Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

Meadow Mueller 07/2003 - 04/2015

December 22, 2016

Days Before Christmas... Mother Nature Gave to Me

Hi everyone! What a week it has been. A few surprise bird moments right in our own backyard, sightings we never expected.

9 Days Before Christmas, Mother Nature Gave to Me... a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker!

Early December 16th I saw a funny bird fly into our Holly bush. It was my waking moments, I knew it was something different, but still half asleep and needing to make coffee, get our Budgies up, I quickly wrote it off as a Starling and my imagination.

About noon, as I am preparing myself for work, I saw a funny bird once again fly into the Holly bush. Now I'm wide awake and focus on what's going on. The daylight sure helped. Holy schnikes! A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker! The bird was picking at our Holly berries and then flying off with them. I was quite thrilled by this and hoped the bird would return for Angie to see, and the next day was the start of our 2 day counting for Project Feeder Watch. Thankfully the bird did return on Saturday. It spent the morning with us, then flew off in the early afternoon, not to be seen again. What's even more peculiar is there was at least 3 other people I knew of in Southern Ontario to suddenly have this species show up in their backyards. What gives?

Don't ask me, I'm just a bird!

6 Days Before Christmas, Mother Nature Gave to Me... an Eastern Screech Owl!

Here it is Monday morning. Yawn! The weekend went so fast. I dropped a bunch of Pepsi stuff off at Toronto Wildlife, had a peek about the park nearby (cold and quiet), and then I went home to finish up morning chores and prepare for work. Well, once again, around noon, I'm looking out the back window and I see something sticking out of our Owl box, which is about 40 ft away from the house. At first I'm thinking it's just a Squirrel but thought to grab the bins and have a better look. The shutters were closed so peeking through them didn't allow me to get a good focus at first. But when I did. My jaw hit the floor.

I know without any doubt that I said "holy *bleep*" over and over and over again; and by *bleep* I don't mean "shit" either. I quickly got myself dressed to step outside, going out the front door, slinking up the side of the house and creeping onto our deck at the back of the house. I was shaking with excitement. I joke to my closer buds that I was harder than a $3 jaw breaker. Yes, I was very excited.

I watched the bird, snapped half a dozen photos, and made my way back inside, going the same way to the front. I made sure I phoned Angie at work before I put this sighting out on social media.

The Squirrels were giving him some grief and I hope that has not effected him coming back. We've not seen him since.

Upon advice from others I've communicated with through some birding pages, I've put stove pipe around the tree. It's really worked in stopping the Squirrels from running up the tree. I may look into what can be done from above at a later date.

Both birds are new species (that we know of) to come to our property.

4 Days Before Christmas, Mother Nature Gave to me... a Great Horned Owl fly by!

We had a bit of a snowfall in the last couple hours before my work shift was done. It was big fluffy flakes but for some reason it still created some chaos on the roads. The drive home was slow. I made a detour not far from the house as traffic was really backed up on my regular route. I'm taking it slow 'n easy. Not as slow as what most were doing, but slow enough. Suddenly on my left, I see a large bird come flying across the road, full speed and getting lower and lower as it crossed the road. I almost came to a stop to let the bird pass even though it still had height over me. And it disappeared in someone's backyard on my right. Now what kind of bird would be on the hunt at almost 11 pm? A Great Horned Owl! No photos but the action is embedded in my brain. I can see it even as I key this. The darkened snow covered road, large flakes still falling and this bird... whoosh! That was the last thing I expected to see. There is a large woodlot very near here, multi million dollar homes on big lots with ginormous mature trees. Of course this is great Owl habitat.

We are mere days away from Christmas. I don't expect anything else but can't help but wonder if I will be blessed again. I'd really love for that Screech Owl to show himself again, more so for Angie to see him. The knowing there is one in our 'hood is pretty awesome.

I didn't think I was going to do another blog before the holidays but here is one. I didn't think I'd have such sightings this week but here they were. It's great having eyes open to the wild world around us!

All the best! Might not be back till 2017 now. Cheers!

December 16, 2016

She Heard My Call

I do believe in energy, an unseen vibe I guess is another way of putting it. Not everyone believes in this kind of stuff, but I do. Let's take yesterday as an example. I keyed out that catching up blog, touching upon my Pigeon friends in one part. Then 3 hours or so later, minutes before I am ready to go to work, I see a lone Pigeon sitting on the clothes line pole by the back door. Not many Pigeons do that so I knew it was one of "my birds". Lo and behold it was Pierre's missus! That's what I call her... "the Missus".

I see dozens upon dozens of Pigeons out back some days but I know "my birds". There's something unique about every one of them if a person takes the time to look for it. Then there's personality traits with each of them. However it may be, I knew who that bird was, and I was delighted to see her. 45 days away is a long time!

This is not the first time over the years where I've been missing "my birds" and I post something, usually a blog, and within a day they start showing up. Or is it just a coincidence? Unfortunately it's not worked with wishing for an Owl to visit our backyard or me picking a decent winning lottery ticket (don't need a lot, just make life a little more comfortable).

I gave her a good feed even if it meant it was delaying my leaving for work and getting that much needed medium D/D on the way. But it was so worth it.

I'm hoping my big boy Pierre will be next to show up in the coming days.

This crazy windy cold yucky last days of fall which sure feel like February weather are bringing in the birds. Hopefully blow a rarity into the yard, even if it is going to be Mr. Pierre. He sure is a rare one now being absent almost 7 weeks now.

So far this morning a heck of a lot more Pigeons flew in. A few others I recognize, who have also been missing for a while now. Time will tell.

If you missed yesterday's blog, here is the link.

I came across this online piece about Pigeons. Whether you like them or not, you should give it a read. 21 reasons why Pigeons are so great. Click here.

Shout out to Margie for commenting yesterday. Thank you! And may you and yours have a wonderful Christmas, New Years and beyond. Cheers!

December 15, 2016

Tis The Season... to be busy (catching up)

Hey hey all!

Who can believe that Christmas is less than 2 weeks away now?  I can't.  Now that I put that horrifying thought in your brain, let's move on to a bit of this and that from the last few weeks.

For starts, my pal Pierre the Pigeon has not been around since November 1st.  Actually his whole flock have not come in since the morning of that day.  I miss him, his missus, and Mickey.  I hope they are all okay and we mingle again soon.

My new friends come in almost daily. They aren't Pierre but they are pretty cool. These 2 sure get a lot more attention due to their plumage. Slowly I'm picking up on their personalities and they are trusting me more as our time together continues.

They are wise to the Hawk activity but them and their flock still come in. It's a quick feed and away they go.

We've had a few Hawk adventures, my last blog was about one with a Cooper's Hawk who I have not seen since that morning.

We have more appearances by a Sharp-shinned Hawk though. The other morning, just as day light was coming, I was sitting at the kitchen window, enjoying my first coffee of the day and I saw the flash of a bird rocket into the tall cedars at the back of the yards. Then dozens of Sparrows flushed from those trees. I knew it was a Hawk making an early morning strike. The Sparrows were probably still in a sleepy slumber when it occurred. I got dressed and slowly ventured down back. Yes, confirmation on what I thought. The small Hawk was successful in her attack, and got herself a meal.

It's odd that the Blue Jays are not messing with this Sharpie who is similar in size. Other winters we've watched 3 or 4 Jays go at this species of Hawk, pretty much messing with it. A couple would attack it while another one or two would go and get peanuts from the feeder. What gives this time around?

I'm not seeing our nocturnal mammals other than one of the Opossums. Almost every night I leave an apple core out for him, sometimes even a whole apple come the weekend when I'm not eating them like I do weekdays. There's usually one or two soft "mealy" apples come the weekend I will leave out. The Opossum never sees me do it. When I do chance upon him, he runs for one of the hiding spots in the yard and will stay there until I am gone. They are not a bold animal like the Raccoon. I've not bothered trying to take pictures of him for a while now. What's up with that?

Angie went away for a girls' getaway weekend a couple weeks ago. Now 20 years ago I would have been calling my buds up and we'd be racing off to the bars for a good ol' rocking drunken adventure, probably starting at the booby bars before hitting some live metal gig in the GTA. Nowadays, while many people seem to think I still live such a lifestyle because of my appearance, I'm more content for a quieter adventure, and often on my own. I always cherished my time alone with Meadow. Now we've got Merry and Molly, plus the others who enjoy their human companions being home. But I still make time to get out and have some "wild" adventures looking for birds and wildlife.

The weekend Angie was gone I decided to go looking for Screech Owls after dark. In the 2 nights, I ended up with 6 individuals within a 3 km radius of our home. That's pretty freakin' awesome I'd say. Of course I won't say where. It's amazing that during the day I'm not spotting these little Owls but come dark... BOOM! One was in a most peculiar place and it was on whim to try it in this spot while I enjoyed my fancy Italian dinner (pizza slice) in the truck. It was a small ravine area and an industrial area backed on to it. A small older woodlot not far off. I guess it was enough livable space for a Screech Owl (hopefully having a mate in the vicinity as well).

Owling after dark is not ideal for photos. Some people try, using flash, not knowing they are blinding these poor birds. Gotta love when someone shares a photo and the Owl has bright red eyes. *face palm*

Owling after dark is great for observing the Owls being active, and sometimes vocal, a listening video here for you. It's a totally different experience than finding one roosting during the daylight hours. I still may try for a photo, just for record. I won't use flash. I tweek the hell out of my manual settings on the camera and if there is lighting nearby, I try to use that too. I also have a small headlamp I will wear. I won't direct it at the Owl but below it to help in the photographic moment. I also use manual focus. 9 out of 10 pics are total fuzzy crap but usually I can luck out with 1 salvageable shot.

A week or so after having that epic Screech Owl weekend, I chanced upon a 7th Owl in another area during one of my morning walks.

He was seemingly asleep but was well aware of my presence. His head followed my standing position. A couple minutes watching him, half a dozen photos, I walked away. I was thankful for the surprise sighting.

I've seen some other Owls recently, visiting northern species of Owl (Screech Owls are year round in Toronto). I've made the oath not to share about them until the Warblers return to our area, meaning these Owls would be long gone. As with every winter, some of these Owls and their roosting locations get reported online, or even just a lot of blabber mouthing from one person to another, sometimes telling far more than one other individual, and it happens every year... the Owls get harassed constantly during the daylight hours. These are nocturnal Owls who prefer to sleep the day away. Some people are mistaken about Owls, thinking they actually like people, or at the very least do not mind them lingering around.

A colony of Long-eared Owls were reported and masses of people visited the location daily. Some people went day after day. I don't get the reasoning. Selfish sure is one word that comes to mind. Well, there are other words but I try to keep this an all ages blog. Some people do stay quiet, stay on the path and limit their time. It's sad that not everyone is like that.

I saw the Owls before all this took place, even before it hit eBird. I kept my distance for a few weeks while I listened to many stories of people behaving poorly with these birds. It was a colony of 5 and quickly reduced to one Owl in less than 2 weeks. Now that last Owl is not being seen for close to a week now.

I did go visit the location one morning last week, and not for the Owls, but a curiosity of the area after weeks of human activity. I saw no Owls. I saw no people. But I saw the change in the area. I saw the footwork of people who ventured through the cluster of small trees, trying to obtain photos without branches going through the shots. I saw broken saplings. I saw broken branches. One person even went to great lengths to carve a trail in the path with a large broken branch. It went from the entry point of the woodlot, following the path hundreds of feet, and then at the roosting spot, they pretty much carved a trench right across the foot path. Then, to add to it, they piled some broken branches to the side, pointing to where the Owl(s) once were roosting. How sad is that?

Some even try to bullshit the world by saying the Owl(s) are from elsewhere when they share their pictures. Or that they suddenly decided to venture into this tiny woodlot on their own accord and found them all on their own. Amazing how so many people suddenly, all together yet on their own, decided to go "Owling" in the exact same forest. How bad do some need their ego stroked, needing to feel like they are a great finder of Owls. If only they tried just a little harder to find these birds on their own and not chase the reported ones; they would see how much more rewarding and plain freakin' awesome it is. It's almost insulting that they try and BS like this to others.

And as usual, there is a lot of arguing among people about what is right and wrong with such things going on. It's mind boggling that some people think it is totally fine to disturb the Owls like they have, and just as okay to damage the property. Would they do this in their own backyard? It's a complete opposite to everything they would tell others that they stand for.

I must stop before I start cursing in this blog.

Please think about the birds and wildlife you may be trying to get pictures of.

And lastly, a few weeks back I happened to spot our resident male Peregrine Falcon "Lucky" at a nearby lakefront park. It was so nice to see him face to face, and not through binoculars hundreds of feet above the street.

He did put on quite a show.  You can click on the photos to make them full size.

Lucky is spotted here periodically.  He likes having a bath in the lake from time to time.  The park was rather busy, lots of joggers and dog walkers about.  Some off leash dogs were going to the shore in various spots which kept him moving about.

Super crop and full zoom with my 500 mm.

Nice fly by.  I actually have one where he's looking right at me but it's not clear at all.  Oh well.  It was fun regardless.

He seems to like this particular rock over on the west side.  A very safe spot from everything other than any big waves that could come from behind him.

It's funny how some people still do not get my love for everything. How can I love my Pigeon friends and still have something for Peregrine Falcons who LOVE to eat Pigeons. Why can't I enjoy everything the natural world has to offer us?

I hope to key something else out again before Christmas, but if not, I will you all the best in the holiday season, no matter how you spend it.

Cheers from the animals and I!