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May 30, 2011

Is nothing sacred?

Here's a pretty King Township scene on Bathrust Street, on the edge of the Town of Aurora, that I always liked seeing, until today.   An old barn foundation, wreathed by willows and lilacs, has been defaced with graffiti.   Isn't this urban guerrilla art supposed to be in run-down urban areas, on walls, poles, fences and hoardings, etc., etc.   It really jars my sensibilities to see it glaring out from such a tranquil bit of greenery.   Don't get me wrong.   I believe there's a time and place for everything.   I am drawn (no pun intended) to artistic, provocative and well-drawn graffiti.   And I think it is much enhanced in a gritty, dark, slightly scary and normally inaccessible place.   Bathurst Street, in downtown Toronto, around Toronto Western Hospital say, may come close, but not Bathurst Street overlooking the green ridges of King.   Keep it in Aurora, taggers, or what about keeping it green?
Please comment if you wish.

May 29, 2011

Kayaks lead me astray

This morning I was on my way to explore a nearby nature area that I had never visited before: the Jefferson Forest.   On my way, I drove past Sunset Beach on Lake Wilcox, at Oak Ridges.   The Richmond Hill Canoe Club was hosting a race day and there were hundreds of participants and spectators on hand for the event.   I'd never seen this annual race meet before so decided I would watch for a while.   For starters, everyone was incredibly fit.   There were 13 and 14-year-olds, male and female, who all had shoulders twice as broad as mine.   The young lady below had a handy lead in a one-mile sprint.       (BarrytheBirder photos)
My overall opinion was that this event was highly competitive, colourful and social.   There was excitement in the air and great camaraderie everywhere.   It was impressive to see so many fit young people.   I was so enjoyably diverted by the kayaks, I never did get to the Jefferson Forest.   But that's what tomorrows are for, right?

May 28, 2011

When is too much rain?

Is it when the Lilac blooms are a month late?   When the septic tank is overflowing?   When the colour green is hypnotizing?   Talk about mixed  feelings.   Everything outside is so lush, but inside we're afraid to flush.   There's no need to go tramping about the countryside for photos, just step outside and capture the beauty.   Below are shots from our backyard.   We are lucky, indeed!

Please comment if you wish.

May 27, 2011


Yesterday I noticed the list of 17 followers of my blog had disappeared from their spot at the upper right-hand side of this space.   I waited a few hours but the list did not return.   I googled the problem and discovered this has happened  to many other bloggers, for quite some time.   I want to assure my followers that I have not deleted you...God forbid!  
I am trying to resolve this problem and hope my followers will continue to comment on the things that appear in this blogspot.   Technology is wonderful, but woe is me because I still haven't figured out how paper clips work.   BtheB 

Spring settles in at Bell's Lake

A little over 50 years ago, Bell's Lake, was one of the favourite swimming holes and fishing spots for a few friends and me.   We either hitch-hiked, biked or were driven by parents where we would spend summer afternoons that linger in the memory still.  Back then, we would just pull off to the side of road, set up a picnic under the willows and enjoy.   Today, there is more and faster traffic, and access is blocked by roadside guard-rails.   Now, it's hazardous to stop at the spot pictured above and very few do it.   Whenever I drive by, I always recall those good old days.   Bell's Lake is on the east side of Hwy. 27, about half-way between Nobleton and Schomberg.   In the late 1800s, Bell's Lake was known as Kingsville and just north of Kingsville was Linton.   Both were thriving hamlets 160 years ago.   Today, virtually nothing exists of those historic communities, except their names and the earth on which they stood.   Luckily, there is written history of these historic and memorable spots available.   Please comment if you wish.
BtheB                                                                                                                 Photo by BarrytheBirder

May 26, 2011

Kingbirds in King Township

MMMMMMEastern KingbirdMMMMMM
Tyrannus tyrannus

What kind of a King Township birdwatcher would  I be, if I didn't include an occassional Eastern Kingbird in my blog?   These two views of the same bird were taken at the cemetery between Schomberg and Lloydtown.   Don't you love its latin name: Tyrannus tyrannus?   I hope that one day in the future I will be be able to show the front of a Kingbird.   Please comment if you wish.

May 25, 2011

Bucolic history ~ glowing future

   I'd like some of both, thank you very much.

As I wandered about today, I noted how quickly 21st century King Township is changing.   Visions of our bucolic past still exist but jar with the the changes being brought about by residential and infrastructure development.   As seen above, cow pastures still exist on Jane Street.   Fishing spots, such as the extreme northern end of Bathurst Street are still to be found, and new generations of Wood Ducks can be seen on the edge of the village of King City.   Below, the future intrudes.   A huge, gas-fired peaker electricity plant is under construction at the hamlet of Ansnorveldt, on the edge of the Holland Marsh.   Below that, King City's first multi-story apartment building is under construction, just a few hundred metres from the City of Vaughan, to the south.   Are the powers-that-be confident that we are creating a utopia, just north of the Toronto metropolis?   I bloody-well hope so.   Tar and feathers are still cheap and readily available.

Please comment if you wish.

May 24, 2011

Pine Farms Orchard

I believe an apple orchard, in blossom, is our reward for a winter of forebearance.   One of my favourite places to see a spring apple orchard is at Pine Farms Orchard, on King Township's 16th Sideroad between Jane and Keele Streets.   This 50-year-old orchard was planted on a beautiful rolling landscape and features row after row of minature apple trees, over many acres..                             (All photos by BarrytheBirder)  

I am always on the look-out for birds and its pretty hard to miss these two showy ducks at Pine Farms.   The one in the foreground is named 'Elvis' and the other is named 'Costello'.   I believe these are pied-coloured Muscovy Ducks.   If Wikipedia is to believed, and I quote verbatim here: "Male Muscovy Ducks have spiralled penises which can become erect to 20 cm in one third of a second.   Females have cloacas that spiral in the opposite direction to try and limit forced copulation by males".  Migawd! This can't be right, can it?   Wikpedia must have it wrong?   20 cm!   Spiral?!?   Well, on to more mundane matters, perhaps.  
Here's a sign (left) that caught my eye.   Each row in the orchard is labelled with the variety of apple with which it is planted.   I'd never heard of a Ginger Gold Apple.   Back to Wikipedia for the low-down.   This apple variety came into being as a result of Hurricane Camille in 1969 as it struck the orchards of Clyde and Frances 'Ginger' Harvey.   The parental cross of the apple is Golden Delicious and Abermarle Pippen.   Frances Harvey's nickname 'Ginger' became part of the official name in 1980s.   You, dear reader, can go to Google and read about the hurricane's part. 
I saw Bluebirds, Indigo Buntings, Phoebes (above) but had a devil of a time getting close-up pictures.   Oh well, a good excuse to return on an other occasion.   Besides, I love their quiche in the cidar house cafe.  
Please comment if you wish.

May 23, 2011

Osprey shares nest with sparrow

I stopped by the Osprey nest at the King Campus Seneca College to check on the big birds and their nesting success.  I caught up with them just as they were making a switch.   One landed and hunkered down on what I assume are eggs, while the other took off on a hunting foray.   As I circled the light standard in the parking lot, I noticed what I thought was a sparrow flying up underneath the light and into the bottom of the Osprey nest.   When I got home and downloaded the picture, lo and behold, a sparrow was in the picture.   The Osprey and the sparrow seem like unlikely duplex dwellers, but then Ospreys eat fish, not other birds.   Below is a section of the long and lovely, willow-fringed outflow from Lake Jonda at Seneca, which flows south, and crosses King's 15th Sideroad, before joined the East Humber River.

   Please comment if you wish.                                                                                    BarrytheBirder photos

May 22, 2011

Bank Swallows take possession

Riparia riparia
If you look at the second photo in the blog below, you will see a subdivision in an early stage of development.   On the left of the photo is a very tall berm of earth created by the developers.   At its top, three pairs of Bank Swallows have burrowed nest cavities and taken up occupancy.   I believe this makes them the first official residents of this new section of King City.   There new home will only last one season, I fear.   And I betcha they didn't have occupancy permits.   Please comment if you wish. 

Welcome to King City Nova

The VILLAGE NORTH                                                                                       
All photos by BarrytheBirder
King City is about 200 years old.   Before is became King City it was called Springhill.   Before that it was  a spot on a map at the intersection of the 4th Concession and the 14th Sideroad of King Township.    In the grand scheme of things, not much has ever happened in King City.   Despite its close proximity to a world-class city like Toronto and its 200 years of existence, there are only about 5,000 people living here.   Over the years the village did change however.   In the early 1800s, King City saw tens of thousands of acres of forest cut down to make way for tens of thousands of acres of farmland.   In the second half of the 1800s, the arrival of steam trains changed the village forever.   In the early 1900s, electricity, gasoline engines and more modern mechanization and communication changed the village forever.   At the start of the second half of the 1900s, subdivision housing changed the face of King City forever.   Midway through the second half of the 1900s, the village was "raped", when regional governement forced 4-lane commuter traffic through King City's main thoroughfares.   Hundreds of magnificent Maple Trees (many of them a century old) were destroyed.   Oldtimers, and many not-so-old, thought the old King City was lost forever.   At the end of the century and now into the 2000s, King City is no longer in run by local citizens and  politicians.   Our developement fate, or lack thereof, is know in the hands of regional and provincial politicians and technocrats.   This means the King City is about to double its size and poplulation, which will happen, in a comparative historical sense, in the blink of an eye.   King City will change forever.   Some will loathe the change, others will welcome it.   All will witness it  and learn to live with it, as long as they remain here.   Sadly, some have already left.   It is the way of the world.   I will fondly remember the old King City and do my best, to make the best, of King City Nova.
Please comment if you wish.

May 21, 2011

Cawthra Mulock Nature Preserve ~ lots of birds

MMMFemale Baltimore OrioleMMM
Icterus galbula
This female Baltimore Oriole was feeding on seeds and worms (see top photo) at the Cawthra Mulock Nature Reserve today, in northern King Township.   The preserve is 268 acres and runs between Bathurst and Dufferin Streets, just south of the hamlet of Ansnorveldt in the Holland Marsh.   The preserve has a great diversity of habitats, so many species of birds are to be found in the forests, meadows and wetlands. 
 Halfway along the trail route is the crumbled foundation of an old farmstead, featuring an uncommon square concrete silo, attached at the north-west corner.   The silo is empty of course, but there are two, slender, tall trees growing inside it which stick out quite noticably from the top.  
Being farmland prior to becoming a nature preserve, Cawthra Mulock's meadows are spotted with old, wild apple trees.   They are in bloom right now and the pink and white blossoms abound.....beautiful to behold.
Please comment if you wish.

May 20, 2011

After a week of rain...

                                                                                                                                                                     Photo by BarrytheBirder
Avoid what is evil
Do what is good
Purify the mind
This is the teaching of the awakened one (Bhudda)
 ~ ~ Pindar - The Pali Canon

Sounds good to me, especially if I can execute these commandments in the garden, in bright sunshine.
Please comment if you wish.

May 19, 2011

A day in May at Cold Creek

TTTTennessee WarblerTTT
Vermivora peregrina
I visited Cold Creek Conservation Area, in King Township, today.   So did about 100 school kids keenly involved in natural science studies.   I tried to to steer clear of them but they were in the good spots so I had to settle for what nature felt I deserved.   One uncommon bird sighting was the male Tennessee Warbler above.   A bit nondescript but identifiable by the white eyebrow strip, black eyeline,  gray head and contrasting greenish back.   I also spotted a Chestnut-sided Warbler.   Its photo is below and I apologize for the poor quality shot, but its characteristic markings, yellow cap, partial black mask and chestnut sides, are still readily identifiable even in a poor photo.

There were lots of Tree Swallows nesting in boxes at Cold Creek today, but I didn't see one Bluebird; not in the fields or trees or boxes.   There have been Bluebirds here for several years and I am hoping I was just unlucky today.   I know that some of the many boxes at Cold Creek were re-positioned in the last year and moved back from the high-human-traffic areas.   Bluebirds prefer open areas and short grass and may have been unwittingly discriminated against here.

Turtles at the Cold Creek Small Pond
Cold Creek's new wetlands pond ~ maturing nicely

    I hope wherever you are, you have a Cold Creek equivalent and are eagerly soaking up Nature's beauty.
    Please comment if you wish.
    BtheB                                                                                                                                             All photos by BarrytheBirder