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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Cool Spring Sightings: Mink and Baby Owl

If you can call it Spring, really. Still pretty cold temps on the weekends. Weekdays, of course, not so much.

Had some really neat experiences on ventures out the last little while. For some time, I had hoped to get to see and take a photo of the elusive Mink. Learning a year or so ago that we actually Have minks in Ontario was a surprise enough. They are creatures I always have associated with Siberia or some such northern exotic land. A year or so ago, one ran across the path in front of us pretty early in the morning during an early Spring walk in 2012. It was very dark, long, and Not a squirrel for sure, and Very fast. I barely had time to see it never mind get a photo of it. Second spotting was quickly again, at Frenchman's Bay in Pickering.

Lots of signs of Spring despite the pretty cold weekend temps and even snow pellets off and on 2 weekends back! Saw the first female Red-winged Black Bird, saw the Cedar Wax Wings, Warblers, an Oven Bird, a Winter Wren, the Ruby Crowned and Golden Crowned Kinglets, got a good look at the Muskrats in the marsh - one eating a tuberous plant, lots of bunnies, ducks acting all frisky in the water, geese and swans going at each other for territory, and of course Gnats galore in the air!

One real wonderful experience was to run across a baby Great Horned Owl which was rescued by a birder watcher/photographer and is managing to be safe in its tree and is being well looked after by one of the parent owls.

In the next couple of weekends, we hope to get to the Niagara Region to see the blossoming cherry and other fruit trees. I wished last year, on a trip we made down there, that I had stopped on the road to take some photos of the gorgeously back lit orchards full of pink blossoming trees - but I didn't and I regretted it and began immediately waiting on next Spring to be able to get there again. Trouble is, we don't know exactly when they will be in the same blooming condition again. Everything is behind this year as well. Hopefully, we'll hit the right weekend.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Cool Condo in Ajax

Condo Apt - 2 bedrooms
Cool interior, though I guess most would call it dated. It could lend itself well to being created into a very Southwestern or Mexican feel.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Still Drawing

I don't get a chance to work on it tons, but I still am continuing to put in a few hours here and there on my drawing. Bit of a pain setting up the still life every time but it does not take too long and isn't too difficult to get it placed right, quickly. The crate that I was given by my grandparents when I was a teen is our coffee table so it always is right there, and then there are 3 objects only, and the lamp is already on an extension cord so I can just pull it over whenever I want to work on the drawing. 

I set everything aside during the week, for the next weekend. It's hard waiting all week to do art but it is what it is lol! I do use a lot of time to get out on hikes and picture taking on weekends, which I love now almost as much as painting and drawing. If I chose to only devote my weekend leisure time to art then I'd be doing a lot more but subdividing the 2 days to include other things, on top of drawing time, means 2-3 hours a week, which is fine.

The feather was what i worked on this past weekend. Working out the best method for getting the feather down is challenging. So far, I am using a large area lay in then rub back lights with the soft eraser, combined with some direct line work. The soft fuzz at the end of the feather will be the most difficult to get down.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Pickering Photo Walk

group photo by C. Prentice
Decided to take up a photographer acquaintance  Will, of Captura Photography in Whitby, on an invite to join Henry's Pickering Photo Walk this past Sunday. Glad I did because it was really fun! Met lots of people, all great, and reunited with some people I have not seen in ages. Surprised to get to try out a macro lens as well, a Sigma lens. Opens one up to a whole new exciting micro observational world of teeny tiny things. Was quite fun to see people crawling around on the sand, pointing lenses half an inch from objects found lol! I swore I'd never bother with a Macro but I don't know now lol!

We started out at the Warerfront Trail entrance at the bottom of Rougemount in Pickering. We crossed over the bridge and hung mainly around the beach area and over on the other side, where the marsh is. Lots of people fishing, lots of dog walking, kids, families, couples. I can imagine that the area is packed in hot summer times.

After the 2 and a bit hours, we headed back to the lot, said our goodbyes and look forward to the next outting!

After coming home, myself and John uploaded my pics. I also had the urge to get out my old Nikon Nikkor 105mm with a wide aperture opening ability (I forget what) lens which I used often, to get great reference for portrait painting. It has such a creamy effect and just does things my newer lenses don't seem to be able to. It will go on my D70, but it is totally manual and no light reading is available on it. I totally love that lens!

Nikon Nikkor 105mm manual lens images

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Leucistic Raccoon?!

We have now seen this little animal curled sleeping in a tree 2 evenings in a row. Both times we were unsure exactly what it could be. It looks like a raccoon but its colouring and markings are off, mainly, there Are no markings. The fur appeared reddish even in the dull overcast light we saw it in both nights.

We tried several searches for small mammals in Ontario, and ruled out Martens, etc. which made no sense anyway as the fur is course, long and raccoon like and the animal is not long and sleek.

Truly, we feel it is a leucistic or piebald raccoon. I hope that I can find it awake one day on a walk in the area it is, to see its face, and confirm this.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Rather Wet Walk

We attempted today to go for a longish walk, fully aware that the weather report was Not in our favour. However, the drive is too great lol! Gave it a shot but had to abandon it about an hr in.

We began at Halls Rd., to have a quick look for the Barred owl who hadn't looked so good almost 2 weeks ago, but we did not find it. In our brief stop there though, we spotted a raven flying and chasing a small group of gulls, a Northern Harrier Hawk, as well as a deer who blended right into her surroundings. She gave us a look then wandered off into the field and munched vegetation.

Our main destination was the eastern end of Second Marsh  It was quite water logged at the entrance but we got onto the path. As soon as we started the walk, to our left in an inlet off the lake, there were a few Teals and Shovelers together, up on the marshy shore and swimming. We ventured out through the flattened land towards them, hoping to get a better peek, but alas, they chickened out and flew off to a different area.

It began to come down a bit more so we decided to abandon the walk and do groceries instead. As we left, we heard what sounded like not quite real, electronic duck calling in the distance. We spotted people through the trees, probably using some sort of instrument to make duck calls lol!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

American Coot and Odd Sight in Tree

Though it was pretty dismal out, at least the rain had subsided. We went out to see if we could find the Barred Owl that did not look real great the last time we saw it. It only had its eyes half open, even when the odd sound or movement seemed to alert it slightly. It seemed hunkered down a bit and puffyish. No one else was around so I walked within a couple feet of it in the tree we saw it in, but I could not tell if it was sick or not. It had a speck of blood on its beak so I hoped this was a recent sign of a meal for then it meant it was able to catch food still.

We could not find the owl this quick look out, but we did see something in a tree which we hope is Not really something sad as I suspect it was. What appeared to be a youngish raccoon was curled up in a ball in branches near the top of an old apple tree. It seemed lifeless. I tried clapping and shouting a bit to see if it would move. It was very sad as it seemed to be dead, but I could not tell for sure. Maybe it was just asleep, as they do sleep in trees.

One positive thing came of the walk, we saw a pair of American Coots. They are so cute how the bob their necks back and forth as they swim through the marsh. This was a first for us, we have only seen a dead one on the shores of Bowmanville a year or so ago. We also heard how they sound, which was very neat.

Hopefully by the weekend, we will run across the resident Barred Owl again and that it will be fine.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Flying Bird Weekend - Ducks, Swans, Owls, Hawks, and Swallows

Had an exciting weekend of walks and sightings, amongst a family get together and a makeover too :-)

On top of seeing the wild turkeys (previous post), we were thrilled witnesses to many flying birds of all kinds and sizes. It began with swans flying right over our heads, like huge white 747s. Then, we realized the Tree swallows are back and flying and swooping close to our heads in many cases. I cannot believe I aimed and got one semi-decent  shot of one of these speeding birds. Then, there appears a Red Tailed Hawk, gliding hunting pretty much right above us as well, though high above. On top of this, last weekend, we had walked at another location before heading home to make din din and don't we get to see the Great Horned Owl, the boy, leave one tree to go sit in another. I waited till he got into an open sky space and I took one shot, managing to catch a far away but semi half decent pic of him. We were so amazed to actually get to see one of these owls fly.

Not quite flight, but we were also witness to a goose and swan fight on these very same ventures out. Crazy birds lol! All getting territorial and preparing to nest.