Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

March 21, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday Vol 3

Holy hell, here we are with another Wednesday already upon us! And my 3rd installment of Wildlife Wednesday.

I really tried to fill the last one for anyone reading my blog. It was fun but also turned into something more like work, which took away the fun of blogging. This week, it's not as jam packed and that's more because we were busy with a few things plus we had some home stress.

A couple weeks have passed and I checked some Long-eared Owl spots I've known about. One LEOW is still hanging around, enjoying the recent sunny days on his branch, exposed to the world, which funny enough has pretty much no humans noticing him sleeping the day away out in the open like this. C'mon people, stop staring at your phones! Look out! Look up! Look around! And I don't mean just for traffic which sadly some cannot even do. Lord knows how many people have walked right past this sleeping beauty.

Still seeing Snowy Owls as recent as March 19th with 4 along the stretch of the Hwy 401 that I take every night. Unfortunately there was also a shout out to pick up an unwell Snowy at Pearson airport yesterday morning. I didn't count my encounters this time around. I'm just enjoying the sights even if it's me just passing them by.

We had a daytime visiting Skunk a few mornings ago. It was snowing, windy and about -15 celcius with the real feel. Brrrr! This big healthy beast was roaming around, trying to dig into the frozen ground and under the bird feeders for anything to eat.

I did some ninja creeping moves and set a big pile of freeze dried meal worms down at the back. I wasn't sneaky enough for this guy and he scurried under the shed as they all know it's safe place to hide. I stepped back and eventually he crawled out, finding the bounty and had a good feed. I'm not hand feeding or habituating him. I just helped him along on a cold day, in a tough time of the year when food is not so easy to find.

One of the Toppers came by another night. And so did an Opossum as Karen asked me about in the last blog. No photos of this visit but I assure you, we get them semi-regularly. A few Sundays ago there was 2 Opossums wandering around the backyards at the same time. Sad to see them not get along but it's about territory and survival of the fittest, especially as I mentioned at this time of year when food is harder to find.

Random cute Opossum photo from our backyard.

Charlie the Pigeon still comes most days. That funny Squirrel is still here but not as bold lately. No new migrants showing up yet. None of my old Pigeon flock have come back. I've walked the Forgotten Land recently and all is quiet there. Forgotten Land? Do you follow my nest blog?

I spent some time at the Sportsman Show. I almost didn't get to it because of an issue at home with our old furnace. Frustrating. Worrisome. Our Budgie spent a few days with his "grandparents" so he didn't freeze his feathers off. We all deal with home stress at times, it's the "joys" of being a home owner. You are never prepared for it and often neither is your bank account.

It was an exhausting few days, always listening to the furnace, the day in between waiting for the part, and the next day or so after the fact. This sums things up.

Here I am in one of my happy places, spending time with Alex the Great Horned Owl once again. Hard to believe a year has passed since we last hung out.

We also spent a day with many of the members of the Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society on the weekend. They had their annual general meeting. Lots of talks ranging from Ontario Turtles to Chimney Swifts and lastly one regarding the plight of the Piping Plovers at Sauble Beach. All have their negative tones because of humans especially the Piping Plovers. Sad some care more about a manicured beach than doing something to help this endangered species of bird. More on that another time. In all, it was another happy place to be with many other Bluebird enthusiasts even as we talked about 4 long time members who passed away since our last get together.

As always, thanks for stopping by here. Hopefully see ya next Wednesday for the 4th edition. Cheers on Whisky Wednesday!

March 14, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday Vol 2

Here we are back with another Wildlife Wednesday! No jibber jabber, let's just get at 'er.

A couple walks locally weren't very productive. Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds and American Robins have appeared but that is so 2 weeks ago. Nice to see and hear them, just not as thrilling like those first days. One small woodlot had everyone screaming away. I wondered what could be upsetting them all so much. Hawk? Owl? Maybe a Fox? Nope, just this guy.

Pretty kitty but the woods are no place for him. I've seen quite a few cats here over the years and most eventually end up on the main road in a bloody mess. I'm not going to get into what they can and do to the bird population being all free roaming like this Grrrrrr... But don't fool yourself into thinking I don't care about these animals' well being either. I tried to help one a few years back. Actually blogged about it too. See here. Just got to warn you, it's not for the emotional types.

Another wood lot was also eerily quiet. Cold dismal day keeping everyone low perhaps? My walk ended with only one sighting.

I was finding life at home to be more productive.

Topper showed up late in the week.

Two other Skunks were present that same night, both with big white stripes. I managed to photograph one trying to squeeze through a hole in the lattas under the shed.

A Raccoon clung to one of the trees at the fence line the same evening. I recon he's met the tail end of one of these Skunks in the past.

I left for work a little earlier one day so I could go for a stroll in a newly discovered conservation area less than 10 mins from the Pepsi plant. I'd only been to the park once since learning about it last fall. I had the craziest visual encounter with a young Red-tailed Hawk (thanks for the tips on how to tell it was a young'un Sandra). The Hawk was hunting Squirrels. The bird flew from tree to tree, running up and down branches, diving to the ground after them and even tried some clever tactics like blocking them from getting to their leafy nests high in the trees. I also watched the Hawk land on a few of the Squirrel nests, pouncing on them like he was trying to flush one out, or perhaps break open the nests. The bird had little concern over my presence along the path, so it was great to be in the moment and watch this. I did not see him make a successful catch but there was 6 hours of day light left and no shortage of Squirrels here. A few photos of this unique encounter.

Looking up.

Looking down.

The chase.

Where's the Hawk?  Where's the Squirrel?  Click on the photo to make it full screen if you can't see them.

My favorite capture from the outing.

A few more Snowy Owl encounters after work this past week. Most recently being on the 12th.

What's really cool is this encounter on March 8th. Thanks to that Facebook memories, I saw one on the same road sign on March 8th in 2017. Just the opposite end.

Crap record 2018 shot.

I assure that is a Snowy on the left.

One year ago.

Angie and I got some hand feeding Chickadee time in. Always a fun thing to do.

Angie also got to finally meet our new Pigeon visitor. She's named him Charlie. I've not been wanting to give him a name but ended up calling him that on the weekend so I guess he is Charlie now. He seems to show up around the noon hour most days.

I had a reunion with an old friend who probably deserves a blog of his own soon. I've been seeing this Raccoon for a number of years now in a wood lot around the corner from our house. It's been a while.

Lastly, I had another walk through Lambton Woods. It wasn't nearly as productive with birds this particular morning but it was also lacking people. This Mourning Dove posed nicely in the light snow fall.

The oddball of the walk was a woman I observed hugging some trees. It looked to me that any tree that was getting hammered on by a Woodpecker, she went up and hugged that tree. Nothing strange there, right?

Well, that's it for this week. I know I pushed myself a little more this time around, trying to make this WW thing happen and be something worth blogging. There's stuff out there in our city, and your city or town too, all you gotta do is go outside, look and listen.

Cheers to those returning for Wildlife Wednesday! And Whisky Wednesday.

March 7, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday

Welcome to Wildlife Wednesday! I wonder if I can keep this going weekly or not? I guess we shall see, eh.

Not much to report aside from the Pileated Woodpecker/walk in Lambton Woods and the return of one of the Topper's but I do have a few tidbits.

I've been making friends with yet another Pigeon. I'm not keen on naming him because the last couple new visitors we've named have disappeared. The threat of the Cooper's Hawk persists and that may have scared them off like "my flock" who still have not come back and my hope fades as 3 months have passed. Angie has been leaning towards calling him Charlie because he is a bit of an outcast and a loner. We've watched him get beat on by a couple other new Pigeons who have started to come in as well. Let's see if he sticks around in the coming weeks and months. Sing along if you know the words... "Charlie Brown, he's a clown (why is everybody always picking on me?) la la dee da". Something like that.

I know the neighbours watch me hand feed the Pigeons. I know the lady next door loves it. I'm not sure what others think from yards over (not that I really care). But it seems someone else has been taking observation to the feeding ritual and decided he wanted a piece of the action, and some peanut bits.

This is a cool but startling thing to experience, having some seemingly random Squirrel jump on you like this and for 2 days in a row now. Being an advocate for wildlife this does conflict some of my views but honestly I'm not one for chasing something away when this does happen. Life is about experiences and I don't see a problem in having connections with our backyard friends to a certain degree. He did cross a boundary that is okay with me but may not be so with someone else. If he stays in our backyards, I don't see him having any problems though. Aside from this yard, he probably does hit a place a few doors over who seem to think it's okay to leave out tea biscuits for the Squirrels. Not the best choice of food for the animals but this house once had an elderly couple who chased all the wildlife with brooms and shovels. We witnessed the woman knock 4 young Raccoons out of her tree one afternoon. She chased them through the garden with a broom, whacking them as they scurried away. So having someone much the opposite now, well, I'm okay about it.

I had possibly 6 Snowy Owls on my way home from work Monday night. Four for certain, but another 2 on the north side I am almost certain I spotted. We are into March now so I am always wondering when will be my last Snowy Owl of the season.

I sought out a couple Long-eared Owls earlier this week. Another species I am curious if these were my last of the season. A Squirrel was running through the tree below the roosting Owl, which is what he is looking at here.

And lastly, I spent part of my coffee break at work watching this Coyote in a field near the Tim Horton's. What I see in my memory is much better than this photo I took. The animal strolled the ground, sniffing, pouncing and digging, and I think may have gotten itself a rodent snack.

I get a 30 minute break in an 8 hour shift. So anytime I can enjoy a quick coffee and watch a bit of wildlife with that time out is amazing. I am taken away from the Pepsi plant, far far away in my mind anyway. You may recall some winters I had many lunches with Snowy Owls. Who wouldn't want that?

Well, that's it for this entry. Let's see if I make it back here next Wednesday for another WW entry. Funny that WW also stands for whisky Wednesday. Cheers!

If you still have time for another quick read, my wife Angie did a blog recently which may turn you onto something really cool. See here.

March 5, 2018

Topper is Back

News for anyone catching my blog who is not one of my social media friends... one of the Toppers showed up Saturday evening. It was World Wildlife Day and what a nice surprise to end the day.

Quick recap... last Summer I caught an injured Skunk and brought her into TWC. Her injuries were quite severe and they said there was no way they could ethically release her back home even though she was a lactating mother Skunk (meaning she had babies in the neighbourhood somewhere). I was asked to keep watch for any little Skunks. I informed a few neighbours to do so as well. We saw none until a few weeks later, when up to 4 little Skunks appeared the occasional evening. Two of them were almost like twins and they stuck around near our property the remainder of the Summer, right into late Autumn. Angie named them both Topper. I could tell the difference between them by the bit of striping on the shoulder blades. One had more there than the other. Neither had striping on the back. So with the white cap, like a topper, that is how they got the name. We could only assume these young Skunks were from that mother. I did read that once baby Skunks leave the den, they are on their own. So maybe, lack of a better term, the timing worked out for them when their mom was taken away? It certainly adds to their story though.

They were a treat to see so often. The Toppers really educated us on sharing the backyard with Skunks. I hoped my posting about them through social media educated others to be more accepting of these animals and not see them as ready to spray upon sight.

Anyway, happy that one of them surfaced again. I suppose he slept all winter and is now just waking up. I don't know if we will be blessed with early morning and early evening views like last year but I can hope.

I sure had fun with them, especially in my time of healing after the accident I had.

If you'd like to revisit the Topper blog, click here.

I hope I will be sharing more blogs about the Toppers this year.

March 2, 2018

Woodland Walk

This morning after the snow storm that didn't happen, I went for a walk in the woods near our home. Normally I don't care to post anywhere I go because there's always someone who will try to follow my footsteps and hope, or rather, expect to have the same encounter(s) that I had, and sometimes even complain to me after the fact about it. Sad but true. Today, screw it, I'm going to say where I went. Lambton Woods. When you are done reading this blog, you will know why I said where I was.

I used to frequent Lambton a fair amount back in the early days of birding. It's just minutes from our home and there's a nice variety of the common species one may find in Toronto. It was where I really put my first camera to work and managed a couple memorable shots, even to this day, with a Canon Power Shot. That's one of them little point and shoot jobs. This is one of those shots. Still a fave of mine almost 10 years later.

Back to this morning. I've not visited Lambton in a while, probably since the fall. I felt like getting out, somewhere different but close to home. So here I chose.

It was a nice walk in. First bird was a Red-bellied Woodpecker. He was calling away and it took some looking before I spotted him.

Across the Humber I could hear dozens upon dozens of newly arrived Red-winged Blackbirds. Robins were running about the ground, flipping leaves and looking for anything crawling to gobble up. White-breasted Nuthatches were vocalizing randomly. A few male Cardinals were in full song. Gold Finches were fluttering in the brush near the path. The woods were alive!

I heard some crazy noises, kinda like growling with a little something to them. There was a couple Raccoons up one tree, sort of snuggled together, and I'm still not sure why they were making these noises. They were high up and nothing was bothering them. I know it's almost Spring but they weren't amorous with each other.

I was walking east through the woods when the sounds of mobbing Blue Jays got my attention. They were up the hill in the residential area and I decided to back track a bit and follow a side path up that way. I spotted this out of the corner of my eye. Pileated Woodpecker! I've heard about Pileateds in Lambton for as long as I've birded these woods but today is the first time I ever got to see one. Yes, I was very happy.

I got lots of great photos through the 50+ crappy ones. I managed to get around the other side of the tree and have the sun behind me.

I forgot about the Blue Jays and what they may have been mobbing. I did happen to spot a Red-tailed Hawk fly over and the Jays screams stopped. Maybe that was it?

The Pileated was so focused on this tree that it paid no attention to me. I still kept my distance so as to not spook him away. What a great moment and I even took a short video that you can see here.

In total I saw 5 species of Woodpecker in the woods. Pileated, Red-bellied, Hairy, Downy and even a couple Northern Flickers. Lambton is nick named "Woodpecker Woods". Now you know why.

I left the Pileated and got back on the main path, still going east. House Sparrows, Blue Jays, Cardinals, House Finches, more Red-wings and a few Grackles were species of bird I passed. Further along, another nice muddy patch had quite a few Robins running about.

Then I heard a familiar call. A call I am used to in April but not first days of March. It was White-throated Sparrows and there was more than a few of them in some brush piles. Did they over-winter? That I will never know but it was great to listen to them for a few minutes.

I chanced upon another very vocal Red-bellied Woodpecker. Nice!

One thing about Lambton, is it is never quiet. I don't mean the birds because who would ever complain about any birds in song on a sunny morning walk? The homes in the residential area up the hill are more like small castles and it's a never ending thing with additions to a few houses and older ones being torn down and new homes, much bigger homes, being built. I can tune it out at times when I get focused on the wild ones in the woods; but the walk in between can have me shaking my head at the banging and sounds of bulldozers.

Worst of all with these woods, much like many other places I used to enjoy going for walks, are the people. The joggers. The dog walkers who mostly have them off leash. The dogs crap wherever and most cases the owners do not pick up after them. A nice day will bring in cyclists too. Many are courteous but all it takes is one or two idiots

One guy raced past me on his mountain bike and I thought "what an asshole!" No horn or anything, just came flying past me from behind. I am pretty sure I muttered something not so pleasant. Funny thing is on my way out, I noticed a pair of Mourning Doves sitting on a branch together. They were happily preening away. I've rekindled my love for these birds ever since one started coming to our backyard this week. We've not had much MODO action in over 2 years. I spent a few minutes on the path, trying to get photos of them through the branches.

Happy with a few decent captures, I turn around and am about to start walking the path when I look up and there's that guy on the bike again. Only this time he was stopped. He said he didn't want to disturb me in my moment with the birds. Well how about that! I wondered to myself if I was previously being over sensitive and a bit of a curmudgeon. I quickly answered that with "NAH! He was still an ass earlier."

There was a few unruly dogs during my walk but I chose to ignore every single one of them. I wouldn't look at them as they neared. I paid no attention to the owners. It helped me keep my zen.

The worst of all was one jogger. I will refer to him as the douche because he looked like one and acted as such. A young white guy, not that it matters, but he's jogging along, wearing what I think are called dockers... 3/4 length shorts. He's got a sweat shirt on and then this rag thing on his head (not a bandanna, more like a long sleeved shirt tied around his head with the sleeves running down his back). No matter what he was wearing, it's just that he stood out. I saw him coming from quite a ways up the path. I was about as far as I wanted to go east and decided to turn around, and even take a short side path for a moment, hoping he would pass me.

I chance upon another Red-bellied Woodpecker so this is good.

Guess what he does? He comes up the side path I am on. This path goes no where because it's so muddy and there's a lot of fallen limbs just up a bit from the main path. Seriously?!?! He apologies as he passes me, says something about poor timing. I said "no worries" even if I didn't mean it. I watch the Woodpecker a bit more and see him from the corner of my eye. He stops about 20 ft from me. He's grunting and squatting like he is about to go poop right there. I did a double take to make sure he did not just drop his drawers. Next thing is he starts hacking away AND THEN blowing his nose onto the ground. He's doing the plugging one nostril and blowing hard through the open one. NO TISSUES! It was these big long noodles of snot hanging from his nose, seemingly fighting to stay in his nostrils and not be blown to the ground.

Sick cartoon photo breaking up the wildlife moment just like this douche with my outing.

One part of me really wanted to take a picture of him. Another part of me really wanted to hit him a big stick. I was repulsed to say the least. I walked away rather quickly. I did not want to hear or see any more of this guy's disgusting behaviour.

Of course 5 minutes up the path, while I'm watching a Red Squirrel and waiting for a Chipmunk to resurface that ran past me, the douche runs past me again.

Thankfully he did not stop this time. Buh bye!

I passed the pair of Raccoons again.

I was hoping to spot the Pileated one more time but no such luck. That's alright. That was one epic moment with this species. Just the bird and I.

I managed to see one more Raccoon further along.

I ignored a few more dog walkers and got back to the truck. I shook my head to the bullshit but was also excited to get home and see my Pileated photos, and share something with all of you.

I hope you enjoyed this tale.

Lambton Woods is no secret spot. It runs along a stretch of the Humber River near our home. You can have a great birding walk here, depending on what you like, and if you can tolerate the human activity. Or you can have yourself a really bad time.