Archive for the ‘wildlife’ Category

Red pepper seeds coming up:


A female Northern Harrier hawk, hunting low over our back field (luckily the chickens were smart enough to hide in the coop):


Whiskey quality-testing some new quilting fabric:

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Photo post: Morning walk

Carter and I go out for a walk every morning around 8am. Sometimes I take one of my field guides, to identify wildflowers or trees. Sometimes I take a bag to gather herbs. Sometimes I take my camera:







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Carter vs. Chrysemys picta

On yesterday’s walk, down by one of the smaller ponds in Mike’s back field, Carter suddenly got very, very interested in something in the grass. I looked, but didn’t see anything at first glance. Carter’s body language made it clear that there was something there – something he wasn’t too sure about.

“Probably a big old bullfrog,” I thought, “Or maybe a snake.”

I went over to take a closer to look at where Carter was staring at, circling, with his hackles starting to rise, and a growl starting. There was nothing. I looked closer. There was a rock. 

Carter barked at it. 

“Why are you barking at a rock?” I looked even closer, “Aha! It’s a turtle. Carter, it’s OK, it’s just a turtle.”

It was about 6 inches across, and all pulled into it’s shell, of course, faced with a circling, growling, barking 50-lb dog.

I got down close enough to see its head pulled in tight, green with yellow and red stripes, just a regular turtle.

Carter didn’t agree. He barked. He circled. He barked some more.

“It’s just a turtle, Carter.”

I decided he would eventually get bored with an immobile turtle, so I wandered off a ways, figuring that he would eventually join me and continue the walk. Carter continued to bark at the turtle. I wandered off and looked at some wild flowers, picked a few strawberries (they’re not quite ripe yet). I called Carter. He ignored me and continued to bark at the turtle.

This continued for ten minutes. I got annoyed, and decided that enough was enough. I went back to the dog and the turtle, grabbed the dog by his collar, and picked up the turtle and tossed it into the pond, where it sank to the bottom and was immediately obscured in the mud. Carter bounded in after it, but he doesn’t really have the concept that things sink in water, so after looking around for a bit he failed to find the turtle floating on the surface of the pond.

And we finally continued our walk.

It was probably a Midland Painted Turtle.

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The “Wildlife” sighting log (see the tab at the top of the page) has been updated to include a ruby-throated hummingbird and a muskrat.

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Wildlife log page

Yesterday I saw a wild turkey in the back yard, and a great blue heron flying across the road from Mike’s big pond, so I decided to add a Wildlife sighting log page to this blog. You can check it out by clicking the tab marked “Wildlife” at the top of this page.

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Carter and I were out walking in the back fields a couple of weeks ago (this was before he broke his leg, and before the last of the snow melted), when we happened upon what looked, at first glance, to be a big pile of brush.1_lodge1

Upon closer inspection, however, it became very obvious that this wasn’t just a pile of sticks left over from the neighbor clearing brush for his AVT or deer blind.  This was the work of the local wildlife: a small beaver lodge. I’ve seen beaver dams before, and the occasional small tree that beavers have cut down, but because the small dammed lake was still frozen enough to support my weight, I was able to get up  really close for the first time.


The size of the trees that have cut down is very impressive. The photos don’t show the scale very well, but these are the stumps of 4 to 6 inch diameter trees.


It’s hard to take a good picture of the dam when you’re standing on top of it, but I tried to get a shot which also showed the stream that they’ve dammed up to create the pond around their lodge. The dam is only about 2 or 3 feet high, but they’ve excavated earth to build the dam itself, and so the pond is probably at least 4 feet deep. It must be deep enough for the water at the bottom not to freeze, anyway.


 I wonder how many of them there are, just one family group, or a whole colony? They’re awfully industrious: these trees, at the edge of the pond they’re creating, are huge! And will be coming down soon, I expect:





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Baptism by fire

I mentioned a few posts back that I recently got my Ontario Driving Learner’s Permit (also known as a class G1 license), which means I’m allowed to drive with a qualified driver in the passenger seat, so long as it’s not on a highway/freeway/motorway or between the hours of 12 midnight and 5am.

So I’ve been driving as much as those restrictions permit, which means if we stop at the gas station (which is on the secondary road, right after we get off the highway) I get to drive the rest of the way home. So far I’ve done this (or something similar) about three times. Though I got my driving licvense when I was 17 and then drove regularly and confidently for 10 years, I haven’t really driven since I moved to the UK in 1997. So far, on the country roads, I’ve had no problems at all, and we need to make a trip into Cornwall soon so that I can practice in the city.

Tonight, even though it was snowing a blizzard, t! asked if I wanted to drive home from the gas station. I said “Sure!” because I absolutely need to be comfortable driving in bad snow. So off we went, and I was absolutly fine, until a huge deer decided to run across the road in front of the car. Luckily, because of the bad weather conditions, I was only doing approximately 60km/h, and also luckily, our car came with anti-lock brakes as standard equipment, so when I braked firmly and suddenly we didn’t skid on the snow-covered road. We’re fine, the car is fine, and the deer made it to the other side safely (after skidding on the snowy pavement himself in his attempt to run away).

Now I’m wishing the driving test administrator had been in the back seat of the car at the time, because after that I think I deserve to pass my test! And I guess now I can truly say I live in the country, because I’ve nearly hit a deer on the road.

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We spent all day today dealing with various vehicle-related issues and government bureaucracies, and have many new bits of paper and metal to show for it:

  • t! has his Ontario driver’s license.
  • The car has a safety certificate, an emissions test certificate, its Ontario registration and license plates, and new snow tires.
  • I have an Ontario class G1 driving license, aka a learner’s permit. The very exciting part is that they waived the normal mandatory 12 month (8 months if you take lessons) “practice” period since my old Ontario driving license expired less than 10 years ago. So I can book a driving test as soon as I’ve had a little bit of practice driving, and feel confident enough to take one. Which means that within a couple of months I’ll be driving again!
  • Oh, and there were two deer standing in our back yard last night when t! pulled into the driveway at 8:30pm. They stayed while he came in to get me, and then we both watched them scamper off to the east fence line.

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    More wildlife

    Today I spotted this wandering around the backyard:

    Chukar partridge

    Where's my pear tree?

    It’s most likely a Chukar Partridge. Thanks very much to Fearsclave for the ID on this non-native species, as my Audubon bird book was most unhelpful.

    This is one of our pair of resident chipmunks, standing near a drainpipe and scolding the partridge loudly:

    Hey, you, get offa my lawn!

    Hey, you, get offa my lawn!

    I guess now I’m going to have to plan to put a pear tree in the orchard!

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    I need a bird book – there are so many birds out here that I don’t recognize, but my favourite so far are the pair of blue jays that swoop from the tree tops to the lawn.

    Then there’s the pair of chipmunks that live somewhere in the western treeline, and run back and forth across the side yard to the house, scooting along the foundation in that kangaroo hop they do.

    I spotted deer sign in the form of a big pile of droppings on my walk yesterday.

    But the most interesting bit of wildlife so far has to be this guy, in the front flowerbed:

    A bit of Googling has revealed that this is a very fine specimen of an Orb-Weaver spider, a very common and completely harmless arachnid.

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