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Monday, 24 December 2012

The Magnificent Great Black Backed Gull

Sometimes, when we go out for a walk, just to get out and to see what may be seen, they start out being almost boring. I've learned from experience that they tend to never remain that way. This Sunday's walk proved to fall into that pattern too.

I had taken my daughter out shopping for some small gift items she wanted to get for friends and their family As we left the stores, it was sunny and real nice out. I was looking forward to a planned walk in the late afternoon. The weather changed a lot, quickly, and became overcast , windy and bitter compared to earlier, but we went out anyway. We decided just to go down to Halls Rd., our favourite place for a quick "get out for a bit" place.

There were barely any people there this time around. We walked down to the lookout over Cranberry Marsh - nothing. It was bitter enough that I was ready to just go home and get into a movie. The horizon looked interesting though, pinkish under the darks. So we thought we'd take a quick look at the shore and over the lake. As soon as I stepped out of the path onto the shore, there flew a large gull with dark backs of its wings. It was a great black backed gull. When you see them, you notice how much more magnificent and amazing they are, so much different than the regular gulls everyone is used to seeing like the common ring billed gull. We've only seen one once before and I had no camera with me and it was raining pretty hard. They are also huge gulls and seeing them swimming among the Canada Geese, gives a good idea of their size. We were lucky enough to see them in flight, an adult and a juvenile one. There was one ring billed gull with them as well. After watching them for about 15 mins, they decided that was it and off they flew.

On our way back up the path, we stopped to look at a bird that we spotted but do not know the name of. We thought maybe female Western Tanager but are not sure. It also looks like a large female Goldfinch, but I do not think it is. The large group of Cedar Waxwings were a surprise to see. They hung for a bit then flew off in their group. It was cute because one loner got left behind and flew off after about 30 secs after the large group, protesting about being left behind lol!

As we watched the waxwings, a family with 2 little girls came along. John had a few seeds left so as the group stopped near us and remarked about the birds, he asked if they had any seeds with them. They said no, that they had just stopped here on an impulse while on their way somewhere. We gave them the seeds and the 2 girls got to experience the chickadees land on their hands to take them. It was a nice feeling to see the family happy that they stopped because the girls enjoyed getting to feed the birds. It soon was so cold that they left and we all said Merry Christmas and headed back.

Lately, every time we drive back and forth past Lynde Shores area, we spot this small what looks like some sort of tiny bird of prey. I had thought when we headed out this day, that if I spotted it again I was going to stop this time and try to see if I could get a shot of it and see what it is finally. We did see it, but earlier in the drive and we saw 2 people out of their car on the side of the road, taking photos of it. I passed it and said if we see it on the way home, I'll stop. We got passed the spot we had seen the bird on the wire and the people stopped, so I figured it was gone. Then suddenly, there it was, partially in silhouette now though. We parked on the side of the road, opposite the side it was on, and walked down a bit. We then realized it had a mouse hung over the wire and was eating. Though the light wasn't the greatest, I managed to get some shots and realize it was a Kestrel. What a cool sighting! So this was what I was seeing all the time on our drives back and forth along that route lately. It was worth standing out freezing in the cold wind for :-)

What started out as a seemingly boring and  eventless outing, turned into yet again, a fun and exciting experience.

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