Connecting people with nature in Ontario's Mississippi Valley

ALGONQUIN CHINOOK
By: Jeff Mills

I wrote this while skiing in Algonquin Park last winter.

Algonquin Chinook

deep cerulean

held on a pedestal of
beech’s grey fingers

the sun and its shadows
grace white sand dunes of snow

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A PERIL OF OWLING
By: Pip Winters

It was a clear, crisp night, about 4C .There were a few wispy clouds when we set off owling. We headed for an area west of Hopetown contained in our Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas square. It seemed prime owl territory- wetland surrounded by spruce and cedar.

Using the atlas tape recording that features screech owl and barred owl calls, we made our first stop as dusk set in. Frogs were croaking but nothing else. No response to the calls.

Our second stop was about 1 km away. We heard owls as soon as we stopped the car. Two barred owls were calling but they were going further away from us. We hastily set up the “boom box” on top of the car…silence…screech owl(tape)….silence….barred owl(tape)………silence. Suddenly, the barred owls were calling back and coming closer. Barred owl (tape) again.

I was positioned by the car and my partner about 20 feet up the road. I looked NW through a corridor of trees and saw a dark shadow of wings coming towards me. Instinctively I put my hands over my head and ducked.

I heard a whoosh of wings and saw the owl circle and land in a tree across the road from me. Seconds later another owl landed near the first. We held our breath. The owls “chatted” to each other for a minute. Paul moved closer and one owl changed its position. I shone my flashlight under the first owl to get a better look. Another minute and they both flew noiselessly away. What a breathtaking experience!

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TIN CAN TREE
By: Jeff Mills

As I migrate westward along Highway 7,
vulture sails in the first heat,
rocks and marsh shield the airways
over this land and its yard sale economy,
a red Studebaker glides by
called by a yellowthroat at the blueberry stand
Whitchety, witchety, whitchety…

tin can tree and a rubber boot bush

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THE GATHERER
By: Chris Hume

Written while on a nature hike in Pakenham backwoods trail

Into the woods I go

It’s a place that is good for my soul

Along the path I roam

I really feel at home…

Alone, but not lonely

I feel at peace and enjoy the sounds

Of birds and wildlife all around

What’s this I see beside a tree?

A gnarly piece of bark, some lovely moss,

Some small pine cones, nature’s loss…

Is my gain!

As I gather and wander

I feel at peace and whole again.

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BIRDING NOTES
By: Chris Hume

Here is poem that I wrote this summer after coming back from a wonderful nature volunteer trip.

Pat Matheson and I really enjoyed helping with the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas work – we learned a LOT!

It was a great group consisting of 5 volunteers, 2 co-leaders and 2 birding experts (Larry and Diane) from the Lambton Wildlife group in Sarnia. We camped (for 5 nights) at Lake St. Peter Provincial park (in between Bancroft and Whitney) and had two beautiful lakeside campsites. The first day we all went out together – to be introduced to doing point counts and to learn about the work that we would be helping with. After that we had a wake up call each morning at 4:30 am – we then grabbed breakfast “to go” and were generally out and starting to work between 5:30 and 6 am. We would meet back at the camp between 12 noon and 1 pm. Then we could prepare a fabulous brunch/lunch. We could canoe/swim/hike and/or do more birding in the afternoon. Then the evening would be taken up in with meal preparations and fantastic conversations!!!

Sadly Diane Haselmayer – a Lambton Wildlife member and one of the leaders of our trip in June died suddenly in Peru August 30th. This poem was greatly inspired by Diane and my experiences doing thet Breeding Bird Atlas work.

Birding Notes

I used to think you had to see
The Cardinal, Bluebird or Chickadee

But recently I learned something profound
That you can walk in the woods and know birds by their sound

Next time you hear “Quick… Three Beers”
You’ll know that the Olive-Sided Flycatcher is near

Or “Here I am.. Where are you?” again and again
And it will be the Red-eyed Vereo nine times out of ten

A quick “Whippity whippity whipit”
And you’re sure to find the Common Yellow Throat in a nearby thicket

A little chipping all around
And it could be the White-Throated Sparrow making this sound

But with a little pishing you could be surprised
By a Black Throated Blue appearing before your eyes

A melodious sparkling song in a glen?
It can only be the lovely Winter Wren

A quick short “Mew” in a tree
And the Catbird has let you know that it is he

Oh and a “pee a wee” you hear from afar
Is the Eastern Wood Peewee Flycatcher singing a few bars

It’s time to bring this birding notes poem to an end
So I can go out on the trail to make some more bird friends!

By Chris Hume

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