I needed time away from the computer, so I did some hiking…in the city! I seem to have rediscovered this place. Many, many years ago, before the ponds were put in and the walk in the Leslie Spit was pretty much a straight line to the lighthouse that marks the very end, I used to frequent here pretty regularly. But then, somehow, it became a place I liked to visit, but didn’t. This winter, it’s turned back into a place I seem to be visiting quite often. While my quest for a great Snowy Owl shot hasn’t paid off (yet!), my soul got some needed replenishing!
The Saturday was cloudy with sunny breaks. And, it was windy. Very windy. The trees, waves and ice in the water were so loud that even Porter Airlines was drowned out — and that’s a feat. I had to shoot with a high shutter speed to counteract the force of the wind on my camera. The highlight this day was seeing a pair of Sandhill Cranes.
Sunday was a colder day, but felt so much warmer. It was sunny, there wasn’t much in the way of wind and it was a perfect day to sit beside a pond and just enjoy the natural world. Unlike the previous day, the air was still and all the quiet sounds of nature were heard.
The natural world gave me a pretty spectacular day. A muskrat was swimming around the various holes in the ice, many times scaring the ducks as they popped up from under the ice. Other than the initial fright, the ducks and geese didn’t seem to mind the company. Later, I saw what seemed like a number of muskrats sitting somewhere on the ice.
As I sat and watched a muskrat come to the edge of a pool close to me, seeming to ponder if it would risk either getting out on the ice or trying for the free water along the shore directly to my left, I noticed a motion on the spit of land jutting into the other side of the pond. A Snowy Owl flew up to the top of some debris and perched there, surveying the world. It was too far away for the photo I still want to take, but now I was sitting right across from a Snowy Owl, with a muskrat staring at me and a variety of ducks flying over the ice and playing in the open pools of water.
Then I caught motion through some clear ice close to shore. It was a muskrat swimming underwater! Man, those things can hold their breath for a long time. There was no break in the ice anywhere along the shoreline in that direction, which apparently was an issue, and a few minutes later it swam back out towards the nearest free water in the middle of the pond.
I saw ripples on the still water next to me. A mink popped up. As it rested its front paws on the ice and pondered its next step, a muskrat popped up behind it and swam around behind him, before pulling itself into a shallow area and seeming to sun itself contentedly. The mink ran up on shore, up and around the bank behind me, then, finally ran back down and across the ice, dove into the free water on the other side, scaring some ducks, then proceeded to play around the bank right around the Snowy Owl. The owl watched, but either it doesn’t like to mess with feisty minks or it just wasn’t hungry. The mink came across the ice a couple of times. What a hoot to watch!
The world can be a crazy and unfriendly place at times, and it’s a gift to take some time to reconnect to the planet. The Leslie Spit is a wonderful place to do just that.