"winter"... sort of?
Did winter happen this year? I'm asking for a friend.
Winter is the season Canada is known for, but this year we didn't really live up to the reputation given that the first big dumping of snow of the year happened about a week ago. If we don't think about the doom and gloom of climate change for a moment, having a mild winter meant I could go out and take lots of photos without freezing. While I couldn't get a lot of picturesque snowscapes, here is what I managed to capture this "winter".
You already know I had to come back here during the winter break. Any winter in Whitby legally requires a trip to Lynde Shores Conservation Area, I don't make the rules. If you are ever feeling sad because of the grey wintery weather, head over there with a small bag of bird seed and I promise, your mood will be lifted. That's exactly what my friend and I did; feeding birds feeds the soul.
Some might think birds aren't as active this time of year since most would have migrated down south, but the birds here are far from dormant. This place is full of songbirds, namely chickadees that will gladly come feed from your hand. Aside from those little lads, we saw lots of nuthatches, a few cardinals and woodpeckers, and several chunky squirrels stealing birdseed from the feeders.
Of the songbirds we saw, my favourite had to have been the gorgeous blue jays that seemed like they knew they were being photographed. These are definitely my best photos from this shoot; their wings and tail feathers look like stained glass or mosaics. The runner-up for the bird of the day, however, was the ducks. I really felt like I was in my Snow White era when I crouched down and was swarmed by a sea of mallards. All in all, a great birding day for my bestie and I.
Back in the Loo
After the Christmas break between terms, I was back in Waterloo with a job that let me sit in my house all day. Work breaks meant standing up and staring out my window for a good five minutes to see what was happening in the outside world. The answer; not a whole lot.
Our bird feeder was empty for a while, the sky was either really grey or there was no snow at all and it was just cold. Overall, some pretty mediocre weather in terms of scenery. That being said, there were a few photo-worthy moments during the odd cold snap we had.
There were a few ice storms that hit the city which was scary if you were out at the time, but waking up to trees and gutters covered in ice was a nice visual in the morning. As the day went on, the sun came out and the trees were shining as the ice melted away. In between meetings I just took pictures from my window to see the pine needles and branches thawing. It was nice to watch from a distance, I did not want an icicle falling on me while I was shooting.
My last stop this winter was another local conservation area that I've had my eye on since I moved here, Laurel Creek Conservation Area. Since the buses in Waterloo don't have the best routes, what was a 15-minute drive was a 40-minute bus ride. Since I had a lovely friend with a car, I was able to take my boys for their first time birding!
I was really excited that weekend especially since it was the Great Backyard Bird Count. If you didn't know about this birding celebration, it is an annual tradition set out to monitor winter bird populations before their big springtime migration. It's a lovely event that you can participate in from anywhere in the world and just gives you an excuse to take a walk and look for birds, so that's exactly what we did.
With this momentous occasion, my boys and I got to the park bright and early (1 pm) and set out to find birds. I was hoping to find a good variety of birds but I should've lowered my expectations slightly since it was mid-day in late February, so my options were limited. That said, it was still a great turnout. With the help of some bird seed, we were visited by several chickadees, along with a few robins, nuthatches, and cardinals.
Species diversity was not extensive but I got to see the boy's hand-feed chickadees for the first time which was so wholesome to watch. The moral of the story, do more birding. As much as I enjoy the winter months, I am very excited for the spring season to see what the waterloo wildlife is like when it's warm out.