In my muckpants, shitboots, and prone along the odoriferous rockways in the sunshine, I did remark “Well just look at this dumb little stander!”
P.S. Lying face-down in front of foraging tree sparrows = cheap thrills, etc!


Gentle squawko, seen in the “fake tundra section” of Toronto’s Old Country Spittoon.
In my books, lying face-down in one’s muckpants and shitboots along the fetid groundways is the acme of emotional excitement, etc.


Long-Eared Owl in a strange sweetpocket, yes yes.
He was perched perhaps two feet off the ground, as is the wont of this species. Many of us saw him, and quite a few photographers ventured around the sides and front of him, so as to get a closer, or better, or different look. The human ruckus perturbed the owl, who needed to sleep. The allure of owls causes many people, photographers especially, to behave very badly indeed. I will spare you the specifics, lest I sink into vitriolic indignation. I believe myself to be “one of the good ones” but I often worry that even at the best of times I am causing undue disturbance to these creatures I care about, and that really I should focus on other things and leave them to live their lives.
THEN AGAIN, I’m too sensitive! Even my own mother thinks so! Some bird photographers are tough guys, believe it or not. They snarl and grimace, wear full-body camouflage, carry around $15,000 worth of equipment at a minimum, and throw petstore mice to raptors so as to get the killer shots they need. Grrrr, etc!


It’s Springtime now, but in fondness I recall this tree sparrow in the snow, and also a very small stick.


And then, the lake was full of magical problems, and the sun was very bright. When a snitcher combines these components with telephoto optics, the world loses most of its color! Or colour! But I eschew the “u” which I know annoys many of my Canadian friends?
“But you’re Canadian yourself” they tell me, which really means “Get with the program, etc!”
“Hold your horses,” I tell them, “is your so-called ‘Canadian’ spelling not merely a farrago of American and British? Am I not entitled also to pick and choose? And anyhow why is the Queen all over your currency? And furthermore, why do you say ‘in hospital’? Where is the ‘the’? Forsooth, I must move to distance myself from your monarchial trappings! But wait, there’s more: depending on my temper, I will say ‘zee’ or ‘zed’ because both are fun, and funny! I know what you’re thinking, but I am not American nor do I wish to be! But it is their rules of spelling with which I usually agree! I was a lucky Canadian boy, once upon a time, and now, as a ripened manchild, I am luckier still!”
“We stopped listening after FARRAGO,” said _______.


My barber is very religious! He plays “The Online Bible” through his computer speakers while he cuts hair. Today we listened to chapters 9 through 14 from The Book of Proverbs. I felt that certain words were overused, and that it is usually better to be subtle when trying to make a point. People are smarter than you think, save the hammers for your carpentry, etc! Anyhow, the writer had VERY strong opinions about slutty women and how they are really, really bad, and he talked about that a lot!
Well, I’m en route to baldness anyhow, so how long can a haircut really take? And anyhow in the end my barber and I had a short conversation wherein we agreed that people make their lives too complicated, and that we are very lucky to be alive, and that although it’s better to be lucky than good, it’s best to be lucky AND good.
P.S. Non-biblical proverbs are also nice. Lefty Gomez!
P.P.S. American Tree Sparrow at blurry wingsmash along the snowy groundways!


Each year, several species of wood warbler (lured by a sewage treatment plant’s false promises) try their best at overwintering in Oakville. The warm-water midges helped, but ultimately this Wilson’s Warbler succumbed to a winterfreeze. See him here in happier times, pulling frosty leaves along the groundways.


Another look at the Wilson’s Warbler who feasted in the fall on the sewage treatment plant’s warm-water midges. This hapless hobey tried to make “the great push” and overwinter in Oakville but instead succumbed to a hibernal freeze. We see him here on what was probably his last day before dissolving into the vast colourless _______.


Here’s a dumb picture of some dumb longtails! “Dumb” because last winter one of these ducks flew straight into somebody’s windshield on the 401, thinking the highway was perhaps an icy waterway. True story! Anyhow, this picture is a fond example of PICTORIAL LAYERCAKES, which I usually love and aspire to, although in this case the right side seems too empty, which gives us a “balance problem” but also I don’t care?
p.s. Although perhaps on a cursory look the drake offers more va-va-voom, the inveterate snitcher will choose the ladybird each time!
p.p.s. The highway “somebody” wasn’t me, thank goodness


For better and worse, “The Old Country Spittoon” is my semi-dimwitted nickname for the delightful and singular Leslie Street Spit. Pictured here is a typical scene from the early hibernals, showcasing these items bad and good:

the old c.n.
a small sliver of a large cormorant rookery, abandoned until Spring
some trumpeter swans
bad downtown bank buildings
at least 4 species of duck
a slightly crooked horizon (tilt your head if it gives you a problem)


And in dopy fondness I remember last Spring’s woodcock, impossibly near and blessedly unafraid of y.t. in the “barbecue section” of The Old Country Spittoon:

Oakville’s overwintering Nashville Warbler, seen easily among the confused and beautiful twiggery!


Another fond look at Oakville’s overwintering Nashville Warbler, seen easily among the intersecting twiggery.


In Oakville, Ont. the overwintering warblers bring thrills to many, but when the other bird photographers are around, I hide in the corners or sit in the leaves. When the sun slips away, so do the gunless trophy hunters. “The light is garbage,” they scowl, pack up their longlenses and go back to their cars. And then? Ah yes, and then my nerves settle, my heart eases, and I go snitching in the lovely low-light.


A typical scene from “The Old Country Spittoon” (that being my witless nickname for Toronto’s best locale: the singular and cherished Leslie Street Spit.)

The rare and delightful Purple Sandpiper, seen among the “reverse highlows” along the icy waterways of The Old Country Spittoon.

Another fond look at the rare Purple Sandpiper who startled me with his sudden and beautiful nearness along Toronto’s icy waterways.


Children’s names I have truly overheard while in Toronto:


(the last one from just the other day, the handle of a dumb little donut at the dollarstore.)

I have not yet heard these names, but hope to soon:


I wish to hear this: “The problems from your flower garden are incessant; my daughter Guelph is allergic to bees!”

Or: “My daughter, Guelph, is allergic to bees!”

In the end it is you who must decide.

YOUNG GIRLS! Don’t talk in that fake raspy drawl anymore, like you just smoked a pack of cigarettes in an hour! Stop doing that! And please also remember that statements are statements and questions are questions and never the twain shall meet? Will your life really improve by imitating the people you see on TV?

P.S. Chestnut-sided warbler among the pleasant Springtime twiggeries

Adult Snowy Owl among the extreme highlows, rocks, and waterways: backlit as can be at The Old Country Spittoon.


At first I thought “Oh now, don’t be silly” but then I remembered that “once in a while, it’s all right to have a little fun.”

One of the good local breakwater ghosts

It’s always bad when the telephone rings:
Fear and dread, fear and dread!
Who dares to call me?
The screen reads HOSPITAL
Who is dead or who is dying?
I answer quickly: “HELLO!”
A very old and vanquished voice croaks “Varl? (Darl? Barl?”)
I ask it: “Who?”
Again it wheezes: “Varl? (Darl? Barl?”)
I tell it: “There’s no-one here like that; I’m sorry, but you have the wrong number.”
I fear the worst: reprisal; sudden shrieking; demonism!
But no, there is no pleading; only silence, then a message that my call has ended.
I’m sure my telephone will ring again. Who is Varl, Darl, or Barl?
But that was more than two days ago, and my telephone hasn’t rang since.
I consider a possible moral: If there is a universe, it doesn’t talk to me or you; sometimes a finger slips and that’s all!
P.S. Common Raven, absconding with a newborn from another class altogether

When I was twenty-five I wrote a very short story about a gradeschool art teacher with an unpronounceable surname. Still in her splattered paintsmock, she escorts her short little pupils out into the winter weather. In bonkers mismatched wintercolours, the lucky Canadian children caper in the falling snow. Our protagonist has recently recovered from a mysterious ailment wherein “something went wrong with your organs, but later, when you were almost better, you built little plasticine statues of your organs, based on the way you imagined they would look.” Being underdressed and feeling the cold and watching the children causes our hero’s heart to spill over with love and gratitude. The feelings embarrass her a little bit, enough anyhow to make her lilywhite cheeks go rosy.
This well-intentioned but ultimately awful story was entitled “Miss K, you are loved.”
Hubba hubba!
p.s. White-winged scoters, flocking.

Just now I was struck by a forgotten memory:
I am a lad in a line-up, waiting at the airport to travel with my father to Florida. Rotundos like us eschew “skinny people’s milk” in favour of “fatso white” (my father was fanciful and especially when travelling) and I slurp on my milk, whose empty blandness fills me with sorrow.
I am surrounded by chim-chammering teens, gaily waiting for their baggage check, discussing “winter sweaters” and how many each of them has brought along. It’s a ski trip!
Their conversation sounded like this to me:
What’s a winter sweater? And what could have been more foreign to me than a ski trip? And why so jocular at the airport? Just what were these bubbly brooms up to, I wondered!

P.S. Winterducks, scaups mostly, among the gradients of the blue color family.

For me, it was a rare and beautiful confluence of optics, light, and weather. These buffleheads were seen in a very localized and sudden sunshower along Grenadier Pond yesterday at 4:30, just before the wind went bonkers.