Tag Archives: spring migration

In pursuit of education by the waterside, etc.

Some of the good local whimbrels, in May. It’s no grand skyline here in T.O., but hoo boy, those whimbrels don’t worry about architectural aesthetics so probably neither should I!


Yes yes, we see mallards everywhere and by now I’ll bet they bore you worse than geese or pigeons, but if you saw one today for the first time, you would be astonished by that marvelous greentop, you’d be singing devotional duck songs all the way home!


And finally, an early migrant from early Springtime! The most common of warblers, yes yes, but if you’ve given up on the common birds then you’ve given up on life and love and education and you might as well get yourself a spoon and bucket of worms and tell yourself “This is the only dinner I deserve”. Please remember every day: the common birds have the most to teach us, as long as we let ourselves learn from them!



Normally, a cutesypie picture like this can give me some pretty bad problems, but perhaps today I am less uptight than usual? Hello!

I spend a lot of time, too much probably, looking at, and even studying, bird photographs. Other people’s, of course, and my own, of course! I’m willing to admit that this self-guided immersion, which began in 2009, provides me with daily doses of delight and dolor, served concurrently!

When I spend “too much time” among the creatures, my brain goes bonkers and all I can think about is life and death and life and death and significance and insignificance and purpose and meaning and time and love and family and life and death! But listen, I’m not stupid, I know that EVERYBODY thinks about these things, they’re thinking about these things whether they realize it or not, but usually, blessedly, it all lies below the surface, in dormancy, until intermittently it bubbles up, and each time it does, we decide whether or not we should push it back down again?
The cozy upshot: I’m happier than I used to be!

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.


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.


Everyone is always arguing about who most keenly interpreted the Beethoven piano sonata cycle, but for my money it’s our own Anton Kuerti every time! Listen to him wiggle and stomp and caper all over the incomparable 32nd, and soon you’ll be seeing blue-grey gnatcatchers everywhere you look, usually flitting but occasionally at rest among the highlows and the greens!


In happiness I remember May’s whimbrel on the rockpiles among the greens and gentle surfspray!

And finally, It isn’t difficult to love a dunlin sandpiper thugging along the waterside rockpiles among the easy white highlows, I’m sure you’ll agree!

First, a mourning dove among the condominium’s colorful geometries:

Later, we found this fresh rabbit along the gravel pathway where the killdeer usually live. Are you familiar with the ridiculously-named killdeer? I keep a mental list of my least favorite Ontario birds, and this particular plover is right at the top! Some dictionaries will tell you his call is “plaintive” but they’re quite mistaken: “pesky” or “strident” would be more to the biscuit!

And then at nighttime I dreamed a bay-breasted warbler crashed into my face, hit me between the nose and mouth. I could feel and taste and smell his feathers. I was startled but unscathed. The twelve gram warbler, drunk on bugs, was less lucky. “These things happen,” I said.

A very blonde waiter lifts his shirt to reveal a stomachful of shimmering tattoos. He tells his table of elderly customers: “Well, this one’s because when my sister and I were kids, apparently I thought I was an otter, it was crazy, all I ever ate were green apples and I’d chase her around in the pool, and so that’s why I got this one.”
This is only a transcription and I don’t make these things up. In restaurants while waiting for my meals is when I look and listen the most.

Otters, green apples, sandpipers, midges in May.

Also, let us recall May’s menace! How I did delight in the “festival of modern midges,” seen along the verdant waterside pathway!

And finally, a cozy love among the lesser creatures, as seen at Toronto’s Old Country Spittoon.


One of our fine fencebound thrushes in the very early morning, seen in s.w. Toronto. This picture might be bad or good, it’s almost impossible really to know, but anyhow I like it for 3 different reasons and even I don’t care what those reasons are! Also: I like the weather right now in Toronto. Pre-storm weather can put a special kind of breeze through your clothing and in your brain, it’s good to walk around in it, you’ll feel like the big horns right before Louis Prima exclaims “hum hazza biggy bigalibiddy hagibalibbidy hamm bega libiddy zoogalee bop” (more or less, these things aren’t to be taken literally) but don’t drink too much coffee, it tastes terrific but will only make you sleepier in the end. If you crave wakefulness, skip the coffee and listen to Louis Prima — you heard it here first, etc.

an early morning thrush and some good advice

The parula reminds me of my little niece. She’s only a baby but someday I’ll teach her about the good new world warblers. Together we’ll get swarmed by midges in May, count the brambles, study the twigs, look for sweetwindows, and talk to the parulas. But if she tells me “No no Uncle Ghosty birds are meaningless to me, I’m more of a sporty gal” I won’t take umbrage nor will I sink into despondency. No no I’ll just tell her: “You have my sister’s face, you are delightful, a blessing on your head, Parula!”

sentimentally avuncular in May

Here now is one flavor of youthful enemy: late 20s, male, thin, plainfaced. Sitting a few tables over from me at the Chinese quickserve dumpling restaurant. Superman t-shirt and big tattoos on the upper arm: greens and blues, red and yellow flowers twisting over rusty chains. Sunglasses atop his big and messy hair. He sits across the table from a plainly-dressed and pretty girl. They laugh together easily and often.
“Why are you angry at this stranger?”
“Because my time at his age was very lonely.”
“That’s not his fault!”
“Yes, but he’s an idiot and obviously so is she.”
“You don’t know that.”
“Just look at him!”
“Actually, you should stop looking at him, he’s starting to notice. What if he comes over and pounds you? Look at those forearms!”
“I wish I could throw dumplings at him.”
“You’re being ridiculous.”
“But I’m the lonely ghost who observes and judges the easy-hearted people!”
“Your brain is full of problems.”
“What else is new?”
etc. and also ha ha

physician, heal thyself, etc.