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Nov 11, 2011

Gulls in the Salad Bowl

                                                                                                                                                                                  Photo by BarrytheBirder
Ring-billed Gulls reap their own harvest in the Holland Marsh (Ontario's Salad Bowl), near Andsnorveldt, as a market-garden farmer harrows, cultivates and discs the soft black soil, all in one pass.   It is a scene as old as the tilling of land, anywhere on this globe.   The special soil here is so light and manageable that ploughing is often not necessary.   The 20,000-acre marsh stretches from the Oak Ridges Moraine, in the south, to Lake Simcoe's Cook's Bay in the north.   In the coming months, the marsh will become somewhat of a cold, barren landscape and local birders will be on the lookout for Snowy Owls which over-winter here.   In certain years, seemingly unwary Great Grey Owls inhabit the scrubby edges of the marsh in winter, allowing birders to get very close.   A few years ago, on nearby Dufferin Street, I was near a group of birders who were getting a very good, close-up view of three or four Great Greys, when one of the big birds took off and flew straight at my head.   There were gasps and shouts as I ducked and the silent, beautiful creature passed just above me.
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