Tuesday, 12 June 2012

#274: Bucket List Bonus

Ina, our Dyers Bay bed and breakfast hostess, has lived on the Bruce Peninsula for 30 years, and confidently told us that it is a mecca for retirees.  She estimated that the average age of the permanent population is 67. 

So one would have thought that we would have had some company the weekday we set out to walk the upper end of the Bruce Trail.  But we were the only hikers, young or old.

All alone in the woods, we were aware of all its noises.  That whirring like an extra-loud cicada?  A massassauga rattlesnake was coiled to strike as we clambered up a rocky slope.  Inches away, a squirrel lay belly-up.  Had we just missed the attack?  Was the snake looking for another larger victim?  We didn't stick around to find out.
Not "our" snake, but close enough.  We were not stopping to take pictures.

The woods are alive with sounds that I fancied might possibly be a bear. (There was one in the vicinity and I was sorely disappointed not to have spied him around a leafy corner.)  Mostly, though, we heard the chatter and song of numerous birds.  Over 240 species live in this corner of Ontario in the summertime, but I only recognized the usual cardinals, blue jays and goldfinches.  From atop a rocky ledge where we stopped for lunch we could hear the faint hooting of two loons, and then we watched as they chased one another in circles on the empty, turquoise surface of the lake.

My most memorable sighting, however,  was at the end of the hike as we drove along a country road. As I pointed out a bluebird box nailed to the fence, I noticed an occupant.   An orange-breasted bird was standing on the roof of the little house.  (Bluebird boxes, in my experience, are always vacant, but perhaps the little guys just go off for the day, like people, and come home in the evening to sit on the patio.)  I demanded that we stop the car, and I rushed out camera in hand just as the bird and his mate flew from their nest into the trees.  Blue feathers glinted in the sunlight as they disappeared. 
Yes, bluebirds are real.

My retirement "bucket list" list is now one item shorter.       

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