Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

September 13, 2018

Weekend Walks

Angie and I have gotten into the habit of going for Sunday morning walks, even with some very warm mornings we've endured this Summer. We go early. We have no expectations. And they've been great. The key really is to have no expectations, just enjoy whatever comes along, oh, and go early before it really gets hot out.

Here is a bit of what we've seen lately.

One of two juvenile Turkey Vultures roosting in a tree near the path. The black face threw us just for a moment, as the adults have red faces. Neither of us had ever seen a juvi until this morning.

Wild Turkey in a tree that same morning. Sure some regions in Southern Ontario these birds are quite common, but locally to us in the west end of Toronto, not so much.

There's always a bit of mystery, like trying to ID some of the Flycatchers we see. This is one of them we still need to figure out. Any suggestions?

There's been a lot of American Goldfinches buzzing around as August is their time for nesting. I've been told it is because that is when their food source is at it's peak. Interesting. The cries of the young Goldfinches are unmistakable.

The sightings we enjoy aren't just birds.

This American Toad posed nicely along the path one morning. Caption worthy I'd say!

A DeKay's Brownsnake that Angie spotted when we separated for a bit. I've not seen this species in over 5 years!

A wee little butterfly called a Pearl Crescent.

A Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Over the Labour day weekend we saw dozens upon dozens of Monarchs in a field. They were non-stop. It was nothing short of a magical experience. This is an older photo of mine that I am using as for whatever reason, I did not take any shots of the monarchs last outing.

And lastly, a Black & Yellow Garden spider that once again, Eagle-eye Angie spotted for me last weekend. Another species I've not seen in years! It was funny because days before I had seen some posts of this species that people were coming across in their regions, and my mom sent me a photo of one she saw at my aunt's. I was a little envious. Then, just like that, we have one on our next walk.

These walks are a highlight for us both every weekend.

August 29, 2018

Epic Sunday At Home

As the title states, we had an epic Sunday at home.

For starts, a Red Squirrel showed up in our backyard and spent the afternoon with us. A feisty little creature who was hilarious to watch. He attacked the Pigeons and Eastern Grey Squirrels, trying to get peanuts and sunflower chips; and he was quite successful.

Sure this may not be very exciting to some of you, but it's only the second time we have ever seen a Red Squirrel in our backyard. They are pretty common in the woods near us but not right in our neighbourhood.

I have not seen him since but will keep a look out for him in the coming days anyway.

Then, the bunny showed up again and spent the day with us. He's obviously around a lot but some days we just don't see him. It'll be a few days of sightings, then nothing, then suddenly he's back again. Some times the days away can go 4 or 5. We can't help but wonder where he is, if he's alright. He definitely adds to our whole backyard experience, prompting my hashtag #whygotothewoods

I still haven't cut the lawn since he first appeared about a month ago!

Some years ago I was told to plant black & blue Salvia plants because the Hummingbirds really like them. Every year I've looked out for them at the local garden centres and never had any luck. This past Spring I was in a garden centre I don't normally go to towards Mississauga, and I was thrilled to find this plant. I bought four for the season, just to try them out, and the last few weeks we've been spotting the Hummingbirds buzzing in and out of the plants. We have at least 4 Hummingbirds coming to visit the last few weeks. They too are a wonderful addition to the backyard experience through the Summer months.

We have a deep backyard and this spot is further down, partially hidden by the hollies. I need to spend more time on the lawn watching here, while the birds are still with us. Sunday I got lucky, happened to be in the right spot at the right time to see this one hitting up the flowers for some nourishment.

Then as if Sunday could not get any better...

The day turned into night. Angie went to bed. I was out back watching a couple Skunks, then came inside to listen to some music before I turned in. I check my Facebook and see a message in my inbox. It's from a neighbour up the street. She said that they were currently listening to a Great Horned Owl calling. I get my shoes on, grab my head lamp and dash outside. I don't hear anything. I go out front and start walking up the street. I can hear it off in the distance. I follow the sound and get to the edge of some private property, walking along the fence line, and listen. The calls are louder now. To my delight, there are two Owls calling back and forth! I stand there in the darkness for the next 5 minutes or so, just listening. I rarely hear any Owls calling anywhere so this was great! I have to wonder if one of the Owls is my old "friend" Grace? I saw Grace randomly from Spring to Fall in the same tree near us for 5 years. This tree stands on the edge of a large wooded area. I suspect in the colder months she went deeper in. Then one Spring not too long ago, she did not return. I'm allowed to think she's still out there and one of these two could be her, right?

Another weekend is approaching. I have no expectations on what wild wonders it may bring. I will tune in and embrace whatever comes. I know some of you will too.

August 23, 2018

Random Sightings Lately

I figure I am due for a post of mostly photographs, random stuff I've encountered the last few weeks either at home or on a walk with or without Angie. Even as I start this, I'm not sure what I'm going to share. Busy days, humid days, my mind is usually consumed in the now and not the past. So this will be fun for me too!

A cool find one Sunday walk a few weeks back thanks to Eagle-eye Angie was this Snowberry Clearwing Moth. We'd never seen one before and initially thought it was a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth that we see so many others post photos of. Thanks to our bud Joanne, she took a moment and gave us the proper ID on this creature.

A week later we did luck out and see a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth at our friend Barbara's place.

While we don't really keep life lists of insects, we know both of these were lifers for us. We do have it in our heads to start lists of Butterflies, Dragonflies and other things.

The main reason we were visiting our friend Barb was to pick up a Cecropia Caterpillar, which we hope to raise to it's moth stage. He's named Heimlich, like the caterpillar from A Bug's Life. Angie did a great blog about our new house guest, see here.

I'm finally seeing an Opossum again. Not every night, but at least once a week.

Our new Squirrel friend, Ripper, is a riot. He certainly knows how to make the whole Pigeon flock angry all at once.

Bear disappeared for over 2 weeks and then suddenly returned.

This was the first time I have ever seen him in a tree. Silly that I wondered if the old boy could climb or not but until this time I always saw him on the ground, and often laying down to eat.

A couple nights later, there he was again. He likes the spot down back, just over the fence behind a couple neighbour's sheds. One of them has a habit of not securing their trash bin and he takes full advantage of that.

The new Raccoon family, mom with three young, is fun to see. Of course there's always one kid who is bolder than the rest.

My whisky Wednesdays have been a little more entertaining, if I can cover up and brave the mosquitoes plus the humidity.

I see him a lot. There was a week I was concerned about him being on his own, and not seeing his family. It seems he's quite the wanderer and eventually the rest of the family do catch up, as I discovered when staying up and outside for longer periods.

I've spotted a 2nd family recently. This one is a mother with three young as well. These kids are smaller. Young Raccoons, what's not to love?

No shortage of Skunks this year. A couple very large ones roam around, there's been two wee little ones I've seen side by side, and one of the Toppers still comes around.

One of the kids peeking out from under the lattas. All the night critters know the secret passages under the shed and deck.

We have at least 4 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds visiting our feeders nowadays. It's hard to believe that in another month or so and they will be gone again until next year.

A Cooper's Hawk has been hunting our backyard. This is nothing new but a few weeks earlier than when we normally start to see this Hawk species pass through on migration and then we end up with one or two that stick around for the winter.

Now away from the backyard, here are some lovelies spending the Summer in Toronto.

There's a family of American Kestrels near us. Such a treat to see the prettiest Falcon we have in Toronto! They are a declining species so this encounter touched my heart.

Belted Kingfishers are fun to watch as they hunt the lake and rivers.

Black-crowned Night Heron. We saw a pair this particular morning.

A mammal sighting we don't get in our backyard... White-tailed Deer. This is the first one I've seen all Summer. A peaceful early morning encounter for us.

I've not seen many spiders this Summer, which is disappointing. Other than a couple very small jumping spiders, I have found one Cross Orbweaver. It was something to watch this one work on it's web one night.

Lastly, we spotted this cool looking caterpillar. We think it's a Virginian Tiger Moth.

We let him be, to do his thing. Some researching since, here is the moth this little beast could turn into. Wow! If the ID is incorrect on this one, please let me know.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, here are some wise words from one of our backyard Squirrels. Cheers!

August 20, 2018

Backyard Bunny

A couple weeks ago I noticed a small rabbit (Eastern Cottontail) in our backyard. This is the 3rd rabbit encounter on our property that we know of.

A cute creature that is fun to watch. Funny thing is we'll see the rabbit for a couple days, then not, then suddenly it's back for a few days, and then it's seemingly gone again. I think we just happen to be missing it moving around some days and with all the stuff growing out there through the Summer, there are lots of places for it to hide.

No name has been given to the rabbit, we just call it "the bunny". Here are just a few photos of him.

August 7th was the first day to see him out there.

We're enjoying the last weekends of Summer at home, so I'm getting more time to photograph him. Last August we were blessed with the young Skunks to watch in the daylight hours, this August, we have him.

Angie spotted him zoning in the flowers along the fence. We know he hides in there but sometimes he's in deep and can't be seen that easily.

Hopefully he stays in our backyard and the ones nearby, calling this home. We're already planning to make a big brush pile for him to hide in when the backyard turns bare through the Autumn season.

August 7, 2018

The Other Day of Acknowledgement

I acknowledged Pierre on here not too long ago and here I am again blogging about my old boy. On Saturday August 4th, it was exactly one year ago since I last saw him.

Pierre had spent much of the day with me, as he had been doing so while I'd been off recovering from my accident. A blessing for sure having his company while I sat at home doing lots of nothing through these weeks. While no one could ever see my broken ribs, this brought enough horror to some and raises eye brows to this day with the scarring I still have.

I remember the day well. It was around 3 pm. The sky was getting dark as a thunder storm was rolling in. Pierre was having a feed from my hand and I knew he was about to leave, to take shelter (probably wherever he's lived all his life). I wished him to be safe and that I would see him later.

The next day he did not return. His missus was here, as were the rest of his flock. Something felt different right away. Somehow I knew. I held out hope for him in the coming days but it faded.

I was, and still am, sad about this. I know none of us will live forever. I miss him. He was one helluva bird and he was my friend. Pierre spent a lot of time with me over those last 5 years and 2 weeks. I saw him more than I did my wife during the weekdays. He was a wild and free bird, but he chose to be with me. It wasn't always about getting a handout either. He'd spend hours hanging out, occasionally sitting on my lap or shoulder.

He had a lot of trust in me as some of you may recall the day I brought him into Toronto Wildlife to get the thread off his toes. I never patted him but I could easily stroke my fingers down his chest and belly. He would sit on my hand as I walked the backyard. Other times he would race me to the backdoor. He was awesome!

I remind myself of all this when I do get sad about him. He was a "gift" and I will never forget him. In a world full of selfish humans, he was a comforting friend. When people disappointed me, he was always there. I've said it before and I will say it again, "I will always know where I stand with an animal, it's people I'm never sure about".

Pierre Forever!

This is the last selfie I took of us, just days before he disappeared.