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Entries in winter (17)


Saturday In The City - Part One: Humber Bay West

We haven't spent much time outside this winter aside from our 4 hours of delivering the mail out in Oro everyday. We decided that it was completely unacceptable to spend another weekend indoors so we got our stuff together and headed up to Toronto's Humber Bay Park West.

We were greeted by a large group of Sparrows, mostly House but also a few Songsters and Trees were scattered about the trees at the entrance.  


Then it was ducking time!!  We love to go out ducking and Humber Bay has proven to be a great place to explore. Within our first 10 minutes there we spotted a close to shore pair of Buffleheads and Greater Scaup!! What a great way to start the day.  More to come on the Scaup a bit later ;)

As usual there were plenty of Mallards around and we would be remiss if we did not include a few shots of them in this post.  Because they are so tame it's usually quite easy to get up close to them, unlike the majority of other ducks that fly away the instant they see you.


Mute Swans were scattered all about and appeared to be establishing mating territories - we witnessed a few altercations, it was fun to watch! :)


The overcast skies were a bit of a bummer.  In fact, the skies were the only negative aspect of an otherwise perfect winter day of ducking in Toronto.  The grayness was so thick at times that it even hid the CN Tower but the rocks and boulders that make up the shoreline were still covered in snow and ice which made for some interesting photography.




We were walking around the tip of the park when I noticed a male Red-breasted Merganser coming in closer and closer to us.   My excitement level was sky high not only because I think they're freakin' cool but because I rarely get to experience them up close.  So I grabbed Juliette from Nate and hunkered down behind some rocks along the shoreline and waited.  Sure enough he came to within a decent distance of me and I was able to capture a few images.  I was so incredibly happy!!

While I was working the above Merganser Nate was off working this Northern Mockingbird.

After a couple of hours we began to make our way back towards the car and this was when things started to get REALLY interesting!!  It all started after I spotted a small group of White-winged Scoters quite a ways off shore. First Nate got close-up to a male Long-tailed Duck... 

...then a female Long-tailed...

...then, as though destiny was guiding us, we made our way to an open peninsula where we both hunkered down and experienced our first close encouters with Greater Scaup...I mean REALLY close!!  We positioned ourselves on either end of the peninsula and the ducks stayed between us.  That's when I looked over at Nate and just had to take a shot of him :)

Here's what he was photographing while I was photographing him...a beauty female Greater Scaup...

...and a male Greater Scaup.  There had to be upwards of 150-200 Scaup around us at one point!!  Wow, what an amazing experience!! :)

After our time with the Scaup we were on cloud nine, filled to the brim with utter satisfaction.  We continued to make our way towards the car when out of nowhere a Mute Swan flew in and landed right beside us.  We couldn't pass the opportunity to capture some intimate close-ups.

While Nate was taking some shots of the swan, a Red-breasted Merganser came up from a long dive about ten feet out from where the swan was - I just about lost my mind with excitement!!  I thought I had captured some great images of this duck earlier but Nate really rocked it out with this second even closer encounter.  All the while, the swan remained positioned about 2 feet in front of him - scary and exhilarating all at the same time!!

Drenched in a Scaup and Merganser afterglow, we forced ourselves to leave Humber Bay West for High Park but not before seeing a Kestrel perched atop a small tree directly across from the bushes filled with House, Song and Tree Sparrows.  What a nice little surprise!!

Join us tomorrow when we'll be posting the second part of our day at High Park!!


What's My Name?

Help us to resolve a friendly dispute we're having on what to call this great image Nathan took of a Pileated Woodpecker. Do you like the name:

A.  You Lookin' at Me?


B.  It Wasn't Me!!


C.  I don't like either.

Let us know you're choice by leaving a comment.  Thanks!!  :)


Nature 10+1 - 1.38 "Mrs Hairy Woodpecker"

Shot in Oro ~ Canon 50D Handheld, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @400mm, f/5.6, 1/1600, ISO 640, EV + 1


Last Week in Birds

Total Species for the Week - 27             Locations - Oro, Barrie and the Minesing Wetlands

Another week down, another week closer to spring ;-)  We did have a couple of good sightings this week which all came while doing the mail route in Oro.  Once again we were able to see Evening Grosbeaks and once again they eluded our lenses! Arrgggg, so frustrating!! LOL  Other notable sightings were a close up viewing of a male Pileated WP and Kelly finally was able to see and photograph Bohemian Waxwings for the first time!   We're still waiting on our first Snowy Owl - maybe they're holding off for Kelly's birthday, let's go with that and hopefully next we'll have one to report. Have a great week everyone!

Of course you can view the entire list of birds seen by clicking on the image above ;-)


Nature 10+1 - 1.37 "Junco Playing in the Snow"

Shot at our place in Barrie ~ Canon 50D Tripod, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IIS @275mm, f5.6, 1/320, ISO 640, EV + 2/3

Project Feeder Watch Results : Mourning Dove (13), Dark-eyed Junco (7), Am Goldfinch (6), BC Chickadee (5), Downy Woodpecker (2), Red-breasted Nuthatch (1)


Flickr Friday - "Boreal Chickadee"

Copyright 2011 Matthew Studebaker - All Rights Reserved

This weeks Flickr Friday image comes to us from Matthew Studebaker who hails from Cleveland, OH.  I've just recently discovered Matthew's fine work and am in awe; it's simply amazing!  This is another 'jealously' image because I've only seen a few of these guys and still haven't managed to capture one single image.  You can check out more of Matthew's fine work by clicking on the photo or checking out his website,  Have a great weekend everyone!


What's In A Name - Whiskey Jack

The name Whiskey Jack is actually a nickname given to what is actually called the Gray Jay.  Gray Jays are a member of the Crow family and can found in boreal forests over much of North America.

When boreal areas began to see an increase in human activity, Gray Jays quickly learned that humans were an excellent source of food.  These birds accustomed themselves to humans quite readily and soon enough began to invade camps and steal provisions.  This would happen with such frequency that eventually they were given the nickname of Whiskey Jack.

The name Whiskey Jack is an anglicized version of the Algonquian name Wisakedjak.  Wisakedjak is a mischevious prankster god in Algonquian mythology.  If you are interested in reading the full mythology behind Wisakedjak, please click on the following link -

We were able to experience first hand the extroverted and friendly nature that inspired their nickname last winter while at Algonquin Park. There was a group of university students there who were feeding them peanuts right out of the palms of their hands.  There aren't too many species that will do that in wild - always a nice treat!! :)


Nature 10+1 - 1.33 "Lady Junco on Spruce"

Shot at our place in Barrie ~ Canon 50D Handheld, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @400mm, f/5.6, 1/250, ISO 500, EV +1

Another day, another winter storm ;-)  We managed to get through the mail route today and only got stuck once!  Thanks to all the kind people that helped us get out of the ditch, it's amazing how selfless people can be! We arrived home early and I thought the feeders would be a hoppin' but alas, it was pretty quiet.  I managed to get a few images of one of our local Junco's when I was outside cleaning the patio, she must have known I still needed to get nature shot!!


Nature 10+1 - 1.32 "Northern Shrike"

Shot in Oro ~ Canon 50D Handheld, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @400mm, f/7.1, 1/800, ISO 320, EV + 1 1/3

We finally saw a Shrike low enough in a tree to get some decent images while doing the mail out in Oro today. We've been seeing a lot of these guys lately and it's always a treat to get a close encounter.  I'm also looking for input on the framing of the image, does the crop work for you?


Nature 10+1 - 1.31 "Lady Cardinal"

Shot at our place in Barrie ~ Canon 50D Handheld, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @400mm, f/6.3, 1/60, ISO 800


Nature 10+1 - 1.30 "Junco on Cattail"

Shot at our place in Barrie ~ Canon 50D Tripod, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6 @400mm, f/5.6, 1/200, ISO 640

Project Feeder Watch Counts : Am Goldfinch (13), Dark-eyed Junco (9), Mourning Dove (4), BC Chickadee (3), House Finch (2), Purple Finch (1), Red-breasted Nuthatch (1), Cardinal (1), Downy Woodpecker (1)


Nature 10+1 - 1.29 "Afternoon Nap"

Shot at our place in Barrie ~ Canon 50D, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @310mm, f/7.1, 1/500, ISO 500

Project Feeder Watch Results : Am Goldfinch (23), Common Redpoll (8), Dark-eyed Junco (7), Mourning Doves (5), Pine Siskin (2), Downy Woodpecker (2), House Finch (2), White-breasted Nuthatch (1), Cardinal (1)


Nature 10+1 - 1.28  "Tiffin"

Shot at Tiffin CA ~ Canon RebelXS, EF-S 55-250mm 4-5.6 IS @55mm, f/6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, EV + 2/3

And as a special Friday treat here's the behind the scenes photo of Kelly getting the Nature 10+1 image. Have a great weekend everyone!


Nature 10+1 - 1.27 "Corky the Llama"

Shot in Oro ~ Canon 50D Handheld, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @340mm, f/7.1, 1/500, ISO 500, EV +1 1/3

We got a real treat today on the mail route in a close-up encounter with a llama named Corky!!  He was tredging through the snow towards us when he stopped to eat some old dried-up wildflowers.  Nate got out of the car and just had to snap a few images.  I never would have thought that llamas could withstand our long/cold winters - guess I was wrong!!  


Nature 10+1 - 1.24 "In the Sticks"

Pan Blur shot in Oro ~ Canon 50D Handheld, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @100mm, f/32, 1/5, ISO 100, EV + 1/3


Nature 10+1 - 1.22 "Two for the Price of One"

Am Golfinches shot at our place in Barrie ~ Canon 50D, EF 100-400mm 4.5-5.6L IS @210mm, f/5, 1/250, ISO 640, EV +1

Project Feeder Watch Results: Am Goldfinch (18), Dark-eyed Junco (5), Downy Woodpecker (2), White-breasted Nuthatch (1), House Finch (1


Nature 365 - Day 57

"Snow, Wind and more Snow" - Shot at Sunnidale Park in Barrie