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Friday, 22 June 2018

Glad I Found The Bird Man of Toronto

A couple of weeks ago, during one of my lunch time walks near where I work, I discovered an amazing wood crafter carving on the street corner. I discovered later, his name is Ross Ward, and he is known as The Bird Man of Toronto.

He carves these wonderful little primitive style wood birds on perches.

Walking back down Yonge Street, to turn on to Edward, at the corner there by a lunch place, which I believe is Panera's (they are good by the way!) I walked by this man sitting on the sidewalk, holding something, seemingly carving, 2 little birds sat on the ledge of the store's window.

I'm fairly shy with initiating conversations with strangers so though I was curious, I continued on (plus I only had 10 mins left). Something made me stop, I wanted to look closer, so I stopped, turned and walked back. I thought, he cannot see me as he is facing the other way so I'll look a little closer and leave if I wasn't comfortable. I looked, and indeed, he was carving a little piece of wood. I saw that they were birds, I was right. I love birds! My husband and I are both fairly avid hikers and bird watchers, though not expert nor super serious in any way, more a love nature and exercise and photography way.

I crouched down to ask him if he is always here, and he said not always, though he used to be, in the past. He gave me some locations where I could find him often. I memorized as best I could, said I only had a few minutes left for lunch and I would look for him another day. Back at work I thought, hey, there Has to be something online from somebody about this guy, and sure enough I did find some stuff as well as images too, from other buyers.

I so wished I had had money on me so I could have bought one of his little birds to take home that day, but alas, I rarely carry cash (who does nowadays I guess). So, I thought, I'll take a chance and look next day. Well, happily, he was there again. He probably took a chance I may come back. Plus, it was his old haunt he had mentioned.

So, now I own 2 of his sweet little birds and I look at them all the time at home, while I work on my own creative pursuits, and I feel so honoured and happy that I had chosen to go that route on a walk that day which allowed me the opportunity to discover this wonderful and genuine artisan here in our amazing city, Toronto!







Monday, 7 May 2018

Loon at Milliken Park This Spring!

It's been a while since I've posted anything new. Life's been pretty busy. There's work, and my painting, and my photography and design stuff, as well as lots of family and friends things going on.

I'll jump to the weird but exciting highlight of this Spring so far, bird wise. Not your everyday sighting to say the least. I've only seen one a couple times as a kid, and always at dusk, almost in silhouette, once canoeing with my Dad at Bon Echo Provincial Park, and maybe once at my kids' Dad's parents cottage one year. I don't even recall if I've heard one before. But, there was actually a Loon in the pond waters at Milliken Park a couple weeks ago!

We'd heard about people seeing it and we figured, hey, let's just venture up there and see, and if we don't see it, well, we will walk around and enjoy the park anyway. I will be honest, I did not expect to just park, get out of the car, walk over to the wooden walk way that sits on the parking lot side of the oval body of water, and look out and there the Loon would be floating around in the centre. But, lo and behold, that is exactly how it went down. I'm like, "no way, that's gotta be a cormorant!" when I spotted a low laying black bird in the water. As we got closer though, you could see the white markings. It was indeed the Loon, and he was hunting for crayfish. He dove and brought up about 3 or 4, then he must have gotten full, because he stopped sitting so low in the water, and started cleaning himself. He then floated around, and at one point he lay his head on his back and was resting.

We watched him for about an hour, talked to another person there for a bit, walked around the entire oval pond on the path, then we headed back to our car and home. I kept looking back at him, further and further away, I was reluctant to leave him as I knew I'd never see him again, nor likely, a Loon again, for a very long time, if ever.

Later, after we looked at the images I took, which weren't great, but at least we got to see him, we read that someone else mentioned they thought he had a fishing line caught in his beak. But, there wasn't, and I saw better images of someone else's, and he had no fishing line present. He was behaving normal, eating, cleaning, sleeping, content, so I feel confident he was fine, no harmful fishing hook and line in him. I did see a small piece of weed hanging from his mouth in a couple shots, and I believe the person who thought they saw the line, also had taken shots the same time as I did, so that is most likely what they spotted.

By now, he has probably headed further north, now that the water surfaces are not frozen over anymore.



























Sunday, 10 December 2017

Snowy Owl and Far Away Bald Eagle in Toronto!

It is very hard to believe that such creatures are able to be seen in Toronto, Ontario, but they are! Bald Eagles were not a sight that I recall one just being able to casually look up into the sky and see flying over head, and to remark, "hey, there's a bald eagle."

It actually went down more like this; "hey, what is that?" "what, where? Oh, I don''t know, let me look." "OMG, holy ^%$&, it's a Bald Eagle!" After looking through my lens, although the large dark bird was far away, it was quite easy to tell, after zooming up the image to look at it on my camera view that it was bald eagle! John and I remarked that possibly it is due to the fact that spraying pesticides was banned a few years back, that the eagles are happier here again, but I'm not an expert, nor am I an environmentalist.

We did quite the long walk down at the shores of Lake Ontario. Not only did I find a cool piece of purple sea glass on the shoreline, but we were thrilled to also see our first Snowy Owl that wasn't a tiny speck way out on the pier like the one we saw in 0212 at Whitby Harbour.

It was windy, it was cold, and my feet were sore, but it was definitely worth all that to be taken by sudden surprise as a female Snowy Owl soared right over our heads and floated around on the updraft a while before disappearing behind a line of trees. 

Later on we spotted a big white thing in the distance, sitting, and sure enough, as we followed along the path, we got closer to her and there she sat on an old dead piece of wood. She rested there for a bit, and we got to watch her from a bit of a distance. Eventually she lifted off and flew on. 

What a beautiful creature to behold.

I hope she will be able to find enough food if she remains around during the winter months. I hope she will be ok.

We did see some other creatures, Longtail Ducks, Trumpeter Swans which were most likely this past summer's babies, and Merganser Ducks, Gadwells, and Bufflehead Ducks. The light was dull but there were a lot of little gems to spot.





































































Sunday, 24 September 2017

Our Day Hike at Luther Marsh

On August 6th, we decided to do a long day hike at another area that we are not yet familiar with. John looked on the map and zeroed in on Luther Marsh Wildlife Management Area. Now, there is hunting allowed there, at certain times, but not on Sundays, but it was still a tiny bit anxiety filling because, well, you know as well as I do that not Everybody follows rules lol!

Luther Marsh is about 20 mins west of Orangeville, and Grand Valley. As we got closer, it was very easy to forget we were only about 50 mins to an hour outside of Toronto. There are lots of cute little towns and hamlets on the way, as well as farms, and really beautiful, mainly flat, terrain. We were just about there, on a dirt road, when we saw a large creature at the side of the road. It is the first time I had seen a porcupine, and he was a big guy! I got out to try to see if I could get a better look at him, he had his back to me, quills up and ready in case I touched him, and he slowly walked further away from me. I did not get a great look at his face. We moved on after a couple minutes, and 2 photos, to let him be and continue on his way.

When we pulled up to the parking lot, a group of people we had seen coming down the road from the opposite way, were just getting into the parking lot after we were out and ready to hike on. It was the craziest and coolest thing I'd ever seen. Along with the couple of dogs they had with them, was a Canada Goose! It walked along side one of the women, and it got a bit noisy when it fell slightly behind, and scurried a bit more to catch up. It's wing feathers stuck out permanently, so we assumed it had been injured at some point, and was now in the care of one or 2 of the people in the group. We did indeed learn this, that it had followed one of them home a couple years back, when it was still young, from their walk, and has been with them ever since. Quite the site!

bald eagle flying in Luther MarshThe hike is basically around the shores of a really huge marsh body of water. There are forest and wetland areas all throughout the area. It's quite gorgeous. We did get to see a great bird sighting, one a bald eagle, though quite a distance away, flying over the marsh  a few times, probably hunting. We also saw that there had been probably Osprey nests in an open field, but no sign of the Osprey.

There were a lot of cattails in the marsh, tons of gorgeous wild flowers. One draw back to this hike was that the deer flies were the worst that I have ever experienced anyway. There were at least 30 around us at all times. After a while we kind of just got used to them, though they were horrendous. We did get a few reprieves, one luckily was during our stop to eat our lunch, near a lookout tower. This is where we spotted the bald eagle flying.

After our hike, we stopped in Orangeville at a pub in town, The Foal Village Pub and we were thrilled with our dinners! The food was awesome, the staff was friendly and great, and we really liked the whole town too. During our meal, a woman with a little teacup Chihuahua stopped by the window and she posed the dog for a shot :-) There's an awesome tattoo shop in town with the most amazing interior decor! It was closed so we could only look in the window. There were a lot of little shops on the main street, we stopped into a couple. We got a little decorative iron bird in one.

This place, Luther Marsh, is definitely a must see. During Spring migration it is probably chalk full of birds, as well as Fall migration time, and the raptor time. We will make sure to get back there at some point another year for sure.

















monkey face tree at Luther MArsh












































green leopard frog at Luther Marsh


























































































cute teacup Chihuahua in Orangeville