|(Not the most flattering photo, but I do look concerned.|
Also I would like to note that I have no relation to the SPCA,
I think this coat came from a Goodwill.)
Channeling Tom Sawyer yet again, this week at Pete's B&G I'm going to let somebody more capable than myself get the work done.
Baxter Naday lives next door to us on Grenadier Road in mid-town Toronto. He just finished high school and he'll be off to Kitchener-Waterloo University in the fall. I'm sure he'll wow them there just as he does everybody else I know who has met him.
The following story recently appeared in the Ontario Field Ornithologists News.
Read it and you'll see why it's been so great having this guy for a neighbour.
Birding when you’re not “birding”
by Baxter Naday
On one rainy September day last year, while in the middle of writing a math test, a Bay-breasted Warbler appeared at the window I was facing. I was so delighted that I just happened to see this soggy little warbler that I stood up and told the math teacher about my sighting (knowing full well that he would not care one bit). He promptly told me, “I think it’s better if you sit somewhere else”, so I did, in front of another window, where I unfortunately could not spot any other soggy birds in the trees. That momentary sighting of something that I could spot fairly easily elsewhere during migration made that day a good one. Having these little birding breaks when stuck in places we do not particularly enjoy being, can make these times bearable, and sometimes even fun.
I live in Toronto, and there are a good number of natural spaces for birding places here; however, one cannot be in these prime locations all the time because of work or, for me, school. When I cannot escape to a better “habitat”, I might take some time out of my lunch break to scour the school grounds for any possible birdlife. So far at school, I have been able to turn up 43 species and counting. With some, I had gone looking for them – such as looking up over the playing field for Broad-winged Hawks, Bald Eagles, and other migrating birds of prey during fall migration – however, most were just incidentals, like that Bay-breasted Warbler.
I have another short story of a bird encounter in the city, making one typical weekday better, even though the story is a bit sad. One morning in late October two years ago, I was coming out the garage about to ride my bike to school, when I nearly stumbled (literally) over an American Woodcock. It was laying on the ground in my concrete, garbage-ridden alleyway, still alive. I figure it must have hit a wire or a windshield. Unfortunately, there was no saving the poor bird as its neck seemed broken. (All of this made me very late for school that morning, but fortunately my English teacher was understanding enough, especially after I had shown him my photo evidence.) Despite the bird’s death, this event made me think about all the birds that must go overhead or near my little house crammed into this very urban part of Toronto (something I often think about, even as I write this on an early May night).
When homework and general laziness prevent me from getting out for a couple hours at a time, I still try to take quick breaks in the local neighbourhood dog-walking park, with binoculars or at least a monocular in hand, especially during the migratory seasons. It’s not a very appealing spot to go birding at all; it lacks many trees, and there’s an abandoned warehouse beside a set of busy railroad tracks. Nonetheless, every time I go I say, “hey, you never know.” It’s always a reliable spot for a melodious Northern Mockingbird, even outside of the migratory seasons.
Even when we don’t have access to a birding hotspot or much time in our busy schedules, it is still worth it to take short birding breaks. Whether they are planned or incidental, they are always worth it, even if we do get a few strange looks from time to time.