Two 2017 First Sightings

 

The above two photos, taken today at our feeder with the Sony’s 70–210 E-mount lens fully zoomed, show that the migration continues. This species has graced our sunflower seed feeder since 2011.

When I returned in the Toyota shuttle from delivering the car for its annual maintenance my spotter excitedly announced her sightings of the above and a black-throated blue warbler, who was in the two pink rose bushes that climb, and crown, our ancient arbor at the bottom of the deck stairs. I was too late for that warbler.

A few other recent photos:

Update May 2: Could not find the night-heron the next day and haven’t looked since. 

Birding Can Be Puzzling – April 28th

Our Woods was cool (7° C.; 45° F.) on the morning of the 28th. My spotter and I went out around 8 AM. As we exited the wooded path into a grassy knoll my spotter saw this big bird in the woods near the stream where I flushed the heron on the 27th. I snapped this with my Sony Alpha A-6000 using its 200 mm zoom and DMF manual focus, since there was a lot of brush in between the lens and the bird. This heron is smaller than the Great Blue, but still a good size.

Using the 8X Bushnells I noted clearly that the eye was an unmistakable red. Before I could get a better picture it flew over our heads.  The eye colour and its other colouring narrowed it down to two possible night-herons: the Black-crowned and the Yellow-crowned. I cannot be sure which. The Black-crowned is more common this far north. I went out early this afternoon and didn’t spot it, but will be out there hoping to get a better photo tomorrow if it is still there. It looked a little stressed, so I don’t know. We also saw a sandpiper but they are tough to identify.

A few more photos from April 28:

 

Birding in Our Woods – April 27

Cormorant display, May 1, 2015
This morning Anita was at the gym so I went out at around 8 AM on my own without my favourite spotter, but with my old, trusty Bushnell Birding Series 8X binoculars in case I spotted anything.

Heard the chipping sparrow’s machine-gun call as I stepped out the front door. It was in the large willow across the street from us. They had arrived in some numbers and I heard them throughout my one hour walk in Our Woods. The spectacular, dependably early, Myrtle warblers were out in force finding tiny insects invisible to me. Peewee commonly heard. Redwing blackbirds were abundant and the males plenty vocal as usual. Saw a couple of females, too. They cautiously don’t announce their presence. Saw the ruby-crowned a few times.

By the two blue benches near the small, well-maintained playground I walked down to the creek that runs SW through the park and flushed what I assumed was a great blue heron, which flew NW along the creek to escape me, probably to the lower “lake,” one of two “made” from the three old quarry pools when the old quarry became a housing development, though I didn’t see it again as I walked counterclockwise around both lakes. The Myrtles, also called yellow-rumped, were plentiful at the N end of the lower lake.

Out of duty I report a grackle in the wild, having already seen a couple, uninvited, at the sunflower seed feeder off our backyard deck. We like to assist the nuthatches, white and rose-breasted, chickadees, juncos, downy and hairy woodpeckers, cardinals and occasional blue-jays by shooing the gourmand blackbirds when we see them. Ah yes! Mustn’t forget the double-crested cormorants, seen today: 4 on the lower lake and 11 on the upper. We first noticed them in Our Woods in 2015.

Spring Birding Resumes (for us) – April 23

These mallards from April 24, 2016 contributed to one of my favourite mood photos

Robins appeared on Feb. 18th!  this year (earliest ever!) in Our Woods, and we had a good day on April 23 when we saw a peewee, looking for it after hearing its “pee-a-wee call.” Also seen, a Baltimore Oriole in flight, the earliest GTA sighting recorded on ebird.ca being in Hamilton that same day. Then there was the usual stuff: our 1st brown creeper, ruby and golden crowned kinglets, and we heard the song sparrow.

Still Waiting, Ms. Barton…

The hopeful email below, sent last Friday at 9:23 AM to a very bright CBC host reporter on the daily CBC TV program Power and Politics, has not yet been acknowledged as received:

***

Dear Ms. Rosemary Barton
CBC Power and Politics Host

Please do me the kind favour of acknowledging that you have received this communication and have read it. At the top of page two I recommend two distinguished American investigative reporters for you to interview as soon as you can, and in some depth. I am 72 now and fear desperately for the future of my children and grandchildren.

This was laboriously typed yesterday and appears dangerously close to being too late, in view of the deliberate US missile strike on a Syrian base.

I write because I trust you more than anyone else at the CBC and have some major concerns about mainstream Western media’s coverage of several issues related to Russia – including the recent news about the sarin-related deaths in Idlib, Syria. The MSM are blaming it on Bashar Assad. This blame is an essential component in what seems like an attempt to resurrect the US plan to depose Assad soon, for many reasons – none of them related to his ruthlessness.

US interference in the leaders chosen by the Syrian people goes back to 1949 Continue reading “Still Waiting, Ms. Barton…”

Caring for the Soul of Syria

Windows of the Soul, Damascus

I can’t write about Damascus without feeling jasmine climbing upon my fingers…

I can’t utter its name without tasting the juice of apricot, pomegranate, mulberry, and quince…

Can’t remember it without sensing a thousand doves perched on the wall of my memory, and another one thousand flying…

I am haunted by Damascus even when I am not residing there…

Its ancestors are buried inside me, its neighborhoods intersect above my body…
Its cats love, marry, and leave their kittens with me…

Do not ask for my identity card, I am a hundred percent Damascene, like wheat, plums, and pomegranates. Like brocade, Aghbani and Damasco. Like copper pitchers, and the armoires decorated with mother of pearl; all of which are part of my history and the trousseau of my mother…

A tree of Arabian jasmine that my mother left on my window, its white moons grow every year…

by Nizar Qabbani

The magnificent, deeply touching poem, Windows of the Soul, Damascus, was written by the great Syrian poet, Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998). The video in the above link is a reading in Arabic of the poem. The photography is truly uplifting.  It was published by a group of Syrian students on their website called Syrian Students for a better future studying at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

I heard part of this poem quoted by the inspiring Ghada Alatrash on the podcast, Saving Syria – Keeping War-torn Culture Alive by CBC Radio’s Ideas. This podcast was produced by Naheed Mustafa. I was hooked by the podcast’s introduction, featuring Maamoun Abdulkarim‘s heroic fight to save thousands of irreplaceable Palmyra treasures from Islamic State destroyers and moved to tears by the music, poetry and stories of tragedy and hope that followed, from contributors Ghada Alatrash, Alia Malek and the music of Aya Mhana.

Oh, how a special place like Syria, in so many present, ancient and artistic ways, shows the best we can be as a gifted, precarious, human “episode” of the history of Mother Earth – a true reason to keep hope alive.

New Clothes for the Emperors

The Works Progress Administration in Ohio presents The Federal Theatre for Youth in "The emperor's new clothes" LCCN98517057

Brad Wall, Premier of Saskatchewan, in his 2017 budget, appears to be in the process of selling what seems, to an unapologetic sixties leftist like me, every remaining good thing in that province to private corporations.

Naomi Klein’s prescient book, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, would shed some keen insight on this, unfortunately worldwide, trend. And the seismic shift in Saskatchewan, and possibly soon in Ontario, has happened on our watch!

As for Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, more hurt than help here, appears keen not only to leave all of Harper’s anti-democratic buckshot legislation, squirrelled away in over a dozen omnibus bills, in place, but more than that, to contribute his own pro-corporate slavish sauce to the mix. At this very moment Trudeau’s trying to figure out how to slyly dress his cabinet to keep the alt-right from going with someone like Kevin O’Leary.

The clothes of the Emperor (the proper name for any Prime Minister or Premier with a majority) are all but gone, and so many of his promises are in tatters, but he cuts a dashing figure in boxing trunks, doesn’t he?

Pierre must be spinning, and, simultaneously shrugging, in his grave.