11 June 2014

Wild Prince Edward County

A few days ago, we welcomed our newest artist in residence, Dougal Thomson, from Scotland. Dougal is a filmmaker, and is spending the month with us working on a few short video projects.

One of the projects he has in mind is a short film which requires a particular type of location, so he and I headed out early this morning to scope out a few spots in the County. I enjoy touring residents around and try to take our guests out on field trips whenever possible.

We hadn’t gone far when a white-tailed deer and fawn crossed the road right in front of us. Sorry, no pictures, but the baby was just adorable as we watched it squeeze through a fence that her mother had easily bounded over.

We made our way to Little Bluff Conservation Area. We parked the car and as we were walking down to the beach, we saw a few people looking down at something… it was a stinkpot turtle!

Dougal and I stopped for a few minutes to admire its mossy shell before it decided to scram and disappeared into the bushes. 

We wandered the beach for a while, but it was kind of rainy so after a few pictures, we headed back to the car.

It’s not often that I find myself in this part of the County, so I suggested to Dougal we keep on exploring, and so we drove to the end of the peninsula, Prince Edward Point. At the sign where it said ‘no cars’ we dutifully parked at the side of the road. It was a windy day and we watched the seagulls hanging in the air over the water. We rounded a corner where Dougal started taking pictures of the quaint old lighthouse. But the sight to be seen was actually right behind us: a massive bird of prey was hanging in the air between us, its wings fully spread, just metres away.

Photo: Dougal Thomson
I got Dougal’s attention – as the bird was between us, we each slowly backed away in opposite directions. The bird landed on the road, nonchalant. 

Photo: Dougal Thomson
Dougal and I looked at each other… now what?

But of course, that wasn’t up to us. The bird rose into the air and came right at me! Its razor-sharp claws and terrifying beak were way, way too close for comfort. I screamed like a little girl and waved my bag over my head, successfully keeping it at bay. It looked something like this:

photo of bird: Dougal Thomson
photo of me & photoshoppery: Milé Murtanovski
The bird momentarily pulled back, and Dougal and I ran like hell back to the van. We'd had enough close encounters of the bird kind.

When we got back to Small Pond, we looked up the species of bird: it was a golden eagle, an endangered species, and apparently not often seen in this area. What an honour to be attacked by such a rarity!

UPDATE (June 11, 2014): I just received a message from Elaine Secord. She writes: "My husband is a bird biologist who oversaw the southern Ontario Bald Eagle monitoring program until the species was no longer considered endangered. He tells me the bird in your photos is actually a juvenile Bald Eagle that would have hatched this year. (It takes 4-5 years for Bald Eagles to get their distinctive white heads and tails.) The really interesting thing about your bird is that eagles won't fledge in Ontario for more than a month still, meaning your bird must have arrived recently from the southern US. This is apparently a phenomenon that scientists know about. But still, very cool!"

Very cool, indeed! Thanks, Elaine!

1 comment:

  1. Exciting Blog post. Remember, never forget to look up!