Tag Archives: ghosts

I forgot I had a “blog” / remembering Spring’s influenza

Tree swallow among the sumach, gazing into the foggy ethereals!


I was poorly already, but when the word came down that one of our rarer warblers was eating bugs in Etobicoke, it became essential for me to spend 5 hours in and around the dirt, snitching along the creek, hoping for pop-ups, easy light, and pictorial sweetwindows. Anyhow, the Kentucky Warbler is an elegant little softy but he is a demon also, and I consider him at least partially responsible for the influenza which ensconced me like a blanket of cold and leggy spiders! But feisty mulchers, worry not: I am on the mend, am no longer agued, and will live to taxidermize and photograph the good Spring warblers yet again!


Another pleasant look at the simple but dressy Kentucky Warbler, seen some days ago in southeast Etobicoke. Then I got influenza and hid in my apartment, but now it’s time to go snitching again.
P.S. The lamebrained composition was necessary because of problems to the left and right.


Falling in love with wild birds, for me, was different than falling in love with a person. It was different than taking on a new hobby or discovering a new purchasable item to collect. The love was a revelation because it was a safe love; the birds could never love me back, which eliminated the pressures that usually come with reciprocal love, and so I was free to love freely.

Falling in love with wild birds made the other aspects of my life feel richer, sparkier, easier. The discovery seemed endless, and so I was falling in love not just with wild birds but also with art and knowledge all over again. Everything was new; I was nowhere near mastery; I couldn’t sleep; I had birds on the brain. I began to re-appreciate the city I once loved, then hated, then tolerated. These days I don’t worry too much about what Toronto’s become; we have many fine parks, and reasonable access to many lovable species. To wander with a camera and lens in delusion is good enough for me!
P.S. Northern saw-whet owl, impossibly tiny, seen among the low-lit trees and twiggeries.

Unfortunately, this picture is pretty disgusting, I guess!
When I lost my heart to wild birds in 2009 and began to photograph our local alar with a compulsive gusto, it’s true that I saw beauty everywhere. I still do, but perhaps my self-directed immersion has curdled my brain, because I see beauty also and especially in pictures like this one?

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!


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:

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.


I was hiding with my camera in the twiggery. When I emerged, there were bugs on me, and the sunny faces of High Park’s denizens (upon catching sight of a staggering creepo with a long lens) soured with unease! I did nothing to reassure them because I was too enraptured by the nearness of young sparrows, I’m sure you understand!

The much-beloved G. C. Kinglet, seen among our autumn’s cozy twiggery

And: one of the good local picnic table mockingbirds

I continue to compile photographic evidence which I hope will illustrate the badness of urban pond fishing. Kind compatriots, here is “Exhibit B”

Descending Kinglet among the twisty branches and the green and yellow color families

Hooded mergansers among the waterlines and early highlows:


A low-light look at a young least bittern, living prosaically among the mulchpiles and the stinkrocks; the heron family is full of friends

Young least bittern in Etobicoke:
A wider view of the toothsome “Ixobrychus exilis” thugging along the odoriferous rockpiles of loneliness and light: the heron family is full of friends

And finally, among the easy white high-lows: