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;)
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!
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….
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!
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.
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!
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:)
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!
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!
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 sneakerhe 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!
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!
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:)
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:)
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…
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;)
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!
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:
We are human, we are all equal….let’s be nice out there…
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:)
Ah, problems parents have the world over, n’est ce pas? And we thought hungry cats were trying;)