A new year has arrived. Welcome 2010. Welcome a new decade!
Here we are with our new year's day tradition; providing health and weather co-operate with us.
We like to spend part of new year's day out and about some place, hanging with nature and enjoying the creatures about... offering them a hearty feast on another winter's day. We try to go to a different location every year (maybe some place new, maybe an old fave).
This year we opted for Lynde Shores in Whitby... also known as Cranberry Marsh.
You want friendly bird action? This is the place to be! We weren't even out of the parking lot yet and the Chickadees were in full force, greeting us at the pay meter ($2 for 2 hours or $4 for all day). I saw a photo from this area a couple days before where someone put seed on top of their hat... hence me trying it with immediate success.
Now, it's not just about the birds there... but they are the ultimate experience. A number of attitude bearing Red Squirrels scamper about... cursing each other with their chatter.
As we fed the Chickadees and Nuthatches in one spot for a lengthy amount of time... I happened to notice movement about my feet. A tiny Meadow Vole was coming in and out of the grass, gathering seeds/nuts for his stash. I couldn't get a decent picture of him so I borrowed this through a Google image search. As always with nature hikes, it's good to watch where you step.
Deer are often sighted in the area; but we didn't see any, nor were we really looking. I find with them, it's just chance to come across them. Normally they are long gone before you can see them.
So, back to the bird feeding... the White Breasted Nuthatches are also quite eager to snatch the seed from the palm of a person's hand. A few years ago I didn't even know what a Nuthatch was.
This shot gives you a pretty good idea on how crazy and how frequent the birds will come to you.
A new record for both of us... two at once!
The landscape is quite beautiful as well. A lot of pine trees, which I think are Tamaracs, and they stay so green through the season... mix that in with the abundance of Dogwood and it's red bark, along with some snow... and WOW!
Rumor has it that there are some Blue Jays who will also come to people, taking peanuts from their fingers. I have seen the photos but we weren't so fortunate. I did have this one get very close, watching from the branches above me, he at one point swooped down, flying right over my palm, but missed the peanut. I threw ample amounts on the ground which he came and got. Maybe next time?
After some 100 shots of Chickadees and Nuthatches in our hands; I wanted to get a nice clean shot of one for our 2011 calendar. Some time, some patience, some 30 shots later, I got this one.
Other birds in the area, but not nearly as social include Northern Cardinals, Dark Eyed Juncos, American Goldfinches, Mourning Doves, Brown Creepers and a few species of Sparrows. I believe this is an American Tree Sparrow.
As you can see, Angie had a blast too!
So, if you want an ultimate nature experience... check it out yourself!
Take Highway 401 to Whitby, exit at Brock Street (not to be mistaken with Brock Road in Pickering). Then go south to the first street... Victoria Street and turn right (west) and follow the road for approximately 2.5kms and you will see the parking lot on the south side.
My only suggestion, or rather request/plea, is this... please bring good food for them. I am saddened to see how many people bring loaves of white bread, stale buns and the cheapest junkiest bird seed that can be bought at many stores (which is full of crap that most birds don't care for). Shelled UN-salted peanuts are an excellent choice. We found the Chickadees picked through our black oil sunflower to get at them. Black Oil Sunflower Seed is another great choice... even if the birds wanted the peanuts. These are the two main seeds I use in my backyard for the greatest number of birds.
Why is white bread so bad? There are no nutrients in it for them; it's just filler, like popcorn really.