Waterfowl Weekend

This weekend (19th and 20th March) is the 40th Annual Presqu’ile Waterfowl Weekend:

https://www.ontarioparks.com/park/presquile/events

A time to celebrate, view, photograph and journal the tens of thousands of ducks, geese and swans that return to Presqu’ile Bay each spring. Today it felt as if there were as many human as fowl visitors to the park which was lovely to see because so much planning and teamwork is expended making this weekend successful.

This afternoon we eschewed the displays and organized activities for a trip around the Marsh Boardwalk trail and, despite the chill in the air, enjoyed our amble enormously. We had great fun watching this trio; the female displaying dominance over the two males.

If you’ve nothing planned for tomorrow, I recommend a trip to Presqu’ile to enjoy the many pleasures of Waterfowl Weekend!

‘Til next time…

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Pause

Pause 1

Am I an addict? Admittedly, from time to time, I have wondered if I have become (too) dependent upon electronic communications and devices. My husband resolutely believes I am addicted to my laptop. I would feel very sad if I thought he might be right but I know he is not. Because I paused…

In recent weeks, our connectivity underwent a radical change, plus my laptop had to be repaired. These two circumstances temporarily forced me out of my cyber world causing some introspection on the subject.

Our society sustains continuous communication and this constancy often proves irresistible. We’ve become overstimulated. News junkies are bombarded with information the full twenty-four hours of every single day of the year. Stories and film of headlines that terrify are broadcast on a continuous loop: War, the migrant crisis, terrorism, the spread of the Zika virus, election madness, racism, rape, gang crime, gun crime. Sports fans find themselves flipping from channel to channel, from curling to golf to hockey and back again so as not to miss a single moment of action or a change in score. We spend our leisure (and sometimes working) hours googling site after site, instagramming, tweeting, friending, commenting, liking, switching from texts to e-mail and back again. Overstimulation!

It seems to require a conscious decision and effort, one that few care to make, to stop the noises of our lives; to disconnect, to unplug, to switch off and to find that oh-so-valuable and often elusive peace that comes only in the silence. This time, that conscious decision was made for me and required no effort whatsoever – being as I was sans laptop and internet. I did, however, consciously choose to savour the wireless break. To take a beat, and enjoy it. Photography has taught me that creativity requires some stillness. In that stillness, I feel a sense of inner peace. My stress and anxiety fade away and I feel refreshed and revitalized. That is the power of the pause. Corny? Maybe, but true nonetheless. To be still, to turn off my life’s noises, I try very hard to find the time every day, even if only for a few minutes – with or without my camera – to be still, to spend time with myself and to learn to be comfortable in my own company. To meditate and find serenity.

This time, though, my pause was for several days. How would I fill my leisure hours? How would I communicate? Turns out I had no problem at all. Rather than exchanging e-mail messages, I talked to my friends on the phone, live – fancy that! I read three books – two for pleasure, one for my blog. I finished two UFOs (unfinished needle arts projects). Revelation: I didn’t once miss the Internet or my laptop. PHEW! I admit I am a bit surprised, somewhat relieved and very content with this discovery. I paused and I liked the pause. I am not addicted. Are you?

 

Marsh Madness

Marsh Madness 1

Serenity and bliss.
Always, for me, at Presqu’ile.

Today was a beautiful day to enjoy the pleasures of Presqu’ile and I practically had the park to myself. The temperature climbed to a balmy 13℃, the sun made a valiant effort to shine, a lot of birds/waterfowl were back singing their hearts out (especially the gulls)….

March Madness 6

….I saw my first Robin today in the huge pine tree at the corner of Atkins and Paxton. In the fields and other open areas the snow has completely melted and at the the shoreline, the ice is rapidly receding and breaking into small and medium-sized floes….

Marsh Madness 3

….I’m emboldened to proclaim that spring has already arrived!

For some folk, spring and the month of March means one thing: March Madness. During this time the NCAA delivers prime-time excitement daily and every year more and more Canadians jump on the college basketball bandwagon. Basketball’s popularity in Canada has never been so great, helped along in no small measure by the recent All-Star weekend in Toronto. Thousands will be enjoying their annual March Madness fix in the coming weeks.

At Presqu’ile, though, we’re preparing for a very different, all-natural and organic kind of excitement: Marsh Madness. Migrating birds stop in for a visit, ducklings and goslings are born and appear suddenly to the delight of everyone who catches a glimpse of them. These pleasures are followed by the turtles who venture roadside to bury their eggs, and the frogs. The frogs! The major Marsh Madness definitely happens in the Pannes.

Pannes

Almost the exact day the thaw and melt in the pannes is complete, raucous frog song begins. I love it. Every year. Can’t get enough of it. It makes me grin from ear to ear. It is that special. I will concede, however, that depending upon one’s viewpoint, the frog song pleasures or piques: Every year campers have been heard complaining that frog song kept them awake nights. Heathens!

First to be heard (mid-March/early April), and my personal favourites, are the Chorus Frogs who commence their mating rituals in the pannes that line Bayshore Drive (the road all visitors use to enter and exit the park).  Their voices call out a warm welcome as you arrive and bid a fond farewell as you leave – at least that’s my interpretation. Other species that contribute to the frog choir are Spring Peepers, Leopard Frogs and Wood Frogs – none of which (again, my opinion) hold a candle to the Chorus Frogs. Thaw away, Presqu’ile Pannes, thaw away!

The mild temperature and lack of wind made for a perfect day for meandering through the park and I did just that. I am always amazed by the vast number of species (ducks and birds) that visit Presqu’ile this time of year. My favourite place in the park is the lagoon at Calf Pasture Point, the site of the old hotel. Yesterday there were geese, swans and ducks galore just beyond the lagoon where the edge of the ice meets the open water. It’s quite an amazing sight.

On my way out of the park I stopped at the marsh lookout and there found two adult swans foraging for food. They were gorgeous and quite unfazed by the clicking and whirring of my camera. I almost didn’t stop, but am I ever glad I did – such close encounters don’t happen all that often! I also stopped at the office and bought my 2016 park pass, so I’m all-set for another “Summer At The Shores”.

Marsh Madness 2

When I left the park I felt as if I’d had an afternoon’s escape; quite, I imagine, how spa clients feel leaving the spa after a day’s treatments. Mind you, I’d never trade the one for the other. Ever!

Serenity and bliss.
Always, for me, at Presqu’ile!

[First published 8th March 2016]