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Jun 21, 2010

Summer Solstice Eve

Marylake ~ King City ~ Ontario

Marylake Shrine

Jun 20, 2010

A great grassland trail

Two or three times recently, I've walked the western half of the Oak Ridges Corrider Park Trail, in north Richmond Hill, Ontario, and found dozens of Bobolinks. It's great to see so many, given that they are a threatened species, due to habitat loss. The western part of trail that I have been walking runs between Yonge Street and Bathurst Street, about a kilometre south of the King Road, or a kilometre north of the Jefferson Sideroad. The east entrance is at the pedestrian traffic lights, on Yonge Street, at Bond Lake, while the west entrance is on the south side of the Bathurst Glen Golf Club clubhouse, about a hundred metres in off Bathurst Steet. In addition to Bobolinks, I've found Savannah and Song Sparrows, Brown Thrasher, House Wren, Tree Swallow, Baltimore Oriole, Indigo Bunting, Eastern Kingbird, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, and Great Blue Heron. This is an easy-walking trail and very satisfying for people looking for the birds. You don't even need binoculars to get a good look at the Bobolinks. You can also easily hear their unique burbling, gurgling, trilling song. BtheB

Savannah Sparrow

Midland Painted Turtle

Western trailhead of the Oak Ridges Corrider Park

Jun 16, 2010

Madame La Pew has given birth

I took this picture of Madame La Pew (as my wife has named her) this morning as she headed back to the safety of her den, under our garden shed. She usually makes her appearances between dusk and dawn, thus our paths don't often cross. Today she was lingering well after sunrise and was eating everything in sight. The reason for her increased hunger is the presence, we think, of a half dozen or so new baby skunks in her den. We had watched her getting bigger and bigger or the last several weeks and suddenly one night, a week or so ago, around midnight, there was an unmistakable gas attack outside the open bedroom windows.
We shut the windows immediately and decided the moment had arrived and the smell was a by-product of giving birth. We've been through this in other years and in a month or so, mum will appear one evening with the whole clan, in tow, and lead the juveniles on a jaunt around the neighbourhood. She will give them all the slip along the way and come home alone. Her children will have been given the heave-ho and they will have to find their own way in the world, henceforth. Linda and I were thrilled to watch one of these departures, a few years ago, when seven skunks, in a tight pack undulated across the backyard like a black and white patchwork quilt. There was no sound ... just a rippling, mirage-like huddle of skunks floating across the grass, in dusk's half-light.
Please comment if you wish. BtheB

Jun 11, 2010

You know you're in the country when...

One of my sisters has just made the move from the oil boomtown of Calgary to a small rural setting in Prince Edward Island. She is surrounded by boxes in a lovely old house near Vernon River and has the following to say, in her first email from the red isle:"You know you're back in the country when you are up to your knees in red mud and actually wearing the Wellies you bought in Ireland because you thought you were cool. You know you are back in the country when the man in front of you in line at the Tim's window is on a tractor, and you are definitely in the country when you open your old-fashioned mailbox and a bird flies out and you discover mail is crammed against two large birds' nests. Sounds very bucolic, to me, and I would switch for it immediately, to keep from being anywhere near the insanity of the G20 in Toronto. Best wishes, sis'.

Jun 10, 2010

Photographic Reminders

One of my daughters is moving soon, to another part of the country. She wanted to have some photos of the place where she has been teaching for the last few years, as reminders of the wonderful natural setting in which she had so many pleasant walks. The place is the King Campus of Seneca College. Here are a few of many pictures I have passed on to her. They include, Eaton Hall Conference Centre, one of two Ospreys nesting at Seneca, a spawning carp, another unidentified fish in the dragonfly pond, an Eastern Kingbird, and the bones and firepit of a replica sweat lodge. I'm sure she'll miss this place.


Jun 7, 2010

Wine recommendation of the week

This is yours truly tasting some wine in my vineyard (LOL). Actually I'm on the back porch and it's a KWV Chenin Blanc 2009 from South Africa. It describes itself as : " off-dry white wine, fresh and fruity with tropical and apple flavours." It tastes very nice, I must say. The best part? It's $7.95 for 750 ml. at the liquor store - an incredible value. This is my new, summer, white house wine. This is one to keep well-chilled. If your glass sits too long, you'll need to refill it often, to keep it at the perfectly cool temperature. Just don't tell anyone it was me who encouraged you to keep topping it up. Thanks to my friend, Pieter, for putting me on to this delightful sipper.
Cheers, BtheB

Bears in the Mulmur Triangle

My friend, Pieter Thoenes, reports that his daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter came across a Black Bear and her cub, in the middle of the intersection of 15th Sideroad and 4th Line E., in Mulmer Township this past Saturday. The two healthy-looking critters ran off behind someone's house nearby. I was greatly surprised by this. I knew that Black Bears were now reaching further south into southern Ontario each year, but hadn't realized they had made a right turn at Barrie and were now to be seen in the beautiful Mulmur Hills. Mulmer Township lies pretty much inside a triangle of land delineated by the towns of Alliston, Shelburne and Creemore. The sighting was about 5 kms. from the Bruce Trail, at Horning's Mills, so heads up and keep yours wits about you if you're hiking up that way.

Jun 1, 2010

Chimney Swifts & Bobolink

It was good to see a few Chimney Swifts flittering over the house on several evenings this past week. I also spotted my first Bobolink of the year, in an abandoned cow pasture, a couple of days ago. Both sightings were heartening because: 1. Chimney Swifts are a threatened species in Ontario, due to reduced food supply (pesticides) and reduced nesting spots (chimneys); and 2. Bobolinks are in rapid decline in both South and North American due primarily to habitat loss (upland grass fields). Both of these birds are special to see and hear. The Chimney Swift, because of its shape, is nicknamed the Flying Cigar. The Bobolink's burbling song reminds me of being a kid and spinning the station-selector dial on old radios which created a musical mish-mash of sounds that resembled the Bobolink, in full voice. Here's hoping these birds don't become extirpated in Ontario - in my lifetime, anyway.