Another mild January weekend has us out and about, taking in all Mother Nature has to offer.
Ang and I were thinking High Park but I was there just a couple weeks ago and we plan on going there with a friend of our's very soon. So, we chose Bronte Creek in Burlington, Ontario. We had only been there once before, last winter. What a difference weather-wise though... last year there was so much snow and here within a couple weeks of being one full year later there is no snow. I'm not exactly complaining because it's much easier to walk the woods without all the snow.
Bronte Creek is a conservation area. There is camping on one end of the grounds (north east section). We enter the other area off of Burloak Drive. The entrance is about 1.5 kms north of the QEW. It costs $15 for the day pass per vehicle. The conservation area is vast with various types of landscapes from forests, to valleys, to open fields. One section has a leash free zone for dogs. The far east end of the park has Bronte Creek/12 Mile Creek running on the edge. In our walk along this section, you could see Hawks soaring overhead and you could hear their screeches.
With the lack of snow, we got a lot of ground covered. We did three trails... The Trillium Trail (1km) and then the Half Moon Valley Trail (2km)... the third I will mention shortly. Both Trillium and Half Moon are off parking area F, near the Spruce Lane Farmhouse. There is a Peacock Pen here and a lot of Black-Capped Chickadees, White Breasted Nuthatches and House Sparrows buzz around. The Chickadees will easily land in your hand here if you have food they like (no-salt shelled peanuts or black oil sunflower seed).
Pictured here is a White Breasted Nuthatch running down the side of the Peacock Pen.
A Black Capped Chickadee feeding off the rails of the Pen.
Our walks along the trails had us seeing nothing in way of birds or other wildlife. We think the steady flow of Hawk activity had something to do with it. So often you would see them soaring overhead, hunting.
A few times we'd even see one sitting in a tree or on a light standard, keeping watch. I see them all the time as I travel the Hwy 401 and I just want to stop, look at them, try and get a picture... but that's not the safest thing to do on a highway where the speed limit is 100 km/h but we know few travel that slow. I probably took 20 shots of this Red Tailed Hawk before he got tired of me and flew off.
One of my last shots of this Hawk before it disappeared beyond the trees.
Probably the most bizarre thing I have ever seen was this photo'd below. It's an animal fur/skin hung from a tree branch. I went in for a close look and I think it's Raccoon. The tail was gone but the color scheme about the body sure reminded me of a Raccoon. How did it get up there? My cousin in B.C. said her dogs find such things from time to time and bring them to her. She bribes them with a dog cookie to release the carcass, which she then places up on a branch out of reach of the dogs. Maybe someone did that here? Maybe the animal died in the tree? Maybe a predator ate this animal up there? Such a mystery for sure...
We headed back to the car and decided to hit another part of the grounds. We drove over to parking C. There is a Children's Play Barn and a small farm here. A nature centre which was closed for the season. And beyond this all another trail called "Maiden's Blush" which we walked the length of at 1.1km. It's near 1km just to get to this trail. Once again, we saw very little in our travels until we found a pond deep in the woods. A flock of Robins were spotted along with a Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, Downy Woodpecker and Hairy Woodpecker. There is a lot of brush here so the birds were safe from the Hawks.
The farm was interesting to see as well... a wide variety of animals are kept here in large pens with lots of room to roam, to be inside or travel outside at their own will to even more area for them.
The Goats are in pairs in the pens. One couple recently had a baby. There are machines filled treats and you can get a handful for $0.25 to hand feed these guys. As you can see below, they eagerly wait for a treat. If you visit, please bring some quarters to make them happy. Also the money collected is used for the animals. Sure you get slobbered on the palms but it's fun. They have wash stations outside the barns when you are done.
A Rabbit pen was found in another building. Four of them in a pen that is probably 15ft X 40ft.
Then, another Peacock pen was located here. You want to see color?!?! Holy! I forgot how brilliant the males are.
This male Peacock was out to impress the ladies of the pen. Once I got closer, he brought the mass of feathers in... probably didn't want me to get the wrong idea. :)
This male Rooster was quite protective over his group of girls. Ten girls for one boy!
One of his ladies keeping her eggs warm.
They have a Cow pen as well. This photo was taken from last winter... but this guy is still at the farm. He was along the fence and we got to pat his head, touch his nose and he licked Ang's fingers.
So, while it wasn't the best day for bird watching... it was a great day to be out and about outdoors. A little more sun would have been nice but I will take a mild dry January day anytime.
Bronte Creek seems to be a great place for all seasons. A number of old buildings are on the property. Old farm equipment too!
Also there is camping. There are 3 baseball diamonds. There are many picnic areas with firepits. As I mentioned the leash free zone. They even have an open area for those to play with their remote airplanes and helicopters.
It's worth the trip to Bronte Creek in Burlington!