Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

October 29, 2013

Be Back Soon....

Hi friends....

I've screwed up my shoulder pretty bad in an accident at home.  Nothing is broken but there is a sprain and the muscle spasms are extremely painful at times.  So sitting at a computer, arms stretched out and hitting them keys brings it on pretty quick.

I do hope that this heals sooner than later, and today I am off to get x-rays and an ultrasound on the area since just resting and taking muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories are not working.  Wish me luck and I will be back soon with a tale or just another update.


Before I go, here is a highlight from this past weekend where Angie and I took some friends to Mountsberg Conservation Area to visit their raptor centre where we surprised them with a private raptor encounter.  Man, were they ever surprised and happy!  I won't post their pictures without permission so here is me with Echo the Eastern Screech Owl who was human imprinted when she was a baby.  I've known Echo for some years now but this is the first time I've ever mingled with her.

A close up o her...

Bye for now!

October 18, 2013

Whiskey Wednesday

Usually every Wednesday I celebrate getting over the hump of the work week with a shot or two of some spirits.  40 Creek is my top choice these days, but Jack Daniel's and White Owl Whisky are great substitutes, or when I feel like something just a little different.

Of course my celebration, and drinking, is limited to one or two drinks because I do have to get up for work the next day.  And unlike 20 years ago, I just can't handle hangovers nor do I want to waste a precious day of my life due to some self induced over indulgence.  It is funny how others perceive my weekly tradition, some get it, some think I'm polishing off a lot more.  I feel bad for those people who don't know me all that well.  Anyways...

I'm enjoying the last days of the year where it's mild enough to sit outside in a t-shirt and not worry about bundling up.  The lawn furniture is still out back and usually still dry by the time I get home from work and get out there to kick back with my drink.

The night time wildlife is great this year, seeing lots of critters roaming the backyards, as I've blogged a bit about everyone coming around.  And the lately things have been even better with more up close and personal encounters.  I figure its one part they are used to me sitting out there and more so its because of how I act around them being very quiet and slow moving if I am moving at all.  I've sat on the ground by the deck and have had all 3 mammal species (Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum) walk right by me, giving me a glance before moving on with their evening hunts.  My goal is to teach more people to not lose their s**t in the presence of local wildlife, just be quiet and calm, and embrace having a close encounter, especially around a Skunk.  Running around and screaming is the wrong way to deal with one near you.  They spray as a last resort in defending themselves.  My encounters prove they really don't care much about us if we leave them alone, and if they get spooked, they prefer to make a run for it instead of blasting the threat.

Here I am with one of the local Skunks, we've seen 3 in the past few months.  I am maybe 10 feet from this one and was for many minutes.  I sat on the bench at the back and just watched him.

Some nights Sniffy and his family show up, it's mom and the 3 kids.  So nice to see everyone is still with us and looking so healthy.

This is the kids from a couple months ago.

Another family come around other nights, its a mother with 2 kids.  This mom is very different than Sniffy's.  This mom is not very calm nor is she very nice, even to her kids.  She snarls, growls and swats at everything in her vicinity.  I feel bad for the little ones that are stuck with her.  And what blows my mind is when we first noticed this family last month (September), the kids were really small, like big kittens.  And cranky mom is smaller than the other adults I've seen.  So I'm not sure if she's a young mom and is lacking the motherly instinct or perhaps it's genetic, she's just smaller and it's been passed on to her children.  But what they lack in size, they make up in ferocity or giving off the show of being fierce.  Such noises the little ones make when another passes them too.  I wish I recorded them.  They growl and whine and charge at everything...  except me.  Why?  Once again, I'm just sitting back and watching the goings on.

One of the wee little ones.

The past few nights I've noticed the 2 little ones running around, and without their mother.  I saw a dead Raccoon on the main road the other morning.  I have to wonder if it's their mom?  One part of me concerns over this but really I shouldn't, they are old enough now, and have each other to look out for.  Or maybe they just had enough of their mom's nasty attitude and left on their own?  Whatever the case, I watch them more intently now.  And what I've noticed is they are calmer without her around.  They don't freak or hiss or snarl or just plain "lose their s**t".

We all had a pleasant evening this week, actually a few of them.

Someone found something to snack on.

Here is Stumpy the "tail-less" Raccoon. He sure looks odd running around without the tail, that high back end sure stands out.

"Hey, buzz off mister, this is private!"

All the critters love water.  Its true that its much easier to find food in their travels than water.  I try to keep it clean but...

And while I sipped my 40 Creek, he had water.  He has no idea what he is missing.  Haha!

I make the best of my work hours, coming home after 10 at night.  I prefer this over turning on the computer or television.  And its great on the weekends when Angie can join me since she doesn't have to get up at 4:30am for work.  But in those days in between weekends, especially on my Whiskey Wednesday, the wildlife do make for some great company.

October 9, 2013

Awesome 'Possum

The backyard has been pretty lacking the last few weeks in way of a variety of bird species.  It may be partially to blame for a Coopers Hawk that has been hunting the backyard a few times a week.  But even before this hunter showed up I noticed the species numbers lacking and even the numbers of some species visiting being quite low.  But the House Sparrows are still in high numbers and all over every feeder out there minus the Safflower and the pure suet.

But I still hold out hope for the return of some birds and continue to fill the feeders especially as the weather gets cooler.

I'm back in the habit of filling the feeders at night.  I like the quiet of the night and even more so I like the mystery of wondering who I may cross paths with in way of wildlife.  We've had some Raccoon families and one night I counted 9 Raccoons in my sights about the properties.  We've got a few Skunks too and they don't seem to mind me out there doing what I'm doing as long as I ignore them.  It's my philosophy that if you give the critters respect (and don't lose your shit around them) that they will give it back to you.  Act like a freak and they may do the same.  So my quiet times out back are quite rewarding.  And I'm sure my spillage of seeds and nuts is welcoming too.

And last night was proof once again of what I practice and preach...

Doing my thing, filling feeders, washing the baths, enjoying the cool night air and mostly silence with little traffic on Scarlett Road; I suddenly take notice to something moving at the back of the house.  Initial thought was one of the Raccoons roaming about; but second glance I could see that it wasn't.  It crawled up the steps of the back deck and was heading for the back door...  and its shape was more rat like.  I put the flashlight on it and to my thrill it was a young Opossum!  But to someone not familiar with them might think something otherwise with it's glowing eyes in the light and the black circles around them, the coarse grey fur and that long tail.

When the 'Possum figured out I was there and watching, she darted off under the deck.  I believe the visiting Groundhog we had late last summer made a hole under the ladas on both ends as part of his routes for travel.  The Squirrels and Skunks enjoy it very much (and now this 'Possum) but the Raccoons are too big for it.

I haven't seen an Opossum in a few years.  We had one February 2011 and named her "Virginia".  She was so sweet and everyday around 3pm she would come out and feed under our bird feeders.  This is quite unusual for such a creature but with the bitter cold, she was hungry enough to show herself.  And as long as we gave her the space, she let us be outside with her while she fed.  It was awesome!  So with this young one, I wasn't about to go inside and let this moment pass just like that.  I sat myself on the ground and waited.

Here is Virginia from February 2011

With the aroma of peanuts and sunflower seed in the air, it wasn't long before one of the Raccoon families we are quite familiar with showed up in the yard.  Good ol' Sniffy, his siblings and mom joining him.  The kids are so big now as they prepare for the cold days ahead.  They all wandered around, hitting the baths, looking for spilled seeds (wink wink) and gave little notice to me.  Sniffy sat himself down about 6 ft from me and picked from one of the seed cups I use for filling.  I dropped everything with this 'Possum and Sniffy was taking full advantage of this.

I kept an eye on the family out of the corner of my eye while I waited for another hopeful sighting of the young 'Possum.  And sure enough, slowly out she came.  I just sat there and watched her for the next 20 minutes or so as she sniffed around looking for some grub.  We had maybe 10 ft between us for some time too!  And the young, or not so young Raccoons now, were curious of this newcomer and had to give her a once over.  The 'Possum did not know what to make of these creatures who were much bigger than her but she sat there, stood her ground, beared her teeth momentarily but not much more else happened.  The Raccoons checked her out and moved on.  So cool to see wildlife doing their own thing in our backyard.  One time 2 summers ago, I got home shortly after midnight to find who I believe was Virginia sitting on our driveway with a Raccoon.  They were chilling out, no fighting and I swear they were discussing what was on the menu in the neighbourhood that evening.

Here's a few photos from last night.  Its not easy to get pics in the dark with a flashlight and our little point/shoot camera but what the hell...  and I had fun.

Look at those teeth!

Sniffy passes her by with a sniff and moves along.

She's right below me here.

I wish this came in clear...  look at that nose!

It was nearing midnight now.  I silently said "goodnight" to the gang and headed inside with hopes of seeing the little Opossum again another night.  And of course Sniffy came up to me and said "goodnight"...

I took a very short video of some of the action if you would like to see a bit more. Just click here and you will go to it on YouTube.

October 6, 2013


Last weekend we had take-out from Hong Kong Gardens down on Bloor Street.  And come Sunday night, after 2 dinners of it, with one more packed up for a lunch, we'd had our fill of the things we enjoy from this restaurant.  Green bin this, blue bin that and grey bin a couple non recyclables.  I didn't take notice to the fortune cookies that went into the garbage as well.  Even if the cookies really aren't enjoyable, I like to read my supposed fortune.  But we ended up with some left over birthday cake so that trumped the cookies by a long shot.  I already knew my fortune anyway...  get up on the exercycle this week and work off the weekend's not so healthy eating.

Well, Monday morning comes, doing this and that, household stuff and I step out front of the house for something.  What do I notice on top of the bins but what you see in the photo above.  It would appear that one of our local Raccoons sniffed out the fortune cookies at the bottom of the bin, pulled them all out and ate them on top of the bin.  I had a good chuckle at the fortunes he left on the one bin (and the fact most of the cellophane wrapping was still in the garbage bin).

I looked over all the fortunes and lightly took to the idea that the most prominent one, the one above the others, was my "fortune".  A new perspective will come with the new year.  Whatever that can mean is a mystery to me right but time may tell I suppose.  And with it comes 6 lucky numbers.  Our friend Patty suggested to me that I play those numbers for shits and giggles but I was already thinking that and I bought a 649 ticket for the coming Wednesday draw with those numbers checked off.  I go to the scan machine Thursday morning and guess what?  I won!!!!!  A whole $12!!!!!  No jackpot by any means but it was something, and a little more than what I put in for the ticket.  Plus I ended up with a pretty cool little story to share with you all.

Was it all coincidence?  Or a little something from my wildlife friends outside our house?  I leave that up to you to decide.

After note...

I was out in the backyard quite late Thursday night filling bird feeders and cleaning baths.  I left out a fresh bowl of cold water and *accidentally* spilled some peanuts nearby.  A short bit later I was joined by this fellow, happy with his own good fortune.

October 3, 2013

Couldn't Do It

I was out this morning for a stroll at the woods and swamp area near us.  We've got a number of Wood Ducks stopping in for the next few weeks and I'm enjoying my time with them.  They are beautiful Ducks!

A couple male Wood Ducks enjoying the sunny October morning.

I occasionally see the same people in my travels.  I say "hello" to most and I get a variety of responses from head nods, smiles, returned greetings while others act like I wasn't even there. 

Today I ran into a much older guy who I've known to be a Wood Duck fanatic.  I think I've only ever spoken to him once before in the 3 years I've been seeing him at this area.  But today we got chatting about the temporary return of the Wood Ducks and admiring the 5 adult males in the group.

He's a local like me, but happily retired, and enjoying the many great natural areas around us that he visits pretty much daily.  He's got lots of stories and lots of time on his hands, so one with an open ear must be ready to get an overload of this and that from here and there.  The trunk of his car is packed with bird seed, nuts, grains and unfortunately bread crumbs *sigh* which aren't a good food offering for the birds but it's difficult to argue this fact with a guy nearly twice my age who's been doing this for many years.  He's also got envelopes and folders full of pictures from his local adventures and all contain a story with them.  I like that.  He's not a photographer, he carries a small point/shoot camera but wants to take memories home with him to show others.  He shares them with family and friends.  Gee, sounds like me now.  LOL!

He's got newspaper articles and we had a laugh at one from a while back in the Toronto Star about someone really wanting to see and photograph male Wood Ducks.  And for some reason they ended up down in Central Park in New York City to get theirs just before Christmas.  You can see why we were laughing, right?  We got these guys circling our feet almost and more often I can't get a picture with my 500mm lens, even at zero zoom, because they are so close.  And this reporter ends up down there and still had a task to obtain a picture of one.

At one point he pulls out this small envelope of his photos of a Great Horned Owl.  With the first shot he showed me, I immediately knew where he got the shot and of course I knew the Owl.  It wasn't a captive one either.  He went on and on about his encounter with this Owl.  It was the first Owl he had ever seen in this park and in the wild.  He was so happy!  And two days later he was back in the park with hopes of seeing this Owl again during his routine walk (takes the same paths all the time).  But he did not see it that day, nor did he ever see it again.

All the while he went on about this bird and how amazing it was for him to see it; my brain was having a fight with my mouth about releasing the story of this bird to him, what he doesn't know, why he found the bird as he did, and what happened in that day in between his two visits.  I really wanted to tell him but in the end I just couldn't.

Long story short, this Owl was very unwell.  It was on the ground because it could not fly anymore.  It was emaciated and very weak.  But with all those feathers, one could not tell by looking at him.  And he had a steel cable wrapped around one of his legs, that was so tight, it cut off the circulation and eventually the leg "died" and mummified.  The Owl sat quietly in the grass and was catching Garter Snakes for food.  The old man showed me a picture he had of it with one in it's mouth.

The day in between the old man's visits, my friends and I, along with the assistance of a wildlife rescuer named Andrew from Toronto Wildlife Centre recovered the poor Owl in those woods.  We so hoped it was going to be a rescue, where he have been brought back to health; but his body had been eating itself in order to sustain itself, that went too far by this time, and he was too weak to fly as I stated in the paragraph above.  And the fact his leg was useless now and he couldn't even rest on it, which in turn, did a lot of damage to his other leg as it took all the weight and was overused.  In the end, after examination and much thought for this bird's well being, it was best that he be humanely euthanized and end his suffering.

I'm an honest guy, I don't like lying and I don't do bullshit very well either.  Its all pointless to me even with most strangers.  Just not my nature.  So I bit my tongue, smiled, nodded, said "wow" and "amazing", etc as I immersed myself  in his tale of his first encounter with an Owl in the wild.  I couldn't tell him what I knew.  It would have crushed him.  I could plainly see his love for the natural world around us and the creatures we cross paths with.  I couldn't help but think here's a 70 something year old man, just saw his first Owl last Spring and I tarnished his tale he's probably told a 1000 times now to others and he'd take this sadness to the grave with him.  I don't know!  Just a thought in my head.  He could live to be 100 and see more Owls; but this was his first, we never forget our firsts.  I couldn't take this from him.

Anyways, funny how things come back to us like this.  Such a small time frame with this Owl in the park 18 months ago and now it feels like it was yesterday.  I did blog about it if you'd like to get deeper into that afternoon with the poor bird.  Click here to read it.

If not, here he is, and sadly, the last living day of his on Earth.