Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

April 26, 2010

Guess What We Saw?

So, just as my title says... guess what we saw?

Okay, no point in playing a guessing game, it might take us days to finish.

On Saturday April 24, 2010, we saw our first wild, non-captive, Great Horned Owl. Holy schnikes! It was awesome! Talk about a massive bird of prey!

We were out in some woods near Oshawa and a friendly soul, whom we asked what he had seen, shared with us a rough idea on where an Owl had been spotted. We trekked about, enjoying the woods, and eventually found the an area that appeared much like his description... and then we found the landmark he had mentioned (a bench) and seconds later we were looking up at this Great Horned Owl sleeping in the tree. We were in awe! What was really funny is when locals passed us, asked us what we were looking at, we said "that Owl" and they replied with "oh yeah, there it is" with about as much enthusiasm as someone asking another to "please pass the salt"... and then they walked on.

We didn't stay for very long, looking up at this sleeping majestic giant as there seems to be some etiquette with Owl watching... it has been said to not disturb them and this means no flash photography, no hanging around for more than a few minutes, no yelling or phishing to try and get it's attention, no baiting (throwing live rodents out to see it come down for a feed)... stuff like that. Unfortunately these things do happen and in some cases the Owl becomes stressed, hurt or even killed. I have two stories of Owls that were killed by people baiting them for that prized shot. It's just stupid and horrible.

So, we gazed upon it through binoculars, I got the camera out and took 15 pics or so, using different settings but never the flash. I only hoped I got one really decent pic of him; and I think I did succeed.

As we left, we saw another with binoculars wandering about, I guess we payed it forward and showed this man the Owl. He was quite happy with this sighting as well.

Here are some cool facts about the Great Horned Owl... learn along with me as this is very new to me also.

- The Great Horned Owl is the only animal that regularly eats skunks. (I wonder how that is possible or even pleasurable with that scent bag?)

- The Great Horned Owl will take large prey, even other raptorial birds. It regularly kills and eats other owls, and is an important predator on nestling Ospreys. The reintroduction of Peregrine Falcons has been hampered in some areas by owls killing both adult and nestling falcons.

- The Great Horned Owl is a regular victim of harassment from flocks of American Crows. Crows congregate from long distances to mob owls, and may continue yelling at them for hours. The enmity of the crows is well earned, however, as the owl is probably the most important predator on adult crows and nestlings.

April 14, 2010

Shooting My World of Late (not much to say).

Hey all... so, I've not been up to much lately for various reasons but thought I would share my best pics of the last couple weeks, with a bit on where, what, who, why, whatever. Enjoy! If you are coming in from the Facebook link, you may have seen some of these on my wall... sorry.

We are well into Spring now and so many Red Winged Blackbirds have returned the last 6 weeks. It's mostly males who arrive first, setting up nesting territories, preparing for the arrival of the females. The males are incredibly vocal right now so this is a very familiar sight (male calling) and it was my challenge this Spring to get some "call shots".

This has to be one of my best Downy woodpecker shots ever! I am so happy with it that it is most likely going to make our 2011 wall calendar. He was hanging around me in Lambton Woods one afternoon.

This Blue Jay was also keeping an eye on me in Lambton. I had a bag full of sunflower seeds and peanuts... and the birds were all very well aware!

A few Saturdays ago, Angie and I took off to check a "Heronry" not too far out of the city in the north/east section. It was a remarkable sight, seeing at least 2 dozen pairs of Herons nesting in the trees together. The next time we decide to check them out, it will be on the other end of the day, near dusk, and the sun well behind us for easier viewing.

At the same location of the "Heronry" I saw my first Killdear in a farm field. Interesting birds. I've heard their calls around the house, since railroad tracks are very near (they hang out by them) and now I've even seen them since I am aware of them now.

I'm sorry, those Red Wings are beautiful birds. I am so happy to see them again... I love Spring! They are my true sign of the season.

Another one I don't get tired of seeing... the Northern Cardinal. The boys get so much recognition so here's to the females!

I'm along one of the paths in Lambton Woods and noticed this female Downy Woodpecker following me, getting nearer, looking at me, almost like making eye contact, to get my attention. I held out my hand full of peanut bits and seeds and in she landed for a feed not once but nine times overall! It probably would have been more if a stupid dog owner with their unleashed rowdy pup hadn't come along and ruined our moment.

Here I am in High Park one afternoon and lucked out by a small flock of very people friendly Black Capped Chickadees buzzing around. I lost count on how many times this happened, over and over, for a good half hour or more. I am bracing the camera on my arm as I snapped the pics, just as above with the Downy. It gives you a good idea on how long they stay on a hand if you don't scare them... enough time to focus and get a great shot. Do you see the 3 Canada Geese way off in the back walking up the hill?

It pays to keep your eyes open. I saw this from the corner of my eye and was quick to re-act. This Sharp Shin was on the hunt in High Park, flew into some low bushes, so I pointed the camera in that direction and started walking, and lucked out to capture this in flight shot.

Another sign of Spring to me is seeing Chipmunks. They are such entertaining little creatures to watch! I can't believe how much they can cram in those cheeks of theirs. I found this guy at High Park as well.

And yet another Red Wing male letting off his call of the wild. If only I could edit this shot better and get some of those plant stems out of the picture. Ah well, it's a one of a kind shot, as is any photo, anybody takes. I am still very happy with this capture and look at it often.

The male American Goldfinches are getting brighter daily (so it seems). I am finding them to be a tad more skittish now than in the winter months. I wonder if they were willing to put up with more of my presence (and camera) in the cold days since food supplies elsewhere were lacking? I am having a difficult time getting close to photograph them lately.

Oh, there's my buddy "Mr. Half-Tail". He runs harder than any other Squirrel in the yard to come get a peanut... actually the run is more like a bounce. His front feet go up together, as do the back feet. He's a funny little guy and is very comfortable with Angie and I. He disappeared most of the winter so I was happy to see him return as the weather started to warm up.

The Northern Mockingbird from up around the corner has made a few appearances to the yard lately. I'm thinking with all the noise half a dozen Red Wing males are making here every afternoon, he's gotten curious about what the fuss is all about. He even got thirsty enough for a drink one day.

Here he is again a couple days later. He's high up in the tree looking over the backyard again. I've thought about bringing in a food he'd like (fruits) but have heard they can be extremely territorial and will terrorize any other bird that comes around. Soon enough there will be a natural food source here for him with a few small berry bushes if the Robins don't beat him to them first.

I found this sighting to be hilarious! A male Hairy Woodpecker was walking along the path in Lambton Woods, the cycle path at that, taking a stroll to get a peanut half I tossed for somebody else. He walked the pavement like he owned the place! Oh them crazy Woodpeckers of Lambton Woods.

More soon...

April 1, 2010

Maude "may she rest in peace".

On March 30, 2010... I said "Goodbye to Maude". Some of you may know of her, some of you may have met her and for those of you who do not... Maude was my tarantula.

So, I lost my pet spider; what's the big deal? Maude was turning 23 years old this year. Maude spent 21 of those years with me. She's been around me at home for a very long time. It seems almost as though she has always been there with me. She's been a fascination to me and those who gazed upon her. She taught me so much about having a tarantula in my life. The knowledge I have gained from her I gladly pass on to others who bring a tarantula into their lives.

If you click on the links below, you can check out my blog about Maude from last year and the second link is the short video I made of her and Meadow during her moult (skin shedding).

Maude's Story

Maude and Meadow video blog

Some may not be able to get what I have to say here but I will miss Maude. We've got over two decades of history! I'll never forget her great escapes back in the early days... hence the 1/4" inch plexi-glass tank cover she ended up with. I tell ya there's nothing like waking in the morning and discovering your tarantula has once again lifted the tank cover and gone on a walk about. She stayed at my bedside for a long time, it's no wonder she never crawled out on my side and ended up in bed with me. Maude was good at weeding out the girls through the dating scene... if a girl was too freaked about me having a tarantula, then that pretty much ended everything fast. Maude was a source of entertainment for the cats over the years. The latest being Meadow, who would watch her and her prey (crickets) in such amazement.

This photo was taken in Maude's final hours. Meadow looks on in concern. I moved Maude's coconut shell house over top of her to give her some peace and comfort of the darkness... the opening of the shell is facing Meadow.

Will I ever get another tarantula? I'm doubtful but you never know. It's hard to think me being 40 now and if I lucked out and got one who lived another couple decades... zoiks, I'd be retired or nearing that stage in my life! Well, providing I live another couple decades myself.

I found that first picture on Google. I think it's suiting for what happened this week. I'll see you on the other side Maude, the day that I go into the light... God speed little one!