All Images Are Copyright Protected

Please respect that any posted images are copyright protected. Please feel free to contact me directly for possible permission to use images from my blog.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Foggy Mornings - Worth Getting Up at the Crack of Dawn For

2 weekends in a row, even though I have to get up early every weekday morning, I've set my alarm so that we are able to get up and go out to catch the sunrise and fog at the marsh. Nothing like images of early morning sun and fog to start the day with :-) Hopes of catching the deer are always there too but no luck last couple of times.

However, the landscape is gorgeous enough. Both weekend mornings, we saw some really neat things down at the marsh. Tons of cranes and egrets in the marsh, swans flying, raptors, a marsh wren, juvi red winged black birds, humming birds, warblers, a weird what appeared to be a juvi pigeon with a green leg band, and lots of cool scenery and flowers with awesome light on them.

It is fun to begin the day by seeing such beautiful sights and creatures, feel the sun on our faces, breathe the crisp fresh air and afterwards enjoy a comforting coffee and poached eggs and bacon :-) breakfast.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Merlin - The Dragonfly Predator

We have now seen the beautiful Merlin 3 times on our walks. Looking at this bird's face up close one cannot help but feel "oh isn't it so cute!" and want to take one home lol! So, it is hard to recall that these fall into the birds of prey category. It was kind of cool to be reminded of this fact on one of our more recent walks at Thickson Woods. It was even more funny not discovering the gem image that I happened to get until I got home and looked at the images I had shot, on my computer. When I took the first shot, I had my shutter speed too slow having come off a shot that was not as lit just before I spotted the Merlin. The Merlin appeared quickly and landed on the branch of the dead tree where we've seen birds of prey in the past. I just shot without altering my settings in case he was going to be gone in a second. Well, he stayed for a bit, allowing me to adjust things quickly for the next few shots.

Well, these days, even really badly over exposed shots can sometimes be salvaged in Photoshop Elements and sometimes end up becoming quite artistically cool lol! In any case, the first shot I took, while correcting the exposure and removing the blue halo line around the Merlin, which in turn greyed the sky behind him, I suddenly noticed he had a honking dragonfly in his little talons. We had seen gigantic dragonflies during the walk and here was one, fallen prey, to the cute little Merlin I managed to get a few shots of before he took off obviously now, to eat his dinner in peace somewhere.

The rest of our walk proved to be quite exciting as well. We sometimes will go all along the walking path which winds around the water processing plant and over a bridge across a large marsh. We heard from passerbys that coyotes have been seen once in a while. On this particular occasion, a large "dog" ran through the woods just beside the bridge. I missed it but John watched run through and past us. Not sure if I am disappointed or glad I didn't see it. The next creature, which I spotted, was the resident huge snapping turtle. What an ancient looking thing He is. All in all, another cool and fun walk.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Juvi Black Capped Night Heron at Swans Marina

Little surprised to see this, and mistook it for an American Bittern, which in my mind is Totally impossible to hope to see at this busy marina. The reason we mistook it for an American Bittern is that someone had pointed one out to us at Cranberry Marsh and stated that it was an American Bittern. Apparently, also mentioned, the American Bittern and the juvenile Black Crowned Night Heron look very similar and are often confused one for the other. However, my gut instinct tells me that the American Bittern is a very furtive and often hides in tall reeds and grasses along marsh edges, not sitting out in the open on a rock or log or stump. Soooooooo, upon contemplating this sight most of the day and recollecting the time we had seen an American Bittern at Cranberry, I got to thinking......checked the old shots, and low and behold.......:-( highly doubted it was an American Bittern we saw previously, despite what the other person present stated. I am pretty sure the other sighting was also a juvi black crowned night heron. The reason I feel it had to be is that the black capped night heron grown ups are present and easily spotted there, and it flew into a tree after sitting on a rock for quite some time, right out in the open marsh. This seemed odd behaviour for a Bittern, after having done some research online as to their habits and such.

Ah well, still cool to have seen this little night heron so close at the marina in Pickering.

My Original American Bittern Post

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Exciting Opportunity - Juvi Red Tailed Hawk Sighting

Lately, we've been hearing through the birders' grapevine that birds of prey are migrating through Southern Ontario. Hawks and such were rarer sightings on our walks than other types of birds so we decided we'll keep an eye out on our walks at local conservation areas for them. One of our favourites is Thickson Woods. Though the south area is a bit over run with mosquitoes, the north area is a little more open and we tend to see animals and birds easier there due to the area not being so dense with tall trees. We see tons of bunnies there.

Last weekend, we went around 4pm, a great time for the light. We didn't see very much at first and it was boiling hot despite what we figured it'd be. We rounded a corner and there in the dead tree, on the branch, the same tree we had previously seen a Merlin in, was a red tailed hawk. I grabbed some pics but they were far back. Slowly, I crept closer, all the time expecting the little bugger to fly off, but he/she stayed. I got real close and was able to get almost 70 shots of the beautiful creature.

We learned later on that it was a juvenile red tail, which is probably why it had little fear of us standing not too far below it and watching it while it preened and looked around, spotted things, bobbed it's head, then magnificently few off after about a half hour after we discovered it.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hawks and Merlins at Thickson Woods

A couple of weekends ago, we dropped over to Thickson Woods again, for an evening walk. It began sort of a bit boringish, not much to see. Plenty to hear but we had no idea What we were hearing. We spotted a Flicker but I could not get a good enough shot of him because he remained in the thicker and distant trees.

Then, we headed over to the more open area of Thickson Woods and began seeing Red Starts in the trees. I got a shot of a female, but with much difficulty. It seemed most were females and we didn't know what they were until we discovered what I had photographed once we uploaded the images to the computer.

Things got more exciting when we rounded a corner to come upon what we thought was a small hawk perched on a branch of a dead tree. We learned that it was a Merlin. Such a cute bird! I called to it and it looked right into my eyes. Eventually, a Blue Jay bothered it by landing right near and the Merlin attacked and chased it off.

Heading out, we spotted quite a few bunnies. Also, we heard what we were sure was a hawk, which appeared above out heads in the sky. Coming out onto the roadway that heads down to Thickson Woods, we saw a couple on their bikes, looking up at something so we figured the hawk, which sounded close, must have landed on a pole. Sure enough, there he was, on the top of a hydro pole. It was a red tailed hawk. Got what a birder referred to as the "pooparazzi shot" lol!