Thursday, June 16, 2011


Celebrating my 42nd birthday.

I wasn't sure if I was going to celebrate my birthday this year or not. With my Mother being as sick as she is, it somehow didn't seem right. But the closer it got, the more it seemed it wouldn't be right not too.

Most of you who know me, know I celebrate my birthday as much as I can, sometimes for the whole month of June! My Mother always held great birthday parties for me and made a big deal out of my birthday right up til the time I left home, I've just kept that tradition going. This year I decided to have a birthday of favorites. My birthday fell on a Friday this year, which we both had off, making it a long weekend, a very favorite thing!

I spent my birthday in my favorite place, the backyard!

Meadow and I relaxing in the backyard.

Rob and Meadow enjoying the yard together.

I really didn't want to do much during the day except relax, as we were planning on taking part in a project for Bird Studies Canada that evening, but due to the weather we weren't able too. We did do a little night birding anyway, and I ended up getting a "lifer" for my birthday! (lifer means first time seeing a bird species)

A Common Nighthawk, my birthday lifer!

Rob and I stopped exchanging birthday gifts a couple years ago as we usually go away or do something together. Meadow always gets us a "little something" though.

My cute little apple owl ornament gift from Meadow.

I made myself Lobster Rolls for dinner, they were delicious! Rob had a hot dog, as he's not a fan of lobster.

I had Lobster Rolls for my birthday dinner. Yummy!

I always order my own birthday cake! That way I get exactly what I want and Rob doesn't mind at all.

My beautiful cake. I've been getting them from the same bakery for the past 5 years.

Saturday morning we went to one of our two favorite brunch places, Cora's. When they heard it was my birthday, they treated me to a smoothie. The funny thing was they carved the apple decoration on top into a bird! They had no idea how fitting that was.

My birthday smoothie at Cora's.

My favorite breakfast at Cora's, Brie and Mushroom Eggs Benedict with a side of fried bologna!

After a delicious and filling brunch we headed off to one of our absolutely favorite nature parks, Mountsberg Conservation Area where we had booked the Raptor Encounter.

We've done this in the past, and the handlers kind of know us now and were happy to see us. They know we are members of the park and that we really respect and enjoy the time we get to spend with the birds of prey there.

Teddy and I having a moment.

I love going to visit this beautiful Barred Owl.

I took Echo, an Eastern Screech Owl outside. See how well she blends in with the tree bark behind her? Their feathers are designed to camouflage them, and they do a great job.

Rob took Teddy outside her enclosure for a while. She was quite the draw with people wanting to get a closer look at her.

Spending the day there was an almost magical experience. I love being so close to those beautiful owls, and I know we will be doing the Raptor Encounter again in the fall.

Saturday night we did take part in the Bird Studies Canada project with friends, Jim and Lynda. We were given a route to follow about an hour outside the city, and we had to stop at ten assigned stops and listen for about 6 minutes each.

We were listening for the call of the Whip-poor-will. I was really disappointed that we didn't hear any, but we had a fun evening none the less. We always have a lot of laughs we hang out together.

The Whip-poor-will, I look forward to hearing/seeing one, one day.

Sunday morning we were up earlier then we would of liked as we didn't get to bed until after 2am. It was for a great reason though, brunch at Dr. Generosity's with friends.

Mark, Vitra and Monica joined us for a "birthday brunch" at Dr. G's.

My usual at Dr's G's; Eggs Dostoyefsky (smoked salmon) with fried potatoes and house salad.

After brunch we headed out of the city to see a friend. We really enjoyed her large backyard and were envious of the hummingbird that kept coming to her feeder.

The beautiful Hummingbird that kept visiting Michele's feeder, she calls him "Harry".

Michele and I lounging on the porch with her dog, Eno.

It was a lovely way to finish a birthday long weekend, and the celebrations aren't over yet!

Common Nighthawk and Whip-poor-will picture compliments of "Google Images".

Thursday, June 9, 2011


A not so happy Peregrine Falcon chick.

Last Friday I got to indulge in two of my passions, birds and spa treatments!

The Canadian Peregrine Foundation was holding a bird banding event at the Sun Life Financial building not far from where I live. I had not attended one of these banding events before, so I worked late a couple nights last week so I could leave early to attend the afternoon banding.

It was interesting to see how this process is done, at Ruthven banding station we're banding adults songbirds caught in nets and traps, not raptor chicks from a nest box 19 stories up!

With the help of window washers who volunteer their time and equipment, the chicks are carefully removed from the nest box and then brought inside for the banding process. Each chick is weighed, sexed and banded. Then they are taken outside again and carefully placed back into the nesting box. All this is done under the supervision of the Minister of Natural Resources and staff as well as the Canadian Peregrine Foundation directors and volunteers, remember, these are federally protected birds.

Time to get weighed! They look so cute in the big measuring cup.

The three Peregrine Falcon chicks from the Sun Life Financial Building.

I think the most interesting part of the procedure is actually going on outside while the chicks are inside. You see, the window washers remain outside while the banding is taking place, and the parent falcons aren't too happy. So, all the time the chicks are inside, the window washers are being swooped at by a pair of angry parent falcons! When it's over and the chicks are back in the nest box the parent falcons think they have succeeded in scaring the evil window washers away from their chicks!

The evil "chick snatchers" that the parent Falcons scare off in the end!

After watching the banding event and the parent falcons flying outside for awhile I was off to meet a girlfriend for a pedicure followed by dinner.

A Dove Spa had opened not far from my house about a year ago, and this was the day I was finally going to check it out.

I shouldn't of waited so long to go! It was very clean, relaxing and well staffed. They had a beautiful lounge area where you waited for your treatments and the treatment area was separate from the cashier/retail area. I've already made a return appointment.

Pat and I enjoying our pedicures.

This pretty colorful light really stood out in the mainly white surroundings.

Pat relaxing in the lounge of the Dove Spa after our pedicures.

It was a wonderful afternoon!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


A male Yellow Warbler waits in the nets to be banded.

And with a flip of the calendar page, spring migration has come to an "unofficial end". All the spring migrants have passed through now, and are setting up summer residence to mate and raise a family before heading back south in the fall. Bird migration really is an amazing wonder of the world. Some of these birds have come from as far away as South America, and some of them have made that trip a few times. How do I know that, bird banding.

Rob and I have had a great May with the birds, we got to visit Point Pelee National Park for the first time, and have seen so many new birds this spring, it's been amazing. But the best thing to come out of this migration for us, was learning that we could take this passion of ours to another level without having to give up our jobs and go back to school.

Last February we visited Ruthven Park for the first time while on an organized tour trip. After we arrived home I wanted to find out more about the park and turned to my good friend, "Google". After reading about the park I discovered they had a "Bird Banding Station" that you could visit during migration and made a note for us to do that while on vacation.

We visited the banding station twice in May. The first time we didn't know what to expect and we were kind of in awe when they let us release some birds that we never dreamed we see so up close or ever get to hold. We both banded one bird (under guided supervision) that first trip and after that I couldn't stop thinking about it.

Monitoring and reporting are essential to our understanding of the health of migratory bird populations. Bird banding is a basic monitoring tool, informing studies that assess the effects of environmental contaminants, protect endangered species and set hunting regulations. The birds really keep us in the know! If you ever find a bird with a band on it, please report it here.

The second trip I had lots of questions. You see, to become an "official licensed" bird bander, you have to have one take you under their wing so to speak. You have to find a banding station and master bander to volunteer with. When he thinks you know your stuff, you have to apply to the government for a sub-permit and be sponsored by two master banders! There's even a "Bander's Code of Ethics".

I've found both for us at Ruthven Park. The master bander there, Rick Ludkin, is willing to let us join his flock. (Sorry, I can't help myself) We have so much to learn! We'll be going to the station about once a month, more during migration and right now we're really working on our id skills.

When you band a bird you have to know with 100% certainty what it is, you have to age, sex, and weigh it, along with measuring it's fat and muscle content. You have to know what size band to put on it's leg and record all the information. I find it amusing that there is a Yellow Warbler out there somewhere with my initials attached to it's band number.

I'm really excited about this next journey of birding we are going to attempt together. It's going to take us a while, years probably, but we're both fine with that, as long as it's still fun. And who knows, maybe we'll start our own banding station one day!

Rob banding a Tennessee Warbler.

Getting ready to release her.

Now what am I suppose to do with this?

Me releasing the beautiful Yellow Warbler I banded.

Releasing a male Baltimore Oriole on our first trip to Ruthven.

Rob releasing his mate.