Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

November 10, 2022

He's Back! Hoooo? Read On...

Yesterday morning I woke up to the sounds of angry birds in the backyard.  It started with the blue jays screaming away and soon they were joined by some northern cardinals, house sparrows and lastly a couple of red-breasted nuthatches.  My first thought was that there was a hawk in the yard.  Then I thought maybe a cat as we're having some problems with a few free roaming in the neighbourhood.  It was only when I saw the nuthatches going to the owl box, poking their head inside and still giving something proper s**t that I suspected an owl was within the box.  If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that we had an owl all through last winter.  Angie named him Little Al.

I puttered about in the house like I do every morning with those few chores, finally getting the coffee on all throughout I kept some attention to the box outside both with my eyes and ears.

Finally, after X amount of time, the owl appeared at the entry hole and looking out to the backyards beyond.  I knew without any doubt that this grey morph eastern screech owl was the same bird that hung out with us last winter.  Man was I ever happy to see him!  I texted Angie and she too was beyond thrilled that he came back.

I stepped out onto the deck and took a few record photos of the moment and then let him be.  

I've got some great shots of the owl back in April so I really don't need to try for any more other than distant "look hoo's here" stuff for random social media bits.  One of my better photos back in the spring.

He made a couple more very brief appearances before I left work.  Then Angie saw him when she got home from work, just sitting there with the last light of the day.  She witnessed him fly out of the box at 5:13 PM for his evening hunt.  Lucky her to see him do things some evenings.

Project Feeder Watch just started up last week.  I'll be happy to add him to my count days.

Welcome back Little Al!

November 8, 2022

The Gate

This is a blog that I have been meaning to do for quite some time now.  There's not much story telling but some may enjoy seeing the action at our gate.  The gate is the entrance to our backyard.  I've found this to be one of the best spots to set up the trail camera at night as many of the animals enter our yard from here instead of climbing the fence or going through some breaks in an older part of it down at the back.  I tell you that even some nights I am surprised at how much action there is here, and the frequency too!  Check this out!

I'll start with a short amount of time in one night.  Less than half an hour and here is what happened.

In comes a raccoon.

The raccoon is soon joined by an opossum.

Both disappear but now in comes this cat.

This may be the same raccoon back at the water basin, now with a skunk.

I assume he knows what a skunk can do so he gives it some space.

Along comes an opossum again, probably the same one from earlier.

Okay, so it's only four animals in total; nonetheless, it is a busy spot.  If you aren't convinced yet, how about this from a few nights earlier?

Two opossums!  Neither are our female that we call mom who is missing her tail and now has a right eye injury; she still comes around.

Need another example?  I know we have a number of skunks in the neighbourhood and the camera caught three at once.  

For me, I can see even with single skunk photos that there are different ones visiting because of the stripe patterns, and some don't have stripes at all and just a white cap.  Some say I have too much time on my hands studying these captures but it's all very interesting to me.  Look at these two, very different patterns.

We've also got a rabbit coming around three or four nights a week.  I've yet to see him with my own eyes but it is nice to know he is out there.  I like this capture.  The rabbit sat out there for many minutes and Angie is in the bathroom, having no idea that he is there.  I could do a blog of early morning captures and title it "What Angie is Missing", showing all these creatures outside the bathroom window while she is in it during her waking moments or getting ready for work.

A few mornings later.  Angie is already gone for work and I am not awake yet.  That could be another blog one day, "What Rob is Missing", showing cam captures from the 30 to 45 minutes before I am out of bed.

The rabbit is most often coming through around three in the morning.  

A rainy night and he's here.

I'd like to know what it is eating.  I grew kale for him and it is still out in the garden, not even a nibble on it.  We put our carrot shavings out there some nights; sometimes lettuce, grapes, etc.  Perhaps I will set the cam up in the garden some nights when these things are left out there?

Before I go, here's a couple more from last night.

It's hard to track how many raccoons are around nowadays.  The young ones are quite big now and everyone has spread out.

I'd love to see something like this, a couple skunks waddling around together.

Ten minutes later they're still out there mingling.

And lastly, an opossum.  

I have a big soft spot for these animals especially as the weather gets colder and winter arrives.  They suffer during this season with their bare tail, toes, ears and nose.  We provide  a couple straw filled shelters for them but it is up to them if they will use them or not.  We try.  If nothing else, they can usually find some apple pieces as they wander around the yard.  Some of the raccoons have taken to the gala apples this year, and sometimes they get to them before the opossums.  I like our raccoons but anytime I see the opossum getting the apple, I am a little happier.

I hope you enjoyed visiting the gate here with me.  It's odd to me how many people don't believe there is another world out there after dark.  Not everything goes to sleep for the night; for many, the dark is their time.

October 28, 2022

Happy Halloween

Well here we are at the spookiest time of the year.  While Angie and I aren't the big party people like we once were so many years ago, we still enjoy this festivity.  It's bit of a hoopla on our little street with all the neighbours; the one time of the year that we see almost everyone outside at the same time.

One thing I enjoy is getting the pets involved even if it is only for a silly photo session for a few minutes.  Speaking of which, did any of you happen to see Merry and Molly on CTV news last night?  They had a few seconds of fame in their pet costumes spot at the end of the show.

Merry is a lot better about the whole dress up thing than what Molly is.  Merry purrs and loves to play along with her daddy.  Molly, I'm lucky if I can keep anything on her for more than 3 seconds.

What a face!  Believe me, she was purring here.

Silly girl...  or is it "silly Rob"?  You tell me.

Good Molly for a second.  I have to be fast with the camera.

Funny how Meadow would play along with me and these photo moments.  She too would purr away and take it all in stride.  Man we had a lot of fun over the years.

Pets are family too.  They should be a part of all the fun all throughout the year.

So, I want to wish you all a very happy and safe Halloween, no matter how you spend it.

Lastly, I recently discovered a great account on Instagram called Groundhog Hill.  They do single panel comics and frequently include some of our favourite yard critters.  Here's a couple examples from the other day just in time for Halloween.  If you are on Instagram, please check them out.

One more.  All I can say is "who wouldn't love to hang out with an opossum?"

Alrighty, off to get my day started and enjoy the weekend ahead.  Thanks for stopping in.  Cheers!

October 7, 2022

Budgie #5

If you read my last blog, you may recall how I wrote about how many budgies we had in the backyard this past summer.  Four was a ridiculously sad amount of "lost" birds.  I swear that I have jinxed myself as just days later after publishing that blog along came budgie number five.  I really think the jinx started earlier in the summer when talking to a neighbour about how many domestic birds I had seen in the 'hood over the years and that it had been quite a while since I last saw one.  Someone, somewhere heard this and said "hold my beer, you asked for it".

We had just gotten home early Sunday afternoon from a walk and I went out to the yard to see what was going on, looking for any migratory birds, check on my pigeon buds, etc.  I wasn't out there long when I heard a budgie tweeting.  I thought "oh no!"  I raced back to the house, grabbed a towel, our rescue cage and my camera.

It took me a bit of looking before I finally spotted the bird in the foliage along the fence.  It's a male as you can see by his blue cere (nostrils).

I made noises at the bird, clicking and silly squeaky sounds to get his attention.  He flew out of hiding, went right over my head and then landed on some wires across the yard.

The bird spent the afternoon out back, either on the ground looking for food with the other birds or flying about the trees, checking out some other backyards but always returning to ours.  It was a mild  and sunny October afternoon.

Wanna caption this photo?

I wish I took some video of the bird as he had no fear of the bigger birds, and none of the other birds gave him any grief for being out there.  I remember when Misfit was living out back that summer, the blue jays were constantly chasing her.  They knew she didn't belong out there.  Misfit always got away but she never had peace when they came in.  This boy though, it was like he belonged out there and always had been out there.

The budgie showed no interest in the cage, no matter where I set it over the next few hours.  I even put my bluetooth speaker inside, playing budgie calls, to try and lure him in.  No luck.  I couldn't throw a towel over him because all the other birds would flush at the sight of a towel in my hand, and when they flew, so did the budgie.  I gave up on any sort of chase as it got later in the day.  The temperature was going to drop down to 4 Celsius over night, so I really wanted him to have a good feed before it got dark.  

Most of the other birds were disappearing by 6:30 PM.  The budgie was still here. I watched him fly into our lilac tree a couple times before finally picking a branch to sleep on for the night.  He was about 12 ft off the ground, surrounded by branches and leaves.  There was no way I could grab him in there, or get a towel over him.

A crappy cell phone shot of him up in the tree.

I left him be and checked on him a couple times after dark before I went to bed.  He stayed put.  I think he had a better sleep than me despite the chill in the air.  I woke many times throughout the night thinking about him.  I was out of bed by 6:30 the next morning and setting my plan in motion.  I was going to try and trap him with a box, stick and long piece of rope.

As I stepped outside to set things up, I had to go back in and put a heavier coat on.  We haven't had a cool temperature like this in 6 months.  After I had the trap set, I sat in a chair and waited.  The budgie started to tweet around 7:20 AM.  By 7:30 he was out of the lilacs and down at the back.  He came to ground a few times looking for food.  I should add that during my set up of the trap, I cleaned the ground up of any spilled seed.  There was food out there but under the box that was raised on one end.  If I wanted a blue jay, I could have had one as this bird in the shot below spent a good 20 minutes or more under the box!

A few times he came so close...

I left the trap, as much as it pained me to do so, but I needed a coffee at one point, another time I needed a heavier coat, then I needed to get a bit of breakfast in me.  My absences were short and I kept thinking that this would be when he would go under the box.

Finally after almost 4 hours, he went under the box, I pulled the rope and he was trapped.  I brought out an old sheet from the shed, slid the box over the sheet, then wrapped the sheet around the box, and then brought it inside.  I then got the cage, bringing that in too.  He put up a fight with my hand as I tried to grab him.  He couldn't see nothing but my hand and when I had him, he bit me quite hard.  This wasn't my first budgie bite and I wanted this ordeal over with, so I held onto him, brought him out from the sheet and into the spare cage.  As soon as I let go of him in the cage, he hopped on a perch and totally relaxed.  What a good boy!

We've been debating on what to do with him.  Do we want another bird after over a year without?  Maybe.  How will Merry and Molly react to a bird in the house?  But before taking him in, we agreed to try and see if anyone is missing him.  I posted something on a lost bird page for Ontario.  All I got was 2 likes.  I was stunned at how many budgie posts were on this page, both for lost and found birds.  Unfortunately the found birds was greater than people posting about losing their bird(s).  Many of the found budgie posts were just people posting a photo of one they saw outside along with a location; not many were actually caught.  So sad especially as we move through fall and the nights are getting very cool.  These birds originate from Australia and don't do well in our cold Canadian climate.  I posted him in a couple other places.  I didn't care for some saying to leave him be, let him have a free life outdoors even if it is short instead of a life in prison.  I'd agree if this was a bird that could survive out there and not A) freeze to death and B) be so dependent on us humans to feed it from bird feeders.  I tried to explain this as much of a waste of time as it was and added that not every captive bird living in a house with humans has a terrible life of being ignored and locked up.  Drama everywhere, eh?  Doesn't matter where you go, what you do, someone is gonna stir shit, especially on the internet.

I've had a few offers to take him.  One I said "absolutely not" to as they are a breeder and wanted him to help make more budgies for the person to sell.  This is a huge part of the problem in the pet trade, people breeding animals for profit.  Budgies are sold quite cheap through private sales, hell even in pet stores they are inexpensive.  If the bird becomes a pain to someone because of the mess, or the squawking, then losing $15 or $30 is nothing to lose by opening the door and letting it fly out and having a budgie free home again.  I've seen adoption posts for these birds through the city, trying to home birds found, and the fee is a mere $7!

I can only imagine how many budgies are sleeping outside throughout Toronto right now.  Are they wishing they were in warm houses again with a seed dish all to themselves and not having to fight for supper?  Poor things.  They may be small but they have big personalities.

Okay, let's find joy in the rescue of this guy here.  One less stray bird on the street.  I will update soon on what became of him.  Will he become a Mueller?  

One last pretty shot of him in our holly bush.  This would be a lovely Christmas card, maybe in Australia.  What do you think?

Lastly, I read any comments left.  I reply to some but I don't think the person gets notice that I do.  Jennifer I learned about Muskoka from you.  Thank you.  Angie, unfortunately blogger has made a change where people who follow a blog no longer get notification on when a new blog has been published.  Why would someone think that change was a good idea?

Okay, it's 12:30 in the morning.  It has been a very long day.  I need sleep.  I hope this blog came across well.  I will probably read it over again tomorrow after my coffee.

Thanks for stopping in!

September 26, 2022

Summer Bits

I wish I had more to share of our trip the other week up to the Muskoka region but I do not.  So after some pondering, I think another blog of bits from the last few months is due.  It's been a quiet summer as we spent most of it at home like we normally do but I am sure there will be some interesting "things" here to enjoy throughout the blog.

Early on in the summer I found this eastern screech owl while Angie was getting her hair done.  I think it was a year ago that I found an owl here and anytime we are over to this spot just west of the house (four times a year roughly for hair cuts or bang trims), I go for a quick look around.  The owl was just zoning about 25 ft off the path.  So many people passed by and had no idea he was there.

We were in the area in August as well but I couldn't find an owl in this small woodlot due to all the leaves.  I wasn't going off the path either...  1) didn't want to disturb anything and 2) I didn't want to pick up any ticks.

It was bad for budgies around here this summer.  More so than what I have ever seen.  Four birds came to our yard in just over a month.  

This one on July 1st.  A female judging by the lack of blue color on the cere.

On August 6th we had two females, both were mirror images of our old girl Misfit.  I didn't have my camera with me as I was hoping to catch them.  The birds were very close to me but so were the pigeons.  I had a towel with me but anytime I moved my hand with the towel, the pigeons flushed and so did the budgies.  They both flew off together an hour or so later and we did not see them again.

This is Misfit in the front with Moonie behind.  Both of them were backyard rescues.

Then the very next day we had another budgie show up!  Again I tried to catch this boy but had no luck.  Look at that blue cere.

I should add that I had set out our spare bird cage when these birds showed up, just in case they came back, and hoping that they would figure out that food is inside.  That is how Misfit came to us.

We've had other budgies come in over the years but not in a while and never had more than one in a summer.  Having four in just over a month this year was very upsetting.  Some must have let all their birds go.

I was seeing osprey fly over the house this summer.  I've heard of them nesting along the Humber river but have never spotted a nest.  Seeing these birds during the summer months pushed me to look in parts of the Humber that I rarely visit.

We didn't have a great summer with baltimore orioles this time around.  A pair randomly visited and we had two juveniles for a couple days in early August.  Normally for us, late August is pretty busy with easily eight orioles steadily coming in, loading up for their journey south.

What we were blessed with this summer was more frequent visits from at least three ruby-throated hummingbirds.  Past years, they were here at first and last light, and rarely any other time of the day.  This year, especially through August, they were coming in all through the day from sun up until sun down.  I wonder if the really dry summer may be the reason?  A lot of their natural food source from the various flowers may have suffered from the many weeks of drought.  I'm glad we were able to help them along.

With more time at home than out and about, I brought out the macro lens again.  It's amazing how many teeny tiny creatures can be found in the garden.  Check out this oblique streaktail.

Then there's the webworm moth, or as I call them "hippie bugs" and Angie calls them "winnebago bugs".  No matter what one calls them, they are cool to look at.

It was nice to see a few candy-striped leafhoppers this summer.

A cool surprise one morning was the lady next door blurting out "ewwwww, look at this big bug!" which of course got our attention.  I went over to see and was pleasantly surprised to see a big northern bush katydid.  I don't recall ever seeing one before.  They were having a large gathering at this house and were going to be using the BBQ which is where the insect was; so we moved over to our yard in a safe, quiet, sheltered spot where it spent the day.

We've had a lot of dog day cicadas in the yard this summer.

On a Sunday morning walk near the house, we chanced upon this fawn.  I haven't seen a fawn in many years.  Sure, it's an older fawn as this was late August when we saw it; but still a fawn.  It's mother was nearby but they weren't too concerned by us as we kept our distance and it was a busy spot for human activity.

We haven't been blessed with daylight views of skunks this summer other than one morning.  Thankfully I had woken up early for some reason and spotted him shortly after 7 AM.

The mass of migrating common grackles that stopped in the same morning weren't too concerned by it's presence.

The raccoon family were MIA most of the summer except for captures on my trail camera during the night.  A couple of the kids recently made an appearance early one evening.  Cute little rascals, eh.

We have seen mom too, which is good to know that she is still around.  Our raccoon mom is older and limps around due to arthritis, our guess anyway.  She may let them stay with her through the winter but by next spring, she will be pushing them out of the territory as she prepares to have a new litter.

The cam has been picking up our mom opossum some nights as well as one, possibly two, new opossums.  We know mom by her tail stump.

I'd love to see one with my own eyes again soon; but knowing they are around just by the trail cam captures makes me happy.  Here is one that used to use a hollow log in the yard as a hiding spot.  Unfortunately the log crumbled to bits over the years.  I keep looking for another one when out.

Gulliver is still a daily visitor here for the most part.  I think she's been coming to my hand for about one year now, and has been coming to the yard for approximately two years.  This is a recent picture of her.  The holly berries behind her make for a nice backdrop and I wonder who will be coming to feast on them during the winter months?

Charlie is also still fairly regular.  The last few years she's disappeared through most of the winter and always missing her anniversary date which I believe is February 27th, Facebook memories help me remember.  All I do know is that this coming February will mark 5 years with Charlie.  That's a great long life for a "city pigeon".  She's a wise bird and avoids the hawks during the cold months.

There's one more backyard buddy I should post about, Ripper, who I see for days in a row, then not for days, sometimes weeks.  I always wonder about him when he's not around and then he suddenly reappears.  He's getting a blog post of his own very soon.  Stay tuned for that.  Here's us from this past weekend.  He's awesome!

I talk about how I cannot wait to get out of Toronto as it is becoming way too crowded and there is so much development, condos popping up everywhere they can squeeze one in, yet the infrastructure is not growing with the buildings and townhouses (they cannot widen the roads so traffic gets worse all the time).  Then looking back through this blog I am about to post, leaving here will certainly fill me with a lot of sadness too.  Our property is 25' X 177', which is big for the city, definitely attracts a lot of creatures all throughout the year.  People we know outside of the city cannot believe how much we see here compared to where they are.  We make the yard welcoming to them all and more so as the development around us continues.

This isn't really how I wanted to end this blog but with the window open, I can hear machinery from down the road.  Blech.