Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

October 30, 2012

Amherst Trip, Nov. 17, 2012

I know a few of my friends have been talking about taking a trip to Amherst Island one of these seasons but just haven't gotten around to it yet.

Well, here's a great opportunity coming up on Nov. 17, 2012, and an affordable one at that; from Authentic Canadian Tours! At $75 you cannot go wrong.

$75!  I can hear some squawking, but also some eyebrows raising too.  For me, that's incredibly reasonable.  Think about the cost of gas as an example.  Amherst is approximately 3 hours east of Toronto at a distance of approximately 260 kms.  And that is one way.

Another reason for me is I love the fact I can drive to the York Mills subway station, park my vehicle and hop on the bus that takes us to Amherst.  Driving can be exhausting, and especially if you don't exactly know where you are going.  Leave it up to the tour company to get you there and just relax, enjoy the view out the window from your seat.  Have a snooze even due to the early start.  And with a stop off at Tim Hortons along the way, enjoy your coffee and hot breakfast without worries of losing time sitting in the restaurant or fumbling with your meal at the wheel.

And lastly, Murray Shields, the founder of this company is an excellent host.  He does his best to ensure every one of his guests is enjoying their day out with him.  And it's just that, he doesn't treat people as customers...  you are like a guest to him.

Anyways, these are my biggest reasons for using Authentic Canadian Tours for such long distance nature trips. 

Angie and I have been on a number of trips with A.C.T. now.  And we've made a number of friends through the tours too.  Always nice to be out with a bunch of people who share a common passion for the natural world outside our door.

On this tour, there is an agenda to get the experience of what Amherst is all about and please click on this link here to see.

I hope you clicked on the link as now I am about to lightly touch upon a couple of the spots.

The radio station is a wonderful visit.  The people who run it are awesome.  It is the smallest radio station in Canada and it sits on a dairy farm.  I've never been in a radio station before; so to visit the smallest one in our country was pretty cool and unique.

The museum is interesting, get some history on the island, view old photos and artifacts.  There usually are some handmade local crafts available for purchase.  Someone bought a lovely Great Blue Heron painting on one of our trips.  Angie and I purchased a one of a kind bird house.

As you travel the island, be on the look out for wildlife.  We had the pleasure of seeing a few Snowy Owls on our trip in January of this year.  And around this time last year, being our first trip to Amherst we were fortunate to see a Northern Saw-whet Owl, a Long-eared Owl and a Short-eared Owl in the famous "Owl Woods".  A lot of Rough-legged Hawks may be seen along the roads too.  Even as we entered Owl Woods, it was easy enough to get side-tracked by the welcoming mob of Black-capped Chickadees greeting us along the first stretch of the trail.  Just put out your hand with some seed in it and seconds later you have a Chickadee or two in your palm as well.  Who wouldn't love that?

If Angie and I didn't already have previous plans, we'd be on this trip once again.  But I thought I would put this out there to all my debating friends.  It's worth it to go for the experience to this small island in eastern Ontario with Authentic Canadian Tours.

Angie did some wonderful blogs from our previous trips there.  Check 'em out here and here.  And if you are on Facebook, please visit A.T.C.'s page here.

October 19, 2012

Send Misfit Some Love

Last Thursday we had a mishap here at home.  Seems Misfit, our senior Budgie (backyard rescue) was on the verge of laying an egg.  This was nothing new, she's had some wicked spells in the past of steady egg laying; the worst being the late Winter/early Spring of 2011 where she layed approximately 24 in about 4 months.  So, I had little concern for what was going on.

A couple of Misfit's eggs from 2011.

About 20 minutes after my first notice of the goings on, Moonie suddenly let out some very loud God awful screeches, which had me race to the birds' cages to see what was wrong.  Moonie was fine, other than obviously upset.  But Misfit was far from alright.  The egg she was passing had broke and one half was at the bottom of the cage, while the other was still stuck inside her.  She was scurrying up and down the bars of her cage, trying to wiggle it out.  Even worse was the blood I noticed on the broken shell bits and one perch.

Its kind of a blur after that, I know I must'a done some weird bouncy stress dance, going in circles for a few minutes until I pulled myself together to deal with this.  First thing, call the vet.  Unfortunately we don't like the only avian vet we know of in our area.  We took Misfit there once, after her egg laying spell, and the vet was a very cold individual.  She made us feel like the worst bird parents in the world.  We explained how we caught this Budgie out in the backyard 5 years earlier and thought perhaps bringing her in for a check up, and hoping an avian vet might tell us more about Misfit.  The experience was terrible enough that we never wanted to return to that clinic again.  And we didn't.

I knew I had to get Misfit medical attention and while we know of another vet off in the east end, time was of importance here.  And with Angie at work, I just went with it.

I get to the vet, expecting this cold individual to walk through the door, but that wasn't the case.  It was a different vet.  This vet was far nicer than the one just over a year ago.  We had to work out what was best for Misfit, and hate to say, what was affordable.  Not that we don't want the best we can give Misfit, but we must also be sensible.  The long list of things they wanted to do to her, some of which could possibly kill her in the end.  And Angie and I both agreed we would not put her through all that.  She's been with us 6 years now and know full well she was more than a couple years old already when we caught her.  Ten years is a pretty safe estimate on her age.  I had Angie on the phone with the vet by this time, because my head was just spinning.  And in the end, she came to something with the vet we could do, and hope for the best.

I hate to think some vet clinics play on pet owners' emotions but deep down know it's true.  A vet clinic is a business.  Don't get me wrong, there are some great vets out there, but it can be difficult to find one.  Medical visits cost money, of course, but some vets can carry on beyond what is necessary or right for an animal's well being when they are so sick.  We all want to keep our beloved animals with us forever, but unfortunately, the physical forever is not possible and some will give false hope to us, and some of us fall for it, with a longer suffering for the animal, the pet owner's bank account depleted, often going into some hefty debt and with the same ending  These guys play out the absolute worst case scenario and how they will deal with it. 

They wanted to admit Misfit for 2 days, do x-rays and possibly some surgery.  In the end though, Misfit came home with me and must be administered 3 different fluids via syringe varying from 3 to 5 days, to 12 to 14 days.  One is liquid calcium, another is a pain killer and the third is an anti-biotic.

Its been both a learning and bonding experience.  Six years, and I've only ever picked Misfit up once before, last winter, and that was "just because" I wanted to see how she'd be with me.  Now with handling twice a day, its still a fight with her, and her heart races in my hand.  But its got to be done.  Either she's getting less uncomfortable with the ordeal or I am getting smarter, but it is getting a little easier.  The process has gone from a 20 minute ordeal to no more than a couple minutes.  I've gone from catching her in the darkened bedroom to just getting it over with in the bright kitchen with only one escape from me in the past 7 days.

As peaceful as she looks here, it's been a very difficult time for us all with the meds.

Misfit returned to the vet on the Saturday the 13th for a quick check-up.  She appears well but they won't say for certain unless they are allowed to do more tests.  This was yet another new vet to see us, and she was nicer than the last.  X-rays were discussed but I declined.  She gave Misfit a good handling and feel over and could say with almost full certainty that there was not another egg on it's way out of her.  The vet also commented on how feisty and strong Misfit is.  She hadn't examined a bird with such force as Misfit in some time.

Misfit going to the vet again.

She did have concerns over Misfit and her weight.  She was 49 grams in September 2011.  She was 43 grams on Thursday October 11, 2012.  And on Saturday, only a couple days later, she was at 40 grams.  I brought up the fact the last of the egg was out of her, and with all the stress, and the meds, especially the pain med, her appetite was down considerably.  All very good reasons for the 3 gram loss.  I further explained that after our visit back in 2011, we made changes to Misfit's diet.  She got less Budgie stix (bird treats) because the vet told us it could bring on egg laying, since it's a high energy treat.  She also told us Misfit was fat.  How many of us out there have overweight pets?  We love them so, and we spoil them rotten.  Right?  So we have made changes for Misfit, much like we have done for Meadow.  And her weight went down.  I've since learned that the average Budgie's weight should be in the 30 to 35 gram range.  Misfit is still in a healthy range.

Misfit has been off the pain med for a couple days now.  Her appetite has grown, she is drinking more; but she still sleeps quite a bit.  One may see the sleeping as a concern; but I see the increase in her appetite as a sign of improvement.  She preens, she tweets, she plays a little bit and her poop is very normal.  Actually her poop looks much better than what we have seen in the past with her.  If you have a Budgie, the small hard poops with the dark exterior and white interior are perfect.  If it's a big runny splat of green and white, not so perfect.

A sleepy healing Misfit.

Moonie often follows her lead.

This whole ordeal has been hard on all of us.  Angie and I are drained with worry over our little girl.  Some don't get it.  "She's just a bird.  You don't handle her.  Who cares?"  We have quite a story with Misfit, some of you may recall about how she lived in the backyard for four months before I caught her and brought her inside.  And one year to the day (almost) she escaped out the front door with us having her back inside 2 hours later.  No denying she is meant to be with us.  Misfit has been with us for over 6 years now.  She's family.  She's entertaining.  She's good company when we spend time in the kitchen with music on that she enjoys like Frankie Valli.  She comes outside with us in the warmer months and I am sure wakes some of the late sleeping neighbours as she chats with the Sparrows in the trees.  She's gone from a wild scatter brained rescue bird to making us her flock.

The stress has flowed through Moonie too.  Moonie adores Misfit to no end.  And with her not feeling too great lately, being far less active, and so quiet; Moonie is doing as she does.  But as soon as Misfit comes around, so does Moonie.  And look back to the start of this lengthy blog, who freaked out when the egg broke inside Misfit?  I've heard so many times that animals don't feel like we do, especially birds.  I never believed that and can argue this more so thanks to our birds.  We worry about the day Misfit is no longer with us.  Moonie is going to be one sad little bird.  While he understands that something is up with Misfit, you can also see the confusion as he tries to get her attention at times.  His communication is different right now, the way he looks at her, and the way he tweets to her too.  Note, Moonie is probably a girl now after a year and a bit of maturing with us.  But we still consider him a boy (unless of course he lays an egg...  please don't do that Moonie!).  His cere turned blue back in January but has since turned the typical brown as females have.

I made this poster sometime after I took this photo.  It's perfect.  Moonie seemingly tries for Misfit's attention and that look she has, it's like "whaaaaaaaaaaaaatever".

It was never an intention to have birds in the house, but when these exotics show up in your backyard; what do you do knowing full well their lifespan will be cut considerably if you don't help?  Most of my friends would do as we have done, even if not keeping them, would hopefully catch them and find them a home or rescue facility.  Budgies are very personable birds.  Sure they may be loud a lot of the time.  But if you actually spend time with them, watch them, open your eyes, ears and heart; you will see how interesting they really are.  We can learn something from them through their genuine behavior, like all animals...  and its just that, genuine.  You will always know where you stand with your animals.  Enjoy your time with them, and just like your own time on this Earth, we never know how much we really have.

This story will continue another day and hopefully with a positive update.

 Please keep the healing vibes coming for Misfit.

October 11, 2012

Great Gray Thanksgiving Monday!

So, how did you spend your Thanksgiving Monday? Did any of you find yourselves up in the middle of the night, the unholy hour of 3am, scurrying around and getting ready to hit the road ASAP in order to hopefully see a bird? I know at least four people who did, myself included.

"A bird? What kind of bird?" you ask. To my birder friends, is there a bird out there that would get you up and moving for, regardless what time it is, regardless how little sleep you got? Obviously this was one for us. And honestly, if I had a "bucket list", this would be on it, that being a Great Gray Owl.

I've always marveled at the appearance of Great Grays. And the fact they are not common to anywhere near us made it a dream for some years now. I always figured there'd be a trip to north Manitoba later in life, in hopes of spotting one. But an interesting chain of events have happened over the past 18 months which certainly helped to make what happened today, happen. And Angie did a fantastic re-telling of it herself on her blog, so I will attach the link at the end.

Lets just say it was an exciting dark trip up the highways to get to our destination. And as we got closer, the weather began to take a turn for the worst. It started raining, and in no time it was a heavy slushy rain. Not ideal weather at all for birding, and especially if someone wanted to take a few photos of this monumental moment we were all soon to experience. I was a passenger this morning, forever grateful to our friend Jim, who seems to have very few issues when it comes to driving the distances for us when we go out; and I was searching for weather radar sites to see what was going on out there and hoping for a break in the precipitation. I am not tech savvy so it took some time and I think I read the screen right with a break coming up very soon. And it did, right as we parked to meet another individual you will read about in Angie's blog.

We started our walk along the road, vehicle safely parked away from traffic. I add this because some people could care less when it comes to them and something like this. Anyone remember the stories of the Great Gray Owl in Kingsville from this past winter? In my terms, although I never went, it became something of a "shit show" as the days went by and more and more people arrived to the area to see that bird. People parked wherever they chose, often illegally, and stupidly, putting themselves and others at great risk. I saw the media attention given to it, and heard the stories from a few I know who went to see that Owl.

It was a quiet walk, very few cars on the road, even as the sun was up by this time. Some light soft chatter amongst us. I knew we were all full of hope and excitement, praying to catch a glimpse of this Owl. You cannot predict nature; there was a very good chance we'd see him but not guaranteed. We heard no birds yet but did see this Buck cross the highway just behind us.

And then the precipitation started again.  Only this time it came down as snow.  Big fluffy flakes of it.  And for a short bit it REALLY came down.  We could barely see through the thick flakes and not far through them either.  Not long after our "guide" found the Owl across the way.  If we went up there on our own, despite the general directions (general being the area where the Owl has been seen most), we'd never have spotted the bird through this snowfall.

As it was said by someone, it was like a Christmas morning.  I couldn't have summed it up better myself.  And for a good fifteen minutes or so we took in the sights of this bird from a more than respectable distance the best we could through the heavy snow with some praying for a break once again in the weather.  And then, suddenly, the snow stopped.  And we were left with a very clear and breathtaking view of this Owl and the landscape around us.

The Owl gave very little attention to us.  It seems they don't know what people are.  But the odd shift of someone would occasionally have him take a glance at us momentarily.  And then he'd go back to his business of hunting for breakfast.  We were treated to a few short flights of the bird as he moved from one perch to another, viewing/listening to the ground around him.

We couldn't have asked for a better "first time" with this species.  Just four good friends, a lifer for us all, a perfect landscape setting...  and a charming likeable young man who helped make this happen.

And with a few "sweet shots" to boot!  I'm having a difficult time trying to figure which photo I love the most.  The one that will be framed, and make our calendar; to bring a warm glow over us every time we look at it.

As an added bonus, on our way back to the van, we were treated to the sights of a couple American Pipits walking along the side of the road.  Another lifer.  A bird I only ever heard of, never gave much thought to, and if it weren't for the man who took us for this walk, we'd still be puzzled by these birds if we even took notice to them all.  I mean, 24 hours later, all of us were still in a buzz about the fact that we just saw a Great Gray Owl!

For a more in depth story, please view Angie's blog here.  It will lead you to yet another blog, one that I suggest every one of you to take the time out to read.