Butterflies, bugs and birds and so much more!

As the flowers have begun blooming the insects have been enjoying every bite of nectar, and those caterpillars are making delicious snacks for the birds. Everything in nature finds it’s balance, except humans it seems:( While watching the dragonflies has been a challenge figuring out what and who they are, the butterflies give more clues with their colours. Our sad little lilacs have stopped blooming already but a friends are in full swing-Preston lilacs, developed by the Experimental Farm in Ottawa she said, especially for colder climates and late bloom to escape any frosts-I’ll be looking those up!

Spectacular bush full of blooms and butterflies! there was also a nest full of baby robins ( third set she said!) nearby! Isn’t nature amazing!

While I have only spotted one nest of Phoebes under our front step (which I really need to go peak at quietly!) we have had a steady stream of less than baby size Hairy Woodpeckers coming to the suet feeder. Mother was feeding one HUGE baby boy, and the next day Dad was busy feeding his daughter:) Made me think of my father, I miss him:(

Sadly no sign of the hummingbird nest in the big Maple. The female is very shy, she seems to only feed at the orange coloured oriole feeder-I see her flying North so maybe she has a nest not too far away. Mr. big pants hummingbird has claimed all three feeders, including the oriole one as his…no questions, no arguments, they are his:) He is kind of funny, and very bold. He flies under the sprinkle of the watering can when I am watering. I bought a small solar water pump but so far he hasn’t been inclined to bathe there, he wants “personal” attention it seems! Ha! Glad he is eating all those nasty little biting gnats! He can have a bathe anytime on me!

and speaking of bugs…sigh…I think I lost a pint of blood venturing into the forest after a brightly colored butterfly. There was also some Echium blooming in a small selected spot covered with Northern Cloudywings and Indian Skippers…who makes up these names?

There are still new species of dragonflies appearing, I’m trying to catalogue them and remember what they are. Sometimes the males and females are very different, sometimes not, juveniles look different than adults, dragonfly ID is a full time job! Thank goodness for the insects and arachnids of Ontario page on Facebook, they come to my rescue regularly!

I was going to wander off and look for the Eastern Towhees but the bugs chased me back. I think you need full body armour with the deerflies! I can handle the mosquitos but when those vicious chunk of flesh eating deerflies start to hover and buzz I run like Groot, except I can’t dive under the safety of the truck!

We have seen in glimpses a beautiful pair of Scarlet Tanagers! The male is bright red with black and the female a yellowish colour. A few days ago I caught a glimpse of deep orange and decided to wander over and look at what I thought was the Oriole, but no! It was him. He was high up singing and posed for a split second! Beautiful! Not that I don’t appreciate our local Oriole, he is still coming for the orange marmalade. The kids are being fed Gypsy Moth Caterpillars as I have seen him grab one, beat it on a branch, obviously until it is senseless, then fly off to his brood!

All that expense for bird seed is now justified as my army of small feathered friends are devouring the caterpillars. These are an invasive species that the natural world with eventually take care of, they come in cycles, but they do so much damage, the young oaks are getting stripped of their leaves, I hope they survive:) time will tell.

I do love all the wildflowers, and after taking the pictures you notice all their little bug friends! It’s a wild wild world out there!

Gamora says she would like to stay out all the time to catch and play ping-pong with all the young chipmunks emerging from the rocks (her play method of batting small furry creatures back and forth in her paws leaving them dazed and stunned-she doesn’t know how to kill, either does Rocket-only Groot is the master dispatcher of small furry rodents) The chipmunks are abysmally stupid at this young age, often running right into the mouth of a waiting, leashed cat, only to be pried out of, or held up until they are let go…I recognize some catches by the fur missing from their tails, Rockets preferred method of proudly carrying them around, or backsides. They are like small Al Pacino “scarfaces” scuttling among the rocks when the cats go out wearing their battle scars! It’s war zone out there I tell you! The Barred Owl has taken a few as I have seen some owl down feathers about the yard as well.

I think I am caught up as we move closer to Summer! Lockdowns are slowly being lifted, 10 people can gather outside now, although after today and the twin race boats running up and down the lake I’d happily go back to 5….asshats….There are days any semblance of respect for homo sapiens I have goes down the drain, but then, I do know some lovely wonderful people and I try to remind myself of them. Mis amigos! Saludos, and does anyone know where to buy a MG42? Mike wanted to know;) hahahahahaha!

Solar eclipse 2021-it was a beauty!

The alarm went at 4:35am: “cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo” why I picked that, or the time for the alarm escapes me, it just seemed about right. The cats were like “WTF is that? Is there a bird inside?” Then they came to the kitchen to beg. Groot has a routine, a few crunchies or you will be hounded, stepped in front of, head butted..etc…Humans are SO hard to train he keeps telling his friends, sigh…and there was coffee to be made, an essential ingredient in early morning photography for myself, not Mike. The thought of operating the camera in an un-caffeinated state is a bit frightening;)

Mike had set his Lundt 152 solar scope up the previous afternoon and covered it in case of dew. He wasn’t planning on doing any photography, just visual as the eclipse would be so close to the horizon the seeing (Atilla Danko’s explanation is far better than mine for newbies to “seeing” ) “Excellent seeing means at high magnification you will see fine detail on planets. In bad seeing, planets might look like they are under a layer of rippling water and show little detail at any magnification, but the view of galaxies is probably undiminished. Bad seeing is caused by turbulence combined with temperature differences in the atmosphere.” When you are looking at objects close to the horizon you are also looking through much more atmosphere than what you would be when looking straight up-about 250 miles of atmosphere straight up, much more looking out over the earth:) Hope that makes sense! So, no, Mike wasn’t going to photograph anything! But I was going to try! It’s just a sunrise with a moon in front of it? Right? ha!

The sunrise was beautiful! It gave me time to focus on the furthest away trees on the camera live view, which I can also zoom in 10x to be extra sure of focus. The horizon was a wobbling mass of unsteadiness…ie, bad seeing, as Mike had predicted. It looks like a mirage on a hot road when it is really wobby, not the best conditions for photography either but what the heck! It’s now or wait until 2024!

Beautiful view in Mike’s solar scope, he looked, I went back to work with the Canon6D and Tamron 150-600G2! At first all we could see was a glow then slowly the sun, and moon made their way higher above the first band of clouds. Camera settings ended up being ISO 100-F40-1/1250 sec at 600mm. Trying to cut that light out! Me experimenting!

We kept hoping the fast moving clouds would move away and we did get a few breaks as the sun continued to rise! Mike has a solar white filter, for use on smaller telescopes that can also fit over the end of my Tamron lens so we gave that a try! It took a few adjustments on manual mode ISO 250-1/50 sec-F6.3 at 600mm:)

That was pretty cool, so we went back and forth, telescope, camera, telescope, what a beautiful way to spend the early morning! We truly had the perfect seat to watch it rise at the far end of the lake from a beautiful sunrise to eclipse!

Rocket then said it was time to go back to bed, he couldn’t see a thing with the glasses on and was going to sleep! Crazy humans;) Saludos amigos! Hope you enjoyed the show!

Back to sleep now!

Looks a lot like Summer! Bugs, birds and blooms, oh! and turtles!

How is that, we seem to go from cold and snow to scorching heat and humidity!:) No complaints, it’s busy out there. It seems everything explodes at once, plants growing wildly, that lawn, out of control, bugs appearing out of the wood work, literally hundreds of gypsy moth caterpillars descending from the trees like Tom Cruise Commandos ready to take over the world…sorry Tom, I have a handy broom, my weapon of mass destruction for wiping out as many as I can as I see the poor young oaks being devoured. Some people at the lake sprayed, it would only hit the tops of the trees, done by helicopter, the next day it poured rain all day…washed it all away, it’s a sugar base…seems like an expensive waste sadly…I’ll stick with my broom;)

If my last blog was bird centric, this will be bug centric! All Winter, only an occasional spider peeks out of a crack, now the world is swarming with all kinds of insect life! I belong to a wonderful group on Facebook-Insects and Arachnids of Ontario-If I don’t know what it is, someone here will! There are dragonfly experts, boy, do I need one of those! The first dragonfly appeared May 3-early I was told, a “Teneral” American Emerald, followed up by a host of others! Oh my, there are SO many! I’m actually starting to kind of know a few of them! I did have to look teneral up: of, relating to, or constituting a state of the imago of an insect immediately after molting during which it is soft and immature in coloring-juvenile:)

So, just a few different kinds of dragonflies, and I thought bird ID was hard at times! The good news is they are eating the mosquitos and gnats that so like to bite me, Mike no, he must taste bad, I seem to be a buffet to them! Long sleeves, pants, socks, and they bite right through the material. I had to wear my mosquito hat a fair bit in the last few weeks, just have to be careful not to scare Gamora, she thinks I am the creature from the black lagoon when I wear it, the ONLY thing she is scared of! She tried to attack a snapping turtle yesterday morning….I looked out the screen door at 6, pre-coffee, ie, in a daze, and thought, how could a cow have pooped on our driveway…logical, or not, that is what it looked like….I forgave her the four holes she had dug in the driveway and garden! She was covered in my vegetable garden dirt! I was able to rescue the two hot pepper plants she displaced and relocate them and now we wait…60-90 days for baby turtles! We’re stepparents again!!;) ha! In Ontario, females do not begin to breed until they are 17 to 19 years old!!! Isn’t that wild!

“Do you want a chipmunk to eat?” asked Rocket “You look tired and hungry after all that digging and egg laying!” Let me reiterate: no chipmunk was actually hurt in the making of this photo, but in the confusion to keep Gamora from getting too close and leaping on the turtle, Rocket dashed off and reappeared 20 seconds later with a young chipmunk. It was promptly removed, missing a bit of butt hair (rocket does not know how to kill, he just carries them around by the behind, or tail) to a safe rocky area away from the turtle and Rocket…Rocket said he was just being polite but we said live offerings/sacrifices were not allowed at this time;) These traveling Mewberries, always into trouble! When the younger two were bored our lovely lady Snapping Turtle made her way across the lawn and down into the leaves all the way to the lake. Groot lay on the lawn and watched, to make sure she was gone!

She was a lovely coffee companion, and most certainly the same lady turtle as last year, but we had two, so will be watching for the next one! The Snapping Turtle is Canada’s largest freshwater turtle, reaching an average length of 20-36 cm ( 7-14″)  and a weight of 4.5-16.0 kg ( 10-35 lbs) so she was on the small to medium size I’d say:) and they live up to 100 years old! Now we wait 60-90 days to see if anything hatches and hopefully no predators will dig the eggs up. I still haven’t seen any information if they lay in multiple nests so will watch all 4 areas she was digging in! We’re going to be stepparents! There have been some birds by the way! Ha! Didn’t think you’d get out without a few feathery friends did you?

Went to visit a lovely lady and her husband and her beautiful cats near Westport (We met on a Facebook page I was asking about US tax accountants…ugh!) She said they had a Heron Rookery at the back of their farm and did I want to come and see it! Social distancing of course! Not just Herons we discovered after taking a few shots! A least six Great Blue Heron nests, and one beautiful pair of baby Great Horned Owls! Absolutely beautiful! It was such a treat to walk back to these amazing birds and such pleasant people! Nice to make new friends this way!

So not backyard birding for a change! Am I lazy, or lucky to have so many amazing yard birds, stay tuned for more babies next week! I do work hard at photography, but sometimes I just get lucky! I didn’t much get to many blooms and butterflies but we’ll save that for next time! I’ll leave you with the little red canoe! Saludos amigos, see you soon! Hoping our weather will be clear for tomorrows solar eclipse!

Winter, to Summer, just like that:)

It’s as if you could dive into the sky!

From near frost to 88° flintstone scale, 32°Celcius for us…that’s warm. The horses and donkeys have not even shed out their Winter coats completely…it is a time to sweat! and speaking of sweat, did you know there is a bright Green Bee called a Sweat Bee! They were clamoring all over the very first chive blossom that dared to open!

Life is exploding all around us! The grass needs to be mown! Yikes, all this work to do! ha! Wonderful outdoors battling the legions of black flies and mosquitos…ah, Canada:) It is cacophony of sounds and smells we have missed all Winter. Did I mention the Hummingbirds are back:) I think I was doing a little happy dance, good thing the neighbours weren’t about…”Who is that crazed person leaping up and down?”

The young lad he has decided all the feeders are his and flies back and forth over the roof from front to back, guarding from the phone line in the back, to a low tree branch in the front. He is quite bold as well. I was watering a newly acquired rose (thank you Jennifer) when he sat in the puddle beside the plant cheerfully flapping his wings as I sprinkled him with the watering can. When it was empty he looked up at me as if to say “That’s all? I was just getting started!” I think we are going to have a wonderful friendship! The lady is quite shy, she comes to the feeder in the shade and quickly zips off towards the maples, her beak had some cobwebs on it one morning so nest building she is doing! Yeah! Not right overhead in the large maple like last year but somewhere not too far away!

Out on the rocks under the Junipers the eastern Towhee’s are foraging and looking for love! You can hear them rustling in the leaf litter and occasionally they climb to a branch and belt out quite the tune! “The classic Eastern Towhee song, given by males, is a loud drink-your-tea! lasting about 1 second. The first note (drink) is sharp and metallic, and the final note (tea) is a musical trill. Sometimes the song will start with more than one drink” Thanks Cornell Birds! I didn’t catch the female, she is a lovely rust colour all over but I know where to go back to look now! Mosquito hat net and full body armour ready;) hahahahaha! And there are brighter splashes of colour at the feeders!

The Rose Breasted Grosbeaks are back as well! The handsome male with his bright pink/red chest and the beautifully streaked brown female. They are vying at the feeders with the cowbirds. I learned that the Brown-headed Cowbird is North America’s most common “brood parasite.” A female cowbird makes no nest of her own, but instead lays her eggs in the nests of other bird species, who then raise the young cowbirds. It seems Rose Breasted Grosbeaks are often target nests, she will push out a few of their eggs and lay her own, what would you rather do all Summer? Raise babies or eat and fly around…hhhmmmm….she’s a slacker! Recent genetic analyses have shown that most individual females specialize on one particular host species…Look out Mrs. Rose Breasted Grosbeak! Mr. Brown Headed cowbird says he has no say in what the lady does;) The Rose Breasted Grosbeaks build such flimsy nests that eggs are often visible from below through the nest bottom. Maybe a good way to tip out those Cowbird eggs;) The male Rose-breasted Grosbeak takes a turn incubating the eggs for several hours during the day, while the female incubates the rest of the day and all night long. Both sexes sing quietly to each other when they exchange places. The male sometimes sings his normal song at full volume from inside the nest! Just so happy to have that splash of beautiful colour back!
and not just Grosbeaks…last year, the orioles were so shy I never saw them except for brief glimpses in the bush…not NOW! Seems we have an Baltimore Oriole Fan Club! Males, juveniles and a lady!

I was scratching my head on how to make a jelly feeder after I saw him, and after some online searching came up with this. A small masons jar with the ring, some fishing line, why fishing line you might ask? Ants don’t like to climb down it ( I use it for my hummingbird feeders as well) and squirrels don’t either! bread twisty ties to keep the three strands in place for now:)

These Hairy and Red Bellied Woodpeckers have an air of discontent and disgust for the latest arrivals. Here they are, having spent the entire Winter fighting it out to survive, and who shows up, the snow birds, Grosbeaks and Orioles, sporting an orange tan, or pink sunburn from their times in the tropics! I’d be irritated too;) ha!

So, it’s pretty busy and loud around the house right now. The Oriole gets mouthy if I’m too close to the feeder and is not shy about telling me so;) You’d think I was a birder;) I just love all the life that that passes through where we live and the surrounding countryside. We had a beautiful Ruffed Grouse saunter across the Long Lake Road the other day, usually all I ever see is a backside and whir of wings as they leave me thinking, I’ll never get a picture of one of those…she stopped and posed on the rail fence like a runway model!

Ruffed Grouse

Things are slithering around as well! Down at the water we heard a rustling on the waters edge, a snake was shedding it’s skin I think, couldn’t quite make it out, but someone else had. A Fisher Marten was standing 15′ away, also staring at the snake, back at us, then at the snake as if to say…”That is mine, back off!” As we had the cats on the leashes we decided to retreat and leave him/her to it’s meal was the best course of action, when I dashed back a few minutes later, both snake, and Marten were gone. It was beautiful! Smaller than some we have seen but that amazing tail! Those are probably the footprints I saw on the stairs in the snow.

Back in the woods as I followed the Towhee song I had a few other encounters:) “What did I do to deserve the raspberry?” I asked the beautiful doe that kept me company while I was looking for the Eastern Towhees. She nibbled away quietly as I wandered about. They often take off running but her, nope, dohdeedoh…my forest:) Several Garter snakes crossed my path and I nearly stepped on the fellow enjoying the tree frog for lunch…always good to look down as well as up for wildlife! Herpetologists rarely get bitten by rattlesnakes our friend Bob once told me, ornithologist, yup….ha! Then there are all the flying things! Dragonflies, moths and butterflies, but that will have to wait for a few days! Dinner will not make itself tonight so I shall sign off and send abrazos your way. Keep enjoying the amazing diversity of wildlife returning to our neck of the woods (not talking about the drunk guy on the jet ski here, or the other forms of humanity that are not quite sure how to coexist with the rest of the world, other humans included..;)

Saludos amigos! Stay safe, get vaccinated, we may just survive after all:)

May peace be with you

Can I just not look out the window if it’s snowing and pretend it will go away? it’s MAY!

At least in the morning it was sunny after flurries and snow blanketed the ground all night! It was a glorious day despite Winters last laugh! Spring will come regardless of the last tantrums of the Winter Gods;) By noon it was gone! Already wildflowers are poking their heads through the piles of last years leaves, yellow trout lilies and their beautiful patterned leaves, trilliums as well as a few new ones to me, field pussytoes, now there is an apt name for flowers near us! The Serviceberry bushes are all blooming as well, the bees must be happy!

…and we have bugs! Blue and green bugs, brown intricately patterned bugs, flying bugs, nasty blackfly biting bugs, recognizable bugs where I’m not scratching my head going…”What the heck is that?” If you are ever scratching your head on a a regular basis, and you don’t have fleas but need information iNaturalist is a great go to place to post photos for possible ID’s.

It seems as so many changes happen in the matter of hours, or overnight! Buds sprouting form the seemingly dead branches, bits of grass and wildflowers poking their way towards the sun…that sun…it is high enough now to make a difference. In a protected spot it is downright warm,. a few days, I might add hot;)

The ladies are out as well. We hadn’t seen the female Red-Bellied Woodpecker for weeks but she is back! This lovely lady is remarkably shy but she will land on the trees about 20′ away, as long as I keep that distance she says all is fine:) Here you can see why she is called Red-Bellied, just a tinge of colour on her undersides, vs Red-Headed (that must have already been taken;)..) What a beauty-the yellow around her beak/bill seems more intense, maybe because of breeding season? Their territory is much smaller than I expected .016 to .16 of a square kilometer! and to all of those preoccupied with the banging on antennas and siding, it should settle down soon unless you have termites or carpenter ants. A Pileated picked all the ants off our logs last summer, we should welcome them as free pest removal;) They are partial to oranges as well to anyone trying to attract these beautiful birds to their feeders. The boys all seemed to have stopped banging their chest for now and arguing, busy feeding babies I would think!

All matter of creatures have paid us a visit this week. We have known about the fox as it likes to pee on a certain tree that the cats feel obliged to sniff every morning:) It was a treat to see it in person. It grabbed something under a black tarp I have covering our future vegetable garden and ran off a ways to eat it. I snuck outside quietly and was surprised when it trotted back to finish it’s snack. A few expressed worry for the cats. A typical adult cat is almost the same size as a fox and has a well-deserved reputation for self-defense, so foxes are generally not interested in taking on cats, unless they are elderly or very young, I think Groot and Rocket outweigh our local little bushy tailed fox easily! 

Porky, well, he/she hangs about, climbs a few trees, sunbathes, yes, sunbathes, wouldn’t you after a cold Winter, and waddles about in a rather ridiculous way:) Like the comic relief at the circus:) These are truly fascinating, much maligned creatures. They don’t throw their quills and run when they can. According to the Canadian Wildlife Federation: “Porcupines are strict herbivores, but their diet changes with the seasons. In winter, they feed on the inner bark of trees such as fir, cedar, and hemlock. In spring, their favorite is maple bark as well as the catkins and leaves of willow, poplar, and alder. In summer, they eat the leaves of herbs and shrubs including clover, thorn apple, and currant, as well as water lily, and arrowhead. In fall, they switch to acorns and beechnuts. Porcupines also love salt.” I’ve heard the rumors of them eating car tires (most likely nice salty Winter Michelins), breaking into cottages to get at salty tool handles, toilet seats ( Yes, there goes that nasty old sweaty toilet seat, what a loss…) If a porcupine breaks into your cottage and you are crying the blues, me thinks your front door needed replacing anyway, suck it up! For every tree they damage, which is generally minimal, you, as a human being have consumed a hundred fold more just building a deck, or some miscellaneous project, so put away your gun and learn to live with nature…we ARE an eco-system, although the animal population may be looking for a “humanicide” to get rid of us…wait…maybe they did;) Rant done:)

The henchmen and thugs around the bird feeders have tapered off. I’m referring to the Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown Headed Cowbirds. I stopped their daily ration of corn with the nicer weather and they are off to the swamps and grassy areas to feed on bugs. They did make a re-appearance during the snow much to the chagrin of the Woodpeckers and Blue jays, as they are chased off without a kind word. The little birds figure it out and dash in when the bird mafia is otherwise predisposed or arguing amongst themselves;) Life goes on…

At the end of the day I am thankful for our dear friends and family, and for many less fortunate than ourselves. The wind may be howling today, and there are whitecaps on the lake but the calm will return, “Along with the bugs!” Mike just yelled. I nearly gave Gamora heart failure when I came around the corner of the house donned with my hat and bug netting. I’d left her sitting in the catnip bush enjoying some cat mind altering substance, while I checked on some plants sprouting, I must have looked like the creature from the Black Lagoon as I ambled happily around the corner, she lefty skid marks in the gravel running away, leash flapping behind her, her velocity was so great…she could have been a racehorse! Note to self…get her used to the bug mask slowly, carry cat treats, try not to look like a Halloween horror creature:)

We have our appointment for our vaccines! Very excited! Things seem to be looking up here in Ontario, it’s slow going but in the Eastern portion of Ontario covid cases seem to be gradually returning from what looked like the pathway to hell. Our hearts are with our doctor and nurse friends who are on the front lines of this pandemic. Anyone who chooses to naysay, go spend a day in their shoes…I doubt they would have the fortitude to do so. Maybe by the end of Summer we can enjoy the company of our friends at fish taco feast, or a birria bustout! Yum! Wear a mask, keep a good distance, and for gods sake is it too hard to follow the arrows on the grocery store floors??? It’s not like you can say..duh, I can’t read?!” hahahahah…pendejos! Virtual hugs to all of our friends out there…love ya! Saludos y abrazos.

WAIT! Not Winter again!

You always hope when you get those late storm warnings that maybe the weather people are lying, bad, or simply incompetents! Not so, woke up to a bit of snow and it continued most of the morning…the cats were not amused. “What the f@#k!” was the look we got when we let them out;) ha! Only Rocket took off through the snow spinning around and digging, the other two were not even sure getting off the porch was a good idea;) Things you learn with age;) To be honest I thought, hey, this is really pretty out, light snowflakes falling, really windy as well but let’s see if we can take some pictures anyway! Off to the truck I went, found an umbrella, dragged my folding beach chair to a protected spot and settled down, sort of, I felt like Mary Poppins, at any point I might just lift off with the umbrella and tour the lake, it was howling, and of course it scared all the birds off a few times until they went “Meh…need food!”

It was fascinating to see some returning Spring birds as well. A Chipping Sparrow, first of the year sat puffed up on a branch, a female Red-Winged Blackbird made an appearance as well. The Sumac bush was being invaded by a Robin when a beautiful Northern Flicker landed for a berry or two as well! I lasted about 45 minutes before my toes started to freeze and headed back into the warmth by the fire. Overall, we really can not complain about this Spring, it is extremely early and I am happy to see the green shoots poking up through the ground!

All along the road small wildflowers are emerging-Hepaticas. A wonderful photographer friend on Facebook sent me the location of some amazing wildflowers called Dutchman’s Breeches. I had never seen these fabulous flowers. We drove over the day before the snow and found a road with thousands on either side! It was stunning! Mother Nature…she never ceases to amaze me.

So, a day of snow is just a small glitch, it’s not as if we have 4 more months of it! Ha! We visited the horses and donkeys this week as well. The daffodils were blooming in their field and they were simply irresistibly cute this bunch! Jennifer, their owner and fabulous caretaker of our equine family, said if we thought they were cute, a 20lb baby donkey is off the cuteness scale! (Don’t show one to Mike, he’ll bring it home! ) Mike gave everyone a scratch and some snacks and we just sat and watched:) a few moments with these guys and your troubles disappear!

So, this is Spring, the ups and downs, the grass and wildflowers, furry donkey ears and shedding horses. Rebirth, and birth, the lambs and calves are in farmer’s fields. You can tell the very new ones as they are so bright and clean! The geese are getting territorial, chasing off any new comers to their spots, and the Loons have started to cry, that haunting, melodic cry…

As we enter another lockdown I have to be thankful for the opportunity to share not only the wild animals and birds we encounter, but the domestic ones as well with everyone. Virtually. They make me smile, they make me laugh. Rocket was eating his breakfast the other day lying down…ha! Why can’t I have breakfast in bed I wanted to know??!! One nice sunny morning they flaked out on the canoe…cat poster boys;) We are well trained cat slaves I have to admit;)…”Let me lightly sauté that catnip in sardine oil sir!”…NOT! Ha! Maybe;)

So, with the next month of lockdown, honestly our lives are not going to change much. Wear a mask, keep our distance, shop once a week (we try!) Life goes on. Just what we have been doing for the last year. As more and more friends get their vaccine there seems to be a tiny ray of hope for limited gatherings, for hugs, we miss those hugs, but in the meantime we have our animal friends, we have zoom and the wonderful voices of family and friends over the phone, and some mornings I get to wake up with the Loons and sit and watch the lake….

Saludos y abrazos amigos…

Bring on Spring!

It seemed just over a week ago the lake was covered in a sheet of ice, how time flies! It was 8 days ago actually. I didn’t expect it to happen so quickly. At first small holes started to open, then along the edges free spots slowly began to widen into small pools. In the late morning the otter was catching fish, sliding into the small holes and reappearing on the ice with some nice bass to lunch on. The muskrat that has been living under the floating dock appeared, dragging bits of weeds and sticks back to spot neat the lake edge, a nest in a cavity there perhaps? By late afternoon it was gone…the ice, just like that, the wind was howling and off it was pushed down the lake and it seemed to slowly sink! We have our lake back!! Celebration time!

Across at our neighbours the stream by their bunkie is roaring. Between the rise in temperatures and the warmth of the sun the snow and ice was disappearing before our eyes. The swamps were filling up and overflowing into the small creek that runs along the road and down into the lake, when it is still you could hear it rumbling! Water is magical!

A Hooded Merganser male glided across the still water between the ice and lake side with his perfect reflection. What a stunning bird, my first time seeing one so close. He seemed unperturbed by my presence and continued to explore the open area. The big predators have returned as well. As I sat at the table I glanced behind me out the window at what I thought was a big ass Red-tailed Hawk. I quietly made my way out onto the front deck and realized it was a juvenile Bald Eagle, perhaps three years old. What an amazing beak that creature has!

He/she looked a bit wet, maybe missed a fish and came up to the branch to sit and wait for something else to catch it’s eye. Bald eagles are strong, aggressive birds but like everything that flies they are governed by aerodynamics. The wings of an eagle need to support the eight to 12-pound bird as well as whatever the bird is carrying, and best estimates put the lifting power of an eagle at four or five pounds. But lifting dead weight it very different that coming in at speed, grabbing and going! That is why these Eagles hunt fish, goslings, ducks and other small aquatic birds, a large Canada Goose would just be to much to carry away! They don’t carry away children or dogs, unless you happen to own a very small one, cats, maybe, good thing Groot and Rocket are probably too heavy! Look out Gamora!

Mike caught a large rodent out of the corner of his eye while looking out the kitchen window….”What the…??? Squirrel?” Nope, a large very round looking Groundhog was lumbering about on the rocks outside, the cats were very interested! Our first Groundhog! Yeah! Only the chipmunks and squirrels need to keep a watch out for the sharp fangs and teeth of the felines. We keep them on the leash but they have been known to dart in, grab and run with a furry small creature. Some good Shakespearean insults are hurtled the cats way as they dash for the safety of their rock dens! I think there is a “Cat alert” code they have!

The smell of the ground is intoxicating in the Spring. It is so primal, wet earth, molds, decomposing leaves, it creates an incredible aroma of life coming back from the dead of Winter. The birds are changing as well, the cheerful little Common Redpolls have headed North towards the Artic tundra as of yesterday. In their place the Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds have arrived cackling away all day, as well as the Song Sparrows and Juncos. At times I am reminded of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” when their, the grackles and black birds song (can we call it that?) is in full swing and the ground is covered in these feathered hoodlums!

The Juncos and Song Sparrows rummage about on the ground under the feeders, they are very polite. The American Robins were picking what small seeds were left on the Sumac buds, their song is the sound of Spring returning! The Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds sound like an out of tune punk rock concert 😉 ha! The American Goldfinches are gradually turning more and more yellow. They stay all year and are a cheerful burst of colour on drab days.

The White and Red breasted Nuthatches go about their day snatching seeds and quickly flying off. I have heard the Pileated Woodpecker but he has been scarce at the suet feeder, as is the Red-Bellied male. Either they are nesting or busy foraging for other foods. The Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers are still in full force! and as I said, the Blackbirds and Grackles make up for all the lost woodpecker noise…ha! All that puffing and calling and showing off to the ladies, who are, I might add, pretty brutal and picky! All that grandstanding, strutting your stuff, and she just turns and flies away…

The nicest thing about Spring arriving is everything that comes back to life. I often feel quite bird-centric, it’s what we have all Winter to watch and marvel at but Spring brings all kinds of other lovely big and small creatures!

They understand social-distancing as well;) Today we are back onto lock down here in our county. Not a bad thing really, things are getting out of hand again, stupid people, lots and lots of stupid people…sigh…I am glad we are surrounded by something other than homo sapiens most days;)

and yes, the geese are back, sigh, more birds. Someone once asked me if I took anything BUT bird photos…sometimes;) I think she was referring to the fact I don’t really photograph that many people:) Not that I don’t like to, kids are especially fun to photograph, they don’t pose, they just are, guess I don’t like posers much;) hahahahaha! That overhead honk of the Canada Goose is a wonderous sound, that amazing V flying formation in the sky. My husband dreads it, I might burst into song! ♫♪♫ Wild geese that fly with the moon on their wing♫♪♫…you know the song, he hates the Sound of Music…poor man;)

I have a great deal of respect for geese, they can bite;) you just have to make sure you are badder ass than they are in close quarters;) In the swamp between us and the road a pair look like they are maybe nesting, they honked at me profusely as I walked by, I apologized and said I would in the future watch from a distance;)

So, I think we are caught up, enough babbling, can’t make it, this too long or some may not read it;) ha…the short attention span theater group;) To those looking at this on your phone, wait until you can actually see the pictures on a monitor! Put your phone away when you are walking in town, and how on earth can you jog with your phone in your hand? and to those worried about getting the vaccine, that Bill Gates maybe implanting something in you, he doesn’t have to, you “are” your phone already…hahahaha;) My pet peeves from the weekly shopping trip to town! I’ll leave you with yesterdays sunrise, even the little red canoe got to go for a spin…Spring is finally…here! Saludos amigos, can’t wait until we can hug again! In the mean time I’m going out to sniff some more of that Spring dirt!

Spring keeps teasing us…wait, we’re not quite there yet are we?!

Let it melt! let it melt! Let it melt! It’s ALMOST Spring-two days away! In January you are still mesmerized by the beautiful snow, February comes and you know it’s still Winter, expect a few snow storms still, sometimes you get lucky and there is a February thaw, not this year, but March, March holds promises of warmer days, and sun-glorious sun, the snow slips away almost overnight, well, sort of…maybe tomorrow? Ha! I think the Canadian weather forecasters are somewhat sadistic, they love to post those days…15°…sunny, you get your hopes up and suddenly the day approaches and it gets downgraded…to a high of 3°…what job could you be so consistently bad at and not get fired, I don’t know;) So, tomorrow, yes, we have a forcast for 15°. I will not hold my breath but if it does arrive I will do a little hobbling happy dance (plantar fasciitis is flaring up) and watch the rest of the snow recede into the ground! Halle-f-ing lujah!

Mike has been watching the entire collection of “The Sopranos”…It is beginning to show up in my vocabulary on a regular basis;) oh dear, we need to work on this! I can’t keep swearing like Tony Soprano! So, bring on Spring! We had our one last big dump of snow this month, the laneway was so narrow the dually was having a hard time squeezing through! After the big dump, of snow, the wonderful plow guy was stuck, again, I am beginning to think we didn’t make him any profit this year with the amount of times the tow truck came to haul him out, no amount of raspberry muffins will lure him back…sigh, we’ll cross that bridge this coming Fall:)

The good thing is the deer have stopped walking on the ice, must be a sign! The local porcupine has been out sunning him/herself ( however do you tell???) I know how nice that feels! We Canadians love to chat about the weather, probably as it plays a huge part in our mental health! ha! I’m just excited by the little things! The emergence of our gravel laneway is one of them! Who knew I would be so happy to see gray gravel again! And this was a mild Winter, A “good one” to break you back in folks keep telling us, “It went easy on you!”…no ice is all I keep hearing, and we were so well prepared with barrels of sand and salt! It will be here for next year, or, I’m not counting out any sudden ice storms or freezing rain just yet! Call me a pessimist right now and I’ll agree, no surprises please!

The Common Redpolls are still here in great abundance…shouldn’t they be headed to the Tundra? I keep worrying, a sign Winter hasn’t had it’s last laugh! Both the Pileated and Red-bellied Woodpeckers have been scarce this week. I think they are nest building, or they didn’t like the beef suet? I’m back to pork and peanut butter this week! We’ll see! Babies would be a real treat! They are always a welcome blast of colour!

It’s time to start cleaning up…no snow to hide last years leaves and dead plants. Little piles of tree struggles, dead branches and enormous quantities of sunflower seed husks! The rake is waiting…and the wheelbarrow…It will feel good to breathe in that moist Spring air. We had a few minutes of rain this week, we opened the sliding door and sat with the cats sniffing the air, it was delicious! Earth, the beautiful smell of dirt and decay…

…and we can see the little red canoe! yeah! Break out the bubbly! I don’t need much encouragement to celebrate these days;) The lake has gone back to burbling and groaning, think of a giant, with stomach indigestion, no farts, just grumbling! With the quantity of water rolling in, and nowhere for it to go I half expect a blow hole to form in the middle of the lake to let off stream like a pressure cooker! Have you every had one explode? I have…

The traveling Mewberries have gone back to leashes…sadly….with the lake ice melting and sudden Spring fever they are wild! As the snow melted and they discovered they could go anywhere it was time for them to play “Catch me if you can!” with the underneath of our neighbour’s cabin being the first place they pranced off to on the lake ice…flipping their tails around in great amusement as they scampered off…bad kittens! I liked those tall snow paths they couldn’t see over, but not enough to wish for more! NOOOO!!!!:)

Down at the Narrows Lock where the lake is opening up the geese are being very cranky, must be that long trip up from Florida, and the lack of social distancing…some people just don’t get it, sadly…I would love to “sic” this gander on a few of them…he voiced what I feel when I go to the store and see people’s masks hanging around their chins…No vaccine in sight for our age group here yet. Glad to see so many friends and family South of the border with both their shots! We’ll get there, and then hopefully we can go back to exploring, our neck of the woods for now, but yes, a few more adventures for the traveling Mewberries and their faithful servants! Until then, I’m out to visit our latest arrivals, the Red-Winged Blackbirds are back with their friends the Grackles! Stay safe amigos, or you might find that goose chasing you down;) ha!

If Birds were Star Trek characters;) ha!

Captains log-star date 02062021 in the Milky Way galaxy… Meet Captain Picard (or Captain Kirk with that great hair!) here (although some might say a Bald Eagle or a California Condor would be more appropriate, none came by today;)…He takes life slowly, thoughtfully, savoring it, with some suet tea, hot…The rest of humanity out there could do with a bit of slowing down as well. I think perhaps the pandemic currently sitting on our shoulders has forced us in many ways to do so but I still shake my head in wonder at those that travel at a pace they see nothing on either side of them, just a small dot in the future, your life is today…

The log cottage below us went up for sale, American owners that can’t visit during the border closures decided to put it up for sale. The realtor fails to mention this is a one kilometer long lane, snow piled up on either side, very small country road that at a few times this week requires 4×4 or very careful driving to get in and out, one car at a time. There are no turn outs or places for two vehicles to pass, you have to back ALL the way out if you encounter another car…most people can’t do this on a slippery snow covered one lane road. It has been a three ring circus of comings and goings, when I thought we were supposed to be in lockdown? Here are people traipsing about the country side in minivans and small low clearance cars that have no clue where they are going, or what will meet them at the end. How have humans lived as long as they have if this represents a large segment of our population, maybe Darwin was wrong? ha! Last weekend of showings…we’ll see how many times the tow truck has to arrive, only one 4×4 tow truck around in the vicinity and you can imagine, it is busy at the best of times. Anyone have a Romulan disrupter out there I could borrow? 😉

So, we are not exactly stranded here, but we have to call the realtor to see when and for how long visitors are coming as we leave, and again as we try to go home, or risk running into someone, over someone;) It has been tempting, and that is not counting the looky-loos who just decide to drive in on their own…We walked out to check our mail and the speed at which drivers were flying in was astounding…they don’t deserve a place in the country if they can’t slow down even enough to take the view in as they drive in…ok, people rant done;)

Humans can learn a lot from cats…they are curious, take their time, sniff a lot of things to see what, and who has been by, they know how to play…They come from the planet Risa, they are Risians;) They don’t understand why we can’t keep the climate purrrfect…;)

and definitely know how to relax;)

They even get involved with my bird watching….Although I think Gamora may be a changeling…

I have to admit, they are not always helpful for bird photography;) Good thing they are easily distracted, food, warm fireplace etc….damn, what am I thinking sitting out there in the snow?

It pays just to sit quietly and observe, the behaviors of each of the birds are distinct, their attitudes and how they interact with each other is always fascinating. The small little birds, Goldfinches, Redpolls and Chickadees all seem to interact rather amiably with each other. Fluttering off at the first sight of danger, and just as quick to fly back to the feeders, and under the where they pick about for seeds thrown down from above. Could they be the Tribbles?

The Woodpeckers round out the top echelon, Pileated is in charge of the ship, We’ll call him Picard, the Red-Bellied is his Number 1. In line at the feeder, the Hairys are the Science officers, they battle back and forth with the Blue Jays, I think they are Romulans. The Downys fall in as the lowly red shirts;)

The next step up in the hierarchy involves the Nuthatches, White boss about the Red Breasted, they are the engineers of the Star ship! The Red breasted might be the counselors;)