Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

June 30, 2015

P is for Peregrine

Well it was a very busy week last week assisting in the fledge watch of our young Falcons at the Etobicoke nest site. Most mornings I was awake by 5am, at the site before 6am, spend 4 hours or so watching the birds, and then head home to recharge before starting work.

It was a pretty good watch this year. Only one of the birds, Ferris, got into enough trouble and needed rescuing. Everyone else stayed high up and has not hit anything. Let's hope it stays that way.

I did miss some action, which is par for the course when I can't be there from sun up to sun down. But those stories are not mine to tell.

I did find myself one evening hopping out of the truck and seconds later was dashing out into Bloor Street, escorting Mel as he took a low flight across the street. Traffic was well off and while I could not run along side this speedy bird, I hoped my presence in the street would slow any traffic heading towards us from either direction. And if Mel could not get any height, that I could be there to pick him up before he could possibly make a dash out into the street. He did get enough height to land on the concourse above Bloor, about one story up from the sidewalk, and that is where he spent the night. Next morning he was gone. He fledged on Friday June 19th and by Monday, he had found his way back up to the top of the nest building and on the ledge at that!

Not sure how long he could legally "park" himself there. LoL! No Peregrines allowed! *groan*

Close up of Mel.

Ferris took first flight on Sunday June 21st. He explored the area late in the afternoon and little by little came lower and lower to the ground. It seems he picked a better spot to spend the night. *wink wink*

Monday morning he was still in the same spot.

This shot gives you a better idea on how low he is to street level and how close he is to Bloor Street with passing traffic. I'm directly across the street from him, watching, waiting, growing roots under my shoes, collecting road dust as the hours passed us by.

P is for Peregrine!

About 2.5 hours later Ferris took flight. He jetted south, right over my head and the line of low buildings behind me. He did a circle and tried to get height, heading back to the nest tower. A smart move, realizing this was not possible, he turned again, headed south across the street, over my head again, over the buildings and had a time out in the neighbourhood somewhere. Bruce, Roger and myself searched for him without a sighting. So many trees he could have gone into and no birds were alarm calling to his presence. I remember last year with Skyla, she took a beating from Crows and Robins in a tree out front of someone's house all afternoon.

Anyways, a couple more hours of watching, occasional search for Ferris, and I had to leave to get ready for work.

A few more hours passed when Bruce spotted Ferris coming out from the neighbourhood, flying across Bloor, trying to get the height and once again not being successful. He did a bit of "Peregrine Ping Pong" as I call it, hitting the buildings as he struggled with what he was trying to achieve. And once again, being smart about things, backing out of this idea and now looking for a safe place to land again. Unfortunately his energy was quite spent. He missed a roof top, the Bell building to be exact, by about 4 feet. He caught the wall and tried to climb up but he dropped to the ground, less than 10 feet from where Bruce stood. Bruce quickly gathered him up, set him in a carrier and tucked him away in the ESL security area to rest the remainder of the day away. Ferris was released on the roof top after dark and got another chance at this flying thing the next day.

Ninja took his first flight on June 22nd, some point during the search for Ferris, Ninja snuck out. The most amazing thing happened that he found his way home, back on the nest ledge later that night. I've never seen or heard of such a thing in my 5 years of helping watch this site!

The week got blurry as the days passed, fatigue catching up with me.

Glider was the last to take flight and I cannot remember the exact day he did. Thursday June 25th I am thinking right now. He did stay high and mostly out of sight. To this day, he's still up there, doing great.

A cam shot on the 25th, Ferris first thing in the morning. Amazing to me that they are making it back on to that nest ledge so early in the days of flight.

Look up, way up, and you can see the nest ledge, right below the top of the building. Can you see the cameras up there?

I arrived later in the morning on the 26th. I only saw mom, O'Connor, high up on the nest building, and she was screaming her head off to something in the east. What? No idea. I did not see any of the kids, nor did I see dad Lucky. I gave Tracy an update of this after spending 30 or so minutes looking around. I said I had to run some errands and would return in about an hour. As I got back to the site, I discover Tracy is now on scene. She had spotted a couple of the kids by this time, we did a search of the perimeter and found another. Great seeing them but now to get some tape colors. Tracy picked off Mel (white) and Ferris (yellow) but this third bird was in such an angle that we could not see his legs. Time for me there was limited, I had to leave for work soon. Tracy walked me back to my truck so we could talk about the birds and things some more. As we get to my truck, out come some of the young Falcons. The next 10 minutes, so high in the sky, was the reward of doing this watch. The kids were playing! It was Mel and Ferris! What a sight to behold! What sounds they made as they chased each other up there.

After I left, Tracy managed to get all 4 of the young birds, positively ID them by tape color and all was good.

The watch is done. Nothing we can do now other than spot checks and if a bird ever gets into trouble, there are enough people in the area who know who to call. One of our fellow watchers, Kathy, works in the building, so she is there 5 days a week.

I can't believe it is over. There was such a build up from their hatches early in May to this watch. The anticipation, the excitement, the stress... and now it's done until next year.

This certainly was one of the better watches in my time. While we stress about the birds there was no real stress this time. Nobody got hurt. And nobody died.

Wow! 11 months to go until this all ramps up again.

Lastly, curious people from social media stop in at the site. One or two a year come looking for me. I'm assuming it's people from the birding pages where I share the updates and am always seeking extra eyes to the skies. If I am not there, they ask if I am around, never say who they are and end up leaving. Introduce yourself and it would be nice to know who is coming out. Perhaps communicate with me about my times at the watch and we can coordinate a meeting time. Don't be shy you guys. :)

As always, I thank you all for stopping in. Back again soon with some great news!

June 16, 2015

It's time for the Falcons... again

Once again I remind myself that when I do a blog, to finish that blog... grrrr... still have an update for May sitting, waiting completion.

Now, mid June nears, and it's just about time to start the Peregrine Falcon fledge watch at Etobicoke Sunlife (Islington and Bloor). The kids are up there doing a lot of wing flapping the last couple days, and very soon will take their first big leaps off that ledge so high up. It's exciting and scary as anything for them, and for us who watch over them.... err, under them, from the sidewalk below.

It's a real struggle with some of the nest sites about the GTA. I'm not talking about all the dangers these young birds face, but with the lack of interested people in keeping an eye on them. There is a lot of time where it's like watching paint dry. Ho hum! Boring! And some people cannot stand that. That is the time when watchers get to know each other, share stories from the previous years, other birding/nature things, or just shoot the shit in general. Frank and I had a lot of good guy through some watches, unfortunately he is not with us anymore.

Some people don't want to come down and pay to park, not even for an hour or two.

Others, the ledge is too high, making it tough to see the birds and bad for photos. I've had a few people come down with cameras, scoff at the shitty site and leave. Meh, good riddance in my eyes.

Sure we all have lives, we work, we have families, we have other interests. But the Falcon watch really isn't that long, and even an hour or two the odd day sure can make a difference. It may be just giving someone a bathroom break or a laugh through some dull times. Or, it may be at a moment where all hell breaks loose, Falcon kids are struggling and falling, and people step in at that last moment, catching a grounded bird before he ends up on Bloor Street in traffic.

One of our young birds this year at the banding ceremony. Meet Mel.

One never knows what can happen during the watch. The birds can be unpredictable. And so can the general public. We've had women remove their tops in a moment, where they found themselves with a young grounded bird, and it was just them and the bird alone. Nothing to cover and carry the bird off with, and off goes a top. How's that for a story?!?! I tell people the world is full of weirdos and standing still in one spot, in Toronto, you are bound to run into a few. One of the Falcon blogs I make mention of a strange guy unsure what I am doing, he could not see the young Falcon from his view point, so he mimicked me and my motions, looking at me, looking at the wall, etc. and suddenly breaks out into song, singing "rain drops keep falling on my head". I can't make this stuff up.

I am going to attach a few Falcon blogs here from the past. The good, the bad, the exciting. I still enjoy re-visiting a couple of these and maybe you will too. I don't think this is a cheat by doing so. It's like a re-fresher, and perhaps someone new to my blog has not seen these. Maybe they will want to know where and when they could come down to our nest site and help, or want to know of another site closer to them.

First off, despite this being a few years ago now, I still hold out hope this crazy lady Falcon will show herself somewhere in the continent one day. Meet Layton.

Almost a year later, this blog here, of my morning alone with 4 fledged Falcons at the Rexdale site is still one a few people talk about. It excites but also scares some. I've probably read this one 5 or 6 times in the last 10 months.

And one more, sharing a dark moment with one of the birds. It's not all rainbows and sunshine, shits and giggles, at a Peregrine Falcon fledge watch. Grab the Kleenex if you care to read this one.

Some of us are watching our Etobicoke kids closely now via the web cam, as in the coming days, they will take flight. I save images and share them on social media for others to see. Here are a couple.

Mom, O'Connor, feeding one of her not so little boys the other evening.

Dad, Lucky, checking in on his first family 9 days earlier than the shot above. Amazing how quickly these birds change at this stage of their life.

Anyways, I am going to be quite occupied the next 10 days or so. I hate not blogging. I enjoy blogging. I have things to share. Lately, I'm just not feeling it. I struggle with words. I know I am still dealing with the loss of Meadow. I think I am okay and then something happens, stuff I am not ready to talk about or share with anyone other than my wife Angie. I know not everyone will get it, what I could tell. Sure I share stories, thoughts and feelings through these blogs and at times it raises an eyebrow. In the end though, I think my honesty wins over people before passing judgement.

Thanks for checking in, not giving up on my blog. I know there will be a story or two coming from the watch, and maybe I will finish the May update as we had a lot happen.

The watch in Etobicoke should be in full swing by this Friday, June 19th, and run for a week to 10 days.

If you can't join us, please wish the birds well, and us to keep our sanity.

A young PEFA from last summer. I don't always like to share the images because it leads some to come to a watch and expect to see a bird in close view, right then and there, like it's waiting for them, and poses for the people. Why is it that some people don't understand wildlife?

June 6, 2015

How About a Quickie?

Hi everyone! How's things going for you all in the first bit of June? Very well I hope.

It's been about a month since I blogged. Time sure does fly! I had a shift change for a week, which turned things upside down for me, then a couple weeks of vacation and back to work this past week which meant getting back into routines and here I am some weeks later.

I am working on a catch up blog, one of my famous things to do, just throwing tons of bits and pieces at yas about all the animals around me. But until I get that done, later this week, offering you a quickie. Who doesn't like a quickie?

Okay, stopping the quickie bits before I fall into the gutter with my blue collar humor. LoL!

This past Monday, dreading returning to work, not that I hate work, but hated the end of our vacation, I had to run an errand and as I got ready to go out for a bit, I felt something. It was a calling sort of. Something told me to visit a certain park very close to our home and a certain bird was coming to mind loud and clear. I'm not one to pass on such a vibe. I occasionally get that with animals and a couple times I can recall the vibe with lottery tickets, never picking a big winner, but a $3 ticket purchase giving me $25 as an example. Ya, maybe I am a bit weird, but aren't we all in our own way? I just don't always choose to hide it.

So, errand done, off I went to this park. What bird was in my mind? A Great Horned Owl. I've seen this bird in the park before, and usually chance upon it on average 3 times a year over the last 4 years. Although I went over a year and a half between sightings, not seeing it in 2014 at all.

I arrive at the park, get out of the truck and to the west was a Crow squawking his head off flying south. Now they are pretty vocal birds most of the times but they do lead me to Barred and Great Horned Owls on occasion. I took it as a sign that my vibe was not pulling my leg.

Anytime I have seen this Owl, it's always been in the same tree and on the same branch. I make my way there first and no Owl is to be seen. Okay, time to start looking.

I do visit this park much more than 3x a year, just so you know. And whenever I do, I do keep my eyes and ears open for this bird.

A few squawky Blue Jays are near, flying back and forth. Another very vocal bird but they too lead me to Owls. I had 3 Jays kick a Long-eared Owl out of a cedar near me one morning at another local park. I tell people to tune into the birds, they can tell and show you things you might otherwise miss.

Next, a flash of bright orange goes over my head... a Baltimore Oriole! And he's quite agitated too.

I look up and ahead of me a bit and this is what I saw.

Ah, there she is.

And she is taking a beating from the above mentioned Blue Jays and this male Oriole. The Crow did not return. She now has me to deal with as well. Not that I am going to do anything, but she doesn't know that.

I was quite thrilled to see her again. I did not notice she had something in her talons at first.

The Jays continued to pester her. Spot the Jay?

It was a very overcast morning, so the shots aren't great, overblown in some, too dark in others, but I managed to get some to tell of this brief moment.

I took a long way around the bird so I could try and view her from her front, and maybe see what she was having for breakfast. It was a bird. But what kind?

Super crop here of the meal.

At first I thought Starling but the tail wasn't right in my mind. Then I thought Grackle because it was dark, the tail seemed to fit, but the legs weren't right. I started to think Pigeon because of those legs but that seemed absurd to me. A friend of ours, an expert with bird ID's, confirmed it indeed was a Pigeon!

Another angle with the Owl before I left it. She was still getting a lot of grief from other birds.

It was a very cool sighting to me. Never have I seen a GHOW with it's kill. They are always just sitting high up, looking around, or napping. But to me, I find it an odd meal to have. I don't put these big Owls and birds together. Plus, regardless that Great Horns are about Toronto, they still remain woodland birds (so I think) and Pigeons are city birds. I never see Great Horns outside of the woods like I never see Pigeons in the woods. What do you think?

This spot is very near our home. Pierre and his flock have to cross slightly east of this part of the park to get to us. Another thing they need to be wary of?

Well, I hope you enjoyed my sighting here almost as much as I did.