Large avian visitors

This past week has been far more than just interesting.

In addition to a couple of broody bantam hens hatching their tiny fluffy chicks, our Boer meat goats have been popping young ones on almost a daily basis. Their number will soon have doubled our herd’s count, which I believe has just topped 40.

A couple of mornings ago as I was reaching up again and again while installing the netting over some newly constructed pheasant enclosures, I saw in a flash sighting from the corner of my sun-weary eyes two large sets of wings as they seemed to be backstroking on their downward flight in the direction of our out-of-sight, over the hill farm pond.

My mind first queried the width of their wing span, but settled on guessing they were great blue herons, appearing bigger from the awkward angle of my short sighting.

But I was doubly wrong. The pond has really re-established itself since being revamped and dug deeper after the tornado devastation four years ago. We have often seen the herons catching their daily dozen small frogs for lunch. What I had seen were not blue herons.

The thought escaped me while I worked and watched the number of birds that were close at hand. The kingbirds had come back again this year, and the pair was busy catching flies, perching on the fence just beyond the barn.

A pair of robins made trip after trip to their nest over the door in one of the goat sheds. Tree swallows had also nested in the birdhouse out in the garden, and a pair of barn swallows flipped back and forth to their nest up in the rafters.

I had decided to take a break and get out of the sun, as my lower lip was badly sunburnt and was starting to crack. My chair was shaded by the front porch that crosses the building, but I had a clear view of the meadowlarks singing on the fence posts of the goat’s paddock, and I could see the bobolinks flying in song high over the pasture where our Berkshire hogs chomp their fill of grass and romp and wallow in the mud hole that we created for them.

Along about then, my son returned from his circular John Deere gator tour of the farm while checking all of the animals. His description of the big birds, which had flown up and out of the east end of the goat pasture, gave me the answer. They were a pair of Sandhill cranes.

A couple of years ago, on visiting a farmer about as far north of Markdale as we are east, we were told that he had seen them at the lake that tailed his property.

And, yes, I still have the pictures that were handed to me perhaps a dozen years ago of several that had stopped for a while along the Cataract rail trail between Fergus and Elora. I hope they will return to visit us again.

Take care, ’cause we care.




Barrie Hopkins