Well we were riding a high with our Peregrine Falcon family in Etobicoke until recently. A call came in about a downed bird and I was asked if I could meet security and check things out. I was up in Vaughan at the time, hopped into my truck and raced down the Hwy 400 to Islington and Bloor. I won't talk about the speeds but I did get there in some pretty impressive time.
I met security and they took me for a walk where the bird was reported. Nothing. An extended search. Still no downed Peregrine Falcon to be seen on the roof tops over the concourse. Hell, I would be happy to find a Pigeon who needed help at this point. Still nothing. Mixed emotions on coming up empty as my adrenaline was still rushing. I'm happy to not find an injured Falcon, or worse yet, a dead one. But come on, give me something. I was denied. Eventually I did find comfort when I cooled down that there was no bird to rescue or recover.
A while later, I am on my way to work. I get the call that they are still reporting a downed Falcon and if I could go again as they have pin-pointed where the bird is. Unfortunately I cannot. Our friend Tracy makes the trip and sadly she did find a downed Falcon. A young male named Glider. He had hit the glass towers, breaking his neck, dying on impact (at least it was quick) and his lifeless body spiraled down to the Earth. No I did not see it with him but have experienced this in prior years. The impact is loud. The visual is crushing to ones heart and spirit.
Glider at the banding ceremony on May 28, 2015.
It wasn't more than a few days when reports came in that our seemingly star bird Mel was in trouble. Mel was the first of the 4 chicks to take flight and was doing amazingly. I was not a part of this story and have only heard bits and pieces, but on his final hour(s) he somehow managed to get into someone's condo in the area through an open window or balcony door. He was rescued by Mark Nash, founder of the Canadian Peregrine Foundation. His injuries were quite severe and poor Mel died before getting to Mark's vehicle on route for medical help.
Mel at the banding ceremony.
Mel during his early days of flight about the area of Islington and Bloor.
What can I say? RIP you poor Falcons? Way it goes? I know... "this *bleeping* sucks!" I can say that it's not been a great couple years at our site as we've got a 50% mortality rate with our fledged birds. In the big picture, we really are powerless to help these young birds at this stage. Nobody can do anything standing on the ground watching them hundreds of feet up in the air. Of course some measures could be taken to coat the glass towers, even those top panels by the ledges where the birds go, to give them some idea that this is an obstacle and they cannot fly through. Damn that reflective glass. Sadly it's turned into yet another year that I would sooner not think about. I wish the surviving birds Ferris and Ninja to be safe and may we meet again when you are young adults setting up territories somewhere in North America.
But this is all old news now. It's so weeks ago now!
How about last week...
If you live in the GTA and aren't living under a rock, I am sure you have heard about the oil spill in Mimico Creek. A tractor trailer rollover at Hwy 427 and 401 on Monday. The load was some tranformers, which when tipped over, spilled out some 8,000 litres of mineral oil, a lot of which poured into the creek nearby.
I saw the remnants of the accident on my way home from work Monday night. The wreckage was barely recognizable as a transport truck and trailer. I surely muttered some expletives as I passed it all and had no idea the shit that would follow because of this. It seems no one did.
A "shout out" came late Tuesday morning via Toronto Wildlife to any and every volunteer that could help with this. It was the early stages and just getting people to a meeting area where many Ducks were being rounded up was a start. I didn't have a lot of time but wanted to help. I arrive on scene at West Deane Park to a mass of media, fire dept and of course the rescue team from Toronto Wildlife.
It's a bit of a blur now, just so much was happening. They had already caught over 30 Ducks by this point and most were already up at TWC now. I ended up taking another 4 Ducks to the centre and on my way back west, as my time to start work was very near, I stopped in at a No Frills and grabbed some more boxes to drop off to the rescue team.
It was something to see with the media, gathering all the footage they can on this breaking story, and in my time there, a few of them followed Stacey and I to my truck with the Ducks. A couple camera crews and one man from The Toronto Star. They video'd or snapped photos of us putting the boxed birds in the back of the GMC. I could feel my nerves getting all jittery with the attention. A few questions were asked, which I answered the best I could in that moment. I so wanted to put my sunglasses on in front of the cameras. I couldn't stop shifting my eyes from one camera to another even though they weren't the ones where the person was who asked the questions. I later learned that my hair and backside were shown on CP24, and later on CTV news.
Wednesday I was back in the area trying to help out any way I could before work. Once again, not a lot of time. In my brief stint I played my role as a volunteer driver shuffling rescue staff to and from various parts of the area with equipment and ducks, as well as a CityNews camera woman. Angie and I grabbed a whack of Gatorade to pass to the rescue peeps, which was greatly appreciated. Even if I cannot do much search and rescue, helping those who are doing this, is another way.
More Ducks being loaded up and heading to Toronto Wildlife.
After yet another Duck rescue, Andrew assists Stacey back across Mimico Creek. A lighter moment during a crazy morning.
Thursday I set out on my own, searching Mimico Creek, starting from Eglinton and East Mall and following it down to Martingrove and Rathburn. A little over 2 kms one way. I spent nearly 3 hours in the area searching for more oiled Ducks.
Starting my search just south/east of Eglington and East Mall in Etobicoke.
Dense greenery along the creek, making it difficult to scope out for ducks. I did find many foot paths going to the water and occasionally I did have to make my own.
Catch nets of sorts for the oil spill.
Some real shallow spots.
It was a pretty walk and the area is just full of birds. I noted Song Sparrows, Catbirds, Baltimore Orioles, Indigo Buntings and many others through my journey.
A few Rabbits seen in my journey.
First Duck I found across the creek. *note* just carrying the little point/shoot camera with me, fits easy in the pocket if I need free hands
Super zoom crop shot of the oiled Duck. I stayed on the other side of the creek since I did not have the tools to try and catch a Duck. I should add items like a large net to my artillery but really at this point, rescues aren't my thing... but over time, they may be.
Rescue on site rescuing the Duck.
It was near time for me to leave. Toronto Wildlife asked me if I could help them with one more thing, if time allowed. They had 4 juvenile Pigeons that needed releasing somewhere, with a flock. Everyone knows about our flock thanks to my posts about Pierre. I said "absolutely" to bringing them home. What's another 4 birds to the mass we have here? And if they stick with this flock, they will know this is a pretty good place to come for food and water as well as following my birds, finding a decent roost.
Young Pigeons ready to be set free into a great big world.
Two birds left their confinements in seconds, finding spots in the trees along the property line to land and get their bearings.
Ho hum. Remaining two birds who were really pokey. In time they both left and went up to a nearby tree.
About 15 birds were present. No Pierre and his regular crew; but another group we call "The Helmets". A few of them appear to be from the same line with white caps on their heads (helmets). I had to get ready for work. I really wanted to stay home and watch how things went with them.
There was nothing to really distinguish these young birds from the others. If only they were banded, I could see if they came back or not. I wished them all well and away I went.
Friday arrives and I am exhausted. I am sad too. Today, July 17th 2015, would have been Meadow's 12th birthday. I think about her every day, I miss her so much. Milestone moments like this and others to come in the first year are going to be crushing. As much as I think about all the great moments with her over the years, cherishing the bond we had, I cannot break the overwhelming feeling of sadness. Our new kitten couple, Molly and Merry, tried their best to keep me occupied by tearing up the living room and getting into things so I didn't have time to sit and think. It worked only temporarily. I had much to do around home before work after days of neglect and even my being so busy was only a temporary fix.
Having a birthday in July... nice warm weather and lots of outside time.
One of Meadow's favorite things to do on her birthday, and any other summer day...
I want this day over with sooner than later. I want to sleep and wake up to Saturday. But I still have work to get through before that can happen.
Really at this point the animal moments have come to an end but I have to add this last bit, something that may offend some but it was a breaking moment from my mood, and maybe there was some kind of creature or dozen with little eyes and pulses involved?
I'm at the Husky station near work picking up some lottery tickets. As I get out of the truck, looking for some money, I take notice to this woman at the pump filling her car. One hand pumping the gas and the other is on her crotch. Okaaaaaaaaaaaay. And? Well, this other hand was really raking her pubic area. I mean hard and fast. No way it was not being noticed by those around her. I go inside the station, get my tickets and in she comes. She's trying to keep herself together at this point but it's still clear as daylight that she is very uncomfortable. She's paying for the gas and I overhear her asking the attendant if they sell bug spray. I'm dying on the inside and keep going. The only thing at the Husky that could help her is maybe a splash of high octane gasoline and match. Bwahahahaha! I needed that. Hopefully she found something to ease her suffering later that day. And a reminder on the importance of washing your hands after pumping gas (I have hand sanitizer in the truck).
So far this week is pretty low key. I'm good with that. Cheers on this Whiskey Wednesday!
If you are still with me after that last paragraph, still wanting to be my friend, on a final note.... 110 Ducks were rescued from the creek along with 1 Sandpiper. Something of this magnitude has not happened with Toronto Wildlife before (let's hope it does not happen again). They handled this quite well with lots of help from volunteers and people from the public, those who live in the area. My daily roles in this were small, I say I am but one pixel in a big picture. All of you could pride yourselves and be a pixel too by helping out. How? Donations either financially or visit their website and check out their "wish list" if you do not have time to be a volunteer.