Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Ontario Interregnum

In Washago I’m mixing old pastimes with new interests. Bridge jumping, climbing hand over hand up 20 m high steal scaffolding, to plunge into the limey lake Couchiching. We did this all the time as kids, it was the local summer hang out. Now, the highlight of the jump is the lone Caspian tern that skims a small fish from the river surface. It’s the same while canoeing down the rapids of the Black River: for 20 years I canoed that pathetically overdeveloped stream in Muskoka, and only now do I notice a Solitary Sandpiper on the rocky banks, fleeing downstream as I try to get an id. An American Woodcock similarly greets me in the woodlot behind my parent’s house, the only such “shorebird” bird to live its life totally in the coarse forest undergrowth. Was it always there, mistaken for some frantic grouse?

Suddenly, familiar places assume an adventurous allure. I’ve picked up the bird bug and it helps me transition from Alaska/Fish and Wildlife Service to humble Ontario. I see a molting American Golden-Plover, an old friend, stopping over in Prequ’ile Park, as well as what look like Spotted sandpipers, and a host of other new shorebirds. It’s the first time in 4 years since I’ve been in Ontario for the Summer, and in only two weeks I realize I know very little about its natural history.

And so it goes. Sweden, here I come!

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