After coming back from Ohio in early May I spent many days at Torrance Barrens photographing birds. There are lots of Brown Thrashers, Eastern Towhees and one of my favourite sparrows, the Field Sparrow. Their song is hard to miss!
The last weekend of May the second annual “Wings over Muskoka Festival” was held at the Red Leaves resort. My photography was exhibited along with the work of several other artists. I had done a couple of slideshows that went on silently in the background of the exhibit room. Bob Bowles and Robin Tapley did a number of excellent bird, bird song, butterfly, dragonfly, and orchid trips. I did a loon photography trip early Sunday morning. Once again Robin let the loons out just at the right time and they were right by the boat. Seventeen people signed up for the boat trips with a number just wishing to see the loons and be out on Lake Rosseau.
On the Saturday night Robin Tapley and Meredith Weir set out an 11″ telescope at Torrance Barrens for star viewing. Although I didn’t stay late enough to see the planets I was there for the sunset When the calling of many, many Whip-poor-wills calling and the peets of swooping Common Nighthawks surrounded us. It was magic and one of the highlights of the weekend activities!
It was a beautiful weekend to be hiking in Muskoka and we all look forward to next year!
A new publisher, Muskoka Books, had their launch party in May with a garden party being held at the family home of Patrick Boyer. They have reprinted several books on the history of Muskoka and intend to publish more.
On May 5th an Eastern Phoebe had built a nest on a platform put up specially for them just before I left for Ohio. As the month of May was coming to a close I was convinced that the eggs had been frozen or were unfertilized. Much to my surprise, I saw tiny beaks above the nest at least two weeks after they should have hatched. Five chicks fledged last Friday morning. I have lots of dragonflies around my house feeding on the bajillions of mosquitoes here so the phoebe chicks were well fed. This is a link to a video on Youtube. You may have to copy and paste it!
Dr. Brigett Stutchbury spoke at the Carden Festival dinner about her new book, “The Bird Detective”. She and her students have been studying many of the birds in their woodlot in northern Pennsylvania and found many new interesting things about the lives of those passerines.
One night last week I drove the road from one end of Torrance Barrens to the other at about 10 pm with the hope of getting at least one image of a Whip-poor-will. I heard 10 calling and saw the red eyes of two in different locations along the side of the road but no luck getting them to sit still long enough for pictures.
Last week I went for the second time up to a heronry near Hekkla. There are eight nests and the first time I visited there were four large chicks in each nest. By last week each nest had two or three, only. The largest chicks gang up on the smallest one or ones and push them out. It was necessary to use stacked converters on the 500 as it is really far from the road.
A visit to another road in the area brought me images of Winter Wren and Black-throated Blue Warbler.
A black bear surprised me by climbing up the 6×6 posts up to the second story deck outside my bedroom. He, or she, easily opened one of the metal garbage cans in which I keep the bird seed but did no other damage. I heard it climbing up again early the next morning but shouted right into it’s face as it appeared above the floor of the deck. After scrambling down it stopped and just looked at me from the path down to the lake. It hasn’t been back but I doubt it’ll stay away. Anne Lewis suggests a boat air horn and using the horn button on your car remote to scar them off. Activating the car remote horn flashes your interior and exterior lights along with the horn. On her lake they use the air horns to warm other cottagers of a bear in the area!
I have my prints at the Trader Bay Art Gallery in Dorset this summer. Lots of activity there this summer as they are launching the refurbished, Bigwin, in July, subject to sufficient funds.
All images are the property of Eleanor Kee Wellman and may not be used for any reason without written permission from the photographer.