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Tuesday, 29 January 2013

A Couple Colder Walks - A.K.A. "Killer Squirrel"

Had probably what was probably one of my most hectic work weeks in a while, which crazily enough, was exhilarating in many ways, and also did something positive for me - it kick started me into a much needed drive to really crack down on my eating habits during the day. My boyfriend is extremely healthy and although I have tended to follow in his footsteps somewhat, I refuse to give up a few little things I love but that maybe are not so great for one (we bloody well live once). So, I was Sooo looking forward to this past weekend and getting out for a walk or 2. Walking in our local conservation areas and being excited and awestruck by the creatures and plant life we share this world with, at the same time Definitely respecting our surroundings and its inhabitants, is our leisure time together and we love it and look forward to it. We also sometimes run into some interesting and enjoyable people. Summer is better because not only do we get weekend walks, we get evening walks if we so choose too :-) This is our "vacation", our "getaway" and it all is so very close. The Durham Region is lucky to be privileged with containing some of Ontario's most important wonderful wetlands, marshland, and conservation areas.

The last little while, it has been closer to -7 to -17 and I'm not a big fan of winter to begin with, even as a kid, and often had to be forced to go out in it. But, the walks are so enjoyable that cold weather and wearing tons of crap to stay warm doesn't deter me anymore.

We visited Halls rd. a couple times and we also did the Thickson Woods walk this past weekend, going the whole long path to the east of the woods, all the way to the lake shore.  Just at the end of this long walk, before we got back to Thickson Woods, we heard the unmistakable prehistoric sounding call of a raven, then saw 2 of them fly right over our heads. I was too slow to take a photo though lol! I regret I didn't as the light coming through their wings was gorgeous.

On our recent treks, we saw the usual chickadees, tree sparrows, blue jays, downies, juncos, and geese, swans (both Mute and Trumpeters) and ducks. However, we did see Lesser Scaups - a new duck to us. We also were lucky to see American Kestrels and Red Tailed Hawks on our most recent outing. The Kestrels were sitting in a tree, a boy and girl one. We stood very still and watched them, from fairly far back. One went for something on the ground then onto a nearby roof of an industrial building where it sat on a corner of the roof. The other shortly followed, and sat on the adjacent corner. Later on walking back to our car, we spotted the girl one, eating a mouse on the hydro lines that run parallel to the sidewalk. We watched her for a while, not wanting to walk past her and scare her off her prey. Once done she left. I got a couple memories of her to take home.

On our long walk starting from Thickson Woods, we saw a coyote as we neared the lake, which was a bit scary. We also had seen clumps of fur stuck in low bushes, in Thickson Woods on the pasture side. It had to have been coyote fur that had caught as one walked among the low bushes. It felt like steel wool. There were zillions of rabbit tracks everywhere and every once in a while you'd see evidence of a scuffle in the snow, with skid marks and churned up grass and dirt - maybe an owl or hawk going after a rabbit - the tracks would abruptly end at this scuffle.

The squirrels were acting quite crazy, particularly the red squirrel we tend to see on the bird feeding path we often walk along, usually feeding the chickadees and nut hatch. On this particular past Saturday, one person was putting out piles of bird seed on the path. The sparrows and chickadees and juncos were eating in groups, only to be scared off by mourning doves. The red squirrel would come out of the edge of the path, check out the doves at the food then sprint along the snow and jump at the doves, attacking them off the food. It happened 2-3 times and I decided the next time it happens, I'll try to get a shot. Luckily there was only one dove which made it easier, plus just dumb luck at getting the right moment captured. I tend to usually be faster than my shutter and am often disappointed that although I pushed the shutter release as things occur, my resulting image ends up being a second After the actual action or moment I was trying for. But this time, I was thrilled to see I had captured the incident pretty well lol!

When we got home, I fed the 5 stray cats that hang next door - which were all fixed by a kind soul who resides on the same street.

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