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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