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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

Friday, 22 September 2017

Lots of Butterflies this Summer and Fall

A story in the CBC news today strongly related what my husband and I had noticed and talked about many times this year. We hike often, and we walk a lot, in conservation and park areas all year. We remarked often about one thing that was so different this year, then last, and from many other past years too.

Last summer, there were very very few wild flowers. We normally saw our waterfront paths and conservation areas bursting with Dames Rockets, Jewel Weed, Flox, Touch Me Nots, and a number of other beautiful wild flowers. These flowers serve as a food source for so many insects and birds.

This year, we've had tons of rain, last year, barely any and everything was so dry. We barely had mosquitoes last year either, which I guess can also be bad, though we think it's great. Hence, this year, an abundance of wild flowers again! Not great for all the flooding many areas suffered, but good for the flowers, therefore bees, wasps, humming birds and also, the Monarch Butterfly!

We hope this weekend to get out for what may be the last big weekend for butterflies and humming birds. My husband has even seen a lot of them right outside our condo, the Monarchs.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Our Short Trip to Algonquin Park

Early in the summer, after a fun camping trip with my kids to Sandbanks. on a whim, I booked 2 nights in Algonquin Park. We camped at Pog Lake and our site was really great, lovely, semi private, and we loved it.

First night, a Sunday, we got our tent set up by about 5:30pm. Went for a bit of a stroll just in a circle around where our site was. The next day, we planned a long hike at Mizzy Lake Trail, hoping to leave by about 8am. The sleep was so still, one of the best sleeps I've had camping. We double up 2 Queen air mattresses, in stead of buying a really expensive double thickness mattress. This way too, if we are camping with the kids, and someone's air mattress leaks, etc., there's a spare. Works too, in case one of out air mattresses were to get a leak, or break, not fill. Having 2 is a safety net.

We headed for Mizzy Lake Trail by 8:30ish, and began our hike by 9 or so. This trail is not for a new hiker, it is long, if one wants to do the whole thing. It is worth it. A lot of the really great scenery and such, the huge pond area with the lily pads and flowers, the shoreline landscape, and such, is more than half way through. We saw Canada Balsam trees. John showed me how when he was in his 20s and 30s, he got the balsam sap from the little puffed blisters on the trees, to mix with linseed oil and make the most beautiful medium for oil painting.

The trail, and we were warned, was quite mucky and had flooded areas, this year, as there had been a ton of rain in June. We did find out that this was very true. There was a lot of finding alternate ways past this sometimes large black boggy, mucky shallow pooled and drenched wet areas. Tree roots, semi dry edges, stones, logs, sticks, even lain thick fallen tree branches placed by others before us, all these innovative ways to traverse past the worst areas that we had to hope would work. None of the ground was even, and we did spend a lot of time looking at our steps and the ground, you had to. It was hard, but we managed.

There were so many varieties of fungi, like I'd never seen before. There were tons of coral like ones that literally littered the forest ground in some areas. here were very few birds or wild life. We did see a few toads and frogs, a couple different kinds. Unfortunately we did not spot any moose, and happily, no bears or wolves. There was a moment on the straight gravel path, about half way, that there was this horrible stench, and we suspected it had been a nearby or passing moose, since we do know they reek, and that is an area they are often seen. We did see lots of butterflies. The area near the large marsh, there were a lot of flags marking where turtles had buried eggs. It would be quite the site to see when they emerge and make their way to the water! There were very few mosquitoes, which was great.

On the trek, we ran into people from France and Germany. The German group helped us across one of the worst boggy areas, which was super awesome. The one guy in the group was funny.

Though, I caused the hike, which is 11.4 kms or so, to end up taking 8 1/2 hrs, as opposed to the 3 - 4 it should have. Too much stopping to look at things, and take photos. Not that all the crazy bog areas of the path that we really had to figure out how to get by, helped. By about 3/4 of the way I got a little upset, I was exhausted, my feet killed, and I was so sore form all the uneven stepping and climbing over things to keep going. The trail is marked, and certain points are numbered, so in the little booklet, we could judge how close we were to the end, the parking lot. Needless to say, we were tired, way past the hour we thought we'd be done, and filthy. We had hoped to go to Whitney for a dinner, as we did not bring any dinner food, but after getting back, showering, and then me losing my phone and having a fit, we ended up eating lunch stuff for dinner at our site. It was still nice, though I was upset that I had been dumb enough to leave my phone in the bathroom. We did, though, the next day, get it back from the park office. I had it with me mainly in case the kids needed to contact me about anything specifically, while I was away.

The day of leaving, we stopped at the art centre there, and we saw some wonderful work. It was teeming rain and we had packed up just in time, stuffing our tent all loose in the back of our car since it was coming down hard the last little bit. We went into Huntsville for lunch, on the way home, at Te Docks, which was great. The rain was so hard at times on Highway 60, we drove with hazards on, like the other cars, and we could barely see. Later on, we heard parts of the road were closed, lots of areas had power out, and that by Thursday, Huntsville had had the worst flooding and most rain they had had in decades. It was already becoming bad as we left Muskoka. Pick up trucks were boating through grill height water in one parking lot that was quickly becoming a shallow lake.

All in all, it was a great trip, good weather, not bad sleeping, lots of cool sights, gorgeous terrain, and a nice experience at the site.