Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

February 25, 2010

Snowy Owl at Col. Sam Smith Park and a Kestrel

So, this blog is not much of a surprise to many who I know through other means besides the blog. I sent these pictures out to anyone and everyone I know who would appreciate this. To those who only know me through here, this blog is for you...

A few weeks ago we were at Col. Sam Smith Park down at the bottom of Kipling Avenue in Etobicoke. It is on the south side of Lakeshore Blvd.

In our walks, if we see someone with a camera and/or binoculars, we ask them what they have seen so far. Well, this day, a woman said "A female Snowy Owl down at the pier". From that, we shortened our search of some water fowl, and made a quick pace over to the pier. The woman was only at the pier about 15 minutes prior so our chances we good to see the Owl... and we totally lucked out!

There she was, out in the middle of the pier, safe from all humans, dogs and anything else that could not fly. The walkways are locked off, granting nobody access. One could only walk around the pier and watch her in the middle of it. She had about 125 ft of water surrounding her. What a sight though! It was brutally cold, with wind chills nearing minus thirty celcius! This seemed to bother her none and she looked quite content just sunning herself. A few other on-lookers were in awe with her presence. One woman was here from Georgia USA and got word of the Owl while in town and had to see her. It was funny to see how many cameras were out and pointed in her (the Owl) direction.

I've gone back a few times since that day and was fortunate enough to find her again. At one point, I decided to see what else was around, and followed an American Kestrel for some time. When I got back to the Owl, she had moved, she was off the pier and sitting on the ice. A week or so later I was talking with a friend of mine, who was down at the pier about one hour before me, on that day, and could not find the Owl. I thought back to the day and recalled wishing I had his cell number because I knew he and his wife had talked of going down that same day I was there. I wanted to know if he did, and if not, to get their butts down ASAP.

Anyways, this definitely is one of the highlights of the winter so far. I do hope to see her at least one more time before the season ends and she flies north again. Enjoy the rest of the photos!

Here she is relaxing on the frozen waters of Lake Ontario...

I've got the zoom stretched as far as it can go for these. She's a beauty!

Part of a skeleton of some large fish I walked over in my attempts to get as close to the pier as humanly possible without trying to step out onto the ice.

Here's the American Kestrel up in the tree. He's not too fond of my photographing him. The sky was so drab and grey, making it very difficult to get a clean picture.

The Kestrel finally had enough of me and flew off... waaaaaaaaaaaay off.

February 20, 2010

Water Birds

It's the winter of 2009/10... and this year, especially with the lack of snow, making the natural food still available for extended time (not buried) and many of my winter visitors to be more sporadic; I've taken an even bigger interest in the "winter water birds" of the GTA.

It's a new learning experience for me. In the past, I've only thought of Mallard Ducks, Canada Geese and Sea Gulls to be what is around the lake. Last Valentines Day, Angie and I discovered the Bufflehead Ducks down in Port Credit. They were so fun to watch, being smaller than most of the other species, and being divers for feeding (they disappear right down under the water for food).

A couple Canada Geese could swallow one of these little Buffleheads whole (if they were meat eaters). Just showing size comparison here...

This year, in search of Buffleheads, and with some knowledge that there is more to see in the lake over the winter... we went looking. This is some of what we have found.

The Trumpeter Swan. I didn't know we had two different types of Swans in the area (Mute and Trumpeter). The only difference I know of at this moment is the beak color. Black for the Trumpeter. Orange for the Mute.

The Trumpeter...

The Mute...

Another neat sighting was the Long Tailed Ducks. I'd say I am surprised to have never them before, but then again, I've never really spent any time down at the lake in the winter months. This is the male pictured here...

A pair of Long Tails having an afternoon nap on the lake...

Yet another interesting looking Duck is the Golden Eye. Their eyes are a piercing yellow color. In the sun, the sides of the male look silver, and with such a shiny black head.

There must be a technique to taking photos over the water. The more interesting of the Duck species seem to stay away from shore in the presence of humans (so I have noticed) and it makes it even more difficult to get a great shot with my camera.

Here are some mystery Ducks...

but on the 19th of February I made a discovery on the Humber River near my home, and I am wondering if those mystery Ducks above are the same as these below, Common Mergansers. I found a couple females and possibly one male. In time, with some research I will know for certain.

Lastly, let's not forget the most common of the area, the Mallards. They add color and life to the lake, rivers and ponds of the GTA all year long.

There's more to see, and I hope we do, before the winter ends.