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Dec 27, 2007

Reb-bellied Woodpecker at our feeder...YES!!!!!

Linda discovered a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the suet feeder in our backyard this afternoon. It was the first time she had ever seen one and she was suitably impressed. It was the second time I'd seen one. The first time was 11 years ago, at Niagara, while on a Federation of Ontario Naturalists field trip. Showing up in our backyard, in King City, just north of Toronto, puts the male we saw at the northern limits of his normal range. Although a year-round resident of southernmost Ontario (north shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario), it is an uncommon sighting. The internet photos above were taken by a fellow named Dick Lock. That's a female on the left and a male on the right. Can you see the difference? It's in the amount of red on the heads. And yes, there is red on its belly, but it's almost impossible to see, even in the best conditions (note the female's lower belly, above). What a great-looking bird. This bird is the 66th species on our backyard list. It's also species #17 at the feeders this winter. Here's hoping he stays around all winter. Please comment if you wish.

Dec 24, 2007

Christmas Eve, 2007

Merry Christmas, everyone ~ love and peace

Dec 6, 2007

What's in a name?

For quite some time, before my first two grandchildren were born, I vowed that when I did become a grandfather, the little ankle-biters would call me 'Grandpa Jupiter'. I wanted them to be in awe of their towering, thundering grandfather. I wanted them to think of me hurling lightning bolts about and ruling the roost whenever I roared. It did not occur to me that Grandpa Jupiter was a 5-syllable mouthful which any small child would have difficulty with under the best of circumstances. I realized that we'd all have to start with something simpler and humbled myself by suggesting 'Jupa'. Well, young William Henry Harrison Bailey (son of Allison and Rob), and bright lad that he is, seems to be saying Jupa very well. Unfortunately, his cousin, Emondine Clare is struggling with my Jupa moniker. My daughter, Auralee swears that her bright little girl says Jupa all the time, but I've never heard her say it. What I keep hearing her say is 'Goonda'. Now it turns out that Goonda is a Hindi and Urdu term with many, many meanings, such as rascal, ruffian, thug, bully, hooligan, bootlegger, immoral traffic offender(???) and even video-pirate. And this is just scratching the surface. Now I ask you, what are the chances of this sweet, 18-month-old princess corrupting the name Jupa into Goonda all by herself. I'm highly suspicious that her father, who is of East Indian ethnic heritage, has a hand in this. His parents, are horrified that Emmy is going around calling me Goonda. But my son-in-law seems highly amused. I admit to having been rascally on occasion, and I may have sold a case of beer to someone, once, and made a buck or two, but I would never pirate a video...I'm too technologically inept. I'll just have to try much harder with Emmy to master Jupa. I much prefer Barry the Birder, to Barry the Goonda. Meanwhile, I owe her father one.

Dec 3, 2007

Redpolls have returned

We have had eight Common Repolls visiting our bird feeders for the last four or five days. It was predicted they would show up in southern Canada this winter and they have taken their cue. It's been a few years since we have seen them and they are a welcome addition to the gang of usual suspects, at the feeders, which include: Chickadees, Blue Jays, Cardinals, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, White and Red-breasted Nuthatches, Juncos, Tree Sparrows, House Sparrows, Starlings, Mourning Doves, House and Purple Finches, Goldfinches, and Sharp-shinned Hawk...16 species in all, now. There can be up to 50 birds at any given time at the 12 seed or suet feeders, or on the ground below. The Redpoll photo is by Pierre Deviche and was downloaded from the Internet.

Dec 2, 2007

Leafs and leaves

The wee laddie at the right is my grandson, Will, doing his best Mats Sundin imitation. He doesn't even know what hockey is yet, but his father has obviously decided that he will be a Leafs fan. What a curse. If Will lives to be a hundred, he'll probably never see the Leafs go all the way. Oh, 'tis cruel and unusual punishment to inflict on a dear innocent boy.
I walked the main trail and boardwalk at Cold Creek Forest & Wildlife Area this morning. Everything was covered with 5" of new snow and quite pretty (see photo below). The other photo, below, was taken just two months ago in approximately the same spot. What a contrast! I saw a Pileated Woodpecker at Cold Creek, but no deer, unfortunately. Lots of fresh tracks... but no deer. The operation of Cold Creek has recently been taken over by The Township of King, from The Toronto Region Conservation Authority. King Township has made several long-needed improvements already but it appears now that several kilometres of mountain bike trails are to be introduced, for which I have grave reservations. I see a fight looming if this goes ahead. Stay tuned

Nov 9, 2007

More Arizona pictures...

The Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon ~ South Rim

Bell Rock ~ Sedona

Hiking in Oak Creek Canyon ~ West Fork

19 new species added to my Bird Life List

Spending seven days in Arizona, last week, allowed me to add 19 new species to my Bird Life List. I spotted 48 species in total, but the nineteen new ones were: Cinnamon Teal, Avocet, Gambel's Quail, White-winged Dove, Inca Dove, Greater Roadrunner, four new hummingbirds (Broad-tailed, Rufous, Black-chinned and Costa's), two woodpeckers (Ladder-backed and Gila), Chihuahuan Raven, two jays (Scrub and Stellar's), Cactus Wren (Arizona's state bird), Phainopepla, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Pyrrohuloxia. A visit to the Tucson-Sonora Desert Museum in the Suguaro National Park West was a great spot for birdwatching. Linda and I saw many birds in the aviary there plus free-flight demonstrations by some of the captive raptor and predator birds. Below are photos of two of the museum docents (volunteer/guides) with birds. The gentleman is holding a Barn Owl and the lady is holding a Kestrel.

Nov 8, 2007

The Grand words can describe it

Linda and I had never been to the Grand Canyon, until last week. Dollar-wise and weather-wise, our timing was perfect. As for the Grand Canyon, I find myself saying to people that no words can describe it and no picture can do it justice. The Red Rock area around Sedona was breathtakingly beautiful and the Sonoran Desert area around Tucson was incredibly interesting. Linda took the picture of me, above, at the south rim of the Grand Canyon and shortly after I got the picture of the mule riders, below, finishing a half-day climb up from the bottom of the canyon. That's Linda, in the third photo, on her trusty steed, Dusty, following our wrangler/guide, Angie, on a horse-back ride in the desert outside Tucson. What a great week!

Oct 21, 2007

I've been cutting grass for over 7 months

I started cutting grass on April 15th of this year. It's now October 20th and I'm still cutting grass. I did it at 11 a.m. this morning in a t-shirt and shorts. It's now 2 p.m., sunny, 26 degrees Celsius (in the shade) and we still have roses, sweet peas and hibiscus blooming (see pix below). The hummingbirds just barely got away before the juncos showed up a week ago. If this is global warming, I say bring it on. Linda keeps reminding though, that we will pay for this. Linda and I started Taoist Tai Chi three weeks ago. We have failed miserably at it and have given it up. Who knew you needed a good memory to remember all the moves. Hell, we even forgot to attend the first week, so I guess we didn't help our own cause. Let's see now...there's classes at the R.O.M. in medieval broad-swordsmanship...or maybe yoga at the Y.

Oct 12, 2007


IN SEARCH OF A BETTER LIFE is the title of a family history book I have been writing for the past two years. I have promised a copy to each of my daughters as Christmas gifts this year, so I have to bear down and finish the job. I have one chapter to finish: the last chapter - Chapter 35, plus I have one or two more pictures to insert. It will end up around 300 pages in the current 8 1/2" x 11" format. If it ever made it into a hard cover format (which isn't about to happen anytime soon), it would be close to 490 pages. It's taken a lot of time and effort to research and write but I feel it has been worth it and I've enjoyed doing it very much. While I have dedicated it to my deceased mother-in-law, I have written it for my daughters and my grandchildren. The title page is pictured above, along with two photos, below, which I took this week of the 162-year-old Laskay Emporium (now in Black Creek Pioneer Village in Toronto) and the 148-year-old Laskay Hall (still on its original site in Laskay, on Weston Road in King Township). Both buildings figured prominently in the lives of several generations of my wife's family. The two pictures have already made their way into the chapter on the hamlet of Laskay.

Oct 5, 2007

Was Ray Charles really blind?!?!

I got some promotional material this week from the folks at KingFest. They included a piece written by a Don Bird. It seems Don has been a well-known figure in the Canadian music business for many years and he attended last June's KingFest Music Festival at Seneca College, writing a review on it and highly praising the festival. There was a pointer to Don's website in the piece and I looked him up. I went to his Blog site also and read his latest entry, which was a personal tribute to Doug 'Dr. Music' Riley, who recently passed away in Toronto. Don and Doug worked together for several years, ostensibly writing commercial jingles. Don told how Doug Riley had worked on an album with Ray Charles, writing, arranging, playing and living at Ray Charles home in the southern U.S., for a while. Don says Doug recalled Ray Charles' chauffeur taking them home one evening, when he suddenly pulled over, stopped the car, and Ray Charles got behind the wheel and drove the rest of the way home. Doug Riley was freaked out. He found out the Charles also flew his own planes and mixed his sessions in the studio. Go to to read about this in detail. Don Bird calls his blog posts 'Bird Droppings' and there are some interesting entries.
Have a great Thanksgiving. BtheB

Oct 2, 2007

Cold Creek Bird List now at 113 species

The Cold Creek Forest & Wildlife Area Bird List now stands at 113 species. The two most recent species added during the second and third week of September were a Philadelphia Vireo and a Black-backed Woodpecker. Not only did I get to add them to the Cold Creek Bird List but they were also 'life birds' for me. I think I'm closing in on 400 species on my life list. I must check it out and see how close I am. An upcoming trip to Arizona may push me over the 400 mark. The internet picture of the Philadelphia Warbler, on the left, was taken by Bryan McClure and the Black-backed Woodpecker, on the right, is an internet photograph by Rob Pavey. I was looking for warblers when I saw the vireo, and I was eating my lunch outside the visitors centre when the woodpecker settled on a tree a few feet from me. Ahhh, the joy of birdwatching. Just when you least expect it: two lifers!

Sep 21, 2007

World's biggest inukshuk

What is 11.377 metres tall, weighs 90 tons, and stands on the east side of Hwy. 27, just south of Schomberg? It's 'Little Joe', the world's largest inukshuk. 'Little Joe' is the brainchild of Joe Melo, President of Allstone Quarry Products. The 11 pieces of granite used in this monolith came from the Grenville Mountains on the Canadian Shield, near Sudbury. Joe Melo expects his 'Little Joe' to make it into the Guinness Book of Records. Now that the CN Tower has lost its 'tallest' title, Canada has a new world record-holder to be proud of. Good for you, Joe. That's Linda and me standing at the foot of 'Little Joe', to give it some perspective.

Sep 8, 2007

Kettleby Fair revisited

Linda and I revisited Kettleby Fair for the first time in many, many years today. The weather was perfect, everybody and his or her brother were there, and Linda and I arrived just as the parade was starting. We walked into Kettleby alongside the Newmarket Citizens Band and it felt like we were marchers too. Great fun!Walking through Kettleby is like stepping through a time-warp. The hamlet is a throw-back to the 1800s. We met old friends and new (see my new buddy in the photo above). Linda and I agreed it would have been twice as much fun if we had had our grandchildren with us. We'll take them next year when they'll both be just over 2 years...perfect. The picture below was taken from the footbridge above the Kettleby Creek which runs through the wonderful little Tyrwhitt Park. There were kids using the rope swing all day during the fair. It reminded Linda and me of our childhoods. We ended the day by going out for Thai food which was great. What a neat day. Hope you had one also. BtheB

Aug 28, 2007

Oak Ridges Trail at Marylake

Linda invited our new friends, Roch and Daphne, to walk on the Oak Ridges Trail this past weekend. We walked the Marylake portion of the trail, just north of King City. We began at the Marylake Shrine (pictured at right), walked around the east side of the lake, then headed north through the hardwood forest and over the Oak Ridges Moraine height of land. Oldtimers, like me, still call this high spot 'the King Ridge' or just 'the ridge'. Early french explorers called these hills, mountains. We ended up at the Pine Farms Orchard store and cafe (see picture below), where we enjoyed tea and juice. I explained to Roch and Daphne that the site on which the Marylake Shrine sits was formerly the site of the hunting lodge of Sir Henry Pellatt (of Casa Loma fame) in the 1920s. 70 years before that, Linda's great-great-grandparents, William and Elizabeth Scott, lived for five years in a rented farmhouse, on the same site. It was a beautiful day and I can't recommend this section of the Oak Ridges Trail enough. BtheB

Aug 12, 2007

Just when I thought I'd seen it all...

Daughter No.2, Auralee, told me earlier this week that she had seen a baby Ruby-throated Hummingbird sipping nectar from phlox flowers in her garden. She said it was twice the size of a bumblebee and she could almost reach out and touch it. It sounded odd because a young hummingbird, if it's out flying around and gathering nectar, is almost the same size as an adult 'hummer'. I took her word for it, however, and didn't think much more about it.
Today, I was out in my garden, standing near some tall Obedient Plants, when I suddenly saw, on the flowers, something I'd never seen before. It was a large, green-backed flying insect, with rapidly beating wings, which was flitting from flower to flower, just like a humming bird, gathering nectar. I called Linda to come and see my discovery. We stood bewildered. We able to get to very close to it even though it was constantly on the move. It was smaller than a hummingbird - but not by much.
I had told Linda about Auralee's sighting earlier in the week and now concluded that we were seeing the same amazing creature. After a minute or so, it flew off leaving us very puzzled. I told Linda I would try to find something about it on the Internet. I typed in "Hummingbird Insect". Shazam!!! There it was: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Who knew? Well, lots of people, it seems. The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hermaris thysbe) is fairly common in eastern Canada and the U.S.A., during the summer months. It is a day-flying, nectar-sipping moth with a 2" wingspan, a green furry back, and burgundy wing scales, suggesting a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It has two antennae plus a long curling probocis to suck nectar. This moth is frequently mistaken for 'baby' or 'little' hummingbirds. If you see one, and if you're like me, for a moment you'll hardly believe your eyes. I just love moments like this, when my aged, tired, skeptical self is treated to a hitherto undiscovered wonder of nature.
Back at the start of May, I wrote a blog about the first hummingbird of the year and included a picture, which my sister-in-law, Nancy, had sent me of five hummingbirds feeding at a small red dish resting in the palm of a hand. Just last week I ran across the larger version of the same shot (with the whole person) and have included it below. Lucky lady!
Please comment if you wish.
(Photo of Hummingbird Clearwing Moth by Don Marlin)

Aug 8, 2007

Hot weather haikus

So hot and humid
Even the cats are panting
Bird bath is busy
Hot as hell today
Whining cicadas put in
Eleven hour shifts
Got dehydrated
Drank beer instead of water
My head is pounding

Jul 2, 2007

Canada Day ~ 2007

Grandson Will, BarrytheBirder, Grand-daughter Emmy

Jun 24, 2007

Kingfest ~ Prairie Oyster comes home

Linda and I attended the 3rd annual Kingfest Music Festival, which was held June 21-22-23 at the King Campus of Seneca College with headliners, Prairie Oyster, Bruce Cockburn, Jim Cuddy and Sarah Harmer. Russell deCarle of Prairie Oyster is seen above with Keiran Kane and Susan Werner, closing their workshop session with a rendition of 'Georgia'. It was a homecoming of sorts for King City 'old boys' Keith Glass and Russell, who have have performed in King City before - before not on this scale. My brother, Bob, was a band-mate of Russ and Keith when they performed as the King City Slickers. It was a great festival, good weather and a super venue. We hope Kingfest continues in this expanded form and location, especially since its only 5 minutes from our front door.

Ndidi Onukwulu and Madagasgar Slim, on the KingFest Main Stage, warmed up festival-goers with a blues set, prior to Sarah Harmer and Bruce Cockburn. The highlight of Sarah Harmer's set occured when she invited folks to dance, while she was performing a romantic waltz number called "Oleander". A couple down in front stood up to dance but the guy dropped to one knee, held out a ring box and proposed to his lady. They got one of the biggest ovations of the evening.

Jun 19, 2007

Father's Day 2007 ~ BarrytheBirder, Will & Rob

Jun 8, 2007

Laparoscopic hernia surgery - whoopee!

I went in for my third hernia surgery this week. I can't seem to get it through my head that I now have the body of a 65-year-old and not a 19-year-old. I think this last time, it was lifting two 20 kg. bags of water-softener salt (one under each arm and flanking each side of my own 20 kg. belly) that did me in. I just had a hernia repair done in the same spot 11 months. Last year, it was moving fallen trees from the trails at Cold Creek Wildlife and Nature Area that sent me hobbling to the good Doctor Lee. This year, he decided I couldn't be trusted to take care of myself so he stuck a hunk of mesh (the size of a catcher's mitt) in my belly to hold everything together...sort of like a super-hero shield protecting my innards. One again, I'm fearless and formidable, or I will be once the clutching at my tummy every time a cough, sneeze or burp, and the wimpering that follows, subsides. Sadly, one can't show-off or brag about eight puncture marks in one's abdomen the way one can about a fencing scar across the cheek. 'Tis a humbling experience and I look forward to venturing back out into the world soon, a gentler soul. There was a birth in the family this week and I have a new grand-nephew. His name is Jaxon. Now there is a name for you. 9 lbs. 11 ozs. and doing well.

May 25, 2007

The World's Perfect Gin & Tonic

My brother-in-law, Patrick O'Kelly, claims to have created the world's perfect gin and tonic. Having tasted his concoction, I am in no position to argue with him, as it is truly an inspired libation. He has taught my son-in-law, Rob Bailey, the recipe. That's Rob, above, showing his citrus fruit rinds marinating. Patrick has officially approved of Rob's wonderful version of T.W.P.G.&T. (The World's Perfect Gin & Tonic). I'm from the school of thought that says there is no such a thing as a bad gin and tonic. What's more, while Patrick's T.W.P.G.&T. has to be started the day before it is to be drunk, I feel you can't make a gin and tonic too quickly, especially on a hot day. For me, it's a toss-up as to which tastes better on a hot, sunny day: the first few icy, bitter, astringent sips of a gin and tonic, or the first couple of cold, biting, tugs of a frosty beer. Cheers, BtheB

May 13, 2007

All the devils of hell

My wife announced this weekend that we were being visited by the all the devils of hell. I can always tell when she has been talking to her Irish Catholic girlfriends. The gravity of any situation is greatly enhanced when described properly. Before seriously considering what might be behind her pronouncement, three scenarios popped into my mind.
(1.) a number of people from the Prime Minister's Office were at the door to inform me I had been qualified as a Stephan Harper resembler! Not literally, of course, but more figuratively. In the PM's ongoing attempt to make a break-through with the Canadian voter, his acolytes at my door had been told that: (a.) I stood up to pee; (b.) I knew that Canadian Forces had introduced hockey to Afghanastan; (c.) I had declined to be a franchisee for a new chain of coffee shops in Kandahar, called Afghan Stan's, which was to complete directly with Tim Horton's. I knew I would feign interest as long as there was a possibility of them giving me one of those cool Stephan Harper safari vests, for free, before telling them to take a hike.
(2). the annual spring-time team of teenage door-to-door marketers had arrived to save me, for another five years, from paying outrageously high gas prices to heat my home. They always have a huge clipboard with important records about me, none of which point out that I am not connected to the gas main. When this fails to dissuade them, I immediately point out that my home is one the lucky few, situated on the Oak Ridges Moraine, that is heated geo-thermally with hot water and steam from beneath the earth. I say it is free, requires no maintenance and has no odour. Some start to laugh, but I stay perfectly calm and in control. Others...their eyes glaze over. Some are speechless. I always thank them profusely while shutting the door.
(3.) Lastly, 'all the devils of hell' could mean that my grandchildren have arrived for a visit.
I only have two grandchildren and they're both barely a year old, but I don't think you can start too early to impress them with how important they are to you. I therefore resolve, from this day forward, to greet their arrival, each and every time, with a wicked, but loving, "Tis all the devils of hell come for a visit".
What Linda was referring to, when she made her pronouncement about the devils of hell visiting, was our collective health. She's just getting over some surgery and I've had a brush with pneumonia. Hacking, coughing and sneezing has kept me from the grandkids for a week now and I desperately, desperately, miss them.

May 6, 2007

Two haikus

Does it manifest only
When acted upon?
Adjectives like maudlin need
newer nifty nouns
Daughter number two dares to criticize my later-in-life creativity by suggesting my haikus may be a tad maudlin and that I seem to be flirting with, or romancing, the dark side. To which I say: harrumph! I have therefore created the word maudlinopsimath. Maudlinopsimath is a noun which means: a person who learns only late in life that they are weakly, tearfully or mawkishly sentimental. She probably thinks I can't laugh at myself, also. Let's see now...a new word for over-educated whelp???

May 2, 2007

Old friends ~ then and now

Barry and Linda's wedding ~ May, 1967

Crooked Little House Luncheon ~ May, 2007

Today was one of those occasions when former members of an old and noble social club, called the Crooked Little House, met for their spring luncheon at King Henry's Arms Pub in Aurora, Ontario. I took the opportunity of asking some of the Crooked Little House members, who also happened to be groomsmen at my wedding to Linda 40 years ago, to pose with me for an 'after' picture. Pictured immediately above, left to right, are Ted Bird, me (BarrytheBirder), Donald 'Doc' Gordon, and John Dew. In the top photo we are pictured, in the same order, in 1967. Migawd!...where did those years go? I may look and feel like Methuselah on many days, but I sure don't act like I'm 969 years old when I lunch with these and the other Crooked Little House guys. What a hoot! I laughed until it hurt.

Apr 29, 2007

King Township footbridges

Humber Trails Forest & Wildlife Conservation Area

Jackman's Suspension Bridge over the Humber

Marsh Marigolds at Cold Creek Forest & Wildlife Area
Have you walked over a footbridge today? Go ahead. Get out there and listen to the birds. Breathe some fresh air. Listen to a stream trickling. I hope you have a great time. BtheB

Apr 27, 2007

A haiku or two

Parts of me are dead
Yet I am walking about
Amazing no one
I grew a gray beard
To conceal a weary heart
And unhappy face
Dark leaves of night fall
Quietly covering me
Head and heart debrief
Snide cuts of loathing
Seek their intended victim
Bathed in my tears
Forget the stockings
your bare legs should entwine mine
yes the panties too

Apr 21, 2007

King City's 'Great Blue' Heronry

Wikipedia Photo
King City has been home to a Great Blue Heron heronry for decades. It is located in the southern part of King City, in a hardwood swamp at the back of the old Rumble farm. Bruce Rumble told me a couple of weeks ago that 30 or more years ago there were 30 to 40 nests occupied in the heronry. As King City has grown and people have encroached on the site, which is now owned by land developers, the herons have made themselves continuously scarce. Two years ago I found only one nest being used and last year, none.
Good new, though, as there are at least 10 nests in use this spring and there may be a few more, but I wanted to keep my distance and disturb the nesting birds as little as possible. Who knows why the resurgence in interest at this location? It's great to see the return of the Great Blue Herons and the site is protected by the Township of King through designations as an Environmental Protection Area and as an Area of Natural Scientific Interest, as well by the the Oak Ridges Moraine Act. Now that sewers are being installed in King City and the village will double in size over the next 10 to 15 years, one has to wonder about the future of King City's heronry. In the meantime, we'll enjoy it while we can. I hope you enjoying the spring migration.
Please comment if you wish. BtheB

Apr 15, 2007

Episcopalian boys and Catholic girls

I was doing some research, a few days ago, for the family history book I'm writing and ran across an interesting item about my wife's Glass family ancestors in the 1851 Canada Census data, which has recently become available to genealogists on the internet. I was looking for Hugh Glass who was an immigrant to Canada in the early 1800s from Ireland. He and his family had been enumerated on their farm in Vaughan Township. Hugh was described as a 45-year-old farmer who had been born in Ireland in 1806. His wife, Nancy, 43, was also born in Ireland in 1808. Hugh's religion was listed as Episcopalian, while Nancy was a Roman Catholic. They had seven children, ranging in age from 22 down to 7. All of the boys were listed as Episcopalians and all the girls were listed as Roman Catholics. Well, that's one way of dealing with the thorny issue of how to raise the children in a mixed marriage; seemingly arbitrary, but pragmatic.

Apr 10, 2007

Tasmanian penile colony

I had some fun this week with the folks at Dreamscapes Travel & Lifestlye Magazine. I gladly receive this magazine every month or so as an insert to my Globe & Mail newspaper. The April, 2007, issue had an interesting article for travellers to Tasmania. Readers were directed to historic Sarah Island where adventure-seekers could visit a penile colony!
I couldn't resist emailing Dreamscapes Editor, Donna Vieira, to ask her for an exact definition of a 'penile colony'. I anticipated Donna's informed reply, by offering her my own suggestions. Perhaps a penile colony was: (A) a Viagra testing ground, (B) a gay male commune, or (C) a prison for male sex offenders. I praised her good work and told her to "keep it up".
I received Ms. Vieira's reply a mere 15 minutes later. She had received my email in the spirit with which I had intended. She commented on the unfortunate error regarding the misspelling of 'penal', the magazine's high standards in striving for excellence, and how four pairs of eye's proof every issue of Dreamscapes. She also thanked me for my light-hearted approach and encouragement.
Apparently, a correction has been made to the website versions of the article, thanks to my alertness in spotting the spelling mistake. Too bad, as I feel guilty now for denying other readers the chance to discover this delightful typo.
Here's hoping you have a bright spot in your day also. Please comment if you wish.

Apr 9, 2007

Canada's real job in Afghanistan

"We seek him here, we seek him there,
Those Yankees seek him everywhere.
Is he in heaven? Is he in hell?
That damned, Osama Pimpernel."
-- with apologies to Baroness Emmuska Orczy and her character Sir Percy Blakeney

Canada's real reason for being in Afghanistan is to find Osama Bin Laden and hand his sorry ass over to George Bush and his buddies Cheney and Rove. Never mind that the U.S.'s rapacious imperialism brought on 9-11, or that it inexplicably didn't happen much earlier than it did. Canada is paying a price now, with its soldiers' blood, because of those unwitting Canadians who were blind-sided in the twin-towers tragedy. The U.S. was doing the job, of chasing Osama around the mountains of Afghanistan, pretty well I thought, until George diverted himself onto the Iraq side-track. Forget the rhetoric about our improving the lot of Afghans. We're way ahead of ourselves - and the Afghans. They are not ready to be 'saved' yet.
Our major contribution to Afghanistan, so far, has been to improve the country's infrastructure which in turn vastly improves and protects the growing of poppies and the production of heroin. This part of the Afghan economy is booming and helping the Taliban cause greatly. And the reward for Canada? There is none. And George Bush will forget us the day he walks out of the White House for the last time.
How long will we be there? Not when my one-year-old grandson turns 19, I hope, and preferably not long enough for one more 20-year-old, innocent Canadian to get blown to smithereens.
Please comment if you wish.

Apr 6, 2007

Osprey back at Lake Jonda

It was -5C today with a wind chill of -13C. There were windy flurries over Lake Jonda on the King Campus of Seneca College. After an early thaw in March, which left the lake free of ice, it is now freezing up again around the edges. But today, April 6, 2007, there is an Osprey hovering over the lake and occassionally making a talons-first plunge into the the freezing water. I have not seen it rise with a fish yet, but I'm sure it is just a matter of time. In the interim, it withdraws to a broken treetop to rest-up for the next foray. I'm left to ponder whether the biological urge (eating, mating) is the most powerful of all nature's forces. (Internet photo by Bill Schmoker)
Please comment if you wish. BarrytheBirder

Apr 3, 2007

Bluebirds have arrived in King

Long-time King Township acquaintance, David Love, told me last Friday (Mar. 30) that Eastern Bluebirds had returned to his meadow on the King Ridge last week. It prompted me to check Cold Creek Forest and Wildlife Centre yesterday to see if they had returned there also. I didn't see any bluebirds but they should be back soon. Let's hope they hold off until the last bit of snow, forecasted for this week, has passed.
While I was there, I took the opportunity to put numbers on 12 new birdboxes and re-erect one birdhouse that had fallen to the ground last fall, when an old fence post toppled over. There are now 45 birdboxes at Cold Creek awaiting the spring migration. Last year every box was occupied, mostly by Tree Swallows and House Wrens, but also by a pair of bluebirds. Hopefully the bluebird count will increase this year.
The beauty of bluebirds is exceeded only by their instinctive intrepidity to get to nest sites on the breeding grounds early. Their delicate blue appearance seems to belie their ability to withstand cold, wet, early spring weather. The truth is that their first brood of babies often succumb to the elements, but later broods succeed. Nature often demands fearlessness from all of its creatures and doesn't make exceptions, not even for its prettiest jewels, such as the Eastern Bluebird.
Anyone attending Cold Creek Day on Sat., June 9th, may get to see one of these feathered treasures...details at

Mar 27, 2007

Lake Jonda ~ a King Township jewel

When I finished my last blog, it occured to me that there might be someone who would like to see the former Eaton Hall on Lake Jonda, near King City. I took this photo while participating in the 2003 Baillie Birdathon. Lady Flora Eaton apparently named Lake Jonda by incorporating letters from the first and second names of her son, John David Eaton.
Seneca College's King Campus will, for the first time, be hosting the 3rd Annual Kingfest Music Festival on June 23 and 24. Word is spreading that a 3rd day will be added to the outdoor weekend event. Headliners include Bruce Cockburn and Prairie Oyster. It will be a homecoming for Prairie Oyster founders, Keith Glass and Russ De Carle, who are King City natives. My younger brother Bob played and sang with Keith and Russ in their early days as the Humber Creek Boys and the King City Slickers. Kingfest will no doubt attract hundreds, perhaps thousands, who will get to see, for the first time, the former Eaton Family estate, which has become under the auspices of Seneca College, an ever-increasing ecological gem in King Township.
Please comment if you wish.

Photo Quiz: Northern Ontario or King City?

If you guessed King City, you win! I took the above photo today, of a beaver dam on the grounds of Seneca College (King Campus), two or three hundred metres north of King City, and just 20 minutes from Toronto's northern border. Many young trees along the edges of the swamp, in the background, had been felled by the beaver for the construction of this dam. The dam is just steps away from the Oak Ridges Trail which traverses Seneca College's 700 acres and which was once the summer estate of the Eaton family. Further along the trail, I reached the lookout platform which offers a sweeping view of Lake Jonda. The old Eaton Hall, sits impressively on a hill, above the north shore of the lake and its Norman spires can be seen, above the treetops, from the lookout platform. But I am looking for birds, particularly spring migrants, and I am not disappointed. Out on the lake, amidst hundreds of Canada Geese, some of which are already on their nests, are a pair of Wood Ducks and three pairs of Ring-necked Ducks, swimming in circles, presumably as a prelude to mating. A few feet away from me is my first Song Sparrow of 2007. There are lots of the usual suspects out and about: Chickadees, Red-winged Blackbirds, Grackles, Starlings, Crows, a Red-tailed Hawk, Robins, some woodpeckers plus Black and Red Squirrels and one Cottontail Rabbit.
It was sunny and 18degreesC. today. In a few weeks, I'll be looking for the return of a pair of Ospreys (Fish Hawks, as oldtimers call them) over Lake Jonda. They nest on a very tall, large, metal light standard in the main Seneca parking lot, and do their fishing in the adjacent lake, which is full of Carp. In a few weeks, the Carp also will be thrashing about in the shallows of Lake Jonda, in response to the mating urge.
So plentiful and tame are the Carp, that my daughters, years ago when they were small children, would hand-feed scraps of bread and popcorn to the big fat fish from the shore of the lake...great fun! Below, left, are Wood Ducks and on the right is a Ring-necked Duck (Internet photos -not mine, unfortunately).
Well, I had a really nice day, today. I sincerely hope you did too.

Mar 23, 2007

Gotta love those nuns

Old friend and avid curler, 'Doc' Gordon told me an interesting story this week. He was at a curling tournament in beautiful, downtown Fergus a few days ago, sitting near three of his cronies, who just happened to be sitting directly behind three nuns. It seems the nuns' habits, particularly their headpieces, were partially blocking the view of Doc's buddies. Hoping that they'd get annoyed enough to move to another area, one the three fellows said, in a very loud voice: "I think I'm going to move up to northern Ontario...there are only 100 nuns living there". One of the other two guys quickly added: "I want to go to western Ontario...there are only 50 nuns living there". The third one jumped in with: " Well, I'm headed for eastern Ontario...there are only 25 nuns living there". At that point, one of the nuns turned around, looked at the men, and said in a very firm, calm voice: "Why don't you just go to Hell! There aren't any nuns there".
Maybe you've noticed my photo, to the right of this piece. I shaved off my beard this week. I could say it was spring-cleaning, or I lost a bet, or my wife hates beards, but actually, I had promised my wife recently that I would try to mend my wicked ways and to prove I was sincere, I shaved off my beard as an act of good faith. I only draw your attention to the new photo, so that if we bump into each other in the street, you won't mistake me for some panhandler looking for change.
Please comment if you wish.

Mar 21, 2007

Forward utterances...

" Global Warming not all bad for Canada"
March 21, 2017 - Stephen Harper (pictured above) celebrated his 10th anniversary as Canada's Prime Minister by attending a U.N. Canada/Kyoto Review Conference this week in Huntsville, Ontario. The conference was originally scheduled for Iqaluit, Nunavut, but the the territorial capital, on Baffin Island, is under 25 metres of polar melt-water. Speaking to reporters in Huntsville, which is now situated on the new southern coastline of Hudson Bay, Mr. Harper reiterated his government's bemusement with climate change and stated that "Global warming is not all bad for Canada". When pressed for details, the Prime Minister anounced that the latest figures show Canada's unemployment rate had reached zero percent for the first time in the country's 150-year history. He went on to explain that every last unemployed person in Canada was now on the federal payroll, after being conscripted to combat massive, nationwide coastal flooding. The only provinces not participating in this effort were P.E.I. and Newfoundland, which were both already completely submerged.
At one point, Mr. Harper, clad in protective gear, seemed to be overwhelmed by the sweltering 45C-degree, mid-March weather in the Muskoka resort town. He was revived with a cool drink by his staffers, who had helped him into the new Huntsville Global Warming Steakhouse & Beerhall, one of the latest franchise locations of the popular and rapidly expanding chain, owned by former Alberta Premier, Ralph Klein.
Revived, Mr. Harper announced his government's latest initiative, the Arctic Freshwater Left-Overs Program, will be renamed, after his Environment Minister, John Baird, complained that Canadians were insisting on referring to the program in its acronym form: A.F.L.O.P. The program is designed to divert Canadian Arctic melt-water to Arizona golf courses.
Later in the day, attempts were made to contact oppositions leaders for their reaction to the Prime Minister's pronouncements. Unfortunately, neither the NDP or Bloc leaders could be reached. Jack Layton was a guest of Hugo Chavez at a week-long beef barbecue in Venezuela and Gilles Duceppe was stomping grapes at Brian Mulroney's vineyard in grape hotspot, Chibougamau, Quebec. Liberal leader, Stephane Dion, was contacted but was only interested is telling reporters that he was legally changing his name to Steve Dion, in hopes of appealing to English-speaking voters who had for years been forgetting who he was.

Mar 20, 2007

Haiku for A.E.W-P. and N.M.W.

Rich beyond my dreams
Wealthy now and forever
With birds and flowers


Mar 16, 2007

The Wells Christening Gown

My new granddaughter Emondine Clare got to model her great-great-great grandmother Wells' christening gown recently and both she and her mother, Auralee, seemed pleased with the photo-shoot. The gown came from England in 1850 and has been used many times over the decades. This photo will go into the family history book I am writing.
I got lucky a short time ago when I discovered a branch of my wife's family that goes back 20 generations to the early 1400s. The ancient ancestor was named Richard Kingsnorth and he lived from 1434 to 1494. He was also known as Richard of Pluckley. Pluckley is a small village in Kent, England.
Now that I've almost finished my family history book, I've decided I should do some bonfide genealogy research so that I have some claim to credibility. I just hope the facts don't get in the way of a good story.