Monday, March 21, 2011


Alexandra is a 13 year old female Great Horned Owl, and it was an honour to hold her.

It's funny how sometimes the pieces of your life seem to fall into place nicely once in a while. That's how I'm feeling after reflecting on this past weekend.

Wednesday night we had an e-mail from one of the ladies we met on the Authentic Canadian Tours "Eagles and Owls" birding trip, wanting to know if we'd be interested in volunteering for the Canadian Peregrine Foundation over the weekend at the Toronto Sportsman Show. We weren't sure what we would be doing, but were willing to help as we planned on going to the show to see their educational display birds on the Friday night anyway.

You could of knocked me over with a feather when Frank, one of CPF's many volunteers, who we also met on the birding trip, told me we'd get to display some of the birds!

I got to display Kyla, an American Kestrel for a little while on Friday.

Rob forgot all about his shyness when it came too talking to complete strangers about one of his loves, birds!

We volunteered to work both Friday night and all day Saturday, but it sure didn't seem like work. To be so close to so many different raptors; Eagles, Owls, Hawks, and Falcons, it felt like a gift to us.

Bubo, "Boo" to his friends, is a male European Eagle Owl and was very popular at the show as he was "Who-Hooing" quite often.

I still can't quite believe that I got to hold a Great Horned Owl, and we got to be so close to "Boo", an Owl that Rob made a special visit to the Kortright Centre just to see in his enclosure a few months ago. Little did he know that one day he'd be nose to beak with him.

Rob got to display Kyla, most of the day on Saturday.

We've been talking about doing some volunteer work with an animal organization for a while now, but it's difficult when we both work full time and different shifts, but I'm happy to say we seemed to of found a fit with The Canadian Peregrine Foundation. After talking with the Founders, Mark and Marion Nash, and also Tracy, who's in charge of volunteering at the Kortright Centre, where the birds are housed, we'll be starting our volunteering for them next month.

I was still kind of in awe of holding Kyla on Saturday.

See what I mean about the puzzle of life fitting together easily sometimes? We see a post on the birding message board about a trip, we sign up for it, on that trip we meet Ann and Frank, three weeks after that trip they contact us about volunteering this weekend at the show, and now we found a place for us to do some volunteer work on a more regular basis for something we're so passionate about.

It's almost like it was meant to be.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Every girl has one, a teen idol. The guy you wallpapered your teenage wall with posters of, the guy you bought every album of and would run out to buy every magazine he was in. Mine was a makeup wearing, leather loving, spiked hair, heavy metal bass player called Nikki Sixx. He was also the first guest speaker to kick off "Canadian Music Week" at the Royal York hotel this year.

I have been lucky enough to see him live in concert a few times, something I didn't even dream about growing up in small town Nova Scotia. I've also met him 3 times; First time when I was 30 at an in-store record signing. I was so nervous I almost left after waiting over two hours in line. Afterwards, I literally floated up Yonge Street with my signed poster and a Nikki kissed hand! Second time was at a VIP Hard Rock party in Orlando, Florida in 2003 that my friend had won tickets too, and took me!(I outta do a whole blog on that weekend!) This was by far the best meeting, as I actually got to spend some time talking with him. Third time was at an in-store book signing in September, 2007 for his book, "The Heroin Diaries", and nerves got the best of me again, and I don't even remember what I rambled on about when it was my turn to have my book signed.

Jenn and I waiting in line to hear the interview with Nikki Sixx.

I think I was 13 when I discovered Nikki and Motley Crue. An awkward time in a girls life, and I remember it being his attitude I was drawn to the most. I sometimes wonder who I would of become without him, as it was his music that finally gave me the confidence to find my voice, to stand up for myself, and I haven't looked back since.

When I found out about the interview for CMW, how could I resist? So I booked the day off work, bought my ticket and waited for the day to arrive. Thanks to the power of Facebook and me letting all my friends know what I was up too, a couple girlfriends purchased tickets to come too.

My ticket of entry.

Jenn and I went down bright and early as we didn't really know what to expect. I'm glad we did though. We picked up our pre-purchased tickets and we're lucky enough to be fourth in line. The girl ahead of us, Karen, was nice enough to hold our spots while we went out to get some breakfast and then came back for the long wait to get in. The time actually passed quite quickly with all the chatting and joking with the people in line. An old friend of Rob's, Stacie, was first in line and recognized me from Facebook, small world! We all scored awesome seats, most of my group taking a front row seat, while I chose to take a second row center isle seat, which put me right in his eye line.

Q107's Jeff Woods talked to Nikki about a little of everything; Girls, Facebook, his kids, music, and of course his new book and album.

It was really interesting to hear him talk about all the topics he spoke of, but the one that I found most interesting was the new era of technology. When he first started playing and I first started going to concerts, IPhones and digital cameras didn't even exist! He spoke about looking out into a sea of people now and seeing them taking videos of the show and pictures and basically watching it through a lens.

He said he understands why people do it, but sometimes he wants to stop the show, and ask them to "be in the moment" instead of watching it. I so get this, as I say this to Rob all the time when we're out birding! Yes, I can even manage to bring birding into this blog post! LOL!!

OK, back to Nikki, his words really moved me, as I get what he is saying, and in this age of e-mail, text, and Skype, he hoped, as do I, that we don't lose the need or desire for human contact.

It's easier for fans today to feel "close" to their idols, they can follow them on Twitter and be "friends" with them on Facebook, and I do both with Nikki, but nothing makes you feel closer to them, then knowing you have something in common with them.

It's been many years since I've been a teenager, but I've continued to follow Nikki's life and career with interest, and now know about the battles this man has fought and won. He thinks he's a better man for it, I agree, and it makes it easy for me to still idolize him, and I do.

The man has a beautiful smile.

I like this one cause he's looking right at me!

I got this shot as he was leaving, no zoom needed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


A Barred Owl sleeping peacefully by a busy roadside.

On Sunday March 6th, Rob and I ventured out with another birding friend to hopefully have a look at a Barred Owl well known to the area.

He was there, sleeping peacefully in a tree by a road side while photographers and birders alike mixed and mingled, occasionally snapping pictures of the honored guest. I was happy to see everyone was very respectful of the Owl, and I didn't see him open his eyes once while we were there. Though I heard he had put on quite the hunting show the day before, catching a vole for lunch.

As excited as I was to see the wild Barred Owl, a first for us, that isn't the moment that is forever etched in my mind, the picture below is.

Having a Blue Jay land in my hand was the was the highlight of the day for me!

I was in absolute awe when the bold Blue Jay, the locals call "Jack" landed in my hand for a peanut! And thrilled when he came back two more times for more.

He landed in Rob's hand too!

We're used to these guys landing in our hand, and there was no shortage of Chickadees willing to do so.

What a special memory!

Friday, March 4, 2011


First time seeing the beautiful Short-eared Owl.

On Saturday, February 26th, Rob and I went out with a new tour company, "Authentic Canadian Tours". They were doing an "Eagles and Owls Tour", how could we pass that up?!

This was our first time doing a tour like this, but it certainly won't be our last! Rob's not one for long drives, so this was relaxing for him, and it was wonderful to spend the day with a great group of like minded individuals doing something we all love.

And the birds!! I had four lifers and it was fun to watch Rob see Bald Eagles for the first time, especially the flying show they put on for us.

A great group of people to spend the day birding with!

Ann Brokelman, a lovely lady and fantastic photographer on the tour let me use some of her pictures from the day and you can see more of her work on her blog. All bird photos in this blog were taken by Ann. All lifers for me except the Bald Eagles. Enjoy!

Seeing a Tufted Titmouse was an awesome way to start the day. Rob and I had been wanting to see one for years and we weren't disappointed.

Two Short-eared Owls sitting in a brush pile in a farmers field.

There were four in total. It was such a treat to watch them fly around.

A Northern Harrier gave us a nice fly by.

We saw about twelve Bald Eagles in total on our trip, most juveniles, their colouring is spectacular.

Did you know that Bald Eagles don't get their white heads til they are about 5 years old?

Another "lifer" to end the day, a Glaucous Gull at La Salle Park in Burlington.

It was a great and memorable day!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


This year was going to be my first time taking part in "The Great Backyard Bird Count" and I was pretty excited about it. For weeks leading up to that weekend Rob and I talked about where we would go and what we hoped to see.

You don't have to have a backyard to take part, you just have to commit to a minimum of 15 minutes to count the birds you see in a certain area. We planned to visit a few different areas and parks over the first three days and leave our backyard counting to the last day.

Two days before the count I came down with a horrible cold. I was devastated. Friday and Saturday while Rob was taking part I was home on the couch resting and taking medication.

I did gather myself together enough to go out for a couple hours on Sunday and I'm so glad I did! I ended up having a "hat trick" day. Meaning, I saw three birds for the very first time. It was an exciting couple of hours.

Below are pictures of the three birds I saw for the first time on Sunday, February 20th. I borrowed pictures from Google images, except for the last one, so you could see them better. I really must work on getting Rob a 400mm lens!


Horned Larks

White-winged Scoter

Northern Shrike

Rob captured this shot of the Northern Shrike just yesterday, Feb. 28th. I love this shot as this bird looks so beautiful. You'd never know that this bird is a meat eater and will sometimes pierce his prey (mice, voles, small birds) on long thorns to help hold it in place to achieve his kill and eat it, as he doesn't have talons.

Oh isn't the world of birding amazing!?