Friday, February 27, 2015

Five on Friday

Taking five minutes of my day to share five things.


A walk down at our marsh ... yes, again :]
Lake Ontario looking more like the Atlantic Ocean on Wednesday!
It was bitterly cold (and still is) at minus-negative-whatever temperature,
and the windchill f----r* making it worse.
(I've just stopped looking at the thermometer now.)

"Aye! Whitecap Bay!"


The wild turkeys came out of the woods in full force looking for handouts.
Then they scooted past me on the trail and took off running!


He's bright red in a bleak landscape ... need I say more?


Everyone's feathers were getting ruffled in the high winds.



But they were sure happy to see a few seeds being handed out.

A happy American Tree Sparrow


I went to the marsh looking for the Barred Owl that two people have now told me has been spotted here. I think I chose the wrong day though. It seems the owl had more sense than I and stayed deep in the pines, out of the severe winds and stayed as warm as he could.

"Silly human ... go home!"

Thanks for stopping by!


*windchill factor ;)

Linking up with Amy's ...

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday's Critters at the Marsh

Last weekend I dragged my reluctant husband down to the marsh alongside Lake Ontario. I wanted to check out what birds were wintering there during this extremely cold winter. I could have gone by myself, but don't you think it's just nicer to share these little experiences? We were a bit disappointed at the lack of birds, but one little guy was attracting lots of attention.

An adorable Saw Whet Owl.
He kept one eye open while listening to the cameras click.

There was a group of men standing with their cameras on tripods, and in full camouflage winter gear. But for all of their camo, they stood about ten feet from the little owl and chatted away. I guess they were waiting for the owl's next pose, but he was being very still. I waited a couple of minutes to admire, and then took this shot. 

Not much different. 
We didn't want to stand there any longer and continued along the short trail. 

The chickadees found us before we found them. We hadn't brought any seeds, but grabbed a few off the ground to entice them to our hands and got a few cute shots.

You've got to be quick photographing chickadees. One second they're there ...

... then poof! they're gone ...

They're so tiny and sweet, and they love the black sunflower seeds. 
Taking away one seed at a time ...

... then peck, peck, peck ...

... one tiny seed, yummy!

There were a few sparrows in amongst the chickadees.

I had to check my bird book when I got home to identify this as an American Tree Sparrow. I like the old-fashioned descriptions in my book, it says to look for the "single dark spot, or 'stick pin' on the breast". He was a bit fluffed out in the cold, but his stick pin is there.

We were surprised to see some wild turkeys at the marsh. I have never seen turkeys here before. They've got such amazing feathers, but the ugliest heads!

They scattered back into the woods after our little photo session.

It was a bright, sunny day, and many of the birds were just soaking up the sunshine. Mourning doves do a lot of sleeping anyway, but here's one dozing in his pillow of feathers.

Before we left the marsh, we stopped again to admire the saw whet owl.

Another one soaking in the warmth of the sun while he could. 
I like the way his face crinkles up to make him look like he's having a bit of a chuckle at all of us.

That same day we stopped at a park along the lakeshore. I mentioned this in a previous post. The swans were mostly lumped on the ice trying to stay warm, but when someone rustled a bag of treats, a few of them just thundered across the ice for their share!

Most people toss bread to the birds. This isn't healthy for the birds, and they have trouble digesting bread or any baked goods. Birdseeds are best to share with them. I don't like to be an annoying person and didn't say anything to the man that was tossing them bread. Do you ever tell people not to feed the birds bread? There are signs posted at some places explaining this, but there weren't any signs at this park.

The tough webbed feet of the swan

Don't you just love that pop of orange feet on the mallard?

Yesterday, I took a trip back to the lakeshore to visit another marsh. This marsh has a short trail, and it actually connects to the marsh we visited last weekend. As soon as I got on the trail and held my hands out for the chickadees to have some sunflower seeds, a big flock of turkeys came racing out of the woods and straight towards me looking for seeds. I think these are the same birds we saw last weekend. They were a bit scary! I'm not familiar with the ways of turkeys. Do you know if they'll come after you? They have very sharp bills and spurs on their ankles.

It was a bitterly cold day, and I couldn't have my mittens off for more than a couple of minutes before my fingers were in pain. The birds were in full force looking for food. Cardinals, doves, nuthatches, downy woodpecker, chickadees, American tree sparrows, white-throated sparrow, one pair of red-winged blackbirds, blue jays ... did I miss anyone?

But I didn't take my zoom lens, and the photos were less than adequate :[

I then spied a large hawk up in the trees. I was a bit worried for all the birds around me, flitting and flying and causing a real commotion. That's probably what drew the hawk over. It was a beautiful red-tailed hawk, which is quite common here.

here he comes!

He flew up to a tree and was watching something down in the snow. Then he dove down to get it, but I couldn't tell if he was successful. I stayed on the path since I didn't want to disturb him, but I was dying to creep over there and get some shots of him. The snow was extremely squeaky though, so it wouldn't have been possible.

He was a beauty, and much larger than the cooper's hawk that visits my yard.

After the hawk, things kind of dwindled out in the woods. I did see a couple of white-tailed deer through all the tangle of underbrush. They had such thick winter coats on, and were very cute. This is the best I could do for a photo ...

And we're at the end of a very exciting outing for me. I just loved my time at the marsh, despite the cold. It certainly kept other people away from the woods, and I'm sure I wouldn't have seen so much if this popular trail was full of people.

Thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with Eileen's Saturday's Critters

Very weird lighting at the park yesterday. I just stopped in and took this lazy shot from my van window.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Five on Friday

Taking five minutes of my day to share five things. 

There's not a whole lot happening here in the middle of a very cold winter, and I know a lot of people are showing their budding gardens now ... but here in Ontario, well ...


The snow continues to fall and mount up all around us. Despite the weather predictions of rising temperatures all week, we are back down to -20C before the windchill sucks it down to -30C with an "Extreme Cold Warning" in effect ... again. I do like winter, but other things are compounding it this week.

Early morning on Wednesday


The good news is it will soon be maple syrup time (link to an old post on maple syrup)! I love the smell of woodsmoke in the springtime air. And the kind of days when there is still lots of snow on the ground, but the sun allows you to remove your coat. How I loved tending our own maple sugar bush at my parents' place when I was young, and even when my kids came along and the whole family had a hand in boiling down the sap. Good memories :)


Keeping the bird feeders topped up and seeds scattered on a packed-down portion of snow 
is the only critter-feeding time I enjoy at this house :)


I just gotta say that I love chickadees. 
I love their cuteness, their friendliness, their song 
and their name (taken from their song "chickadee-dee-dee").


Monday was the 50th anniversary of our Canadian Flag! 
Below is a flag in a neighbourhood plaza parking lot. 
It's the biggest Canadian flag I have ever seen, 
and I love to see and hear(!) it snapping in the wind. 

Our flag is reversible!
Not every nation can say that.

Thanks for stopping by!


45 cm of marshmallow topping
I measured ;)

Linking up with Amy's Five on Friday

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