Garden Variety

The spring bulbs are up, with the tulips towing over the dandelions and forget-me-nots. Also, the bird feeders were busy, and the chipmunk made a surprise appearance.

I like the dandelions, and no longer battle them. Once you think of them as wildflowers, rather than weeds, it seems easier to enjoy them.

The forget-me-nots started appearing a few years ago. I make a point to mow around them.

This chipmunk is not supposed to be here.

This cardinal is.

Camouflage Expert

I wandered down to the overflow pond to see who was there. A mallard duck was resting on the outcrop between the two pools of water and looked up at me. I watched closely, though, because there appeared to be shifting earth below where the mallard was sitting. And that’s when I saw the sandpiper.
Camouflage expert

Riverside Birds

This spring has been very cold and perhaps that is why I have been seeing some unusual birds.  Yesterday as I walked home from the train, I saw a variety of warblers that were new to me.

Tennessee Warbler

I’m not 100% sure this is a Tennessee warbler but it looks like it from my identification book.  Or it could be a vireo.
Warbler world

American Redstart

Like the warblers, this Redstart was moving around so quickly and far back in the brush I could barely get a snap of it.  At first I thought it might be an oriole but it’s orange is in the wrong places.
American redstart

Yellow Warbler

I usually see a pair of yellow warblers each year but for many years I may have been seeing them but assumed they were finches from a quick view of yellow feathers in a bush.  They’re obviously very different.
Yellow warbler


I like the grackle.  It’s colorful feathers are always attractive and, while it seems like it’s a bit of a bully, always has a spirited look.  This one was hopping around just as I got off the train.
Gracklescent colors

Watchful Weasel

The dog and I walk along the river and, while he’s sniffing the grass, I keep an eye on the river.  Even on a windy day, you can see ripples that aren’t natural on the water.  I saw some and watched as a creature swam the river and popped up on our side.  A weasel!
It paused at the river bank and then slowly jumped its way across the low underbrush until it came up almost right to me and the dog. Which was the first time he saw the weasel – he’d been huffing and puffing at me while I stood still, and hadn’t been looking at the animal coming towards us.
Watchful weasel
The weasel continued to move around the grass looking for an auspicious place to cross, I’m assuming, the path. By the time we looked back, he’d disappeared.
Weasel in the weeds

Myrtle Warbler

I’d not seen a Myrtle warbler before – and hadn’t known it under it’s Yellow Rump (or “Butter Butt”) name.  The purpose of this site was to help with my observation skills and visually I’m better, but the birds make me realize how little I can distinguish one bird’s call from another.  The finches and cardinals are obvious, but often I’ll see something like this bird because I’ve heard a call I don’t recognize!
Butter butt
I wasn’t sure at first that these are the same type of bird, but this one clearly has the yellow spot on the head. I find bird watching in spring to be hard as the juveniles do not yet share the coloring of their adults.
Myrtle warbler

Basking Beaver in the River

This weekend was extremely hot.  I was out early with the dog to try to get in a walk before we both melted.  As we passed a large outflow pipe, this beaver was floating on the river.  Not a ripple from it as it seemed to just enjoy being in the cool water.  After a moment it gained a bit of headway, and disappeared as a bike rider rattled by behind us.


Muskrat Rushes

One afternoon on the way home, the water was deep and the ducks were dabbling.  Then a muskrat swam up and started grabbing the rushes from near the edge of the pond.


Beaver Breakfast

I’ve shifted my schedule to catch an earlier train and I’m seeing a slightly different slice of life on the trail in the morning.  This will change as the days shorten and the light disappears but it’s meant more animal encounters, even with some bad light.  One of the beavers was busy with breakfast and hung around long enough for a photo.


Striped Chipmunk

There are few sounds that the dog hears that are more ear-raising than the single chirp of the chipmunk.  Immediately he catches it, his ears go up and he points directly at it.  This one was peeking out in response to another chipmunk’s call, and froze when it saw us.


Beaver Foraging

I walk to the train and notice how the animals shift with daylight, rather than time.  When I walk in the dark, it’s often just me and the dawn chorus warming up.  As dawn breaks before I reach the tracks, many more things are stirring.  The other day, as I stepped past the level crossing, a beaver walked out onto the trail.

2015_0508_06352300-01It didn’t appear to see me and turned and walked over to some thin trees, appearing to sniff them.  It was only as I took a step or two forward that its head went up and it slid down the bank to the water.

Earlier in the week, a beaver swam down the main river.  It slapped its tail every 10 or 15 feet, dove, and then immediately surfaced again.  It was a slow, odd reaction.  I’m not sure if it was protecting a second beaver or just keeping an eye on me.  The tail slap wasn’t the normal wallop you hear when they’re startled.2015_0501_06384300-01

Stealing Mink

This American Mink dodged out onto the snow before the river melted and scooted along just past the rivers edge.  It’s the third time I’ve seen mink along the river but the first time I was able to get a decent photo.

American Mink sliding in the snow on the banks of the Holland River, Newmarket, Ontario
American Mink sliding in the snow on the banks of the Holland River, Newmarket, Ontario
American Mink heading into the snow on the banks of the Holland River, Newmarket, Ontario
American Mink heading into the snow on the banks of the Holland River, Newmarket, Ontario