This morning after the snow storm that didn't happen, I went for a walk in the woods near our home. Normally I don't care to post anywhere I go because there's always someone who will try to follow my footsteps and hope, or rather, expect to have the same encounter(s) that I had, and sometimes even complain to me after the fact about it. Sad but true. Today, screw it, I'm going to say where I went. Lambton Woods. When you are done reading this blog, you will know why I said where I was.
I used to frequent Lambton a fair amount back in the early days of birding. It's just minutes from our home and there's a nice variety of the common species one may find in Toronto. It was where I really put my first camera to work and managed a couple memorable shots, even to this day, with a Canon Power Shot. That's one of them little point and shoot jobs. This is one of those shots. Still a fave of mine almost 10 years later.
Back to this morning. I've not visited Lambton in a while, probably since the fall. I felt like getting out, somewhere different but close to home. So here I chose.
It was a nice walk in. First bird was a Red-bellied Woodpecker. He was calling away and it took some looking before I spotted him.
Across the Humber I could hear dozens upon dozens of newly arrived Red-winged Blackbirds. Robins were running about the ground, flipping leaves and looking for anything crawling to gobble up. White-breasted Nuthatches were vocalizing randomly. A few male Cardinals were in full song. Gold Finches were fluttering in the brush near the path. The woods were alive!
I heard some crazy noises, kinda like growling with a little something to them. There was a couple Raccoons up one tree, sort of snuggled together, and I'm still not sure why they were making these noises. They were high up and nothing was bothering them. I know it's almost Spring but they weren't amorous with each other.
I was walking east through the woods when the sounds of mobbing Blue Jays got my attention. They were up the hill in the residential area and I decided to back track a bit and follow a side path up that way. I spotted this out of the corner of my eye. Pileated Woodpecker! I've heard about Pileateds in Lambton for as long as I've birded these woods but today is the first time I ever got to see one. Yes, I was very happy.
I got lots of great photos through the 50+ crappy ones. I managed to get around the other side of the tree and have the sun behind me.
I forgot about the Blue Jays and what they may have been mobbing. I did happen to spot a Red-tailed Hawk fly over and the Jays screams stopped. Maybe that was it?
The Pileated was so focused on this tree that it paid no attention to me. I still kept my distance so as to not spook him away. What a great moment and I even took a short video that you can see here.
In total I saw 5 species of Woodpecker in the woods. Pileated, Red-bellied, Hairy, Downy and even a couple Northern Flickers. Lambton is nick named "Woodpecker Woods". Now you know why.
I left the Pileated and got back on the main path, still going east. House Sparrows, Blue Jays, Cardinals, House Finches, more Red-wings and a few Grackles were species of bird I passed. Further along, another nice muddy patch had quite a few Robins running about.
Then I heard a familiar call. A call I am used to in April but not first days of March. It was White-throated Sparrows and there was more than a few of them in some brush piles. Did they over-winter? That I will never know but it was great to listen to them for a few minutes.
I chanced upon another very vocal Red-bellied Woodpecker. Nice!
One thing about Lambton, is it is never quiet. I don't mean the birds because who would ever complain about any birds in song on a sunny morning walk? The homes in the residential area up the hill are more like small castles and it's a never ending thing with additions to a few houses and older ones being torn down and new homes, much bigger homes, being built. I can tune it out at times when I get focused on the wild ones in the woods; but the walk in between can have me shaking my head at the banging and sounds of bulldozers.
Worst of all with these woods, much like many other places I used to enjoy going for walks, are the people. The joggers. The dog walkers who mostly have them off leash. The dogs crap wherever and most cases the owners do not pick up after them. A nice day will bring in cyclists too. Many are courteous but all it takes is one or two idiots
One guy raced past me on his mountain bike and I thought "what an asshole!" No horn or anything, just came flying past me from behind. I am pretty sure I muttered something not so pleasant. Funny thing is on my way out, I noticed a pair of Mourning Doves sitting on a branch together. They were happily preening away. I've rekindled my love for these birds ever since one started coming to our backyard this week. We've not had much MODO action in over 2 years. I spent a few minutes on the path, trying to get photos of them through the branches.
Happy with a few decent captures, I turn around and am about to start walking the path when I look up and there's that guy on the bike again. Only this time he was stopped. He said he didn't want to disturb me in my moment with the birds. Well how about that! I wondered to myself if I was previously being over sensitive and a bit of a curmudgeon. I quickly answered that with "NAH! He was still an ass earlier."
There was a few unruly dogs during my walk but I chose to ignore every single one of them. I wouldn't look at them as they neared. I paid no attention to the owners. It helped me keep my zen.
The worst of all was one jogger. I will refer to him as the douche because he looked like one and acted as such. A young white guy, not that it matters, but he's jogging along, wearing what I think are called dockers... 3/4 length shorts. He's got a sweat shirt on and then this rag thing on his head (not a bandanna, more like a long sleeved shirt tied around his head with the sleeves running down his back). No matter what he was wearing, it's just that he stood out. I saw him coming from quite a ways up the path. I was about as far as I wanted to go east and decided to turn around, and even take a short side path for a moment, hoping he would pass me.
I chance upon another Red-bellied Woodpecker so this is good.
Guess what he does? He comes up the side path I am on. This path goes no where because it's so muddy and there's a lot of fallen limbs just up a bit from the main path. Seriously?!?! He apologies as he passes me, says something about poor timing. I said "no worries" even if I didn't mean it. I watch the Woodpecker a bit more and see him from the corner of my eye. He stops about 20 ft from me. He's grunting and squatting like he is about to go poop right there. I did a double take to make sure he did not just drop his drawers. Next thing is he starts hacking away AND THEN blowing his nose onto the ground. He's doing the plugging one nostril and blowing hard through the open one. NO TISSUES! It was these big long noodles of snot hanging from his nose, seemingly fighting to stay in his nostrils and not be blown to the ground.
Sick cartoon photo breaking up the wildlife moment just like this douche with my outing.
One part of me really wanted to take a picture of him. Another part of me really wanted to hit him a big stick. I was repulsed to say the least. I walked away rather quickly. I did not want to hear or see any more of this guy's disgusting behaviour.
Of course 5 minutes up the path, while I'm watching a Red Squirrel and waiting for a Chipmunk to resurface that ran past me, the douche runs past me again.
Thankfully he did not stop this time. Buh bye!
I passed the pair of Raccoons again.
I was hoping to spot the Pileated one more time but no such luck. That's alright. That was one epic moment with this species. Just the bird and I.
I managed to see one more Raccoon further along.
I ignored a few more dog walkers and got back to the truck. I shook my head to the bullshit but was also excited to get home and see my Pileated photos, and share something with all of you.
I hope you enjoyed this tale.
Lambton Woods is no secret spot. It runs along a stretch of the Humber River near our home. You can have a great birding walk here, depending on what you like, and if you can tolerate the human activity. Or you can have yourself a really bad time.