All Images Are Copyright Protected

Please respect that any posted images are copyright protected. Please feel free to contact me directly for possible permission to use images from my blog.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The Wild Turkeys

For 2 years I have not gotten so much as a cold and especially Not at Christmas which was a tradition with me many years. I attribute this to having a much stronger immune system than I had before taking vitamin D every day. None the less, I got sick a couple days before Christmas. So, basically, we didn't get out for any walks as I don't have a hat or ear muffs so there was no way I wanted frozen painful ears. As well, the light was so very dull and overcast that nothing had an interesting look and any photos I may take would be full of heavy "noise" from having to boot my ISO up to pick up any information and have a decent enough shutter speed when hand holding my camera (I am not a tripod liker).

Boxing Day was going to be a stay in day, a rest and get better day. For the most part it was but my daughter had gone shopping (earlier than I leave for work lol!) that morning and needed a ride from the Go station home. She lives fairly close to me so this was fine. We had about an hour and a half before she'd be in the station and sick of sitting around I thought why don't we do a quick get out to Lynde Shores then leave and grab her at the station when she lets us know she is almost there.

We just did the regular little path at Lynde Shores, not going very far. There were a few people there but it was pretty dismal out and most were probably shopping indoors or still visiting family and friends for the holidays. The ducks were acting a bit odd, walking a few steps then plunking down to rest for a few moments, then getting up and moving a few more steps, only to plunk down again. As we headed up the path, we saw what was probably the same group of turkeys we see in the farm fields along Halls Rd. They were right on the path eating what was probably dropped bird seed. As soon as we got too close, off they ran into the forest area, down onto the path further on, then doubled back as we followed the path to see where they went. 2 recent fallen trees blocked our way so we climbed around them and the turkeys were down further on the path. People were coming along the path from the opposite side which inadvertently boxed in the turkeys so they had no choice but to head back into the forest. Your could see them through the pretty sparse cover, trotting in line, jumping over a fallen tree, heading back to the first area we saw them. I have never seen them this close, and never at Lynde Shores, they tend to be timid, but they must have been really hungry this day.

There were 14 turkeys, probably mostly females but there were a couple that had the beginnings of the red piece on their neck and these are most likely the juvenile males from the batch of babies we saw in the summer. The adult male turkey we only saw once and this was in spring, with him desperately trying to get over a fence, trying to get away from us as we had come up on him suddenly while driving along Halls Rd. Generally, you don't see the adult male hanging with the group of females except at breeding season.

We saw the leucistic Chickadee again, as well as the usual Blue Jays, White Breasted Nuthatch and lots of squirrels. Gratefully, "killer squirrel" was scarce today, thank gawd because we didn't have food on us as we figured we'd only be about 45 mins then heading to get my daughter, and back home again to just veg and watch a flick and have dinner.

Monday, 24 December 2012

The Magnificent Great Black Backed Gull

Sometimes, when we go out for a walk, just to get out and to see what may be seen, they start out being almost boring. I've learned from experience that they tend to never remain that way. This Sunday's walk proved to fall into that pattern too.

I had taken my daughter out shopping for some small gift items she wanted to get for friends and their family As we left the stores, it was sunny and real nice out. I was looking forward to a planned walk in the late afternoon. The weather changed a lot, quickly, and became overcast , windy and bitter compared to earlier, but we went out anyway. We decided just to go down to Halls Rd., our favourite place for a quick "get out for a bit" place.

There were barely any people there this time around. We walked down to the lookout over Cranberry Marsh - nothing. It was bitter enough that I was ready to just go home and get into a movie. The horizon looked interesting though, pinkish under the darks. So we thought we'd take a quick look at the shore and over the lake. As soon as I stepped out of the path onto the shore, there flew a large gull with dark backs of its wings. It was a great black backed gull. When you see them, you notice how much more magnificent and amazing they are, so much different than the regular gulls everyone is used to seeing like the common ring billed gull. We've only seen one once before and I had no camera with me and it was raining pretty hard. They are also huge gulls and seeing them swimming among the Canada Geese, gives a good idea of their size. We were lucky enough to see them in flight, an adult and a juvenile one. There was one ring billed gull with them as well. After watching them for about 15 mins, they decided that was it and off they flew.

On our way back up the path, we stopped to look at a bird that we spotted but do not know the name of. We thought maybe female Western Tanager but are not sure. It also looks like a large female Goldfinch, but I do not think it is. The large group of Cedar Waxwings were a surprise to see. They hung for a bit then flew off in their group. It was cute because one loner got left behind and flew off after about 30 secs after the large group, protesting about being left behind lol!

As we watched the waxwings, a family with 2 little girls came along. John had a few seeds left so as the group stopped near us and remarked about the birds, he asked if they had any seeds with them. They said no, that they had just stopped here on an impulse while on their way somewhere. We gave them the seeds and the 2 girls got to experience the chickadees land on their hands to take them. It was a nice feeling to see the family happy that they stopped because the girls enjoyed getting to feed the birds. It soon was so cold that they left and we all said Merry Christmas and headed back.

Lately, every time we drive back and forth past Lynde Shores area, we spot this small what looks like some sort of tiny bird of prey. I had thought when we headed out this day, that if I spotted it again I was going to stop this time and try to see if I could get a shot of it and see what it is finally. We did see it, but earlier in the drive and we saw 2 people out of their car on the side of the road, taking photos of it. I passed it and said if we see it on the way home, I'll stop. We got passed the spot we had seen the bird on the wire and the people stopped, so I figured it was gone. Then suddenly, there it was, partially in silhouette now though. We parked on the side of the road, opposite the side it was on, and walked down a bit. We then realized it had a mouse hung over the wire and was eating. Though the light wasn't the greatest, I managed to get some shots and realize it was a Kestrel. What a cool sighting! So this was what I was seeing all the time on our drives back and forth along that route lately. It was worth standing out freezing in the cold wind for :-)

What started out as a seemingly boring and  eventless outing, turned into yet again, a fun and exciting experience.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Lucky to see 2 Barreds and Other Cool Sights

It's been pretty dismal, drizzly, chilly and grey, not the most fantastic walking weather, the last little while. Gotta make sure to take the Kleenexes on these recent walks lol! It also means that generally, one doesn't see much creature life, feathered or furred. The plants don't even look cool without some sort of light hitting them. However, it is awesome to get out still, even for a short time.

We have ventured to Lynde Shores a couple times lately. As well, we've done the long walk where we end up in Lynde Shores by way of Halls Rd., all along the beach/shoreline, then back again. Makes for a pretty long walk which even if one sees nothing much, at least one feels like they've actually gotten some exercise. Been waiting for my hiking boots to arrive, not real great ones, but to replace the pair I had from 7 years back that finally wore out last season.

I am combining images from about 4 different outings since Dec 1st to the 13th here. Most of the days were pretty dull light wise but there was one instance of a few hours of sunlight late one of the days we were at Lynde Shores. I am partially fearful lol! of going to Lynde Shores without lots of peanuts to distract the "killer" squirrel that lives there, one particular squirrel, that runs bee line down the path at you and unless you ward it off, will continue right up your body looking for food lol! It is pretty scary in reality. Last time we went there, I had John put out a big pile of food for it so we could get well past it while it was occupied.

There is lots of bird activity there, particularly the hoard of mallards that "accost" you, hoping for food, as soon as you arrive from the parking lot. They come out of the water, climbing the slight bank, often followed by the muskrat as they leave the water. Last time we were there, it was incredulous to see the muskrat actually come up behind one of the ducks and take a nip at it's backside lol! I got a pic but not a great one. Unbelievable and who knows why. There seemed to be no reason. It swims around and with them all the time.

I love the diving ducks and often we'll spot a lone Bufflehead in the bay at Lynde shores. We also saw a Northern Shrike. A couple other cool finds were exposed on the now leaveless trees, 2 wasps nests, and a well formed and adhered to a small tree - a tiny birds' nest. One thing we'd also never noticed before, is the remnants of what was probably an old farm, on the walk in behind Lynde Shores, to Cranberry Marsh's lookout. We see the silo all the time but now that the brush is more transparent, we noticed the stone walls and parts of an old foundation of what must have been a farm structure.

We spotted the little leucistic Black Capped Chickadee again, while feeding the chickadees. The nuthatch always shows up, dozens of black, grey and red squirrels, often chasing each other, the male and female Downey Woodpeckers usually appear for a bit, we even saw a juvenile Red Winged Blackbird last time we were at Lynde Shores. The Blue Jays were around as usual too.

Last weekend, on a quick visit to Halls Rd., we spotted "Christmas dinners" lol - wild turkeys, as close as we've ever seen them, in the farmer's field there. We also were excited to see that the resident Barred Owl in that area is alive, well, and obviously flourishing. It has broadened it's territory since we first saw over 2 months ago. As we left the area, we also spotted a second Barred, smaller, but we could tell, more skitterish. We never got out of our car, just watched it for a bit till others finally noticed it (several cars passed us back and forth and were oblivious to it) and got too eager, getting out of their cars and ultimately it flew off across the field. Barred owls, observing their hunting behaviour and mannerisms, always remind me of cats.

Saturday, 15 December 2012

I LOVE Industrial Chic

Ok, before, it didn't have a catchy name but I always have Loved industrial thingys, metals, stainless steel storage units for garages, old stuff, found objects, old glass bottles, outdoor as indoor, brick inside a house, warehouse ceilings, rusty shyte, little machines, etc. in my environment. I love the idea of using car parts as furniture, stuff like that. Not uncommon I knew but I fell into that taste group. Going through the hardware or plumbing store, I saw jewelry parts even as a teen. Always more ideas than time or money to use them though.

Well, last week, going to Michael's to buy some parts to restring a necklace for a friend's friend, my eyes almost fell out of my skull and my brain went on visual overload - there is an Industrail Chic line of jewelry making parts and ready to buy stuff. I discovered further that it is a major design trend! It is So up my alley.

Would love this in a kitchen!

Googling images for Industrial Chic is exciting! Wow, so cool! So much eye candy lol!

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Leucistic Black Capped Chickadee

Recently, during a visit to Lynde Shores, where the chickadees go insane feeding from your hand, we noticed an odd looking one. It had white spots in the dark areas of its head and face, pink legs and a bit of pink in its beak. I had heard of other birds and animals with pigment missing but couldn't quite recall the term for them. We went home and looked into it and remembered it is called "leucistic". This chickadee we saw though was not quite as extreme as other examples we viewed.

Quite an exciting find as they are not too common to see. I took some shots on 2 different days in a row. One was overcast so more difficult to get a shot, one was sunny.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Visit to Allan Gardens in Toronto

For a while now, I have wanted to get back down to Allan Gardens. The last time I was there was probably while at first year OCA, in the Stewart building, which is no longer owned by the college anymore. We went there during a class, to draw. I never forgot that there were cacti there - I love cacti!

I swore I recalled spotting lizards at the time I was there, but it probably was my wishful imagination, since I Love lizards and obviously don't get to see them much. But, on our trip there this past weekend, we didn't see any. We did spot a little brown mouse running around though.

The gardens were decorated throughout for the Christmas season. It was a real dull and overcast, damp day so the light inside was not ideal for photo taking, but still, of course I would not leave without taking any. I had to put my ISO up over 800 at times so there is some grain/noise but ah well, it does not wreck what for me is the feel of the image. I prefer low light and non flash, natural/available light but my camera and lens do not live up 100% to taking shots in that type of very low light - maybe one day but I doubt it, the camera I have will do. Definitely, it is far more capable than the old film camera I had, in living up to the light conditions I am attracted to and like to capture, thanks to image stabilization and other improvements with consumer SLRs. I was a fan of grainy images anyway, so I can live with some noise. And as far as ever using any for reference images for painting, grain never mattered as long as values and most details are still accurate.

We had a great time at Allan Gardens! Walking up the path in the park that leads to the front entrance, it was even sort of neat to see a small group of eclectic people, different ages, one in a motorized walker, talking and laughing; the young man holding a bottle of some sort of liquor, and the elderly man greeting the woman in the walker as Rosie happily, as she came upon the others. Something about them seemed sort of endearing - they struck us as very happy and positive.

After walking past this group, we went inside the Palm building and spent a couple hours walking around the different buildings. Afterwards, we got a small bite to eat along College street at a sort of divey little pub that had a nice atmosphere none the less.

I want to go back and visit the gardens in the spring/summer. There are often different theme and seasonal displays and events there - something I never really realized.

Link to Allan Gardens website

Photos from our visit: