Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Skywatch Over a Frozen Swamp

Just after sunrise

I enjoy visiting cities and being in crowds of people from time to time. Toronto is always interesting and our trip to New York City last year was a great experience. We mingled with many other Winterlude visitors in Ottawa and walked through several tourist areas. I was ready for bed before 10PM each night, thoroughly tired out from fresh air and exercise. But my daughters...well they are still on young adult schedules where night is for fun and morning is for sleeping in, especially on holidays.

Hoarfrost

I tiptoed out of the hotel room each morning at 6:30 AM and drove 15 km to a greenbelt area in nearby Nepean while the others slept. An extensive trail system is found here in an area of forests, swamps and meadows. In spite of the early morning cold, it was a beautiful spot to see the sun rise and watch the birds and animals start their daily search for food. Heavy hoarfrost was on tree branches and reeds until the sun rose high enough to burn it off.

Clear skies over the frozen swamp

I read online that there was to be a guided birding tour one morning but no one else showed up. The trail was well marked so I set off to explore it on my own with my walking poles and ice cleats. I met a few other friendly hikers including an older man who was hand feeding chickadees and putting out carrot pulp from his juicer for the deer. Old Boomers who feed wildlife and make their own juice are quite safe to be around in my opinion, even if they are strangers. This man told me I was on the wrong trail for the guided birding but he showed me a tree where he had seen a Barred Owl the week before. Then he was off to share his food in another section of the bush.

Female Pileated Woodpecker in the morning light

I was delighted to see several Pileated Woodpeckers in the dead trees around the swamp. The entire trail was full of various woodpeckers and their hammering was heard in every direction. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, Three-toed and Black-backed Woodpeckers have been reported in the area but I only saw Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers along with the Pileateds.

Two hours on a trail like this leaves me feeling invigourated, unlike pavement pounding which tires me quickly. It was a good thing it was so cold as I would have been tempted to stay much longer if my hands and feet were not so numb.

More about this trail in a future post...

Follow this link for more Skywatch posts from around the world.

39 comments:

  1. What an adventure! and good pics on top of that - thank you for sharing.

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  2. Those two first pictures are just breathtaking! I wouldn't mind having that within reach! :-)

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  3. Such a pretty sky. I love the one w/ the pileated woodpecker!

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  4. Glad you had the time to do this Ruth. It's a shame others did not even show up to take advantage of the beauty in the morning.

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  5. Sounds like a perfect way to start the day Ruth!

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  6. You are quite the adventurer.

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  7. Slipping out while the rest slept sounds like something I would do too. I love the look of the flat flakes of hoarfrost. Very pretty.
    That swamp looks a bit like northern Minnesota's bog.

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  8. Beautiful area. Of course, I love the Pileated Woodpecker the best. I felt relaxed just reading about this quiet morning walk.

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  9. Ruth,

    I'm so glad you enjoyed the trails. Sounds like you had a great time. Love the photos. You should be a professional photographer.

    Now I'm off to see what other posts I've missed here.

    Blessings,
    Mary

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  10. Looks to have been a great trip. Some good photos and nice descriptions of your activities. I've not yet been to Ottawa, but it's on the list for this year.

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  11. Hey! Wish I had been with you as it sounds like my kind of adventure. ;-)

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  12. Your photos are beautiful. I love those crisp clear mornings. Ottawa is one of my favourite places to visit, it has so much wonderful green space within an easy walk/bike/drive. Thank you for sharing. Smiles

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  13. What a beautiful skywatch morning. That first sky looks crisp enough to crack.
    Thanks for sharing. I'm not much of a sunrise person as I don't get out of bed.

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  14. What a beautiful start to the day.

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  15. Looks like you had a beautiful morning walk starting at sunrise. Great woodpecker shot.

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  16. what super photos, I really like the woodpecker photo..............

    Gill in Southern Ontario

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  17. Oh my I wish that Pileated woodpecker would come over here. Nice photos.

    I thought I would try SkyWatch again. Not sure how far I will get before I tire out but will give it a try.

    My Skywatch Post

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  18. Good coice to let the others sleep and go out in search of photos.The clear blue sky is most beautiful.
    Blessings,Ruth

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  19. Beautiful shots, the moon in the backgroud in the first one is like a cherry on top of the pie. Well done.

    Have a great weekend!
    Guy
    Regina In Pictures

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  20. Excellent skywatch shots, thanks for sharing.

    Have a great weekend!
    Guy
    Regina In Pictures

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  21. A great series of sky watch photos. It looks like a fantastic place to go and shoot.

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  22. Excellent pics!But I don't miss snow and winter....

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  23. Great shots and narrative! And the sunlight on the woodpecker's "pileus" is spectacular!

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  24. Ruth, wonderful photography. I especially like the first one. Sounds like a great hike. How fun to meet the carrot juicing boomer!

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  25. This looks like it was the perfect place to explore even in winter...

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  26. What a wonderful place to go on an adventure and explore.
    The colours in your photos are beautiful.

    Happy SWF.

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  27. Great photos! Are you free this Saturday to go birding?

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  28. What a great way to spend your time while the other slept.
    loved the hoar frost photo!

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  29. Each and every one of the captures are great! Love them all. Happy SWF!

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  30. These are all such great shots and contrasts

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  31. A wonderful SWF post! I love those quiet early morning walks with nature!

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  32. Great story and wonderful photos, Ruth. It's always nice to see the moon in a clear blue sky. And I love the ligth in the second photo.
    The woodpecker is a real beauty.
    Enjoy your weekend.

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  33. Great photos...beautiful blue skies....wonderful shot of the woodpecker...never seen a pileated in person...

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  34. so, being at the wrong place didn't turn out so bad afterall - great shots!

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  35. Re the pileus thing - don't you wonder who gets to decide which birds with topknots get called a Crested Such-and-such versus a Pileated So-and-so! All seems the same to me.

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  36. Gee, if I had known you were going to be in my neck of the woods, we could have walked together!
    I love that shot of the sunrise, with the moon still up!

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  37. Nice catch with that moon! Very pretty.

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  38. I love the first photo. you can print it as a postcard...

    SUPERNOVA and SWEETPAIN
    ANGELS IN MY LIFE

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