Late Summer days, the world according to Groot;)

If only everyone would be so easy to please:) Groot runs down to the dock as soon as you shake the rod and reel, like music to his ears. Every cast has him on the edge of the dock watching, waiting, weed or fish….I’ve never seen a happier cat. The other two, well, meh, it’s the whole water thing Gamora says, spoils her perfectly soft fur if she falls in, not that she ever gets close enough to…Rocket, well, we’re waiting for the day he tumbles off the dock looking at something underwater:)

It’s those last days of Summer, picture perfect weather, calm water, no wind, a few fluffy clouds that puts everything in life into perspective, for Groot anyway:) Fall officially starts September 22 so we do have some Summer left! The Bald eagle has been doing some fishing as well across the bay. Over 900 feet out and heavily cropped, at the limit for the telephoto lens but not too bad a shot of him snagging a bass I think and taking off to the tree for a snack. I saw his/her shadow fly over and looked up from hummingbird stalking to see it dive down on the opposite side of the bay from us:) Such amazing flyers these raptors. The 150-600G2 Tamron Lens never ceases to amaze me. These are all hand held, in the VR3 mode for panning that I use for the hummingbirds.

I loved how the hummingbird saw it go over before I did:) It wouldn’t be much of snack and actually hummingbirds are known to build their nests near raptors, safer against other predators that way…smart little cookies!

Happy this is the last big Summer weekend as well-hopefully the jet skies-seadoos will be put away soon, only a few on the lake, and at an Airbnb rental. We refer to them as lake lice:) A friend sent me a contest application for invasive species, I was wondering if I could work humans and jet skies into that;) It might get a chuckle;) One lady who used to live on the Rideau said they had a BB gun down at their dock for the repeat 20 feet from shore at 40 mph offenders, Mike was thinking something bigger caliber, tank perhaps;) I am becoming a curmudgeon! Mike just asked winking “Becoming?” ha!

Contrary to public belief I do not spend all day stalking hummingbirds, eagles and bugs and cats, only part of the day;) We had a good garden this Summer, a jungle of tomatoes and tomatillos, which entails a bit of work, somewhat free of pests mostly until last night early while it was still light out, I heard Mike muttering as he flew out the front door, but not before grabbing one of my shoes on the way out to hurl at a young deer eating his hot pepper plants…it took a few minutes to compute in my brain what exactly he was doing;) Hell hath no fury like a man protecting his serranos! That poor deer will be emotionally scared for life after being attacked by a smelly flying sneaker😊he chased it all the way down the driveway as it huffed and puffed at him, a juvenile with attitude! It has been enjoying the remnants of the chard and kale as well, which I have been covering up with a tarp so it had moved onto something different, not sure that one will be back;)

I came home yesterday with a monstrous bag of picked off the tree, Ida Red apples. I also scored an entire bag of bruised ones, for the horses, but Jennifer informed me today I had won the title of Supreme and Exalted Forager by the little raccoons in the barn, who ate every last bruised apple in the wee hours of dawn:) Nothing like sharing…I will have to stop by the lovely farm house where I bought the apples again soon! We have been driving by for years and just saw their apples for sale sign so I finally ventured into an immaculately kept old stone home and barnyard. I knocked on the door, heard a little dog bark, some French being spoken. When a lovely older couple answered the door I apologized profusely for my horrible mixture of French and Spanish, explaining I hadn’t spoken it for a great deal of time, we won’t go into how many decades, after living in Mexico for 10 years! “Pas de problème!” the lovely lady said, it will be good for you to practice some, I used to work with Italians and Spaniards so we will get along just fine! Her husband and she showed me through the older carriage part of their magnificent stone home ( we are talking stone arches, amazing craftsmanship here) where they had bushels of apples picked…But “NO! she said ” the ones picked fresh from the tree always taste better!” So off we went to a small orchard and glorious garden with grapes and berries as well and picked apples, the best year they have had since they moved here from Switzerland in the 1982 she exclaimed! All in French, what a lovely way to buy apples! We filled a very large bag to the top, then in the carriage house she filled another bag for the horses and I promised to return with Mike, I believe they speak German as well, for coffee one day! I think I will have to make them an apple cake as thanks! On my way out I loaned a woman who’d just arrived several bags from our bag pile in the truck so she could get some, as she had nothing to put them in, pass the kindness around! Life is short…Mangez du gâteau aux pommes! Groot says cake is fine, as long as it’s fish cakes HOOMAN! Looks like I better get back down to the dock and get to work!

Saludos amigos, hasta pronto!

Not everything red is a flower! Juveniles have to try everything!

Goodbye heatwave…hope I’m not cursing us and it will start to snow;)

Summer appears quickly at these latitudes, and seems to leave just as quickly once September rolls around:) We have leaves changing colour and falling already, much to do with the LDD caterpillar and moth problems, but also the long spell of heat and dry here, and heat and rain in other places. The swamps are even getting crispy! 40 km south of us it has rained almost every day-go figure-at least we are not being flooded or deluged…maybe I should bite my tongue;) Our climate has certainly had it’s share of extremes recently.

The crisp morning air has all the juvenile hummingbirds scrambling in competition for feeders and flowers, even the lowly petunias were being poked and prodded for some nectar! The adults have already all gone, just a few 2nd years around, flexing their little hummingbird might and a ton of juveniles. Some have been molting, we’re talking hummingbird ugly but thankfully that is nearly done;) What we think are females could be males as they are practically indistinguishable at this stage of their early lives! We do know they are trying to pack on the weight through for that long trip to Mexico!

The yard birds are changing as well, a female Rose Breasted Grosbeak appeared this morning and the young blue jays are getting sassy! The Chickadees and White Breasted Nuthatches are in a frenzy to stash seeds, I keep telling them the eves troughs are a bad idea but they don’t listen;) The Hairy’s and Downy’s are becoming more vocal and I think I heard the Red-Bellied! The Goldfinch babies have finished their molt and are looking very fresh and bright, their colour fades to a much drabber shade over the winter but always a welcome splash of yellow in a pale landscape. A few juvenile Eastern Phoebes have been feasting on the plentiful grasshoppers, not just the cats chasing them! I’ve even glimpsed a warbler or two high in the maples! Always exciting to see the changing of the guard of seasons:)

These beautiful yard birds make up the bulk of our population:) Throw in a Chickadee and a Red Breasted Nuthatch and these are the guys that will be here all Winter. I nearly put the Baltimore oriole feeder away but lo and behold, I spotted one early this morning during the ritual coffee savouring event, this morning with a blanket. Believe it or not, two days ago I had sweat dripping into my eyes! I’m thinking it’s time to start making some suet up and into the freezer for the cold dark days to come…sigh…I’m never ready for that.

We’ve also gone from being devoured by deer flies to only mildly nibbled on;) I did kill a couple attempting to extract blood this morning. We are down to just a few dragonflies, the Autumn Meadowhawks are very cool as the male and female are different colours! The male is a beautiful red, the female, a stunning gold! A few Bumblebees are still out and busy, covered in pollen and the wasps are looking for Winter nourishment well. A bright Green Northern Bush Katydid spent the night on the Dahlia-wow is it ever green! A few Monarchs have fluttered by and an occasional Swallowtail but they don’t seem to stop-headed South I would guess. Will need to work on some plantings for late summer food for them next year! My monarch caterpillar disappeared, I would think he filled up some lucky birds stomach or he went somewhere to pupate(?)…

The cats are enjoying the cooler mornings, less panting, and a lot of running about after the grasshoppers, great leaps and aerial maneuvers, chasing frogs and snakes and anything that moves:) They come in after their time outside and face plant into the sofa/bed/chair back, wherever as cats do, after a meal;) kids…hahahaha!

I think the felines and I will be happier with the cooler temperatures. Not constantly seeking some kind of shade, I can actually sit in the sun and watch the world go by;) I will be back at the hummingbird feeders for this last week or so they are here. Then it will be a long wait until their return in Spring, but then, so many other creatures will wander by to amaze us! The traveling Mewberries are sure to corner another chipmunk, although the ones that have survived this Spring and Summer are now pretty savvy little guys!

Intense concentration-we are sure there is a chipmunk under there!

So we’ll wait-amazes me how these three can actually work together when they put their mind to it;) Gives me hope;) ha! Saludos amigos-hasta pronto! I think I may wander the road to check out those late Summer flowers:)

Summertime-part four-those little guys called Hummingbirds:)

Mr. Ruby Throated and my volunteer sunflower

I have to admit, I’m a hummingbird stalker;) I can sit outside for hours, waiting, well, ok, sometimes I get up and go photograph dragonflies and bumblebees, any pretty flower, but mostly, I lay in wait for these little flying brats! They can try your patience, hiding behind the feeder ( turn it so they can’t quite do that;) ha!) zipping in and out without a drink, blasted little birds;) They are what got me started in photography a decade ago. Do I have the perfect camera, no, frame rate isn’t the best, so I have to plan with the Canon 6D, one day I’ll go mirrorless with a faster frame rate…sigh, in the meantime I need lots of sun, to the side or behind me, fast shutter speed ( 1/3200-1/4000 sec) to freeze those wings, and lots and lots of shots and luck:) I do cheat though…”Ha! You say! I knew it!” Not only do I stalk these birds, I move their feeders around to just where I want them. I had one hanging by the sunflower, it makes them curious and go “Hey, maybe I’ll try that yellow flower, or that pink dahlia.” They do go to those flowers, I’m just trying to raise my chances!

They do get to know you though! The new juveniles coming out are much more skittish than the Spring regulars, who I can sadly say have headed South already leaving the territorial battles to the molting and not so glamourous girls and boys:) On a planning note, I will actually plant sunflowers next year, they come in so many beautiful shades, the red ones would be quite interesting to these little guys! This beautiful plant comes compliments of a chipmunk that hid the seed in my flower pot. I just watered it, that is why I call it my volunteer! The one flower I don’t have to tempt them with are the beautiful Canna Lilies that are starting to bloom! They love them and check every flower for a delicious meal it seems! Thanks Pam and Graham for those amazing bulbs! I will over winter them and plan next year where to put them, just where the light is perfect!

I currently have three feeders, one is actually an oriole feeder but the female Ruby Throated seems to prefer it. One is a traditional feeder, the other two are flat. They are great as you can unscrew the hanging part and place them on any flat surface-nothing for those little guys to hide behind..mwahahahaha!;)

You have to get inventive sometimes to get the shot! Luring them over with the feeder to check out a new flower often works. My dahlias are in a pot I can move around, looking for the best light, the hanging baskets can be placed on the picnic table as well…my seat in the shade-their flowers in the sun-Perfect! You have to use your imagination! I enjoy every bit of it! Sometimes it is just catching them in a different pose. When I put the feeder on the picnic table one little female had to come in and explore the entire area before settling down to a long drink:) I guess you just have to be careful what kind of bar you drink at right?;)

Watching their day to day behaviour is always eye opening. Who knew they could get into so many odd contortions;) Cirque de Soleil birds:) I do love the flower shots but sometimes it is just fun trying to capture the weird and wonderful poses they get themselves into!

I was sad we didn’t have a nest nearby this year, maybe next year! It disintegrated over the winter and I read they don’t reuse them. Today I haven’t seen a single older adult. There are a lot of rough looking juveniles around right now, feathers sticking out at odd angles, no feathers, mid molt and damn they are fuggly. Hard to say that about a hummingbird but these boys and girls are going through their gawky stage:) There are three battling constantly over small bits of territory. Front of the house, middle, and back-all depending on where a feeder is, they also fly off to our neighbours, I see them zip down by the powerline clearing to their feeders! One sad little guy has finally regrown some feathers-I promised not to publish his really ugly shots, he has his pride;) His little bits of ruby throat are starting to grown in!

Last year some of these juveniles stayed around until mid-September. I will miss them when they go! We were spoiled in Baja being on the migration path and some little Anna’s would even overwinter in the snow! Amazing little birds, I am envious of them getting to go to Mexico this Winter! Winter has crossed my mind in the last few days with the temperatures into the mid 30’s Celsius, higher with the humidex…that is sweating when you blink weather:) And NO-I’m not wishing for it to arrive early:) Just going to enjoy the time we have left with these little flying jewels!

I’ll leave you with our resident male and his little scarred beak. I’ll be able to tell next year if it is him when they arrive back-I hope so-it is a long journey-Hasta la vista baby y buen viaje:)

Hasta la Vista baby!

Summertime-part three-the birds

We’ve discussed the bees, now how about the birds, sorry no sex education here today;) All I can show you is the results of those actions;) ha! I am so glad I’m not a Grackle parent…those kids are tough! A lot of carrying on and screaming, all for a sunflower seed….”Feed yourself kid! You’re bothering me;)”

These parents work hard! It is odd, as in July it starts to get a bit quiet. Everyone is busy nesting and feeding, the woodpeckers get a bit secretive, or are simply running away from their demanding young ones. The Blue Jays vanish, except for an occasional feather beneath the feeder, then August rolls in and all the juveniles start coming out of the wood work, er, trees, whatever!

It is amazing how quickly they grow these babies! A paddle to the North end of the lake got us the chance to see the debut of the baby Loon! So small! Such calm, protective parents. We always keep a respectful distance and just sit and observe. It was a windy day and the little one was doing just fine!

They were not the only ones paddling about the lake. Down here at the South end the Bald Eagle has come and gone. With no Loon pair here, no babies to eat, it hasn’t made many appearances, but you know when it does, the entire bird population puts out the alarm. Those ballsy Red-winged Blackbirds give chase in the tall pine, or should we call them fool hardy;) We have had a single Loon moping about, I wonder if it lost it’s mate. Hopefully next year it will find some company. The Herons have been busy flying from one side of the lake to the other, often with a few juveniles, that look full size, in tow!

A few new birds have surfaced. What at first I thought was a seagull from a quick glance turned out to be a Tern, A Caspian Tern. That amazing orange bill and black head. It is a prolific fisher as well! The Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world, easily recognized by its brilliant red fish-knife of a bill and deep, raspy call. Found all over the world, the Caspian favors both freshwater and saltwater environments. It feeds mostly on fish, captured in nimble aerial dives. Still trying to catch a dive before it heads South for the Winter! I have seen it pluck a perch out of the water without getting it’s feet wet, yet it will also plunge right in! Stunning. The first time I heard it squawk, I jumped!

I have been keeping an eye on the Osprey babies at the Beveridge Locks-during the hot spell last week they were having a hard time keeping cool. Mother covered them with her wings but they are getting so large it is getting difficult.

I returned last week to only find the babies in the nest waiting patiently-I watched for awhile-it was HOT! They became quite upset when a giant low flying military Hercules aircraft flew over and circled. What could have they been thinking! That’s one big mofo bird of prey! I tell ya! I had to give up because of the heat, will have to make another trip to see them starting to fly!

We have an Osprey pair here at the lake as well. I paddled down one quiet afternoon to have a look-they were calling, so thought they were babies, but their eye colour looked more adult. So must take a canoe ride back down on a sunny morning to see them again unless they were early babies and have flown the coop/nest/pile of sticks! It looked like it was leaning in a precarious way!

There must certainly be enough fish out here for them…Groot says he is not happy about sharing but what can he do;) Another youngster woke me up at dawn last week. The crying was pitiful…it went on and on, right outside the window, even the cats had a look out to see what the ruckus was about. I went outside when it became a bit lighter and looked in the tree tops above the roof but the maples are so dense I couldn’t see a thing but I must have rattled it as it flew off to a neighboring tree, a young Red Tailed Hawk. We don’t see them often here, mostly open field birds so a real treat. He/she has been hanging around, I occasionally hear it cry. On the deck were the remnants of a Hairy Woodpecker and a Blue Jay so the parent had been feeding it a late night/early morning snack.

We don’t tend to get many birds of prey other than the local Bald Eagle. It is always a treat to see a Coopers (although I can tell you the yard birds don’t share my enthusiasm, for that!) Sometimes high up I see something I can’t quite ID. We have a regular flock of Turkey Vultures that soar the thermals here on the hill off the lake- Such amazing flyers with a face only a mother could love…happens when you a carrion eater, face feathers would get in the way;) My hats off to natures clean up crew!

When I went looking for the Osprey nest I paddled around and came across the not so wee Loon baby and mother. Only 10 days ago it was tiny! Father was off fishing so I spent a few minutes drifting by this beautiful pair. Their cry is such a haunting melody, I can tell you whether they are just greeting each other, issuing a warning call, staking out their territory or simply telling their significant other where they are, no cell phones needed:) Yeah! Will make another trek down to check out his/her progress this week! It won’t be a fluff ball anymore!

Common Loons for me are one of the most graceful birds on the water I have seen. The elegant neck, their diving and swimming ability underwater is astounding but have you ever watched one land or take off? They look like complete klutzes! It’s as if Goofy has been crossed with Inspector Clouseau, then recrossed with Mr. Magoo…you get the drift…um, er landing and take off, anyway…pretty funny to watch! Landing results in a large splash after a dicey descent and take off involves a lot of flapping, and flapping, and flapping….I could swear those feet are working overtime underneath like a Fred Flintstone car to get them airbourne;) I suppose everything has it’s ying and yang:)

…and then there are the incredibly sad looking juvenile Hummingbirds that really look like someone/something has caught them, chewed on for a bit, then spat them back out, not much to eat there…but that, is for tomorrow, along with some gorgeous examples of them in their prime. While they are incredibly beautiful little birds, they also get to go through their geeky stage…stay tuned for them and some of our faithful yard birds. I leave you with the local swamp juvenile Wood Duck, she is a beauty! Saludos amigos…

We have known there has been a family of Wood Ducks close by. I have seen both the male and the female flying over, usually just get a glance of their rear ends;) This is a juvenile, we caught a glimpse of Mom and quite a few babies sunning on a rock, but they were gone when I returned. This maybe last years baby as the other were much much smaller! Lovely!

Summertime-part two-listen to the buzz

Bumblebees-are just bumblebees right? NOT! Who knew there were so many different species? It has been amazing to watch and try to document what I have seen so far. 4 species out of approximately 15 varieties in central Ontario. I’m still on the lookout for more!

There has been a lot of activity on the catnip, who knew that not only did cats get a great buzz out of it but our little fuzzy flying friends as well! From what I can see these amazing little creatures called Bumblebees have been our main pollinators so far this year. When we think of bees, we often picture honey bees, and honey bees aren’t even a native species. In fact they were an agricultural import, brought to North America for honey production and crop pollination.

There are over 400 species of bees in Ontario. Bumblebees, Carpenter bees, Leaf cutter bees, Mining bees, Sweat bees…whew! Then there is the wasps…a whole other story! And Spiders. Our dock spiders are quite active but the one in the bird feeder box has had an excellent time wrapping Gypsy Moth caterpillars up for snacking on afterwards! I can’t possibly ask her to move out! The other cool spider nest is in my green beans. I think they are Nursery web spiders. Never seen the Mom but the babies form a tight ball until they see motion and scatter in all directions-survival technique no doubt. OK, enough crawlies for now, dock spider babies haven’t been born yet;) I’m still looking for that perfect dew/rain dropped spiderweb, actually, any spider web only found one orb weaver so far, 30′ up in a tree…:(

I was hoping for a trove of butterflies this year but they have been fluttering by, but not stopping much. I’ve given chase to the swallowtails, a few Monarchs have stopped, but it is maybe too soon! I did discover a real beauty of a Monarch caterpillar in the garden. Hope to get to watch it cocoon and emerge! A few new moths have flitted by including the incredible Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth, an apt description for once;)

To be honest, I haven’t wandered far from home. The onslaught of deer flies is enough to drive one mad, running back, waving your hands and arms over your head in a vain attempt not to have chunks of flesh removed. They bite through my pants and shirt, they are simply the most wicked bug ever. I have the welts to prove it;) I have been yearning to check out the swamp and see any new dragonflies emerging but even driving by, the truck is surrounded by these blood thirty winged devils;) Down at the waters edge the blue damselflies have been entertaining. They sit on my legs as I wait for the Caspian Tern to come flying around, too close for me to photograph them:) I did paddle out into the lake one day chasing the Blue Dashers-they are stunning landing on blooming water plants, and in the goldenrod and blackberry bushes small golden dragonflies are emerging. Autumn Meadowhawks I think:)

That buzz of nature-even if you don’t love bugs, you have to marvel at their amazing beauty and variety, and the fact when we’re all gone, some of them will most likely rule the earth;) ha! Probably the Cicadas. The Northern Dog Day Cicadas are emerging, associated with the dog days of Summer;) Only the males sing, making a loud high pitched song similar to a circular saw and lasting about 15 seconds. Their singing is associated with hot summer days and the arrival of Sirius in the night sky someone pointed out, astronomer bugs;) It starts out soft, gets louder and then fades away. They crawl out of the ground as mature nymphs then climb up tree trunks, split open and emerge as long winged, bug eyed adults that will live for only a few weeks. Unlike the black and orange periodical cicadas, which emerge in overwhelming numbers every 13 or 17 years, the larger, greenish dog-day cicadas are with us every summer. Males do the droning , which is generated by a pair of ribbed membranes at the base of the cicada’s hollow abdomen. Muscles distort these tymbals to make pulses of sound that resonate in the insect’s abdomen. The vibrations from a single cicada can reach 100 decibels and be heard a quarter-mile away….Love that sound, talk about buzz, well buzz saw anyway;)

Guess I have bugged you enough, lots more to come. We’ve done the bees, next maybe the birds…who knows what we may learn;) Stay tuned amigos, and if you don’t like birds, well…ha! You know;)

♫♪♫ Summertime….♪♫♪ part one

Where does the time go? Is there a direct correlation between age and how fast time flies? Ha! I’ll be on the bullet train soon at this rate;) All kidding aside, no train rides for me. I’ve just felt confident enough to go for a meal outside without a mask, and that may not last;) In my Facebook feed, I see a world acting as though nothing has happened, thrown their hats up into the breeze and exclaimed “We’re all free, we won’t vaccinate, we’re woke!” Is it wrong for me to mutter “Most likely dead sooner than later…” under my breath? I dunno. I am astounded at how many we do meet that haven’t been vaccinated. I get the rhetoric, they don’t know the long term side effects (although we DO know the long term side effects of Covid and it isn’t pretty folks), it was rushed, big pharma is out to get you (now, maybe your pocket book but they can’t expect to kill off the human race with a vaccine and then stay profitable people!) yadda, yadda, yadda….sigh…We are not surrounded by these people I see in my feed, just to make that clear. Most people we know really want to get back to having friends over, socializing without fear of killing someone else down the line, in fact Lanark, Leeds, Grenville has one of the highest vaccination rates in Ontario. I will go back to the bugs, and birds and other crawling critters that seem to have far more sense than most humans. In my lifetime I fear I will the see the end of many natural things, if I’m lucky to live that long. Human stupidity amazes me, saddens me, absolutely astonishes me, not usually in a good way that is. I don’t have any children to leave the future to, but many have, and I’ve come to the conclusion that most will give anything lip service as long as they can go to the store and buy a box of Fruit Loops, or Rice Crispies;) Ha! Don’t forget the marshmallows;)

This beautiful little female Ruby Throated Hummingbird image resonated with a lot of people. Maybe it is the colours, or the stance, maybe just a beautiful little bird in someone’s feed that wasn’t having a good day. If it brought a smile to anyone’s face I am glad. It makes you think that sometimes it is the small things in our lives that bring the most happiness. I think the one thing we need to do is look outside ourselves and our situations. Many have struggled, many have continued to valiantly work on, because they have to. Many are essential workers in the medical world, many are simply ringing cash registers. At the end of the day, they need to pay their rent, taxes, food, electric. Those lucky enough to work from home have had other issues, getting undressed in front of their still running computer was an unfortunate one, please, don’t play with yourself while doing this;). Perhaps the cat crashed their zoom meeting, I would have thought that would be welcome relief in these odd times;) As Ontario slowly reopens we hear the same complaints from employers, there is NO one to hire, even at increased salaries. Cafes and restaurants are running understaffed, plumbers and carpenters are turning down work as they don’t have the employees to do the work. When the CERB benefit transferred to unemployment many wondered why anyone would go back to work, if they were still being paid by the government. Would I? Turn down a 40 hour week of standing on your feet and running in any understaffed, store, restaurant or bar for a few dollars more…not sure:) Just glad we don’t have to see Randy Hillier’s ugly smug mug shaking hands with one more store owner/employee idiot protesting more lockdowns. Life goes on, for us today, but not for the many that did not survive their encounter with Covid….Enough of that.

Tomorrow we will go on to explore the weird and wonderful world of nature in our little neck of the woods…did you know there were 16 different species of bumblebees in Ontario alone? (so far I have only seen four but the Summer is not over yet!) Stay tuned…if your don’t like bugs, well, fuck off, no need to tune in;) hahahahahaha!

Nature’s Fireworks

Canada day came and went, as did the 4th of July-these are the fireworks the morning of the first that mean something. That amazing colour mother nature creates, spreads across the sky with her brush that leaves us in awe….and it’s ever changing tones and shades. I usually have a peak every morning, it consists of lifting my head off the pillow and looking out the window, often through a large orange cat but he doesn’t block everything, tough right? Not….

When it looks like this, I motivate and get my butt out of bed! 5 a.m. isn’t my favourite time, I think of horse shows and medical emergencies;) I leave my tripod down at the small dock for mornings like these, wind still, reflections, colours. It’s a photographer dream! The view down the lake is priceless. It was what pretty much blew us away and sold us on this lovely log cottage as we wound our way in on a rather rough road. (Wasn’t sure I was up for another 4×4 road just yet!) You can update, modernize, paint and stain your way to something you like if you want, but you can’t change your ambient surroundings. Maybe the ten years in Baja spoiled us for needing something like this. When you live somewhere and your closest neighbours are kilometers away, and you like that, it’s hard to come back to humanity. It was my one worry leaving that mountain paradise, however could we find something that lovely, that we could afford?

Now our small garden is in, and producing this year thanks to copious quantities of Maya, Dusty and Phoenix poop, and donkeys;) All the lettuce and radishes you can eat, kale and swiss chard. Tomatoes, tomatillos and peppers of all sorts are coming soon. It was one thing we truly missed being on the road, that little patch of garden. Being able to go out and get fresh dill and basil, a handful of oregano, chives or cilantro, little luxuries you just can’t carry with you on a 5th wheel trailer. And water, fresh water, cold out of the tap, no smell, no chlorine, I think that is the biggest luxury of all-potable water. Something many in Canada and the US maybe never think about. Much is taken for granted in these countries of plenty. So we are thankful, incredibly so. There were a few days over the Winter I did long for that dry air, and mild climate, but not having to farm outside certainly made those cold days less unpleasant:)

I worry about our weather, about my family and friends in the SW, and now the NW. Fires and blistering heat in areas where that shouldn’t be. Change is here, it has always been inevitable, life is really mostly about change. We are born, we are taught and learn, we change, we adapt, we travel, and learn more. Many fear change, they brace themselves against it, it doesn’t have to be fearful. We are all constantly changing, look at our bodies age, our minds wander…this is what we are. In generations our civilization will be gone. Maybe not the art or the poetry, homo sapiens seem to treasure those, but the weapons and machinery will rust and fade away, a new religion will arise, Christianity and all the different gods and goddesses will fade away as Zeus and Apollo did, maybe it already has arrived, a new religion called “Cellphonism” haha! I shouldn’t laugh, it’s true. Check out this link to deities…so cool! I see people glued to their devices as if it were an appendage. I cherish the reunions with phoneless friends:) How did we ever survive?:) hahahaha, I think we turned out OK, and maybe a bit more independent than those who are enslaved to technology today, myself included as I type on a small thin keyboard to a lit screen connected wirelessly to an unseen internet…I started with the clack of a typewriter…Damn, this is turning too philosophical;) ha! I guess my point is we are in constant change and we need to live our lives, we need to laugh and we need to love. We are mortal and short lived. I came across this by Walt Whitman and it struck me a something to think about:

“Song of myself

I am of old and young, of the foolish as much as the wise,

Regardless of others, ever regardful of others,

Maternal as well as paternal, a child as well as a man,

Stuff’d with the stuff that is coarse and stuff’d with the stuff that is fine,

One of the Nation of many nations, the smallest the same and the

largest the same,

A Southerner soon as a Northerner, a planter nonchalant and

hospitable down by the Oconee I live,

A Yankee bound my own way ready for trade, my joints the limberest

joints on earth and the sternest joints on earth,

A Kentuckian walking the vale of the Elkhorn in my deer-skin

leggings, a Louisianian or Georgian,

A boatman over lakes or bays or along coasts, a Hoosier, Badger, Buckeye;

At home on Kanadian snow-shoes or up in the bush, or with fishermen

off Newfoundland,

At home in the fleet of ice-boats, sailing with the rest and tacking,

At home on the hills of Vermont or in the woods of Maine, or the

Texan ranch,

Comrade of Californians, comrade of free North-Westerners, (loving

their big proportions,)

Comrade of raftsmen and coalmen, comrade of all who shake hands

and welcome to drink and meat,

A learner with the simplest, a teacher of the thoughtfullest,

A novice beginning yet experient of myriads of seasons,

Of every hue and caste am I, of every rank and religion,

A farmer, mechanic, artist, gentleman, sailor, quaker,

Prisoner, fancy-man, rowdy, lawyer, physician, priest.

I resist any thing better than my own diversity,

Breathe the air but leave plenty after me,

And am not stuck up, and am in my place.”

― Walt Whitman

We are human, we are all equal….let’s be nice out there…

Live, love, laugh….not necessarily in that order;)

Yelling birds and fornicating butterflies…0_0…never gets boring here!

Ha! A few will just have to look after seeing the fornicating;) It comes up on google as “verb *humorous (really?) of two people not married to each other- having sexual intercourse.” It is that time of year! Horny moths and butterflies;) I told them to get a room this morning, I don’t want to watch while drinking my coffee! Hahahahaha! They don’t get married as far as I know but it did say “people” so, maybe not the best word but…they sure looked like they were having a fluttering good time, so yes, I did look, and even take pictures…what does that make me, google…a voyeur 😉

Back to the yelling birds…don’t worry we’ll get back to the butterflies later;) While sitting, a loud commotion started from the maple bush and moved to the nearby telephone/hydro pole. The young Pileated Woodpecker male was yelling like a hungry grumpy child for his parents…

This went on for awhile until “Dad” swooped onto the pole and proceeded to feed this famished, almost fully grown youngster…They eat insects but will also eat wild fruits and nuts, including blackberries, sumac berries, poison ivy, holly, dogwood, and elderberry.

I can just imagine in the poor Pileated father Woodpecker’s head hearing his wife/mate say ” Take junior, GO! Go bond, It will be fun she said!!! Ha!

Watching the interaction between these two was very amusing, maybe not for Dad, mini me was getting a good feed of something, ground up carpenter ants, some of the numerous gypsy moth caterpillars, a few beetles and sunflower seeds thrown in perhaps for dessert;) What a patient parent:)

“Dad, you’re the best🙂” I have to hand it to this father Pileated-he was doing a great job but eventually just flew off into the forest…mini me following him…..hahahahahaha! What a lovely sight!

Ah, problems parents have the world over, n’est ce pas? And we thought hungry cats were trying;)

So here you go…fornicating Northern Crescent Butterflies. I have a vision of some bad televangelical saying “Interpersonal activity involving sex organs that does not conform to God’s revealed laws governing sexuality! FOR-NI-CA-TION!!! Evil demons come out!!!” The “Bakers Evangelical Dictionary” can help you out in times like these…yes, there is such a thing….let’s not go there today;) hahahahahahaha! and yes, the earth is flat…hahahahaha! It can’t be-Cats would have knocked everything off it by now;)…and if fornicating butterflies is bad, imagine what these guys would say about interspecies love????

Rocket has it bad…for the little raccoon. Every night he follows her from window to window, straining for a view, pressing against the screen, just a glimpse of that beautiful mask and ringed tail….sigh (Haven’t you ever felt like this?♥)…Love is grand….Groot, on the other hand, guards the front door screen, hisses at Rocket if he comes too close and yells those familiar words “You SHALL not pass!!!” to the raccoon, in his best Gandalf the gray impression, it’s pretty good;) Life is just so much fun with cats:)

Now I’m worried his chasing of the little bunny may have more to it;) I’ll leave you here, things got a bit long yesterday so stay tuned-we have a runaway, or is that running away bunny, according to Groot and Rocket! Clouds are moving in and we are ready for some welcome rain! Saludos y abrazos amigos! Love, live, laugh!

So many hours in the day!

Summertime, so many hours in the day, today the sun comes up at 5:24 but it actually starts to get light at 4 am and the sun sets at 8:54 but there is still some light until 11:21…welcome to the Northern hemisphere! Astronomers hate Summer;) ha! What to do with all that daylight? Sit and watch the world go by!

The bugs are other worldly! Dragonflies with racing stripes, or bright green, or called widow skimmers…ominous sounding isn’t that! Butterflies named after admirals and crescents and then their is the Little Wood Satyr…who thought to name them after a class of lustful, drunken woodland gods? 😉 In Greek art they were represented as a man with a horse’s ears and tail, but in Roman representations as a man with a goat’s ears, tail, legs, and horns. Now…seems to be the naturalist was likely drunk;) But then who wouldn’t want to be named after a lustful drunken woodland god, there are worse things;) 

When you sit and watch, it is amazing what happens by as well. Creatures that might slip under your radar slither across your path;)

I had a visitor from House Slytherin this afternoon as I was waiting for un-co-operative hummingbirds…you never know who you might meet if you sit and wait. He/she sniffed me out (the tongue thing) and decided I wasn’t a threat so slithered past me across the driveway and lawn to where I was sitting. Hello Grey Rat Snake:) This is the shiniest snake I have ever seen! Had I brushed up on my parseltongue this morning I could have asked her/him if it was the lovely creature that deposited it’s eggs in our compost last year, it did come from that direction:) Are we going to be snake god parents again??!! Yeah! It was longer than I am tall so almost 6′ I’d say and and some small rodent was in that bulge I would imagine;) These endangered snakes are very docile and always a joy to see!

And why the tongue thing? She is smelling you!
The snake’s tongue has a fork on the end of it, because it captures little pieces of smell-odor particles-that are floating in the air. The fork in the tongue that holds this smelly air is brought back into the snake’s mouth and pressed against the roof of the mouth.
The snake has an organ called the Jacobson’s organ inside its head. When the snake’s tongue goes back inside its mouth, it is put into two pits in the roof of its mouth. Those two pits are the entrance to the Jacobson’s organ. The two pits in the roof of the mouth is why snakes have to have that forked tongue.
The air particles that are pressed into the two pits in the roof of the mouth have information that is sent into the Jacobson’s organ. This special organ reads the information about the air’s scent and then sends that information to the snake’s brain. That is how a snake’s tongue is used to smell! How cool is that?!

I did finally get some shots of the lovely Mrs. Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Patience, moving the feeder to an area with more plants worked out. I can sit in the shade and have her in the sun! I thought I caught a shot of her with cobwebs on her beak, nest building, but they must have gotten washed out in the light:) She has been busy! Mr. hangs about bossing everyone around but she no longer takes any guff from him!

A foray out from the lake to replenish the cupboards brought us past an Osprey nest. I had Mike pull over and I jumped out to take some shots. The road is under construction but from the bridge you can look straight at the nest versus putting a kink in your neck looking up! Such amazing flyers these wonderful aguila pescadors-fish eagles in Spanish! They do fish in the lake and we get an occasional flyby but not this close! Hope to see one diving for dinner one day while we are canoeing!

We have had some other late day visitors to the house as well….Rocket has fallen in love…with a little raccoon:) He follows her from window to window craning his neck for a view as she dismissively looks at him and keeps searching for a tasty snack. She cleans out the compost of any edibles and then searches for dropped bird seed. I caught her swinging from the oriole feeder so that has to be put away before sunset now! Now, it could be a he, can’t see anything other than that fluffy tail! She/he is quite bold so am thinking it is one of last years babies that was about:)

They have been hard on the Canna Lilies-between her and the chipmunks they are in tatters! Digging looking for seed and someone has been gnawing on them as well…sigh…sharing with the neighbours;)

When I walk out to check the mail…or run, deerflies in pursuit, there is so much life in the swamps and along the road. I check the progress of my Goldenrod Crab Spider on her milkweed plant-have to check this week to see if she has laid her eggs! How cool is a white and pink spider! Barbie Spider;) The new dragonflies flitter about, I’m slowly getting to know who’s who but new ones keep appearing! Wildflowers are in full swing, daisies, salsify and a small patch of beautiful Purple Flowered raspberries in an old mica mine hole! The laneway seems to be getting narrower and narrower as the plants grow! Beautiful!

Yellow-horned Flower Longhorn Beetle (Strangalia luteicornis), that is a mouthful! What do we call him for short?;) He/she had a friend to share the rugosa rose with:) It’s all those little marvels that can make your day. Funny how there is so much time to gaze at these amazing creatures, but not to do the dishes or laundry;) ha! We HAVE to have priorities! Take the time to smell the flowers, and greet the bugs my friends-I’m off to find that pot of gold across the lake, make that a double pot of gold, if I can beat the wee leprechauns to it;) Saludos amigos!

Double pot of gold? 🙂

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!