31 January 2010

TOC Bird Walk–Winter Birds

Birding as a hobby has given me lots of opportunities to say "it warmed up a lot once the sun came up"; today was another such opportunity.  (Sunrise happened while I was waiting for the GO train to Pickering.)

I think we reached the forecast high of -3 ℃.  Despite that, I did not adequately allow for the persistent, clawing wind and under-dressed a bit.  Thankfully not drastically so, but I was right glad of both Timmies' stops to thaw. (Well, OK, technically one of them involved lunch as well as thawing.)  And I never did see any of the snow geese (there are, thanks to the dedication of various birders, known to be 8 white and 1 blue snow geese wintering along with the approximately 6,000 Canada geese in Whitby Harbour.  Despite several attempts, I, and most of the group, didn't see any of them.)

Aside from that, it was a great day—cardinals, blue jay, chickadees, dark-eyed junco, mourning dove, downy woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, brown creeper, tree sparrow, goldfinch, Canada geese (by the long shedload), bufflehead, common goldeneye, greater scaup, mallard, black duck, gadwall, common merganser, trumpeter swan, mute swan, ring-billed gull, herring gull, lesser black-backed gull, great black-backed gull, glaucous gull, saw-whet owl, great horned owl, red-tailed hawk (more than five), merlin, and northern harrier.

Personal highlights were watching  a great black-backed gull klepto-parasitize a 2nd year herring gull, the saw-whet owl tucked into conifers by the side of the road not very far over my head height (that I would never, ever, have seen on my own!) and being overflown by calling trumpeter swans.

27 January 2010

change of quarters

Somewhere in this town is a 800+ square foot apartment with bare floors, high(ish) ceilings, reasonably modern appliances, and washer-dryer hookups that permits cats and has reasonable options for bicycle storage.

The trick now is to find it....

Suggestions are welcome!

UPDATE - have found place.  Am feeling fortunate.  Moving for 1 March.  Moving Aoife slightly thereafter.  No balcony, but lots of windows, so hopefully she will not be too offended.

24 January 2010

TOC Bird Walks–Gulls and Waterfowl

It was 8 C today.  This is remarkably warm for January, even for Toronto.  It was also windy and it rained with vigour and variety.  Sometimes it tried its very best to sleet, presumably on the assumption that rain is seasonally inappropriate and should be replaced with some other form of precipitation.

The notable bird was a horned grebe, bobbing and swirling in what was very nearly surf.  Also seen were gadwal, bufflehead, redhead, mallard, common merganser, red-throated merganser, common goldeneye, scaup in the several hundreds, long tail, black, and American widgeon ducks.  Trumpter and mute swans, Canada geese, ring-billed, herring, and one Icelandic gull rounded out the list.  (Greater Black-backed gull was reported but I did not see it.)

I had cold hands; the gloves I wore are ok for 20 minutes in the rain, but it turns out not a couple hours holding on to things.  The liners work as warmth retention even when wet so this was not too bad, but I'll use a different outer glove layer next time rain is forecast.  Everything else worked splendidly; MEC Truant jacket and wind pants, the silane poncho, and the muck boots all performed as advertised and I stayed warm and dry despite wandering around in wind and rain for four hours.  So I'm feeling fairly good about that.

I may be starting to develop an appreciation for the term "dedicated birder".  Hopefully this shall not prove it a bad thing!

23 January 2010


I was quite surprised to see them do this.  I am quite surprised they can do this.
Would have liked a landing shot but felt fortunate to get this; they were both very skittish about the person with the camera.

16 January 2010

Hanging in there

Aoife is fine, I'm fine, I'll be much happier should I actually get paid (insisting on mailing cheques, two instances; going to be a pain about getting my SIN number without any legal basis, one probable instance.)

And yes, I ought to blog more but I don't seem to be finding the spoons.