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Meteorological Discontent and a Pelican

July 18, 2011

Dedicated Birders, it’s hot in Toronto. So hot that I feel I’m about to wilt. I’m entering meteorological mayhem because all winter I was looking forward to spring because it was so hideously dark, all spring I was looking forward to Summer because spring in Toronto meant constant, interminable rain, and now, well, I can’t wait to be done with the summer heat. It’s become oppressive, muggy, and… I’ve lost my ability to handle weather with grace!

As for real birding, my group is on annual summer-hiatus, and I think the birds are too. I recently made eye contact with a Blue Jay, but that’s about it. It’s been too hot to see properly. So I’ve barely even been a somewhat-birder, let alone the genius birder I had hoped I would be in the process of becoming. Ah well. Summer is often about letting go of expectations, becoming a disciple of weather, and just letting things be.

But let me tell you about the stunning Great Pelican I saw in St. James’s Park in London a few weeks ago:Here he is — the Great pelican on Duck Island. The pelican’s pedigree is impressive: he descends from a flock of pelicans that was given to Charles II in 1664 by the Russian ambassador! We took some photos, I gave him a quick Russian test (which he could have done better, clearly the Russian ambassador didn’t spend much time imparting his linguistic prowess on the pelican’s ancestors), exchanged pleasantries and left. I could have spent the entire day communing with the waterfowl in St. James’s Park! But there were museums to be seen, book stores to be visited, neighborhoods to be explored, and my husband could only stand to oooh and ahhh over waterfowl for so long.

In other birdful news, I recently bought a bottle of Pelee Island Wine, based solely on the packaging:


I figured any wine that had a Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea) on its label had to be worth trying! I’m not much of a wine connoisseur (which explains why I’m perfectly comfortable admitting that I choose wine based on the label; the birdier the better), but this one was fairly decent! The bird is deliciously yellow, with grey wings. I can’t wait to see one in the field, but in the meanwhile, I’ll have to enjoy the wine.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2011 10:25 am

    It has indeed been hot and still in Toronto; nevertheless, I’ve been dedicated to exploring High Park recently, and found no fewer than 48 species since July 1, the latest being a Northern Flicker this morning. They’re still out there; indeed southbound migration has already begun.

  2. July 19, 2011 8:18 pm

    Hi Stuart — thanks for reading my blog! I haven’t been to High Park in a while — you’ve now inspired me to head out there!

  3. July 20, 2011 10:46 pm

    Oh my god, you HAVE to read the first story in Bird Eat Bird if you haven’t yet. It’s about that very pelican. Who’s eating a pigeon. Amazing.

  4. August 10, 2011 12:56 pm

    Love the wine label.
    Interestingly, the pelican is actually an American White Pelican–I think there’s been a pious fraud perpetrated on visitors to St. James.

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