Saturday, April 06, 2013

Care to Take a Walk?

This afternoon I asked a reluctant husband to walk with me at Cranberry Marsh.  This is alongside Lake Ontario ... so it was windy and COLD!  The wind was whipping up white caps on the lake.  On the left of this bar of land is the marsh.

 
Lots of migrating birds like stop at this marsh for a rest, such as these beautiful mute swans.
 
 
There are always a few pairs of nesting wild swans on this marsh and an adjacent marsh.
 
 
Such graceful, proud birds.
 
 
Flying overheard was an osprey.  My husband didn't believe me, but I'll show him this picture as proof.
 
 
Ospreys are fishing hawks and will dive down into the water for fish.  They have distinctive angular wings and clear markings under their wings.  They'll hover over the water before they dive.    We didn't see any fish down in the water, but there were these cute little bufflehead ducks zooming around the marsh.  Isn't he just the cutest thing?
 
 
These ducks can really motor along ... I'd love to see their feet in action from underwater.  Just look at the wake this little guy leaves behind him as he speeds across the water!
 
 
Here is a pair of bufflehead ducks.  The male is the black & white, and the female is the brown.  An interesting fact about these ducks is that they nest in abandoned woodpecker holes!
 
 
And in particular, the flicker's hole, which is a common woodpecker in this area (didn't see any today though)
 
 
But I did see this little downy woodpecker.  If you stand outside long enough with a handful of sunflower seeds on your outstretched palm, woodpeckers will actually come to your hand.  It takes a lot of patience to win over their trust.  Chickadees will do the same (and a lot quicker!), as will nuthatches.  I know this because I used to do this as a kid :)
 
 
My favourite thing to look for in spring are the returning birds.  I'm particularly happy to see the redwing blackbirds return with their sharp cries and bright red epaulets.
 
 
When I was growing up, the redwing blackbirds would roost in an old maple tree alongside our driveway.  The tree would be completely black with the birds, and the raucous chorus of these birds on a spring evening just set your heart to singing.  The hands-down all-time best sound of spring!
 
 
I was a bit disappointed at seeing only a few blackbirds at the marsh today ... I went down specifically to see and hear them.  I have a few in my backyard too, which I lure in with lots of wild bird seeds.
 
 
Blackbirds are aggressive defenders of their nests and will attack you if you even look at them the wrong way when you're near their nest.  We were once canoeing in a marsh and I was getting some great shots of a blackbird in a branch above us, when he suddenly swooped down and started attacking us!  Whoops!  We had to struggle to get the canoe moving through that murky marsh water, but it did make us laugh.
 
And here is the obligatory Canada goose ... preparing a lovely nest just a short distance from shore.  The female was plucking out her downy feathers here with which to line the nest.  Although Canada geese get a sort of bad rap in towns (especially since thousands of them no longer migrate, and 'pollute' the parks along the lakeshores), they do have their merits.
 
 

For instance, they mate for life.  If a goose's mate dies, the surviving goose will never mate again.  I'm not sure how this is proven, but there you go.  And they're very good parents in caring and protecting their young ... another bird you don't want to be near when they are caring for their brood!
 
And I personally think they're an attractive looking goose, especially when they're flying in V-formation with all their white petticoats fluttering on their bottoms ;)

 
So once my fingers were fairly numb from the icy wind, we walked back inland a bit and took a stroll along a gravel path.  This area used to be farmland, and there are some ancient apple trees in an old orchard alongside the path.
 
 
Such a pretty spot ... and the colours of spring are starting to glow ...
 
 
We were surprised to turn around and see A VIEW!  We're right down at the lake here, but it seems we were on a bit of a rise as we could see off in the distance a portion of the Oak Ridges Moraine (the blue ridge in the background).
 
 
Here is an old disused silo from the original farm. 
 
 
 
 I'd hate to see this area destroyed, but houses have been built up all around now.  It seems no one has any desire to preserve this pretty area.  This marsh used to be Ontario's largest wetland, but we've allowed it to be dug under and houses built on top of a large portion of it.
 
 
A teeny tiny woods amongst the fields ...
 
 
Looking out towards Lake Ontario.   Whoever originally homesteaded this area for farming picked a great location.  This farm must've been teeming with wildlife in it's glory days, and the farming would've been very productive.
 
 
And that's it!  I hope you enjoyed your walk with me, and I'm sorry it was so cold!  Hopefully things will warm up a bit this coming week.


Thanks for stopping by!
 
Wendy

28 comments:

  1. Certainly quite different from the walk Sam and I took yesterday. Thanks for taking us along. I do love seeing all the wildlife. And it totally peeves me that people complain about wildlife making messes -- hmmm... who was there first? Who is doing what they've always done while man has moved in to their territory? So sad that the wetlands cannot be maintained. We are losing so much due to new construction while there are parts of towns left to ruin. Just doesn't make much sense to me. Progress is only progress if there is improvement and respect for the surrounding area. I loved seeing that duck motoring along -- wow! He is fast! Sending warm wishes, Tammy

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    1. I agree Tammy, I find it very disheartening to see construction companies win over the small bands of people trying to preserve these spots. Money talks, and I think that's what it all comes down to. So many farms in this area are no longer operational ... selling out to huge housing developments, which makes me wonder where our food will be shipped from when we're to stupid to grow it ourselves. The soil in this area is prime farming soil brought in from the Ice Age, but it's disappearing at an alarming rate.

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  2. ~ WOW what a wonderful walk and with such great photography, Wendy! Although I could still feel that winter lingers with you! Interesting about the geese partnering up for life...Like Swans also do! I wonder have you watched the movie, 'Fly Away home'? ....Taken from a true story. Your photographs reminded me of this, as the children loved this movie, when they were small.Have a super Sunday Wendy...Enjoyed this post as always...Maria :)

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    1. Hi Maria, We're getting more of a feeling of spring actually now ... just a biting wind (it's always windy in the springtime), and the wind off the lake is always chilly! I have heard of the movie, but have never watched it. I know the man lured the geese along to continue their migration. It's odd why so many of them no longer migrate ... some people say it's global warming, some say it's the fact that the geese were fed here during the winters and stayed. Who knows, but more and more of them stay year round. Feeding them now is highly discouraged by the authorities.

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  3. What a lovely place to go walking Wendy. Loved all the bird pics and info.......it's interesting seeing what wildlife other bloggers have in their neighbourhood.
    Shame up the urban sprawl swallowing up such special places. Hopefully it won't all be built up.
    Have a great week,

    Claire x

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    1. I find it interesting to see natural areas and wildlife in other parts of the world too. When you grow up in a place all your life, you take a lot for granted and assume EVEYONE knows that a marsh looks like this, and the woods look like that. But it really is so much more diversified and I like to share what I see in our area. I hope this marsh doesn't get any smaller too ... it would be a real shame to lose it.

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  4. That was a lovely wander, thanks for taking us along with you. Hope it warms up soon!
    Happy Sunday
    Xx

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it Gilly ... Have a great Sunday!

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  5. Thanks for taking us for a walk with you where you live :) I loved the bird photos and info. Great post as always, Wendy!
    Enjoy your Sunday :)

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    1. Thanks Hilde, I'm glad you enjoyed the shots :) Happy Sunday to you!

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  6. Absolutely gorgeous bird photos Wendy!
    Happy Sunday to you! Stay warm, xxo

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    1. Thanks Sarah Jane ... I love taking photos of the birds :)

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  7. Lovely photos! What a beautiful place......it will warm up soon, our temperatures are up a few degrees at the moment and its making such a difference! :) x

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    1. Thanks Ada, It's a marsh where I haven't walked for many years, sort of forget about it as we go to an adjacent marsh that is bigger. But I'll definitely be going back again to enjoy it on a warmer day ;)

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  8. what a gorgeous walk! thanks so much for taking us along

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    1. Thanks Kathy, I'm glad you enjoyed coming along ;) I thought of you as I took some of the bird photos as I know you're very much interested in the birds in your area too. Have a great Sunday!

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  9. Love the pictures. Nature really is beautiful and the Red winged blackbird is gorgeous!

    -Birgitta

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    1. Thanks Birgitta! I love those blackbirds too!

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  10. What a wonderful walk...except for the cold...with so many great things to see. I've never seen bufflehead ducks before. Wow! And, we don't have swans around here. That would be awesome to see. I've never seen a cranberry marsh either. Enjoy your Sunday!

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    1. I'd like to go back down to the marsh regularly now to see what else I can find :) I don't know if there are any cranberries on this marsh, it's just the name of it. There is a cranberry marsh a bit north of us that someone told me is a great place to visit with cranberry wine tasting included in a tour! It sounds like a good day trip to me ;)

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  11. You took some great shots of all of those gorgeous birds. What lens were you using on your camera?

    We are having storm this weekend too, which is a big change from the seventy degree weather we had last weekend. Just wind and rain ~ no snow.

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    1. Thanks Stacy. I have a Canon EOS camera, and for these photos I used my zoom lens (EF-S 55-250mm). The birds were pretty tiny in the photos, but when I cropped them they came up nicely. I think I had the smallest lens at the marsh ... EVERYone had such enormous lenses on their fancy cameras, some were even camouflaged! The birds were in constant motion so it was tricky to get a good shot. Hope your weather brightens up this week :)

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  12. Definitely worth facing the cold for that. You took some fantastic shots. Gorgeous!

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    1. I love taking photos, and I find it a great challenge to get birds and other wildlife. Thanks for stopping in and leaving me a nice comment :)

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  13. Gorgeous photos and only Mother Nature is perfect! :o) We have tons of Canada Geese here and they stay for the Winter. I love it when traffic has to stop for the parents ushering their young across the road. Makes me smile every time. They are never in a hurry to cross either.

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    1. Ha! I know what you mean, we have a pond close to us and the geese are always scattered across the road alongside the pond. Depending on their mood, they'll often just stand there honking back at the cars. I'm glad they move for me when I'm walking with the dog, but they let you know they're moving reluctantly.

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