Thursday, 22 October 2020

Countryside Meanderings and Forest Royalty

A Pleasant Drive      

     A few days ago it was grey, misty, raining on and off, hardly the best weather for a walk but great for a drive out to the farming regions of Waterloo Region.
     These cattle had perhaps rehearsed their day's activity, for all were lying down, contentedly chewing their cud.

     Well, until one contrary individual decided to stand up, that is!

     Many trees have now shed their leaves and this denuded individual stood like a sentinel in the field.

     It will not be long before Rough-legged Buzzards (Buteo lagopus) begin to arrive in this area, down from their Arctic nesting ground, and we will be scanning the treetops for sight of this magnificent raptor.
     In two locations we saw fairly large flocks of Buff-bellied (aka American) Pipit (Anthus rubescens) but they were constantly in motion, and when they did come to earth from time to time, were immediately lost against the multi-hued substrate. Miriam did well to get this picture.

     While we were intently watching a group of pipits, we spotted first one, and then two Northern Harriers (Circus hudsonius). They were far off and constantly in motion as they quartered the fields in search of prey.

     There was no animosity between them, and while they did not appear to actually cooperate in their quest for food, they showed no sign that they resented each other's presence.

     Juvenile Northern Harriers closely resemble adult females, with minor difference, undetectable at the range we were dealing with, but I am wondering whether these two individuals might have been siblings still keeping company with each other prior to migration. Post-breeding Northern Harriers are known to gather in large numbers too, especially after arrival on their wintering grounds, so it is possible that these were two unrelated birds.

   In any event it was a pleasure to sit and watch these two hunters quartering the grass in that slow, rocking flight so characteristic of the species. One of them dropped to the ground and came up with something in its talons, probably a rodent, and flew off with it. 
     Just before we left the pipits and the harriers to carry on with their lives, the sun came out as though to cap our day, and the beauty of our province in all its autumnal splendour was a wonder to behold.

     It really is good to live in Ontario.

Hillside Park

     Soon you will be as familiar with Hillside Park as I am!

      Over time it has delivered many a special bird for us, and is always a pleasant place to walk at any time of the year.
     After an entire lifetime of birding, any owl at any time is a momentous sighting, and we were enthralled to see this Barred Owl (Strix varia) peering down at us.

     I have seen a good many Barred Owls over the years, but the sense of excitement at the encounter never gets any less intense.

     Owls, mysterious creatures of the night,  have been persecuted throughout history by superstitious humans who viewed them as agents of the devil, or as witches, or other forces of malevolence. We have ritually killed them, tortured them, burned them alive, destroyed their habitat, yet they have survived, all the while keeping rodent populations in check. Service to humanity is rendered despite our effrontery towards them.

     Thank goodness we are at least marginally more enlightened in the 21st Century. Not much mind you, but a little.

     Perhaps this regal female (I am pretty sure based on size it was a female) looked down on us with rightful disdain.

     Here we have a bike tossed into Laurel Creek. It seems we cannot resist dumping our trash where it doesn't belong. Let's pollute a few streams, toss away our disposable masks, throw our plastic water bottles into the grass - generally befoul our whole environment, knowing full well what we are doing yet continuing to do it. Of late the charming addition of used condoms seems to have been added to the items we hurl out of the car window in a couple of spots I visit (I resisted the temptation to show you a picture or two).
     "Yes," says that wise owl, "Those humans are something else!"
      No wonder owls try to keep to themselves. It sure beats hanging around with us.


  1. Wonderful photos of the Barred Owl, and insightful words to accompany them, David.

    Never thought of you as the sort of person who threw used condoms out of the window - sorry, couldn't resist that one! ;-}

    Your fall colours are fabulous.

  2. I keep coming to the realization that we are just apes. More intelligent ones but apes nevertheless.

  3. A big WOW for the Barred Owl pictures ...

    Enjoy the remainder of the week and have a good weekend.

    All the best Jan

  4. Your shots of the owl are beautiful.

    A lot of leaves here are down now. I've been taking what I assume are my last shots of fall colours today.

  5. What a wonderful outing. Seeing an owl would make the greyest day brighter. Immediately.
    And a big, big sigh at the destructive ways of so many of our species. Some days I despair of us.
    While I deplore the condom disposal I am grateful that these individuals are NOT perpetuating their gene stock.

  6. The garbage is disgusting. I can’t believe people would such a thing.

    The pipit was well hidden. Love the owl photos. I’ve never seen one in nature.

    1. Industry pollutes on an industrial scale (and after all industry is a collection of humans) and individuals pollute on an individual level. It is what we do, and as a society we have shown no desire to change. I drove past a woodlot just this afternoon where someone has dumped a mattress and three large bags of garbage. I could exclaim, "Unbelievable!", but unfortunately it is not. It is what society does every day.

  7. That little pipit blends so well.

  8. Hari OM
    you are managing to find all the delights - and dismals - David. The human critter really is a puzzlement... YAM xx

  9. I love the tree pictures, especially the one of the lone, denuded tree. Lovely. I hear Barred Owls calling around our yard quite frequently, but I almost never see one. To do so is always a treat.

  10. One would think intelligence and responsibility go hand in hand, but apparently not. It's disheartening that lives other than human are much better stewards of the environment. I've heard owls more than seen them. They blend in so well with their surroundings.

  11. Hi David, glad you had another good wandering. What people throw away is sometimes unbelievable, I don't understand this compulsion to spoil nature this way. And thanks for not showing pictures of the used condoms....The owl is a beauty. I often hear an owl in the evening, but have never seen it, pity. The Canadian countryside is looking good! Have a great day, stay safe, hugs, Valerie

  12. Beautiful photos of the Owl, David. I have never seen one in real life, but I can hear it in March near by. Have the world been more enlightened lately? I doubt it...

  13. Hi David.

    Beautiful pictures the Owl is superb.

    Greetings from Patricia.

  14. Rubbish everywhere in that one photo, hard to spot the birds.
    Beautiful scenery...
    Hope your eye is doing well.

    1. That is corn stubble left in the field after the crop has been mechanically harvested, Margaret.

  15. I love your female Barred Owl - no wonder she looks disdainful - some humans are completely beyond the pale, but I blame it on the way they were brought up. Sadly it happens all around the world.

  16. Que razón tienes amigo David, los humanos no escarmentamos, ya nos pueden decir, no tenemos arreglo. Que necesidad había de tirar esa bicicleta a esas aguas y otras muchas cosas. El búho me ha encantado así como los dos aguiluchos. Pero se lleva la palma esa bella imagen otoñal, es una maravilla, preciosa zona.
    Os deseo buen fin de semana.
    Un fuerte abrazo apreciado amigo y compadre David.

    1. Estamos condenados por nuestras proprios hábitos repugnantes.

  17. Hello, David

    Love the pretty scenery and fall colors. Great sighting and photos of the Barred Owl. The Pipit is beautiful. Enjoy your day, have a great weekend!

  18. Nature is beautiful everywhere; it's the humans that ruin its beauty..
    Condoms disposal has been replaced by surgical masks disposal.
    Great captures of the owl! Great solitary tree picture!

  19. Hi David - your trip out was delightful to see - and Miriam amazingly captured that little pipit on the substrate - I could hardly see it - but yes it is there.

    Your owl is quite delightful - and your descriptions are perfect ... and sadly revolting too - I do wonder what we're doing to the planet. All the best - Hilary

  20. Les busards doivent être intéressant à observer. La chouette est très jolie. De très belles couleurs pour les arbres en cette période!
    Et oui les déchets sont de partout!Ici aussi ça jette à tout va... Ou je travail sur notre parking on trouve de tout et des préservatifs aussi!
    J'ai compté 15 masques par terre ce matin en allant poser du courrier...
    Bon weekend

    1. Malheureusement je ne suis pas sûr que les humains se reformeront un jour.

  21. I had absolutely no idea that owls had once been persecuted and feared. Every day is a school day.

  22. The cow stood up to get a better view of the lone tree.
    Very beautiful autumn coat of the park.

  23. Stunning photos of the owl. Autumn is looking very pretty in your neck of the woods. Rubbish, there is no excuse for it, people just don't care and that's the problem.

  24. Beautiful hike with you today!
    Ilove that owl!Seem so wise!

    And the Bulls wow!!I am a bit scared of them!

    Wish you and Miriam a great weekend!


  25. Siempre llaman mi atención los visitantes que veo armados de sus objetivos y prismáticos para contemplar ese milagro de la naturaleza que son los pájaros. Precisamente en la Sagrada Familia de Gaudí, en Barcelona, el arquitecto mandó tallar una lechuza para colocarla bajo un arco interior.
    Enhorabuena por sus imágenes.

  26. Hello David,

    Your outing looks wonderful, the fall colors, the cattle are looking content. Great sighting if the Harrier and the Owl. It is sad to see the trash that people throw out. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your day. Happy weekend to you! PS, thank you for the comment and visit too.

  27. Thank you very much for this walk and these wonderful photos. Your Ontario is beautiful.

  28. Hello. Beautiful views and great photos. Owl is awesome.
    Take care.

  29. Coincidentally I got photos this week of "our" barred owl. Last photographed two years ago in exactly the same area so this was a thrill. However, your photos are much better than mine...too many branches here. Yes autumn in Ontario is always a treat in so many ways. Can't stand to see the trash.

  30. A wonderful post, David. The autumnal Ontario looks beautiful.
    Owls are fascinating. I have had some unforgettable encounters with them but unfortunately in times I didn't have a (good) camera so those moments stay only in memories.
    We all love bicycles too but not in rivers. *sigh*
    Have a good weekend and stay well!

  31. Oh my...getting to see the Owl is really special! Looks like the cousin to the one I saw a couple of weeks ago. It still amazes me to visit a blog of someone that lives so far away but sees some of the same sights I see. The eye looking like a hole in the tree is a neat photo! Love your views of the countryside too...oh but I'll go look at that owl again! Enjoy your weekend!

  32. Entre los colores del otoño y ver ese buho precioso, ha sido un paseo estupendo buen paseo amigo. Solo afear lo malo que sigue siendo el humano con la naturaleza.
    Buen fin de semana David. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

  33. Beautiful "looks" even on a gray day, the photo of the tree in the middle of the field is spectacular.
    The 8th photo with the trees in their golden tones looks like a painting. I loved the owls, they are such beautiful birds.
    Have a nice and happy weekend

  34. You certainly do live in a beautiful place. Loved the owls!

  35. Littering is disgusting! Especially that which pollutes our water.
    Beautiful Autumn color!
    Love the Owl photos!

  36. In the first photo, I was quite taken with the way in which the colors of the cows combined so nicely with the colors of the foliage. I enjoyed seeing the single tree, as well. There's something about a lone tree that tugs at my heart a bit. As for the owl: I'm just astonished. I've yet to get a good look at an owl in nature, although I have heard them call, and seen one in night-flight a couple of times. You have such riches -- your posts always are filled with delights.

  37. hello David
    Autumn is one of the most beautiful seasons, I like the colors, the rustling of leaves and the rain in the forest and the good thing about it is that when it rains you are practically alone and can really enjoy all of these impressions. Unfortunately, the owls don't sit so freely on the tree here and wait for me, but I'm always lucky to find some kind of rubbish in nature .. that makes me sad ...
    stay safe
    Greetings Frank

  38. Me encantó tu paseo querido amigo David. Por donde yo paseo también se ve bastante basura y eso me da mucha tristeza. Abrazos.

  39. Your outing was indeed wonderful, especially seeing the cows and the owls. Unfortunate about the bike in the water and wondered if it was accidental or purposeful. The items you mentioned being carelessly trashed are outdistanced lately by the number of discarded paper, even some cloth masks, plastic gloves and even dental flossers I have been seeing discarded everywhere. For awhile I did take photos, but like yourself have never felt inclined to post. There is no excusing those who carelessly discard such items.

    1. Hard to believe it could have been accidental. There is a bridge at that point and the embankment down to the river is fairly steep with no pedestrian or cyclist access.

  40. Every province has its sweet spots. I am happy in Ontario, as well.

  41. Hi David,
    Oh, that beautiful portrait of the female Barred Owl!
    Regards, and stay safe

  42. Those barred owl photos are stunning. That's either quite the zoom or Mr. Owl was very comfortable, knowing you had no intention to harm. Wonderful clarity. I've only seen one wild owl in my life -- what a treasure to see this one.

    It looks like your color was quite stunning. We still have some here downstate but it's moving on quickly. I'm not ready!

  43. Rower umarł w pięknej scenerii! ;-)
    Sowa cudowna, zazdroszczę Wam obserwacji!
    Cudny jesienny spacer!

  44. Hello David,
    the autumn colors in the trees in your first photo are very beautiful and expressive. The cattle also look very good and seeing a harrier is also exciting :-) Below that another beautiful picture with autumn colors!
    And then that owl ohhhhhhhhhh ...; ....... really great 💚💚💚
    Yes, dumping rubbish or bicycles (can also be stolen) are still dumped here. A lot of people have no respect for nature :-(
    Dear greetings,
    Helma xx