Just a few more paddles left….?

Good Morning Long Lake!

It has been a beautiful Fall-warmer temperatures have left us maybe not quite prepared for the arrival of Winter. Unlike our comrades on the West, and East coast, we have not been subject to atmospheric rivers of moisture raining down upon us. We are very lucky. There has been some light snow today, just a dusting, a reminder of what is to come. The corner of the bay had a thin sheet of ice on it this morning. The flocks of Mergansers have arrived, very different from last year when I watched them from the dock, this year they are jittery, flying away as soon as I open the sliding door. Can’t help but feel humanity has not been kind to this group. I snuck down and waited and had a few shots hiding behind the wicker chairs…neighbors must be” What is she doing now?” ha!

Every day above zero and wind free is a bonus. The trailer is closed up, water drained, slides in…Gamora keeps going to the folded up steps and mewing! “Let me in my trailer!” Still home for her, and me, I do miss it, the smaller space, SO much easier to keep clean! ha! Next year. We have plans to see the East coast, and hopefully in the Fall, a trip South to family in California, and dear friends in Baja…I can taste the tacos adobada already:) With news of a new variant, who knows what our future holds, best to live fully one day at a time:)

Our daily morning walks with the cats are always a blast, but they are “Loki’s” ( Norse trickster God) through and through. Just when you think they are going to sit quietly and watch a patch of grass for mice, their tail straightens, it vibrates and off they run but, look back at you, a twinkle in their eye, as if to say! “HA! Catch me if you can!” They usually head down to the lake, or dock, with me or Mike trotting behind, great exercise going up and down those stairs, or scrambling across the rocks…never a dull moment. After seeing the fisher Marten this Spring I am a worried cat mother;) Gamora never goes off the leash, learned our lesson once as Mike sprinted after her in an Arizona State Park for a very long ways! She is from the tribe of free folk, wildlings;)

We have a male nocturnal Fox visitor who regularly leaves his scent, OK, he pees on things, branches etc and Groot has to sniff them all. Seems he must of left a nasty message as there was a great deal of hissing that went on at one particular bush! He sniffs it every day, without fail, and his entire trailer. His real joy, other than fresh fish, is me going into the basement and checking the mouse traps. I try to sneak down but to no avail, he comes galloping at the sight of me headed that way. Nothing better than a fresh caught mouse you didn’t have to catch yourself it seems, like take out for us;) They are very careful with the voles they catch, they bite! Best just to visit with them and find out the happenings of the underworld:) They usually escape unscathed, with a little help from us! All voles speak in Monty Python French taunter accents here by the way;)

Time well spent;) They are not good helpers for photographing birds although they say they are;) Speaking of birds, we are down to a few Fall regulars. I do miss the migrants and hummingbirds but this is where we live now:) No sight sadly of the Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, I usually hear them first but the regular crew is around to feed every morning. I have had great fun photographing these guys while I wait for them to land near the cups, glasses and small creamers I got at the dollar store:) After the cats have returned inside!

We did have a dry Fall so I am always thrilled to see new and interesting fungi, my husband pointed out that I have been saying that word wrong all my life after we watched “Fascinating Fungi” a few nights ago…English was never my first language, or second it seems either;) That is what happens when everything you learned as a child came from a book you quietly read on your own! That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! My biggest relief came today when I managed to get my spellcheck working again on my browser…whew…saved! Now back to fungi! Pink fungi! Who knew, but it turned out to be a single cell amoeba called Wolfs milk (…0_0…) or a lichen parasite such as llosporiopsis christiansenii or Illosporium corallinum…those are big words;) Why not stunning Pink parasite? I love my Facebook Mushroom Foragers of Ontario page! So much knowledge there, and an upload to inaturalist helps as well!

So much to learn about our world of fungi, and lichen parasites now here locally! Time for a wander in the woods, with hunting season over it should be a bit nicer! I totally forgot to post the picture I took of the eclipse Friday the 19th of November! It was cold, 4am, pre-caffeine (always a bad move…;) ha!) and extremely windy! I hid in the alcove to try to keep the tripod from swaying about and it wasn’t a half bad shot! I love these mutes red/orange tones-so much beauty-then quickly back inside! I whimped out and only got up for the “almost” totality! 97% anyway;)

At least I am getting to practice some early evening photography. Why is it we forgot so quickly exactly what we need to accomplish things sometimes? Where is the flashlight? Trip 6 back to the house to get something I forgot in my excitement of what was going on, glasses? Oh crap…hahahahaha! The series of moonrises we have had in the last week have been simply stunning, looking out the window at the moon peeking through the clouds, reflected in the water. I don’t mind clouds (astronomers everywhere just gasped in disbelief!) they always add so much beauty, except to eclipses! ha! Then they just hide it! So it’s been a few, damn, I have to go out there and get that moment, hat on, gloves on, winter coat over bathrobe (yes I KNOW, it’s not THAT cold yet, but all the same…warmth is wonderful! So worth it, then you find your self humming ♫♪♫ Harvest Moon ♪♫♪ by Neil Young you know it’s good! with your glasses;)

♫♪♫ Because I’m still in love with you I want to see you dance again Because I’m still in love with you On this harvest moon ♪♫♪ ~Neil Young~

Happy Weekend amigos and stay tuned for some snow! Maybe;)

It’s coming! Winter! Getting inventive:)

Am I waiting for snow, I have to guiltily admit yes, after the leaves go the grey gets to me and that first fresh layer of snow is so bright and beautiful, then I have to shovel it and I’m over it ha! Not really! The photo opportunities start! Yeah! My collection of thrift store mugs, candle holders and miscellaneous items are begging to be used in the snow!

Just a little bit of snow please;) ha! I guess it is the process of taking these images I enjoy so much and also the smile it can put on anyone’s face! The Blue Jays are a real crowd pleaser.

We have here the reflective, polite one…who hops over casually, inspects the peanuts for the nicest specimen and selects one, before flying off to a branch to eat it…then there are the piggies…

This guy tried to stuff every last peanut in the jar into his gob, it was most amusing to watch, especially the dropping of one peanut out of his mouth as he tried for another one…maybe I’m just easily amused but watching nature at work is truly delightful!

A trip to the Real Deal Store in Smiths Falls is always fun! Just the amazing recycled artwork at the front is worth a visit! The time and effort in these pieces is amazing! Inside they have loads of treasure and even building materials and a tool lending library! https://www.realaction.ca/real-deal/

In Smiths Falls the Real Deal Store opposite the railway museum is always fun! Love this wall art they have there as well! So much wonderful imagination of what can be done with everyday objects and other people’s junk☺️

Their free table has many wonderful finds if you are looking to be creative! I’m now the proud owner of one martini glass! Yeah! Or for 50¢ you can feel like a big spender! If anyone sees an elf, hand outstretched to put seed in it, let me know!!!! Maybe a garden gnome…ideas, ideas!!!

It keeps me out of trouble…mostly;) That and getting up way too early to photograph the Little Red Canoe:) Saludos amigos, remember, it is mostly the little things in life that bring us the most pleasure…keep it simple! Abrazos! More frosty pictures soon to come! ha!

Our first hard frost and mists, just so very beautiful!

Where did all the leaves go? I can’t find the cats in the leaf litter!

I can’t find the cats out there! They match, they blend in! Good thing Groot has some white patches, and Rocket has a bright turquoise suit/leash…Gamora, well, the colour of dried grass she is!

Their morning walk is the highlight of their day, sometimes mine;) I’m sure they spend the afternoons bragging to each other and disseminating their hunting information (isn’t that a great word!). We keep pretty close tabs on all three when they are out but occaisonally have to rescue a chipmunk, we have several with bits of their tail missing, battle wounds. Yesterday I had to rescue a shrew, or vole, it was rearing up on it’s hind end, spitting and hissing at them with such bravery I made sure it found a hole in the rock wall to escape into…they are well fed…don’t need any supplemental mouse meat;) Not that I like them in the trailer though. The traps are set, we catch a few and donate them to the compost after being tossed around by the cats, where they are all gone in the morning, whether by racoon, coyote or the fox, they are being eaten:) They spend a great deal of time by what we call the chipmunk well (never ending chipmunks seem to emerge) looking in the cracks of the rocks, up at the blue jays and chickadees, it is a high entertainment area. I’m not sure the chipmunks share that feeling….

The chipmunks certainly know when it’s just me watching and photographing the birds, they are quite bold, but certainly have a good look around before going far! They are just too cute:) Now the black squirrels, Rocket has decided they have big nasty teeth and he is going to avoid them, at least it is a standoff, then they race off and up the trees. So far the red squirrels haven’t moved back from the bush, but they’ll show up sooner or later, hopefully with the Red Bellied Woodpecker. No sign yet! I usually hear them well before I see them, such a distinctive call. The Blue Jays are in feeding frenzy mode-didnt manage to convince one to sit long enough on the bright red sumacs before all the leaves fell but at least the chickadees co-operated!

Going into November we expect the gray days bit there still is so much colour about. I’m always surprised by that one tree hanging onto all it’s glorious leaves in the midst of the grays. I took a long paddle along the entire shore of the lake a few days ago, hunting season was starting the next day so I left my antler hat at home and headed out for a slow and quiet voyage, exploring every nook and cranny. It was fairly windy but if you kept close to the shore it wasn’t bad. At the far end of the lake, baby Loon, now teenager/juvenile Loon popped up right beside me scaring the crap out of me as I poodled along…typical teenager! ha! I hung about trying to keep the nose of the canoe into the wind waiting for him/her to reappear after the dive, and it did, with a rather large perch. It proceeded to bash it against the surface of the water several times, diving and repeating before it glugged it down! It’s eyes have finally turned the ruby red of it’s parents! Gorgeous!

I thought for sure it would have started South by now. I read my mid November they should be gone, I will try and paddle down and check on junior later this week, I need to round up something bright orange to wear so I’m not shot at;) I ran into a tiny doe, this years baby no doubt as I paddled along the shore, she must have wondered why the red canoe was talking to her;)

I hope our little buck survives this hunting season-I heard 8 shots in a row yesterday…really? You didn’t get it with the first one and you have to follow up with 7 more? Get new glasses, or get glasses, try some target practice, or hang up your gun old timer….sigh…It’s only two weeks of gunshots…can’t be over fast enough for me. I don’t particularily feel safe wandering around on the roads this time of year. Yup…humans worry me more than any wild animal…wait, we are animals, so homo sapiens worry me more than any other class of animal! I know there are ethical, respectful hunters out there but if your listen to a few property owner woes you realize there are also, a lot of assholes as well:)

We did get to make our way down a few of the beautiful cottage roads before all the leaves fell. This one road I am trying to capture in all 4 seasons. Two more seasons to go!

You would think the wildflowers would be done, but no, even though we have had several light frosts, flowers in November! What a treat! The Rock Harlequin I have only seen growing under the steps down to the lake, just one plant, but such beautiful blooms! The Orange Hawkweed is just a brilliant reminder how glorious Fall can be!

….and just the leaves themselves! Well, wow! The last few maples hanging on are so red. The first year Mullein leaves are very fuzzy and the raindrops stick to them. The Trumpet Lichen are starting to bloom-tiny light green trumpets blaring out their lichen song! Only the elves, fairies and gnomes really know;)

With the plentiful rain has come the mushrooms, out first Black Trumpets, Witches Caps, Agorics and more. They are popping out of tree trunks and the ground, from bright reds and yellow to pale shades of beige. Such a variety, and we’ve just started it seems! Some I do know, others I’m not sure what exactly they are! Astounding fungi in the forest!

It never ceases to amaze me the astounding variety of living organisms we share this planet with. You just have to look to find them, some people just can’t see it seems, or maybe their brains are concentrating on too many other things, they don’t know how to turn off the noise and listen and watch the forest. And such fear. The unknown? What? I can’t really say what drives so many people’s fears but if they could learn to overcome some of them, what a marvelous Earth they would find. My goal every day is to find something that makes me smile…not too hard here. That’s not counting orange cats either;) Rocket is underage, so no drugs;) ha! Just wine and coffee!

We have many gray and dull days ahead of us! I am so excited my “Color Chase Challenge” color is grey this month! Should not be hard to come by a few gray shots;) We are ready, the trailer was winterized yesterday-antifreeze in the lines, all bedding removed and washed, waiting to be put back in the Spring (those MICE!!!), steps and locks greased, underside checked for holes ( love that black extra wide duct tape!) again for…those MICE!!! I didn’t think I’d get shot under the trailer crawling about like a hermit crab but when I had to walk on the roof to clean off the slides before we pulled them in I did don my bright red jacket…”Not a deer up here!!!”…sigh…if their eyesight is that bad will it matter? 😉

Hopefully next year the Traveling Mewberries and Astrogypsies will be able to venture out, Canada’s East coast is calling…seafood…ocean smell…yes! But in the mean time, the canoe is still in the water, time for a few more paddles around the lake to check on that baby Loon! I’ll leave you with the morning mists, not too gray, yet…I keep pinching myself, I’m not in Kansas….wait, no Toto…;) Saludos amigos-are you still buzzing from all that candy? ha!

Isn’t this just jaw dropping!

The amazing world of colour:) Nice to share with friends

Light is such an everchanging beautiful visitor. In the morning, the soft colours promise tranquility and peace before the caffeine in the coffee lets my brain get wilder;) Light, water and reflections…sigh, this is my dream and here I get to live in it. I have so much to learn about photography. I know the basics, how to set my camera (well, most of the time, the disasters get deleted! Ha! You never get to see those!) I shoot usually in manual, RAW files, that allow me to correct my many mistakes, but sometimes they just come out of the camera just as I see them and then I get that “Wow!” feeling…not often! hahahahaha! I keep an eye on the white balance, too blue and things look cold, too orange and things look like they came out of a forest fire, it can be a delicate back and forth to find just how it looks to your eye. My goal is to try to capture what I see.

A few years back I joined a photo group called Color Chase Challenge on Facebook and Instagram-each month we have a colour and we have to try to photograph it. A lovely lady posted this colour wheel and as I looked back on the photos I really liked, they had some of this in them. You can deviate back and forth a few slices but it really is a great tool when you go to look. I admit most of the time I get lucky, I didn’t plan the steel blue sky and orange leaves, but they were there for me and I thought of this wheel!

The wind and rain have since come, and gone, and we are looking at a lot less leaves. I wanted to revisit a road with a friend who had come to stay a few days and the canopy was gone:( too late, but we saw so many other beautiful scenes, mostly in our back yard.

The morning after Joanne arrived, it was calm, warm and we couldn’t pass up a chance at a paddle around the lake. Yes, T-shirt weather mid October, we left our jackets on the dock! The reflections were beautiful, some areas had a light breeze, others in the wind shadow were glass like, a fabulous bit of Fall scenery. It is not a big lake, just under 3km long and 600 meters at it’s widest, it is fed by a number of small tributaries, what comes in, flows out at the other end:) The boat launch is car top and canoe only, for those that can read, which isn’t always the case, but for the most part it is pretty darn quiet. We ran into two other canoes…frig, a traffic jam!;)

There are 5 islands on the lake-we saw the bald eagle in the distance, his white head visible in a pine tree, as we paddled down the east side of the lake. When we came around the corner on our way back and spotted him he flew off to another tree to resume his fishing after we paddled by. It was a wonderful way to spend a few hours. Mike got to tail us like a bodyguard, ha! He said next time he’d trade me for the sit on kayak! Seems it is a lot more work than the canoe to paddle;)

They went out paddling in the canoe! All of them! Are they going to come back and feed us?

Covid has been hard, family and many friends live so far away. It was such a treat to see a wonderful friend, British Columbia isn’t half way around the world but it is more than a few days drive;) I think some days we have forgotten how to socialize, but no, I think we still can do that:) I hope it won’t be a few years between our next visit! I know it won’t! It was wonderful to spend time with an old friend, we have known each other since our childhood sailing about the globe…who knew, 45 or more years later we would get a chance to paddle around this lake together:) No gravol or dramamine needed;) Be safe my friend, and until our next visit! We’ll keep that canoe bailed out;) Abrazos!

Good morning Long lake! The Little Red canoe is waiting for it’s next adventure:)

Colour me Fall! Happy Thanksgiving Canada

There is something about that late day light, the water turns glassy smooth and the reflections make you wonder what is up, and what is down and the colours glow! Fall is a glorious time and we have been lucky, no snow, no frost or freezing temperatures yet, not the Canada I left 14 years ago;) ha! I have enjoyed this weather, these early Fall swims in the morning fog, and afternoon glow. It is hard not to just jump into the canoe and paddle away down the lake every time it is like this! We need to get Groot out for some Fall fishing and a tour!

Whether it is completely clear, or scattered clouds, each has it’s own beauty. Where the golds and reds intersect with the green of the pines the colours seem to pop even more. What wonder nature bestows upon us! As Summer fades into Fall, the days start getting shorter and there is less sunlight. This is the signal for the leaf to prepare for winter and to stop making chlorophyll. Once this happens, the green color starts to fade and the reds, oranges, and yellows become visible. Shutting down until Spring:) Magical!

Some friends have recently toted the benefits of cold water therapy so given my joints and bones are not as supple and springy as they once were a bit of anti-inflammation soaking seemed in order! I also decided to clean the entire 5th wheel trailer, all 38′ both sides, slides and windows, it was in a dusty state, a cloudy warm day seemed to be the best day to get this done, maybe I overdid it, but it is shiny now;) ha! It’s those first few steps down the ladder, breathe in, exhale slowly, take another step down, repeat…now this particular day, the water was warmer than the ambient outside temperature which made it that much easier! I was going somewhere warmer, at least I told myself that. Water temperature 15° C ( 59°F) that is a wee bit chilly…air temperature 12°C (53°F)…a wee bit bracing unless you kept swimming! The Muskrat popped up to see who the hell was in here with him but dove before I managed a shot…

The beaver slapped his tail across the bay at me as well, seems they don’t approve of my infiltrating their territory this late in the year;) Thought they had gotten rid of us humans…ha! not yet! I think I will keep this up, the dash up the stairs certainly warms you up but I haven’t felt cold yet, not sure how long I will do this, perhaps until I turn too blue, not sure if I fancy ice chipping for a dip…I’ll keep you posted!

Walking down the road, or even across the rocks, you can’t help but step on mushrooms. The rain and fog have given rise to these amazing displays. The yellow patches and blue indigo milkcap were out of this world! Those colours! Hard to miss on the forest floor! They dot the roadside, some hiding under ferns, others out in the open, others growing out of trees and stumps. The wonderful world of fungi! Our Spring was so dry we missed this glorious display of shape and colour bursting out! I call these my Fall flowers;) Other than a few Dahlias still going strong the wildflowers are fading quickly, a few bits of goldenrod and late lilac coloured asters are providing food for the bees. A bumblebee spent a few rainy days curled up in a dahlia flower for an umbrella as it was downturned. The remaining flowers are busy! Feeding frenzy before hibernation sets in, or a demise…0_0 

Bumblebees do not maintain colonies throughout the winter I have read. Instead, the last brood of the summer colony will contain a number of queens. Each of these queens will mate and then find a safe nesting place in which to spend the winter. This is usually just a small hole in the ground or another protected spot just big enough for her. Only the queen bumble bees hibernate until spring arrives. The rest of the colony dies….:( goodbye all my little hardworking bumblebee boys….We’ll await the queens in the Spring!

Time for another paddle, or maybe a walk…what to do, what to do? Holiday Mondays! I hope this weather sticks around for a few more weeks. The leaves are starting to Fall, they cover the road like a soft brown and gold blanket. Time to get out and try to catch a few more colours, those darn Blue Jays never land where I want them to! Maybe the Chickadees will be more cooperative;) I hope all my Canadian friends got to spend some time with friends and family and those they love enjoying some harvest feasting. We have much to be thankful for in our very privileged part of the world…we need to remember that:) Hug those you love often and long:) Saludos amigos, abrazos, the outdoors is calling my name, I think I just saw the Blue Jays landing on the bright red sumac tree….

♫♪♫ Walking down a country road….♪♫♪

Fall, Glorious Fall-Part three-resistance is futile;)

I’m sure there will be more than three parts but I’m easing into Fall!

Those mornings, flat calm windless mornings, where the reflections look real and real looks like a reflection. These are the glorious days of Fall. The colours are just starting, a bit of red sumac here, an orange coloured maple branch over there…what vibrant shades!

So far we can’t complain, no frost, no flurries and here we sit approaching the end of September. We have been fortunate. I’ve seen flurries and frost the first week of September, getting ready for the Perth Fair Horse Show, shivering, not this year! No Fair, and no frost…yet…I’m probably jinxing us as I speak! Ha!

We seem to have to late babies this year. The American Goldfinches are still busy feeding a very vocal pair that beg constantly:) “Mooooommmmm! I’m HUNGRY!” both parents take turns with these two little beggars:) They will eventually figure out the bird feeder themselves. They try, but so handy to have attentive parents.

The Grackles have stopped pandering to the young ones. They come to the feeder while an adult hangs out nearby…puffing, I call it. They sit on the branch…look around, “There must be a audience somewhere!” you can hear them thinking, they are performers you know! So, they sit…look around…squawk loudly…puff (look at my wingspan!)…and repeat as often as they feel the need to:)

Isn’t nature grand:) We have had an interesting guest for the last few weeks. At first I thought it was a very brown Hairy Woodpecker when it fact it is a juvenile Yellow Bellied Sapsucker. Now, I’m not sure where the term yellow bellied comes from for being a coward. “This idiom originated in England as a nickname for people from the Lincolnshire Fens. This area of England is marshy, and contains eels. People say that both the eels and the people have yellow bellies. It is not clear what literal connection, if any, there is between yellow bellies and cowards. The color yellow has long been associated with cowardice, and perhaps yellow bellow refers to the way some animals roll over and play dead when they give up.” who knew…This young Sapsucker, although a yellow bellied variety, is quite brave and shows up daily for some sunflower seed!

I used to think The Blue Jays ran the show but we must be seeing the youngsters, the Hairy Woodpecker and the Sapsucker chase them from the feeder. Maybe it takes them awhile to learn that “bad ass” approach to life;) The unique sunflower I had is done flowering but the both the Chickadees and Goldfinches have slowly been removing the seed. They are very photogenic up there! The Goldfinches are losing their bright yellow colour to be replaced with the somewhat more olive drab coat they wear all Winter;)

Now we wait for the Winter residents! I saw a pair of Juncos this morning:) Hopefully the Red Bellied and Pileated Woodpeckers will be back. The Pileated are currently deeper in the woods-I have heard and seen them along the road out so they are here…just busy looking for those last few ants before taking up suet as a main course!

I have harvested the last of the tomatoes and cucumbers-a few tomatillos bushes, although sad, have fruit on them so I am hopeful I will get a few more and absolutely no one wants to eat them! Isn’t that grand! I have been covering the remains of my chard, lettuce and peppers (Yes, someone was munching on the habanero plant, not the fruit!) with a white tarp each evening to keep the snacking deer from mowing them down….all going according to plan, until the little buck figured he would come in for a early bird feast!

I was walking back up the driveway from a mushroom hunt walk ( the recent rain has them going wild!) when lo and behold my little horned friend was standing in the middle of my sad lettuce and rainbow chard chowing down…he grabbed a few apple leaves as he spotted me and hopped down out of the garden and stared at me as if to say “Who me?”…”Are you Alfred E Neuman? ” I asked, now scat! He wandered off slowly, not in the least bit perturbed. I think Mom was out front enjoying the echinacea’s and the view when I got in the house.

At one point the little buck was looking right into the window-Groot was ready to protect us all he said! “Honk the truck horn! That should scare him away!” The lady enjoying the view and her organic repast in front sauntered away when I opened the door…”We’re surrounded!” I told Groot! Resistance is futile;)

I don’t mind donating a few plants for the well being of these beautiful creatures, but there is a limit…some fencing maybe in order next Spring…I have a cunning plan…OK enough Star Trek, Mad magazine and Black Adder puns! One must share:) Life is too short not to:) We’re off to the dock for some leisure time;) Stay tuned and saludos amigos!

Deer? What deer! I don’t work! I have hoomans! Where’s the fishing rod?

Fall, Glorious Fall-part two-getting Loony out here!

A few days ago I woke up early, (the cats who wanted nothing more than a treat soon retreated back to the bed after getting their early morning crunchie snack to keep Mike company;) ha!) to some serious fog. I couldn’t see past the deck at first but then the clouds slowly started to lift. I grabbed my camera, canoe seat ( the padded one is SO nice!) and headed down to the water.

Fall fog creeping in…

I have wanted to paddle around in the fog for awhile, trying to capture the sun breaking through, how it mysteriously shrouds the trees and water slowly giving way to the rising sun. As I pushed off I couldn’t see much further than the front of the canoe. An eerie feeling but hard to get lost on this lake!

I made my way along the South side of the lake, slowly paddling among lily pads, it was SO still, not a breathe of wind. I went and checked out Gustav the beaver’s house, no one apparently home, or he was ignoring me as usual, so drifted back across the bay as the sun was doing it’s best to push away the fog. And as I looked across the bay up popped baby Loon with a minnow in his bill! Good job!

Hello Baby Loon!

Talk about a bonus to a spectacular morning! So I sat and watched. I only paddled occasionally to keep the sun at my back and the Loon between us. Mother/Father appeared, although I’m leaning towards father after reading a survey of Wisconsin and Minnesota Loons that are tagged and have been watched for decades! Mothers leave first there, Fathers follow once baby Loon is deemed to be able to take care of him/herself! This one is a beggar as well. Poking and prodding, Dad! I’m so hungry-poke some more-it has it’s desired effect when once again the adult dives down to look for a minnow.

The parent dove and looked, sometimes coming up empty handed, most of the time with a small minnow in his mouth for junior. When he came up empty handed junior would poke some more, sometimes pulling out a small feather! Once he came up with a minnow and some nice lake salad, a well rounded meal! Keep that kid healthy, he may make it to 35, so far the oldest banded Loon, a female, they know of! Wow!

What a delightful nature show! The colours on the adult are starting to change. Only a faint blue/green band around his neck glimmering in the sun and under his beak is turning white. What a spectacular pair of birds. I was hoping for a nice wing flap or stretch but it was fish, fish fish! Such affection between the two as well, and the noises! Another lake dweller called them wheezes which is good explanation of the sound. It sounds like a cross between a wheeze and a squeak every time Dad resurfaced. So soft yet such a subtle communication between the two. As the sun lifted I decided to leave them to their fishing. They had been so quiet. The parent never made a sign he was worried or threatened, he never moved off. Baby once popped up a few feet in front of the canoe and quickly swam to the parent but not in a worried manner. It is amazing how much you can see if you sit quietly and watch:)

A sweet moment between these two. Check out that feather in his beak!

The LoonProject.org website is definitely an interesting read if you’d like to learn more about these stunning birds. They now have decades worth of research on just about all you would like to know about them, from territory selection, fights to the death, breeding ages, when and where they return to…so many fascinating facts! I will miss that wail come Winter, it is the definitive eerie sound of the North. Sadly, as with many studies they are learning the population is in decline. Part of their research is focusing in on the changes happening in the populations. Think about donating if you want to help!

Hope you enjoyed my morning with the Loons-Stay tuned for the rest of the feathery adventures around the place soon! Saludos amigos!

Headed home…

Fall, glorious Fall! Part one

It is not as if someone flips a switch and suddenly it’s Fall. It creeps in on us slowly, stealthily…the nasty bighting bugs start to disappear, there is a wee chill to the air after dark, the Hummingbirds are all gone, Whippoorwills have become quiet and suddenly the rains come and the fire gets started in the woodstove…

Our last Hummingbird was sighted a bit more than two weeks ago-been pretty quiet except for the usual gang of troublemakers;) I enjoyed their last few days with us by sitting with my morning coffee and watching their antics. I am going to miss them. It was all juveniles-adults had the good sense to head South awhile back, basking in the Mexican sun already no doubt;) I’m feeling a bit wistful watching all these creatures head South to Mexico for the Winter…maybe I’m prewired to keep moving, some days I think so! A wonderful friend gave me an English children’s book I had never read before “The Wind in the Willows” written in 1908 by Kenneth Grahame. It is a delightful tale of mole, water rat, a boastful toad and a badger and their adventures, or misadventures in a pastoral version of Edwardian England. I have to admit when I came upon the chapter “Wayfarers All” of a visiting wandering sea rat telling his sea going shanty stories of the great sights to the South it could have been me, that is what my friend thought when she read it:) sigh…not this Winter. I broke it to the traveling Mewberries that there would be no beaches this Winter but more lovely fluffy snow…they didn’t seem to care as long as they could go out and stalk the chipmunk they said;)

As the seasons change the flowers and shrubs along the road out to the mail box are changing as well. The purple of the Asters and Yellow of the Goldenrod dominates the landscape with Purple Loosestrife dotting the swamps as well. Along the marshy areas and roadsides wild grapes, known as Riverbank Grape (Vitis riparia) wind their way up the trees. I’m going to take some cuttings this Winter and plant them around the house for the birds, and us, if we manage to get any;) they make a wonderful jelly but copious quantities are needed as it is mostly seed and little fruit, but what a flavour! Winterberry Holly and Red Oiser Dogwood also provide many berries for the birds as well as Common Buckthorn which is imported from Europe, another edible invasive:)

..and the leaves, they are starting, a bright red branch on a maple here and there, some yellowing from trees stressed by the Gypsy Moth caterpillars, and some by the drought. In the swamp I encountered a lovely fat Muskrat chewing on some tasty reed before he/she wobbled off…ready for Winter I could see;)

The bumblebees are all still very busy as are the wasps it seems this time of year. A few butterflies have crossed my path in the last week but they are getting rarer as the nights cool. We have had some fabulous caterpillars grace our yard though! A giant green 4 inch long caterpillar curled up as I got too close, it will turn into a beautiful Io Moth. But don’t touch it, the caterpillars are known for their painful sting. Virtually the entire body is protected by venomous spines. A beautiful White Hickory Tussock Moth caterpillar was exclaiming “What to do, what to do…????” as it reached the edge of the deck chair-I relocated him/her to somewhere less precarious;) They also can cause some serious sting so I moved it with a leaf as a taxi 😉

A few Monarchs have fluttered by, as well as Clouded Sulphurs and a few skippers as well. A very tattered Swallowtail found a moment to rest out front before carrying on. I will look at some more late flowering shrubs and plants for next year.

The frog family is still on the screen every night much to Rocket’s delight as they are just too interesting to not watch, or try to catch through the screen. I removed my “anti-deer” tarp the other morning, placed over what seems to be the very tasty chard and lettuce, that protects it from being mowed down by our resident doe and I encountered a gorgeous small green frog no larger than my thumbnail! I relocated him to the rosemary bush on the deck where all the bugs are! What a beautiful little creature! The rest of my Gray tree frog family is thriving-Mom and Dad Bubba jump are getting large, and baby jump, well, he still seems small, not sure how fast these little guys grow! They are quite used to being moved around now as I put the chair cushions out, and bring them in. They favour the lip of the box so I move them when I open and close it for fear of squishing them, no big deal now they say;)

Arachnophobes look away now;) ha! Down at the barn and in Jennifer’s shed are the most amazing Barn Orb Weavers I have ever seen. One was slightly blue shaded, one orange and yellow, and those webs! Oh my! What a delight! I have been looking for one outside, covered with dew they are a sight to see but none so far, I think I need to wander in the fields for that! Jennifer said they reminded her of Harry Potter’s Aragog when she sees them wrapping up their next dinner, I am thankful they are only a few inches long;) We get an occasional Dock spider crossing our paths. One stopped in the alcove, as if looking at itself in the mirror, “Damn I’m fine!” I could hear it exclaim!

The only other bugs still about in any number are the beautiful Autumn Meadhawks and the grasshoppers that delight the traveling Mewberries so much in the morning! Great fun to leap and give chase, and occasionally add one as a snack to their diet. Yum…not, especially when they come back up, on the carpet, why is it always on the carpet?

And now that the rains have come, we have fungus, among us! It has been such a dry year our usual Black Trumpets and Morels spent their year underground but now we have tiny little mushrooms appearing everywhere! A beautiful Chicken of the woods appeared as well! Those colours! Puff balls erupting from the lawn and wee little parasols on tree stumps! Simply delightful! The moss has all sprung back as well, turning from brown to bright green!

It is a glorious time of year:) I am trying not to think like the seafaring water rat, reminiscing about the warmer climes and adventures. I am reveling in the moment. The mornings are calm and windless, the baby Loon is being fattened for his trip South by his father, the goldfinch babies are almost grown as well, but that, is another story. Stay tuned and for now, enjoy a canoe trip to the clouds;) Saludos amigos, abrazos!

A canoe trip in the sky:)

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!