Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Amherst Island, part 1

I am going to break this up into two posts, as I have so many pictures. 

We had a great day on Saturday. We met up with our friends Happy Wombat Boy* and Nature Boy*  in lovely Millhaven, Ontario, home of the Millhaven Institution, aka the Millhaven Penitentiary. Okay, technically Millhaven Institution is in Bath, but whatever. It's, like, five seconds away from Millhaven.

But we were not there to visit inmates. Millhaven is where you catch the ferry across to Amherst Island. And on Amherst Island, there are owls and many other lovely birds to see!

*(not their real names. Duh.)

Like this chickadee feasting on peanuts on my head! But more on chickadees later.

 We took the car ferry across to the island. There was a channel dissecting the frozen waters of Lake Ontario. Nature Boy commented on how the water looked like a giant Slushie. I agreed, and hoped the ferry would not spring a leak. Thermal underwear, check. Survival gear, uncheck.
Once we arrived on Amherst Island, the binoculars and spotting scope were whipped out, and the owl prowl began.

It was a gorgeous winter day but the wind off Lake Ontario was bitterly cold. Thank goodness for warm parkas.

It did not take Nature Boy and Happy Wombat Boy long to spy this most magnificent...

What a beautiful creature. It obligingly stayed put for quite some time, allowing us to ogle it and take photos through the spotting scope. These owls are not particularly common. I have only ever seen two other owls in the wild, a Great Horned owl and a Barred owl. I know we have Great Horned owls on our farm, because I can hear them hooting in the woods in spring.

All that walking around staring at owls in the frigid cold worked up a powerful appetite. Since there are no dining establishments open on the island in winter, we packed our own lunches. Gordon is putting together some delicious chicken, chipotle mayo, avocado and tomato sandwiches on sourdough baguettes. Mmmmmm!

And our friends brought along classy Toronto treats! From left to right, Guinness cupcakes (YUM!!), Rocky Road cupcakes, salted caramel chocolate cupcakes, and butter tarts. I had a Guinness and a caramel cupcake. MmmmMMMmmmmMMMMMMmmmm!

I am still mustering up the courage to try a durian candy. I need a spitoon handy, just in case.

Then it was off for more birding. A flock of snow buntings flew over the lake as we walked by.

On the island, there is a nature reserve called Owl Woods. It is privately owned but if you follow the posted rules, you can go in and look for owls.
I saw an old nest loaded with snow.

The sun was bright and beautiful!
Somebody regularly breaks a trail. There go my boys!

"Is there an outhouse in there?"
More soon, but first, a video of the gorgeous owl, shot through the spotting scope in a rather strong wind!

Come back tomorrow for more!


  1. Looks like a lot of fun. I wanna go!

  2. Great post.
    I bet it was an awesome day!
    Guiness cupcake, eh? Sounds perfect after a day birdwatching.
    Loved the video.

  3. What great photos, I can't wait for part two.

  4. Love the video of the owl and all your pictures. As much as I dislike the cold and winter I love pictures of stark trees and clean snow on the ground. It’s simple and beautiful.

    Oh and I can’t wait to hear what you think of the durian candy!

  5. Oh my goodness! The picture of the chickadee is so cute!!!!!!
    That looks so fun!

  6. Anonymous2:55 am

    Gorgeous photos. I have never seen an owl up close in the wild.

  7. Ronna, you should go! You'd have lots o' fun. Took is 2-1/2 hours to get to the ferry dock.

    Elisabeth, I wasn't sure about the Guinness cupcake but it was rich and chocolatey!

    Thanks, LBM.

    David, the candy is sitting on my counter. I have got to grow a pair and eat it.

    Garden Girl, the chickadees are positively enchanting.

    CogDis, I hope you can see an owl (in the wild) someday. They are amazing creatures.

  8. It sounds as if you had a lovely day!

  9. It was heaven, Monado. And thanks for stopping by. I enjoy your blog!


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!