Saturday, November 12, 2011

It's Been a While

As mentioned in my last post, life has been very busy lately.  I'm struggling to keep my head above water at work with a very large work load.  Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful for work, knowing there are many without right now.  If you know someone in the civil engineering field looking for work in land development consulting industry, feel free to send them my way!

I decided I'd take lunch and head off to Hendrie Valley Marsh for a walk with my camera to relax and see what there was to enjoy on a crisp fall day.  On the way, I stopped along York Boulevard just past the high bridge.  Often on my way into, or heading home from work, I see hawks riding the wind which is forced up by the ridge Yord Boulevard follows.  They face into the wind, and float in a stationary location.  I understand the lift keeping them vertical, but I still haven't figured out why they aren't pushed back.  Unless they are slightly tipped forward?....  There was one red-tailed hawk who must have just tired of that spot and headed out over Coote's Paradise after I got only a couple distant shots.
Red-tailed Hawk

I stopped at the ponds just off the Old Valley Inn Road and there was one lone
Double-crested Cormorant perched there.  Many have already gone south for the season.

Double-crested Cormorant

It seemed very nervous with how close I was, constantly moving its head back and forth, but didn`t seem to want to either jump into the water, or try and fly away.  I`m not sure if they can make a direct take-off into
the air from a low perch such as he was - they usually take a bit of a run at taking to flight, `walking`along the water as they gain speed and then altitude.  You can see why they are swift, agile swimmers under water with those big, webbed feet.

Double-crested Cormorant

Keeping the Cormorant company were a group of Mallard Ducks.

Male Mallard Duck

On the other side of the old roadway, there were a number of Northern Shovelers - a first time for me.  A kind old gentleman with many years of birding ID`d them for me on the spot.  Not as domesticated as the Mallards, they were more shy and beat to the middle of the water when I approached.

Norther Shovelers
From a distance, the females look similar to mallards, but they have a more mottled, speckled white pattern.  If close enough, the distinctive, longer, up-curving bill is the biggest clue.  They get their name for this distinctive bill, it being more sensitive to catching bottom dwelling creatures on the muddy bottoms of water compared to other ducks which usually just east plant matter.

Female and Male Northern Shovelers

I also saw two Downie Woodpeckers, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker, the latter also being a first time sighting for me.   

Male Downy Woodpecker

Male Red-Bellied Woodpecker

A common sight in the marsh there, a male Northern Cardinal.

Northern Cardinal

There was a whole flock of Cedar Waxwings along the boardwalk in the Hendrie Valley Marsh.  They were feeding mostly on wild rose-hips which had trailed through the dogwood bushes. 

Cedar Waxwing

At first, I thought this bird had the characteristic red waxy feathers on its head, but zooming it closer, it looks like it`s some berry pits or berry juice drops.  Strange.

Cedar Waxwing

And then time was up and I had to head back to work.... A good way to take a break though, that`s for sure!  Till next time...

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