07 January 2021
We had been told by our good friend, Merri-Lee, that she had seen Red Crossbills (Loxia curvirostra) in the spruce trees in the small cemetery on Boomer Line, so we set off to see if we could emulate her success.
The snow was pristine, dazzling white, and there were fresh snowmobile tracks indenting the surface.
We were happy that these noisy machines were not hurtling across the fields to disturb the tranquility of the day while we were there.
The cemetery is abundantly attractive to crossbills, but none were feeding there during our visit.
Crossbills are highly mobile and no doubt have several favourite feeding spots. We will have to be patient it seems!
Waterloo Region is agricultural in nature, with ample fertile land for cash crops, and this farm seemed frozen in time, waiting for the renewal of spring.
Since we were out on a glorious day we expanded our search and headed off to areas where we have always had success finding Snowy Owls (Bubo scandiacus).
It did not take us long to locate a beautiful, large female.
It was more than a little disturbing to see tracks heading off into the field.
A small (I hope) minority of unscrupulous birders and photographers do not think twice about trespassing on a farmer's field, all in the quest for a closer look or a better shot. Some have been known to carry mice which they release so the the owl will be lured into flight - all to get that perfect flight shot. Of course, not all rodents set free are captured and the farmer is left to deal with the problem.
Apart from the trespass aspect, these owls are resting, conserving energy and should be left alone. Trying to convince some boneheads of that simple fact seems to be a lost cause. The hubris they spew in defence of their actions defies belief.
Just before leaving for home we were delighted to see another female Snowy Owl perched on a post.
I swear that I heard her implore us to come back, and we will be sure to accept her invitation to get together another day!
09 January 2021
We had not seen Heather and Lily since before Christmas and we were all anxious to go for our Friday walk (socially distanced, of course).
Lily changes so much at this stage of her life and she seemed to have become a "big girl" in the three weeks since we last met up.
Heather really wanted to see a Barred Owl (Strix varia) so we chose to visit Hillside Park in Waterloo, on a mission to find an owl.
And find it we did!
It is too bad that the tree where the owl roosted was bedecked with plastic trash, but such is the nature of human disregard for the environment as we know all too well.
But nothing could detract from the regal demeanour of this denizen of the forest.
We made sure that Lily saw it. She will not remember of course but she now reacts to many stimuli and no doubt enjoyed her first encounter with an owl.
The words of Robert Frost sprung to mind as we walked through the woods - "Woods are lovely, dark and deep."
I could ask you all to vote for your favourite pictures on this post - Snowy Owl, Barred Owl or Lily. I think I know who might win!