Serenaded by a Northern Cardinal

Yesterday the sun was shining. I visited a friend, then, as I pulled out of her driveway to go home, I was drawn to the lake instead. I drove along Lake Drive heading north along Lake Simcoe. I love looking out at the lake. The flash of red caught my eye and I had to pull over. I got out of the car, camera in hand and walked back, hoping I could find him.

Enjoying the spring sunshine

Sure enough, his song led me right to his perch in the still leafless trees on the edge of the lake. The Northern Cardinal is one of the most distinct birds in our area. The male is a beautiful red and his song is equally distinctive.
Both male and female have the same beautiful sound.
Sometimes it sounds like purdy purdy purdy… whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit.
Another call resembles what-cheer, what-cheer … wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet.

looking out to sea

Large birds are easier to identify

The Red Tailed Hawk is probably the most common hawk in North America.  Red-tailed Hawks (also known as a chicken hawk in the USA) soar above open fields, slowly turning circles as they hunt for prey. Other times you’ll see them atop fence posts, eyes fixed on the ground to catch the movements of a vole or a rabbit, or simply waiting before climbing a thermal updraft into the sky.

Both male and female Red-tailed Hawks build the nest, or simply refurbish one of the nests they’ve used in previous years. Nests are tall piles of dry sticks.  Red-tailed Hawks typically put their nests in the crowns of tall trees or cliffs  where they have a commanding view of the landscape. They will lay 1-3 eggs in the spring. While the female most often sits on the nest, the male will sit on the nest when the female goes to hunt. The male brings the food once the eggs hatch.

The babies known as eyasses, and stay in the nest for about 45 days. Then they start to learn to fly and hunt. At this stage they are known as  fledglings. It takes about 10 weeks for the fledglings to mature and leave the nest.

Red-Tailed Hawk

The Great Blue Heron is the largest heron in North America. This large heron has yellow eyes. It has a white head with black stripes and black plumes sticking out of the back of its head. They find a new mate each year.

Great blue herons are waders. They can be seen along the edge of lakes and streams, walking slowly or standing in the water, patiently waiting for a fish to come within range. Though they are best known as fishers, mice constitute a large part of their diet, and they also eat insects and other small creatures.

Great blue herons’ size (3.2 to 4.5 feet/1 to 1.4 meters) and wide wingspan (5.5 to 6.6 feet/1.7 to 2 meters) make them a joy to see in flight. They can cruise at some 20 to 30 miles (32 to 48 kilometers) an hour.

Though great blue herons hunt alone, they typically nest in colonies. They prefer tall trees, but sometimes nest in low shrubs. The nest can be a meter wide. Females produce two to seven eggs, which both parents protect and incubate. Chicks can survive on their own by about two months of age.

Osprey and its young

Osprey are a large raptor, found around the world near oceans, rivers and lakes. They each fish which they catch with their large hooked talons. They build their nests on the top of dead trees, on telephone poles or other high structures including manmade nesting platforms.

They return to the same nest year after year. The female will stay close to the nest, while the male will bring food to the young.  They have a wingspan of 1.6 metres.

This post is part of the Sunday Post challenge started by Jakesprinter. You can find out all about it at http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/sunday-post-nature/

Weekly Photo Challenge: Arranged

It is a beautiful sunny day, I was taking some photos in the back yard, checking on the dove in the nest, my husband playing with Sydney. I noticed the arranged patio stones. While I took some photos, the dogs shadow fell across the stones. I caught the kong in mid-flight, its shadow fell in front of Sydney’s shadow.
I thought this would be a good entry for arranged… I not only arranged the stones, but also the photo.

Sydney playing with the Kong on our arranged patio stones

Patience is hard to find.

A photographer needs patience. Waiting for the right moment, the time when the lighting and mood is right, waiting is hard.

Into the gray.

Landing

I love to take photos of birds. I need to get out into the wild with my telephoto and a tripod. I am looking forward to hiking and exploring this summer… Today is gray and cool. I need patience… one of the hardest things for me is waiting..

Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is “timing” it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.”    ―      Fulton J. Sheen

I am in a test right now. Waiting for the Insurance company to approve all the repairs so we can finally clean up after the flood. I cannot wait to get our rooms back to some kind of normal. I have boxes of food all over my kitchen and it is easier to order pizza than it is to cook. ( OK there are benefits.)

Francis Bacon said: “Whoever is out of patience is out of possession of his soul.”

I read that and started to wonder. I know I have been out of control at some points in my life and it is not somewhere I want to return to. I must be patient, with myself and with my world.

Sunday Post: Light

Wild, exciting, sad, lewd, shameless, fun, wicked, immoral and definitely covered in light, The evening I walked down the streets of Vegas, I saw more lights than ever before. There was a carnival atmosphere, a circus feel in the air. Las Vegas is unique.

This post is part of the challenge by Jakesprinter. Please visit http://jakesprinters.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/sunday-post-light/    to see how you can take part in this challenge

Traffic waited for the lights to change

Everything is covered in lights. even the palm trees are bathed in light.

Even the McDonald sign is like no other. It flashes and lights up, joining in the circus of lights.

Now I know that Vegas is a fantasy land.

Who ate the Spider?

It must be because the kick plate is removed from under the cupboards. We are still waiting to hear what damage the insurance covers. The flood is dried up, but the kitchen is still dismantled.

A spider crawled out of its regular “under the sink”  hiding place, silly thing.

"I am just minding my own business, taking a stroll.."

The cat has good eyesight, the poor spider managed to make it to the middle of the kitchen floor before getting whacked across the room. Struggling to its eight little legs, it limped out into the middle again. Clover, the cat, sniffed at it, pawed it, toyed with it..

"Thanks guys, for getting me a new toy.." says the cute and innocent kitty cat

I feel guilty. I should have rescued the poor scared spider. Do spiders have feelings? Can a spider taste fear? I contemplated these things as I snapped a few more photos.

The spider must be scared, Its hair is standing on end.

Suddenly, the cat went in for a closer look.

"hey little buddy.."

That was the last I saw of the spider.  I am left holding a camera and singing that old children’s song;

There was an Old Lady song

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a spider, That wriggled and wiggled and tiggled inside her; She swallowed the spider to catch the fly; I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a bird; How absurd to swallow a bird. She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, She swallowed the spider to catch the fly; I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a cat; Fancy that  to swallow a cat! She swallowed the cat to catch the bird, She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, She swallowed the spider to catch the fly; I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady that swallowed a dog; What a hog, to swallow a dog; She swallowed the dog to catch the cat, She swallowed the cat to catch the bird, She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, She swallowed the spider to catch the fly; I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a cow, I don’t know how she swallowed a cow; She swallowed the cow to catch the dog, She swallowed the dog to catch the cat, She swallowed the cat to catch the bird, She swallowed the bird to catch the spider, She swallowed the spider to catch the fly; I don’t know why she swallowed a fly – Perhaps she’ll die!

There was an old lady who swallowed a horse… She’s dead, of course!

She should have gone straight to the cat.

Through the Eye of the Needle.

My eyes were wide open. We drove so slowly along the winding, narrow road. We wanted to take in the beauty and wonder of the Needles Highway. Custer State Park is in the SW corner of South Dakota. This is a perfect place for this weeks challenge : Weekly Photo Challenge: Through  A brochure at a tourist center caught our attention. We knew we wanted to check this out and I am glad we did. The rock formations are unique. The highway is winds through the Black Hills.

The rock formations resembled needles

The highway is built on the edge of a cliff.

Approaching one of the tunnels

If you cannot go around it and you cannot go over it, you have to go through it.

Driving through the very narrow tunnel

The Highway has many spectacular sights yet the most famous is the Eye of the Needle. A rock formation formed by the power of the wind, the rain, the snow and ice. Mother Nature had fun making this famous spot.

We could see through the eye of the needle.

If you are ever in South Dakota, do not miss this short yet spectacular drive. Leave plenty of time. It is only 8 or so miles, but you will need lots of time because you will want to stop over and over.