The month of December is coming to an end, and so is 2018. I’m not the type of person who usually makes a list of accomplishments, but I was thinking it would be nice to have a post with my best photos of the year. Then I realized that I have not made any posts this year with one of my favourite hobbies: bird watching. Observing the birds – these little and colourful creatures, gave me great joy this summer: I started noticing how much quicker a movement is in the air rather than on the ground, more than I did in the past. I started learning a lot from just observing them and seeing how they take care of their chicks, or how they feed themselves.
This summer I spent some time up north, around Lake Buckhorn again. Sometimes catching some fish, sometimes catching a good time, but definitely catching some pictures and wonderful memories.
One weekend I saw many eastern kingbirds. They were coming and going, flying around the neighbourhood. This family hung around together pretty much all the time, perching along on these wires. I couldn’t really tell which one was the chick, as all of them were about the same size.
Until later one afternoon, when I noticed from a distance how one of them was kind of “kissing” the other one that was sitting in a tree, after getting out of a nearby bush. Really? Who has ever heard about two birds kissing each other? Intrigued, I grabbed my camera, and I started watching them closely. I was able to get a picture while the birds were “kissing”, and then I also solved the mystery of why the raspberries were disappearing from the garden: the mother was feeding her baby with our black raspberries, and, after dropping one in her baby’s mouth, she would quickly go and rest on another branch. She was doing this so quickly that the chick didn’t actually have a chance to swallow the berry when the mother was already sitting.
These expert fishers, common loons can dive as deep as 60 m. You can read more facts about them in my post from last year, here. This year I’ve seen a pair of adults, with two youngsters. Normally both parents feed the chicks, but this time one of the adults left the group shortly after I saw them, while the other adult, I suppose it was the mother, continued to swim with the youngsters. The chicks are capable of making shallow dives from their first day, but these two, even if they look quite big, didn’t dive at all as long as I watched them (more than 30 min). As they grow, the chicks are able to feed themselves, but many juveniles continue to beg from adults. This is how these two youngsters look, since their mother was continually diving and coming back beside them, while swimming/floating on the water.
Once considered an endangered species, the Canada goose population has increased a lot – in Canada. Even though they are normally migratory birds, they also established big colonies in urban areas, becoming a nuisance in some communities (i.e. parks, playgrounds, airports). Native to North America, they breed in Canada and the northern states in the US. Great Lakes and their surroundings maintain a large population of Canada geese. One morning I surprised 3 goose families near the neighbour docks, and watched them as they rushed altogether in the water, for safety. I watched how all 4 pretty goslings aligned one after another behind one of their parents, while the other parent held their backs, in line as well. It is amazing how protective they are of their little ones.
Part of the finch family, the purple finch male is vividly coloured. His raspberry head captured my attention, and after taking the picture I noticed the female on the branch below. The female is less coloured, but with a white mark on the eyebrow, and a dark line down the side of the throat.
The largest heron in North America, the Great blue heron is actually grayish. I’m not very sure who became more startled one day: was it me, or this beautiful pair, who has heard us approaching and flew away. I considered myself lucky that I had my camera handy and was able to catch them in flight. They are easily recognizable due to their neck that is always curved as an “S” while flying. Herons are normally solitary feeders, and I was surprised to see this pair hidden by a reed patch, in the middle of the lake, probably feeding themselves.
The belted kingfisher is the only water kingfisher that is found in Canada. It is about 30 cm long, with blue-gray plumage on the back, and black feather tips. It can be recognized easily from the ragged, big crest on its large head and its long, heavy bill. This one captured my attention one day because he kept “fishing” from the lake. I managed to take this photo while he was resting on a branch high in a nearby tree, where he was watching for his prey. He was plunging very fast in the water, then coming back to rest and/or eat on the tree.
The laughing-like face of this below snapping turtle welcomed me one evening while I was driving near a little pond.
Don’t be fooled by the smile, since this is not a real smile, and they can be very aggressive when approached on land. They travel extensively over land searching for new habitats and/or to lay eggs.
Time for reflection
The painted turtle is the most widespread native turtle in North America. I’ve seen many in the past, swimming in the water, but never seen them so closely, since only the tip of the head was out of the water. The yellow stripes on the head, neck and tail distinguish the painted turtle from other species. It was nice to see one basking under the sun, on a log in the little pond beside the street. It inspired tranquility, peacefulness, and harmony. Lifespan in the wild is poorly known, but long-term mark-recapture data from Algonquin Park in Ontario, Canada, suggest a maximum age over 100 years. Fossils show that the painted turtle existed 15 million years ago.
Reflections are great. The ones we see surrounding us, or the ones we see inside us. We need to take our time to enjoy what we like the most, with every opportunity we get, as these passed moments might not be offered to us again. Time to reflect, or time to make plans. Time to love, and time to appreciate. Time to enjoy, and time to treasure the wonderful moments.
Bumble Bees have a large range throughout most of Canada and parts of the United States. With their furry, fluffy bodies they captured my attention one day at the beginning of fall, as they were heavily feeding on a large bush of Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’. Because the day was a little cool, they were not very active, or attentive, and they let me approach quite a lot with my camera. Due to the artificial fertilizer, or pesticides, bumblebee population has declined in certain areas, and I was very happy to see a big lot of them in my yard, a good, healthy sign for nature, since they are one of the most important known pollinators.
Known as one of the smallest birds in the world, hummingbirds might be difficult to be captured on camera. For this reason, I was so happy when this little creature visited our feeder one day. They are also called nectarivores, as their diet is based on flower nectar. This is why they are attracted by bright colours: red, orange, pink. Hummingbirds are also known for having the highest metabolism of all animals while in flight (excepting insects): their heart rate can reach 1,260 beats per minute. It is amazing to watch how fast they beat their wings – up to 80 times per second, as the wings’ image gets blurry while they are feeding in flight.
Thank you for stopping by, reading, or commenting over the year!
I wish you many wonderful family moments, while you enjoy your own adventurous or relaxing times. Indulge yourself with any nectar life will give you, and hope that many rainbows will lighten your way in 2019.
Have a Happy and Healthy New Year and Happy Travels wherever you go!!