidden by tall grass and bushes and I am not tall enough to have been able to see them as easily as him. Later that day too, down at the shore line, we saw deer hoof prints in the sand. I wonder how freaking early we'd have to be to see a deer walking along the beach. I'd love to though! What a great lit shot that'd be early with the morning sunrise. There were surprisingly though, merganser ducks up on shore (you don't see that every day), a second missed photo opp as I thought they were just boring old mallards lol! I got one shot of them heading into the water as we approached closer. The geese were out and about, being tossed on the waves and also fighting the closer we got to them. Maybe they thought we had food, which we didn't.
There were literally hundreds of fledgling starlings. Not a well liked bird but so cool looking with their various stages of  left over spotted breasts and beigey rose baby feathers. Lots of king birds to be seen too.

When we got to Cranberyy Marsh, we were amazed to behold up to 50 or more great blue herons and many snowy egrets, and one little blue heron. Quite the heron hang out! Also, the king fisher was there again as were lots of terns. We saw a bird fly over our heads, carrying another smaller bird in it's grip - no idea what either was and I wished I had gotten a shot. I am fast with the camera but that sight was just Too fast for me.

We headed back to Lynde Shores, where we had parked and entered the marsh area. Lots of blue jays again, quite an assortment of squirrels of all 3 varieties, a nuthatch, fledgling cardinals, and tons of ducks. Again, not my most successful capture day as I missed number 3 perfect photo opp - a painted turtle up hanging on to a log in the water, just before he ducked back down in 3 seconds flat.

St. Lawrence Market in Toronto

John and I had decided to spend some time on the weekend doing something different. We went out on the Friday night with a friend, another avid photographer, after doing a couple hours of work clothing shopping for me. I am not a big shopping lover but it had to be done as my wardrobe kind of fell short of the requirements of a new job position.

Saturday, we chose to head to the St. Lawrence Market and the Distillery District. We walked around, looked in the various galleries (not a lot of stuff we liked in them) and then walked over to the St. Lawrence Market. I didn't take a lot of shots but we saw some cool things. I have not been there for years. Went there a couple times in high school and while at art college, to draw. We did see some interesting but not so appetizing, exotic meats for sale lol! Kangaroo anyone?! Not I lol!

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Swan Baby with Hook in Foot :-(

This morning, we decided to get up real early and do one of those crack of dawn walks. You see so much more and hopefully the air is fresher. Well, it ended up being around 6:45am, not so much the crack of dawn, but still very early. We went into Lynde Shores, somewhere we've not been for a while. We were excited to see a deer right out on the path in beautiful light. Though we missed the 2 fawns and mom deer another walker had just seen and let us know about. We also saw fledgling cardinals and on the way back, tons of blue jays, many of which seemed still young. They were going nuts for the few little nuts we had left from our own snacking supply lol!

We walked over to the Cranberry Marsh lookout and we saw at least 50 blue herons, smaller herons and 2 snowy egrets. It was a smorgasbord of herons lol! There also was a king fisher hovering.

Sadly, when we reached Lynde Shores again, at the lookout dock, we met up with a woman and her kids who mentioned that one of the 3 swan babies around the dock had been spotted with a fish hook in its foot. We had no more food to entice the family to come close to where we stood but they did anyway. We saw it trailing seaweed from the foot, which it held still and out from itself. We could not tell if the hook had been removed or not. Yesterday, a call had been made to the wildlife rescue line about the baby swan, but I know they are often swamped and unless it is an extreme emergency, it could be a while before anyone gets out to investigate it. For that matter, catching it and removing it easily. Poor thing. However, it was foraging for food and did not seem at all distressed when we observed it. I hope that it will end up being ok.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Fledgling Eastern King Birds

Due to the amount of butterflies we have been encountering everywhere, we decided to go to The Meadows in Ajax where I had taken a lot of nice butterfly images last fall. It was a bit sparse and dry, not many butterflies in sight. However, there were loads of cow birds, juvi starlings, black birds, and we were even treated to a family of Eastern King Birds in a tree. The fledgling king birds were so cute and fluffy! There were 3 young ones and an adult to be seen.

Other interesting sights to be seen were gold finches pulling at the seeds of Canada Thistles, little groups of lounging carp that we spotted from atop the embankment that overlooks Lake Ontario, and a creepy little discarded dolls head that must have washed up on shore. Definitely, there is always some weird sighting on our walks lol!

There were wedding photos being taken too - most of the people were sitting around in any shaded spot they could fine during this. If we were sweltering in tank tops and shorts I can only Imagine how the men in suits and women in uncomfortable dresses felt lol!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Edwards Gardens - Long Time No See

Having lived in North York, Ontario as a kid, we were taken to Edwards Gardens and Wilket Creek Park often. I also took horse back riding lessons for a couple years, at age 7 or 8, at Sunnybrook Farms. Seeing the place almost 40 years later was really quite a weird feeling. Memories were good and bad but nostalgic none the less.

We walked into Edwards Gardens, through to Wilket Creek, then on to the farms. I originally had recalled the drive to the farm on the road that leads past all the picnicers as longer than we discovered it was. On this walk, to reach Wilket Creek, we discovered 2 red tailed hawks. Quite a sight to behold, one eating on a hill top as the other flew off somewhere. I got shots of the one who stayed but since it was so far, they are not fantastic shots.

There were an abundance of dragon and damsel flies, wasps and bees, and of course, gorgeous flowers. Going on a weekday however, would probably be a better choice, and earlier in the season as the flowers were quite in need of water as a result of this very hot and dry summer we've had so far. Quite a wonderful hike through the parks though, despite all that :-)