SPRING HERE AND AROUND

The ice was out on my little lake three weeks earlier than last year. That meant I had to get out on it early resulting in a rather cold dip. For the first time ever the kayak I keep at home dumped me out. I was attempting to get into it by standing in fairly shallow water as my platform wasn’t out yet. In one side and out the other. The water temp was breath-taking to say the least. No harm done!

Once again, my friend, Janet Fraser, invited me to speak at one of the groups of which she is a member. On April 7th I gave my “The Magic of Monarchs” presentation at the Sydenham Field Naturalists AGM in Wallaceberg. More than seventy people were in attendance. They are a very enthusiatic and knowlegeable group and I had a great time. I spent a couple of days with Janet and a day on my own roaming the SW area of Ontario.

We saw Bald Eagles at a nest. Mute Swans on a nest and many more things natural.

Even though Mute Swans are an introduced species and they do keep native species from nesting, they are beautiful and seeing this nest site close to the road, near the St. Clair River, in the early morning sun, was pretty spectacular!

Wonder of wonders, my video “Great Gray Owl Flying In” that is on Youtube has had well over 10,000 views! Not exactly viral, though!

I spent two weeks in southern Ohio photographing warblers. Two, three-day weekends were spent with Matthew Studebaker on workshops photographing more southern bird species on territory. The flowering trees, such as dogwood and redbud were in full bloom as well as many wildflower species. The first workshop was held at Shawnee State Park. With two men from Los Angelos we were his limit of three participants. Matthew does a fantastic job of set-ups and works exceedingly hard at bringing in the target birds.

One of my favourites from Shawnee was the Hooded Warbler. Yes, it was raining, but with the proper rain gear, it wasn’t bad. Soft light and rain saturates the colours. I should be doing more photogaphy in those conditions. In fact we had four days out of the six days of workshop with rain! Only one of those days was windy and raining hard enough to spoil the photography opportunities. Good thing none of the days I had on my own were rain-filled.

Both Shawnee State Park and Lake Hope State Park are in the Appalachian Mountains with lots of creeks running down through them. At Lake Hope a full day and night of heavy rain meant many roads were flooded and some good photography places were not accessible. The flooding made finding travel routes a challenge. At one point Matthew waded across a flooded road to see if it was passable and we saw fish swimming across the road at the same time! There was a sandpiper in the road at another location.

This Louisiana Waterthrush was very co-operative. We found lots of other interesting things in the area as well. Two Queen snakes were found under flat rocks. The waterthrush nest was found as well as large “dock” spiders with egg sacks.

One of my other favourite birds from the Shawnee area was the Northern Parula. What a super little bird!

I spent my first day at Shawnee listening for birds and photographing wildflowers. This little vignette was right beside a road.

I related my woes with losing many gigs of seabird images from a Seagate external hard drive several months ago. Sometimes not being so efficient pays off. While In Ohio I started to recopy saved images from my laptop and external hard drive to a second external hard drive. Once again the photography gods saved me and all my Gaspe images were still on the drive!!! If I had been really efficient and organized I would have deleted them from the duplicate immediately after downloading them to my home computer externals. All my juvenile Northern Gannets and cliff scenics with seabirds are saved again! I’ll have to find another reason to take another Gaspe trip!

The weekend of May 29 and 30, the second annual “Wings over Muskoka Festival” will be held at Red Leaves, Minett, Ontario. Bob Bowles and Robin Tapley will be leading various hikes and I will be doing a photography workshop to photograph loons from a pontoon boat. Advance registration is required and the brochure may be found at:

http://www.kidsforturtles.com/Documents/Wings%20Over%20Brochure.pdf

If this doesn’t work as a link please highlight and paste into your address line.

This lovely Rose-breasted Grosbeak surprised me yesterday morning! You can see only one leg because the other is buried in SNOW! It melted fairly quickly but was a bit of a shock!