Wow, here we are just passing through mid-July. The summer is moving along quick and the heat sure is on now.
I sit back and ponder what I've done, where I've been, what I've seen and where do I begin?
A couple trips to the Carden Area up in Kirkfield, Ontario started the season off. Once with Angie and again on my own. Wylie Road, as I blogged about before, is a great birding spot of a dusty road being approximately 10kms long. I go there mainly for the Eastern Bluebirds, hope to see a Loggerhead Shrike and enjoy anything and everything else that I cross paths with.
The local swamp being minutes from my home has been another favorite spot for wildlife the past couple months and it's mind blowing what this smelly chunk of land has to offer in wildlife sightings. The few of us who frequent this area call it the neighborhood's best kept secret. It seems as the city has let this park grow wild, and with the swampy waters, insects thrive, which draw in many species of birds and amphibians. One of my favorite summertime residents here is a Great Blue Heron. I actually took this photograph from my truck when driving into the park. He's a bold old bird and doesn't spook easily. I also like to think my gentle and respectful approach to nature helps.
He shares the swamp and ponds with many others including Beavers, Muskrats, Snapping Turtles, Painted Turtles, a Red-eared Slider Turtle, Catfish, Frogs, Toads and so many species of birds. The Red-eared Slider is not native to our region, which means he was someone's pet and for one reason or another, he's been disposed of in the ponds to survive on his own.
I've had some great experiences with Cedar Waxwings in recent weeks. Anyone who may have read a blog I posted not long ago about Raccoons and other masked creatures might remember these birds were mentioned in it. Finding some small flocks and able to spend more than an hour per time with them watching them fly, hunt, hover, feed, etc. was awesome!
A few weeks had me volunteering any spare time I could afford to the Canadian Peregrine Foundation and their Falcon Fledge Watch program. First location I participated in the watch was at Islington and Bloor Street in Etobicoke at the Sunlife Building. A pair of Falcons had a nest with three chicks. And as the chicks grew, and it was nearing time for them to take flight, the CPF and volunteers take to the streets below in order to help any young Falcons who may get into trouble over the first few days of flying. Peregrines are an endangered bird, who much like the Bald Eagle, suffered massive loss in numbers through the 60's with the use of DDT. Often having infertile eggs through nesting time and occasional poisonings too. Their numbers are growing these days but still have a ways to go before they can be removed from the endangered and after the threatened list. Did you know that during World War Two, Peregrines in England were often shot out of the sky because a main source in their diet is Pigeon. The army used carrier Pigeons to help deliver messages to and from base camps and allies. So, when a message was sent out with a Pigeon, only to see a Peregrine come and snag the Pigeon for lunch and the message was lost... it was then man also interfered with the Peregrines by shooting any on sight.
Here is the whole family at the Sunlife Building. Dad is on the lower glass, Mom is on the camera to the right, and the three young'uns are lined along the ledge. This ledge is 19 stories up so pardon the not so close shot.
About a week and a half later I was up at Etobicoke General in Rexdale, Ontario on another Falcon Watch with the CPF. In both watches, I never saw an incident where one of the babies got into any sort of trouble and need of rescue. But there was a couple times the CPF did a save. Hours can go by with nothing happening but it only takes one small step off the ledge or an error in their learning to fly and control those powerful wings for something to happen.
Here is one of the adult Peregrines at the hospital.
Here is one of the young'uns, and her name is "Rain". She spent hours on this window ledge, 9 stories up. A number of hospital patients and visitors were quite fascinated by her presence on the window ledge in a hallway.
Angie and I had another "Raptor Encounter" at Mountsberg in June for her birthday.
Teddy and I, with me learning the art of tethering.
Angie got time with Teddy as well as Echo the Eastern Screech Owl seen here. Amazing how well an ESO can camouflage, eh?
But as the humidity moves in, I find myself at home more. It's nice to know the cold comfort of central air conditioning is only steps away. This time of year is much more challenging for birding and any other wildlife sightings with all the foliage as well. And as some of you already know, there is much to see from my lawn chair.
A pair of Chipmunks have taken up residence somewhere near the back shed. They are an entertaining welcomed addition to the backyard!
And even the least bird admirers I know around my home stop and watch the Baltimore Orioles who come to feed on oranges and grape jelly from the feeder off my clothes line. How can one not notice the fiery orange feathers as they fly in?
Nesting season always seems to bring in hordes of European Starlings to feed their young. They bully many of the other birds from any and all of the feeders, even ones with food they care not to eat. Thankfully a few Red-wing Blackbirds and Common Grackles throw the attitude right back at these buggers and put them in their place or out of the vicinity.
That's one goofy juvenile Starling who is trying to scare off this male Red-wing who is flying right in at him. The Red-wing won.
As much as I hear about the disliking for the Common Grackle, I don't mind them. I see maybe half a dozen through the summer, which is also counting in the young they bring. Fall migration can have me with 60+ some afternoons for a brief stop in to fuel up, have a bath and then gone again. Their babies are squawky little buggers.
And of course just having a relaxing afternoon with Meadow is just one of the things I enjoy so much...
and can't forget her little sister Misfit!
We've got some great wildlife adventures in the coming weeks including a trip to Wye Marsh, The Muskoka Wildlife and Presquille Park.
Come back soon!