It's taken me almost two weeks to recover from my annual trip to The Park for the Ontario Field Ornithologists outing:
In our great wisdom, Ann and I planned an overnight trip, thinking that we would use the second day to return to any hot spots that we had seen on Sunday. Not.
There were no hot spots.
There were no Moose.
There were no Spruce Grouse.
There were no Black-backed Woodpeckers.
There was snow.
There was black ice.
There were high winds.
There were only thirty-two species seen in The Park, thirty of which can be readily found within a five kilometre circle from home
why did we bother going.
There was also a side of me that Ann had never seen before, as our long drive to The Park turned ugly just south of Huntsville when the blinding snow began. My death grip on the steering wheel was marginally loosened up as the Black Eyed Peas rocked the car at a calming five hundred decibels, poor Ann! And I wonder why we saw no critters???
slid into arrived at the West Gate and kissed the snow-covered ground fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, only to find that no one else from the OFO was there! Had we messed up on the date? Perhaps the fact that there were no tire tracks in the snow ahead of us to follow into the park was a sign?? Even Ron Tozer, the leader who lives up there (!!!) was missing, so we anxiously waited and waited, and eventually others arrived, grateful of our trail-blazing. In the end there were about sixty of us lunatics that spent the day together:
But enough of my whining, we did see a single Gray Jay thank you, God :
A lone Vesper Sparrow on Opeongo Road was seen by all as well, this little guy was quite reliable in the end, as we saw him feeding in the same spot all three times we returned to the area!
Between snow squalls and sunshine and high winds, the scenery remained spectacular as always...
...but more often than not, this is what we were faced with. And anyone who teased me about leaving my winter tires on so late into spring can- well, you know... ;-)
On the critter front for this trip, Ann and I were hoping for some photo opps of moose rather than birds, as sodium-starved moose will frequent the water-filled roadside ditches for any salt from the winter sanding. And would you not think this was a sure thing, given the winter conditions we had experienced? The warning road signs promised us fifty kilometres of opportunity, we were thrilled:
But NOOOOOOOOOOOOO, two days of patiently driving back and forth along the highway yielded us nothing, the irony did not go unnoticed as we passed the zero kilometre marker, as zero moose is what we saw, grrrrrrrrr:
The following week-end both Chris and Murray saw numerous moose and even wolves in The Park, I'm still weeping with
envy joy for them as I write this, boohooo for Ann and I!
However, a pair of otters on the edge of the ice on Lake Opeongo was an unexpected consolation prize:
This one madly chowed down on a fish, can you imagine how sharp its teeth must be to devour a raw fish?
The next morning we awoke to windchill temps of -11º , so we
skated on black ice returned to the lake in search of the otters but they were nowhere to be found, so we left The Park, vowing to return another time for moose. Heading south along highway 35, our first stop was in Dorset to watch a pair of Common Loons frolic in the lake, but for sure an immature Bald Eagle that flew overhead was the highlight of the day:
Our return trip took us through the Kawarthas where signs of bird life were being seen once again. Detours along the way were taken too, as Ann gripped the car dashboard in horror as I somehow managed to safely navigate some serious off-road terrain in a non-ATV mode of transportation. I have since written a letter of complaint to
the bozos at MapArt for misleading information in their Ontario Road Atlas, stay tuned as I await a free revised edition from them!
I managed a few new flight shots, the first of a Merlin, it's a start at least, these suckers boot it on the wing...
...and a distant Ring-necked Duck:
The Kawartha Osprey continue to mesmerize us:
The refurbishing of their nest is the first duty upon returning to their Ontario breeding grounds, as they constantly deliver sticks to it:
All in all it was a good trip despite the horrific weather which no doubt was the culprit for the disappointing number of birds, but that's what makes this such an interesting hobby, as one just never knows what one is going to see- or not see, in this case!
Kudos go to both Ron and Kevin for tenaciously leading the OFO trip to find birds for us all. It just turned out that the birds had more common sense that us humans to be out in that ugly weather! Better luck next time, that's all Ann and I had to say!