Tag Archives: toronto

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?

Redpoll, with Alder Fallings, among the Easy White Highlows. As seen merrily in March, in scenic Port Credit, Ont.

I am just now remembering the redpolls among the easy white highlows, as seen in Port Credit, in early March, when snow covered everything.
I was sitting on the ground and delightedly photographing the streakier redpoll, when suddenly the paler redpoll jumped in. I had less than a second to work with, and this is what happened. It is very true that our eyes will almost always prefer to see the closer bird in focus, but the more I look at this picture, the more my eyes adjust, maybe. Perhaps this picture would be infinitely superior (or at least less bad) were the closer bird in focus, but it behooves me to share this picture with you anyhow.

And finally, another hibernal remembrance: the toothsome green-winged teal along the icy waterways.

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!


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.