Thursday, January 19, 2012


I waited a few years to get a good look at Snow Buntings and was very happy when it finally happened.

When your a "birder" and you finally see a bird that you've been wanting to see for a long time, and in this case, years, it's a thrilling experience.

One of these birds for me was the Snow Bunting. They have eluded me for years, unless I count little black spots that I had seen a couple times far off in a field and was told were Snow Buntings. That didn't count.

When we started visiting the Ruthven Banding Station this past spring, and I found out that Rick also banded these little beauties who visit in the winter I got super excited, as I knew my chances of seeing them this winter was almost a for sure thing. These bird can come from as far away as Greenland!

This past Sunday was my Snow Bunting day. Rick let it be known Saturday evening where they were and that he'd be there banding Sunday morning. Rob and I headed over that morning as well and I finally got my first real look at Snow Buntings and even got to hold one!

Snow Buntings and Horned Larks.

Rick banding a Snow Bunting in the car while I watch from the back seat.

Rick handing me a Snow Bunting to release after he banded her.

A better look at a Horned Lark.

Rick told us the birds were skittish due some predators in the area, and weren't staying on the ground long.

After waiting about 30 minutes after the first and only land they made near the ground traps while we were there, Rick decided to pack up, as he'd been there a few hours and had banded some before we arrived. We decided to head over to the Ruthven grounds to see what we could see and enjoy a walk.

He told us to come back to the spot after our walk at Ruthven as the Snow Buntings would probably be around enjoying the cracked corn in the areas where the ground traps had been.

Enjoying a walk in the snow at Ruthven.

Birds seen at Ruthven included; Titmouse, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, White and Red-Breasted Nuthatches, Cardinals, Chickadees, House and Gold Finches, Junkos and Downy Woodpeckers.

We returned after a great walk and many sightings at Ruthven and Rick was right! The Snow Buntings were there and what an aerial show these birds put on for us! They fly together as a flock, it's like watching the Snow Birds! They fly around, land, eat for a while, and then do it all over again. They flew right over us at one point which was a joy to experience.

Here they come!

It was a memorable day.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Last Saturday Rob and I took another trip with Authentic Canadian Tours, a return trip to Amherst Island. Though we didn't see as many owls as we did on our first visit there, we had another fun-filled day with a great group of like minded people. We each had a "Lifer", saw a couple Snowy Owls, lots of Harriers and Hawks, and got to hand feed some hungry Chickadees. Stopping at the Big Apple on the return trip was a great way to end the day.

This visit we stopped at Topsy Farms where gorgeous, traditionally made wool products are available for purchase in a cute little shed or you can order products online. Their herd of sheep is over 1200!

A couple of the sheep enjoying the mild winter day.

The "Wool Shed", where traditionally made wool products such as hats, blankets, mittens, and yarn can be purchased at great prices. Next time I go back I'm buying a blanket!

I bought a pair of mittens for me and "Texting Mittens" for Rob, I thought they'd be good for photography. The mittens are lined with unprocessed wool so they aren't itchy!

We had some good views of a Rough-legged Hawk, a lifer for Rob and I. I liked Rob's picture of him flying away.

Our first Snowy of the day was sitting in an unoccupied Osprey nest far off in a farmers field. They usually don't perch so high, guess she liked the view.

Our second Snowy was a lot closer. What a big beautiful girl she was!

Another fantastic day.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Mom and I being silly when I visited her in October.

When I think of the past year the first thing that comes to my mind is that my Mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer in April, and my life was forever changed. Surgery, hospital stays, nursing home placement, not really the stuff one wants to remember. But, as I looked back over my blog posts from the past year I noticed something. I made a lot of happy memories too, and those are the moments I would like to share as I look back at my 2011.

Rob and I take a snowy drive up to Huntsville for the weekend to celebrate our 7th "togetherness" anniversary. Though the drive up wasn't fun, we had a great time once we got there visiting Algonquin Park.

Hand feeding a Chickadee in Algonquin Park, always fun.

Rob and I spend most of our weekends winter birding.

My first Long-eared Owl!! Rob captured this photo one February weekend out, this photo won first place in the Ontario Green Party's calendar contest in 2011.

March- Two rather exciting things happened in March. First, I went to a Canadian Music's Week event featuring a live interview with my teen idol, Nikki Sixx. And two, we got to help out the Canadian Peregrine Foundation during the Sportsman's Show. I should mention that this got to happen because we met some great people, who we now call friends, on our first tour with Authentic Canadian Tours the month before.

Nikki Sixx leaving after his interview. I was this close, no zoom required.

Me holding "Alex" a beautiful female Great Horned Owl for CPF at the Toronto Sportman's Show. What a thrill for me!

April- I go home to Nova Scotia when my Mom is diagnosed and stay almost two weeks while she undergoes surgery. My older brother goes home too, for the first time in over 20 years. We all try to make the best out of a horrible situation.

May- After returning from Nova Scotia, I have a week off with Rob and we visit Point Pelee National Park for the first time with our friends, Jim and Lynda. I escape into my "birding world" and we see more species and have more lifers then we have since we started birding! We definitely became true "bird nerds" on this trip. We also take the first of many trips to the Ruthven Bird Banding Station and get a taste for banding birds.

Rob, Jim and Lynda during our first visit to Point Pelee National Park.

A Black-and-White Warbler, just one of many warbler species we saw on the trip.

Me releasing a male Baltimore Oriole.

Rob banding a Tennessee Warbler.

June- I celebrate my 42nd birthday! We visit Mountsberg Conservation Area and enjoy another "Raptor Encounter". We spend time with our favorite Barred Owl, Teddy. Little did we know it would be our last, she passed away 3 months later. She was a special owl and is greatly missed.

Teddy and I sharing a moment.

Rob took Teddy for a walk and got lots of attention in doing so.

July- We are surprised by an email from the Muskoka Wildlife Centre, asking us if we are still interested in sponsoring their Saw-whet Owl, Luna. We expressed interest in 2009, but she was already sponsored and didn't think the opportunity would come after she won the new critter contest that summer for Telus. We are thrilled to become her new sponsors!

Luna wins the new face of Telus!

Luna back in 2009 when we first "met" her.

August- I decide to do the I Love All Access package again for one of my favorites bands, Def Leppard. Only this time I have to go alone because my concert buddy is away. I end up having a great time anyway and meet their guitarist, Phil, AGAIN! YAY ME!! Our house gains another feather head the very next day.

Me and Phil, second time meeting him and I was missing my concert buddy Brian bad at this point.

Spotted this little guy roaming around our yard the day after the concert, good thing I took the day off work! "Moonie" is now part of our family.

September- Rob celebrates his 42nd birthday! I surprise him with a private photo shoot at the Muskoka Wildlife Centre as part of our weekend away to Algonquin Park.

Rob with Luna during his private photo shoot.

Feeding a Gray Jay in Algonquin Park, I love doing this!

October- I go home to spend a few days with Mom and have a good visit with her. I make her laugh as much as I can. Back in Ontario, later in the month, Rob, myself, along with Jim and Lynda visit an amazing organization called "The Owl Foundation".

Spending time with Mom.

It was an honour to meet Kay McKeever, the founder of the Owl Foundation.

Angie the Psycho Clown, Halloween was memorable this year.

Rob and I have a weeks vacation and have a lot of fun, including a crazy Halloween, a trip to the Ruthven Banding Station and our first trip to Amherst Island where we see our first Saw-whet Owl in the wild!

Our first wild Saw-whet Owl!

December- Was full of loads of festive fun and lots of socializing!

Handing out some goodies to friends at a get together at our place.

Enjoying "High Tea" with girlfriends at Jen's Annual Christmas Tea.

And that was our 2011, here's to a great 2012!

Monday, January 2, 2012


Our New Years hats and horns.

It's just about 5am, and I am up getting ready for work, as I return today after being off since December 21st. For most people this is a stat holiday for News Years Day, but as ours was Dec. 30th, we've got to find our way in today, for me this means finding another bus to take me to the subway, as mine isn't even running today.

We spent a quiet New Years Eve at home, as per usual, and I am always just happy to make it til midnight, and I did. We spent the time watching Dexter, eating coconut shrimp and bacon wrapped scallops, and as always, watched the new year ring in down home in Nova Scotia. We have our own midnight rituals when 12am finally rolls around; Rob opens the back door to let the old year out, I open the front door to let the new year in, and we yell "Happy New Year" across the street to our neighbor who is doing the same. And just like that, a new year begins.

I thought instead of doing a post about my new years resolutions, I'd write about what I am most looking forward to this year instead.

This month I am doing a couple trips with Authentic Canadian Tours. Rob and I are both going to Amherst Island with them again this coming Saturday, and at the end of the month I am going to the Niagara Ice Wine Festival in Niagara on the Lake with them again, along with a few girlfriends.

I have purchased my ticket to go to Alberta for a week in April to spend Easter with my brother and his family. I haven't seen my nieces since we all went to Florida back in October, 2010. My nieces don't know I'm coming, so we're attempting to keep it under wraps this year and surprise them. I plan on going out every Easter from now on to spend time with them.

May, both Rob and I will be a taking a two week vacation to do as much birding as possible during Spring migration. We have a 3 night, 4 day tripped booked with our friends Jim & Lynda to visit Point Pelee again this year during this time.

June, Rob and I will be celebrating my birthday in Niagara on the Lake.

The summer months we don't stray too far from home, but enjoy plenty of time in our backyard.

September will most likely see us celebrating Rob's birthday up in cottage country.

October I have plans to revisit Florida with my friends Pat & Greg, and upon returning have another week off with Rob in November.

And December will roll around once again as will another new year.