Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Nick and I decided to have an adventure today.  He's not quite back from his holiday in his heart, and I'm always ready to skive off.  So we decided to go owl stalking in Owl Woods on Amherst Island.  There was lots of wildlife about.  As we turned south we saw a large fisher lolloping through the scrub by the side of the highway, a real treat!  Rafts of ducks were in the open water, and lining the ice on Lake Ontario.

We arrived at the ferry dock, just in time for the boat.  We could hear it grinding through the ice as we rode over to the island, and watched the channel close right back up as we passed.  It had been a long time since we'd been there, but not much had changed apart from a little gentrification here and there.  Things are changing though, as the sign attests.

 As we set out to walk on the un-maintained road to the woods, we were following a coyote's trail.  A deer crossed the path and bounded into the field.  Once in the woods, we were swarmed by chickadees, habituated to human presence by feeders.  I was really surprised to see a mouse pop out of the path under Nick's foot.  By the time I'd got the camera out he'd popped right back in again, and all I got was a picture of the hole.  We saw a rough legged hawk, beautiful in its dark phase, with a gorgeous speckled white band crossing its wings from below.  Not one owl.

We drove along the south shore of the island, flat and barely rising above the level of the lake, but beautiful in a spare, minimalist way.  We kept scanning the trees and fence posts for our prey, still not one owl in a place which is often crawling with them.

But how can I complain?  On the way back I thought  that this must be one of  the very few places where one can ride the ferry all winter long, sailing among the ice cubes.  There were gulls following the boat, and swooping down to balance on the ice floes, pecking amongst them for something (who knows what?) good to eat.

Perhaps I will dig Jane Yolen's Owl Moon from one of the boxes of children's books in the basement, and read that.  The beauty of her writing always makes me choke up.  Not an owl, but the echo of one at least.

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