Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday's Critters at the Marsh

Last weekend I dragged my reluctant husband down to the marsh alongside Lake Ontario. I wanted to check out what birds were wintering there during this extremely cold winter. I could have gone by myself, but don't you think it's just nicer to share these little experiences? We were a bit disappointed at the lack of birds, but one little guy was attracting lots of attention.

An adorable Saw Whet Owl.
He kept one eye open while listening to the cameras click.

There was a group of men standing with their cameras on tripods, and in full camouflage winter gear. But for all of their camo, they stood about ten feet from the little owl and chatted away. I guess they were waiting for the owl's next pose, but he was being very still. I waited a couple of minutes to admire, and then took this shot. 

Not much different. 
We didn't want to stand there any longer and continued along the short trail. 

The chickadees found us before we found them. We hadn't brought any seeds, but grabbed a few off the ground to entice them to our hands and got a few cute shots.

You've got to be quick photographing chickadees. One second they're there ...

... then poof! they're gone ...

They're so tiny and sweet, and they love the black sunflower seeds. 
Taking away one seed at a time ...

... then peck, peck, peck ...

... one tiny seed, yummy!

There were a few sparrows in amongst the chickadees.

I had to check my bird book when I got home to identify this as an American Tree Sparrow. I like the old-fashioned descriptions in my book, it says to look for the "single dark spot, or 'stick pin' on the breast". He was a bit fluffed out in the cold, but his stick pin is there.

We were surprised to see some wild turkeys at the marsh. I have never seen turkeys here before. They've got such amazing feathers, but the ugliest heads!

They scattered back into the woods after our little photo session.

It was a bright, sunny day, and many of the birds were just soaking up the sunshine. Mourning doves do a lot of sleeping anyway, but here's one dozing in his pillow of feathers.

Before we left the marsh, we stopped again to admire the saw whet owl.

Another one soaking in the warmth of the sun while he could. 
I like the way his face crinkles up to make him look like he's having a bit of a chuckle at all of us.

That same day we stopped at a park along the lakeshore. I mentioned this in a previous post. The swans were mostly lumped on the ice trying to stay warm, but when someone rustled a bag of treats, a few of them just thundered across the ice for their share!

Most people toss bread to the birds. This isn't healthy for the birds, and they have trouble digesting bread or any baked goods. Birdseeds are best to share with them. I don't like to be an annoying person and didn't say anything to the man that was tossing them bread. Do you ever tell people not to feed the birds bread? There are signs posted at some places explaining this, but there weren't any signs at this park.

The tough webbed feet of the swan

Don't you just love that pop of orange feet on the mallard?

Yesterday, I took a trip back to the lakeshore to visit another marsh. This marsh has a short trail, and it actually connects to the marsh we visited last weekend. As soon as I got on the trail and held my hands out for the chickadees to have some sunflower seeds, a big flock of turkeys came racing out of the woods and straight towards me looking for seeds. I think these are the same birds we saw last weekend. They were a bit scary! I'm not familiar with the ways of turkeys. Do you know if they'll come after you? They have very sharp bills and spurs on their ankles.

It was a bitterly cold day, and I couldn't have my mittens off for more than a couple of minutes before my fingers were in pain. The birds were in full force looking for food. Cardinals, doves, nuthatches, downy woodpecker, chickadees, American tree sparrows, white-throated sparrow, one pair of red-winged blackbirds, blue jays ... did I miss anyone?

But I didn't take my zoom lens, and the photos were less than adequate :[

I then spied a large hawk up in the trees. I was a bit worried for all the birds around me, flitting and flying and causing a real commotion. That's probably what drew the hawk over. It was a beautiful red-tailed hawk, which is quite common here.

here he comes!

He flew up to a tree and was watching something down in the snow. Then he dove down to get it, but I couldn't tell if he was successful. I stayed on the path since I didn't want to disturb him, but I was dying to creep over there and get some shots of him. The snow was extremely squeaky though, so it wouldn't have been possible.

He was a beauty, and much larger than the cooper's hawk that visits my yard.

After the hawk, things kind of dwindled out in the woods. I did see a couple of white-tailed deer through all the tangle of underbrush. They had such thick winter coats on, and were very cute. This is the best I could do for a photo ...

And we're at the end of a very exciting outing for me. I just loved my time at the marsh, despite the cold. It certainly kept other people away from the woods, and I'm sure I wouldn't have seen so much if this popular trail was full of people.

Thanks for stopping by!


Linking up with Eileen's Saturday's Critters

Very weird lighting at the park yesterday. I just stopped in and took this lazy shot from my van window.


  1. I am glad you checked out the marsh as this is a great variety for this post. Love the Owl and the feathers on the wild Turkey are lovely. Have a great weekend.

  2. Wow, what a great critter post.. I would love to see that cute owl. It is adorable.. Awesome captures of the chickadee, tree sparrow and the turkey.. The Hawk is cool and the deer is pretty. Love the sky shot too. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post.. Have a happy weekend!

  3. Wonderful birds all of them. I love the cute owl.

  4. I wouldn't think the turkeys would hurt you,they look very tame.
    I wouldn't want to tick off a wild one though,they could do serious damage with their wings alone.
    Lovely owl shots!
    Jane x

  5. You had me at those owl shots! They are extraordinary Wendy!!! That shot of that sweet owl taking in the sun with his adorable face is gorgeous! Seriously you have an amazing need to enter some of your photos in a contest!! Happy Saturday to you!! Nicole xoxo

  6. I think I was looking for that very same Saw-whet Owl just yesterday! I know the woods and the nearby harbour, trail and marsh very well. :) BUT I did NOT find the owl. I will be looking for it again though. Consider me jealous! ;)

  7. That owl is so photogenic, even smiling for the camera :-) You have taken such amazing shots of the wildlife, and I bet they were better than the ones dressed in khaki and tripods!!

  8. Wonderful outing, loved the photos! Couldn't agree with you more, this outings are always nice when the hubby comes along :)


  9. Impressive ! I love your pics !!! I really do love them !! Enjoy your next outcomings ... I agree, despite the coldness it's so peaceful ... Have a lovely week end !

  10. This lovely post is rather akin to turning page after page of a beatiful coffee table book on gorgeous birdlife. Sublime photos, Wendy! Love the cute owl and yes he does look as if he is chuckling at you. Perhaps he was chuckling at your husband's reluctance to at first accompany you.

  11. Such wonderful pictures Wendy!! I am sure that your owl photos are just as good - if not better!! - than the ones those men with their fancy cameras and outfits took! I didn't know that about feeding bread to the birds, so I am glad that you told me here and would have been glad if I bad been feeding them bread and you told me, so it might be a good idea to let people know. Not that I feed birds with bread, but in case I did! I am glad that you took your husband out, I am sure that it was more enjoyable for you to have him along and that he enjoyed it too! xx

  12. awesome captures Wendy-definately worth the trip out in the cold. Loved all of them-your wild turkeys are allot prettier than ours-the turkeys here have much darker feathers-I miss not seeing ours hopefully in the spring they will venture out of the woods.

  13. That is a little cute saw whet owl, great series of photos.

  14. Owls and hawks, always so special. Swans though gorgeous are just evil, not my favorite bird. The chickadees are so sweet. You did well.

  15. Absolutely lovely! I loved seeing all your birds, different to what we get here in the UK. And that owl is just adorable. The only thing I know about Turkeys is what an old lady who'd kept them all her life once told me- if you look at them wrong they can up and die! x

  16. Awesome series of animal captures! The owl does, indeed, appear to be giggling!

  17. Wow! You got a lot of great bird photos! Those are hard to get! And, you saw so many different birds! Very cool! :-D

  18. Oh what a perfect trip to the Marsh!
    Your pictures are outstanding!
    The feather detail is fantastic!
    Enjoy your week....
    Linda :o)

  19. Goodness - these are some amazing photographs of the different birds. Amazing - I've not seen many of these species before. Thank you so much for sharing them and your knowledge. Truly inspiring. J9 x

  20. Aren't SawWhets marvelous? :)
    So many lovely images, Wendy...thanks for sharing your excellent walk! We'll need a big thaw here before I can take Piper on our favorite trails by the pond. Won't be many weeks away now, though. Probably.

  21. Amazing photo's Wendy thank you for sharing I love seeing them, and no wonder there was no one else there, I bet those critters were wondering what those mad humans were doing spying on them in such bitter cold weather, I hope your fingers have thawed. :) xx

  22. The wildlife in your part of the world is simply amazing, and your photos do it justice!

  23. What a fantastic walk Wendy ! Love the owl!!! and wow the turkeys are something else ! we don't have wild turkeys over here. Love your photos...Gail x

  24. Loved your post and the story telling of your outing. I have never done anything like this but I am sure it's a great feeling to be out there observing the animals. You really snapped a cute picture the second time with the owl. He sure does look like he's having a good laugh.

    Birgitta xx

  25. What an amazing time spent in your neck of the woods!! Having all of that on your doorstep really puts the world in perspective I think! Such lovely photos Wendy... seriously National Geographic needs you!! Have a great weekend my friend, Hazel xxx

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