Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

April 11, 2018

Wildlife Wednesday Vol. 4

Time has flown, hasn't it? Hard to believe it's been 3 weeks since I last blogged. I figured if nothing else, might as well throw a Wildlife Wednesday out there.

I've not been out a lot to be honest. Things are getting busy with the nest boxes, setting up for the nesting season (stay tuned for a blog there soon)... which is on a delay because of this never ending winter weather.

The only thing that comes to mind to blog about right now is what may have been my last Snowy Owl encounters for the 2017/18 winter. As you may be aware, I've had quite a few night sights and encounters especially the last couple months.

Despite me even recently having 5 Owls in one night with my drive home, I'd still been wishing for some day time views but never bothered going out of my way to look.

Stunning all white Snowy Owl that surprised me on April 2nd at my exit off the 401.

Another Snowy near my exit that same night.

Anyway, someone must have been listening to me because I was suddenly, and finally rewarded with a few day time encounters.

First being, driving into work one day, I happened to spot a Snowy Owl near my exit. Thankfully I was a little early and had ample time to go venture over to where the Owl was and have a better look. I had my camera with me which gave me more reason to go and see. I worked my way around the back roads and figured out where the Owl was. It was a windy rainy afternoon and the Owl was in a closed off area but I could still see it from the adjacent parking lot behind a warehouse. Within a minute or two of me viewing it, the Owl took flight and grabbed something out of the grassy area between us. It was a small rodent and the Owl flew to a nearby rooftop to consume it. That was exciting and put a smile on my face going into work.

Then last week I was fortunate to see 2 Snowy Owls Friday morning. They were on the same fence line, about 100 ft from each other.

It was great seeing this Owl dive after who knows what and then return to the post.

The next day Angie and I went out for a dusk walk in the same area. We encountered 3 Snowy Owls and nothing else. Best was seeing this Owl fly down into the field and grab some dinner.

What an end to the season I must say. Although winter still seems to be holding it's grip on Southern Ontario, so was this really the end?

It certainly was a banner season for the Snowy Owl. So many people got to see and enjoy these birds in many areas, sometimes even quite unusual spots like much closer to the downtown area. We must remember they are here only trying to survive, they are not here for our personal entertainment. The Owls must be respected and given the space to do their thing without harassment from us. Sadly 4 Wednesdays in a row now there has been a call to pick up an injured Snowy Owl in the Pearson Airport area. I'm unsure what was wrong with them, but it's been like clock work, about noon every Wednesday for a month now a driver is needed to pick up one contained by staff. Unfortunately there was also an incident of one getting sucked into a jet's turbine recently.

There is speculation that while this was an incredible year for them, they are yet another struggling wildlife species on our planet. Someone sent me a link a while back but I cannot find it. I've read this in a few spots I've researched.

The Snowy Owl is not considered endangered under the Canada’s Species at Risk Act. In 2017, however, the International Union for Conservation of Nature uplisted the Snowy Owl to “vulnerable” status. The IUCN speculates that the declining population may be attributable to the effect of warming temperatures on prey availability: lemmings are especially sensitive to temperature changes because they depend on deep, fluffy and thick layers of insulating snow to breed successfully.

If anyone has read any articles regarding their status lately, feel free to add in the comments.

Lastly, some may think the Snowy Owl is my favorite Owl. It's not. I don't have a favorite. I like them all for one reason or another, much like any other bird or mammal species. I've been blessed with all my encounters for a few winters now, never really having to go out of my way. They are a welcomed break from work when I am on my break. They are a treat to see on my way home, helping me forget the work day. And recently awesome to see during the day before work.

Well, it's Wednesday. Cheers to those of you who have popped in for a peek at my latest blog.

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.