Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Special Visitors

Thank you to everyone for their birthday wishes for my dad. As most of you know, he has dementia, and he no longer recognizes me, but understands me when I say I'm his daughter. He has lived in a seniors' residence in the dementia ward since my mother went into hospital five years ago and passed away four months later. He has declined since then, and not all days are happy ones for him. He does brighten up considerably when I take him for a favourite walk along the wooded path below his home. My friend tells me there are coyotes in these woods, although I've never seen them. Once we get outside and into the woods, he forgets all about telling me how he doesn't like living there, how he wants to move back to England, why can't he live with me, etc, etc. Those types of conversations are agony for me, and I answer as best I can, but he's on a one-minute loop and will ask all these questions again and again. I've posted this photo of my parents before, but I just love those happy smiles. 

Mom & Dad on their wedding day 1956
Some days when I'm feeling a bit low and missing my mom and feeling sad with how things have turned out for Dad, I am blessed to have a visit from an unexpected quarter. Birds. It never fails. I could be having a quiet sad and selfish mope about how I still miss Mom (even though she's been gone for five years), and suddenly I will look around me and see a beautiful feathered friend of the familiar, but maybe not quite so common, variety. Today was such a day. I was sitting at the kitchen table and was attracted by some movements on the patio. I grabbed my camera and here's what I saw ...

He was eating ants!

you can see his tongue sticking out in this photo!

Isn't he gorgeous?! A Common Yellow-Shafted Flicker ... part of the woodpecker family, and one so striking in his colouring. He licked up those ants with some relish, and I was cheered up by having him come to visit. A few minutes later there was a pair of red-breasted nuthatches visiting the fountain, but they moved so quickly I didn't get any photos of them. I haven't seen them since earlier in August, so a nice treat to have them come by again.

Yesterday I caught a chickadee having a bath in my cheap-O fountain (ie. "free"), and every time he came up for air, he looked a little more disheveled.

He blends in so well with the grey fountain, but he's really having a good splash in there!

Another dip & splish splash!
Completely and satisfactorily drenched!

Chickadees really love this small fountain for their baths. They barely fit in the middle basin, but they sure get a good soaking with the water pouring on their backs as they dunk into the water head first!

Then up in the sky I spied a huge bird getting ready to soar. Wings flapping slowly as he rose up higher and higher, and then he was off and circling lazily around. He was so far up, I couldn't identify him, so grabbed the camera and luckily it was able to zoom in on that tiny speck. Much to my surprise ... an osprey! Not a bird I see from my backyard normally. Earlier in the summer I took the daycare kids to a park along the lakefront and we watched a family of osprey diving for fish right there in front of us. Every one of the birds dove into the water and came up with a fish. It was incredible watching them, but I didn't have my camera with me that day. I was amazed that after they dove into the water and got so wet that they were able to pull themselves up and out again and still have the wriggling fish in their talons. Then as soon as they were flying level, they would give their body a full and violent shake and the water was dispelled off them in every direction. There were a few seagulls bobbing on the water in the same area, and a couple of times the osprey crashed into the water only a foot or so away from a seagull. Great viewing that day!

 Storm clouds were gliding in quickly as we BBQ'd our supper last night. No rain came of it though, and it doesn't look like the threatening clouds rolling over today will provide any relief either.

My backyard neighbour trimmed butchered the cedar hedge dividing our properties last week. Suddenly the windows that have been hidden behind a lovely tall hedge are now exposed to us, and we can see that he really is a hoarder!! This house used to be so nice when an elderly couple lived there and cared for it lovingly. The new owner rents the house upstairs and lives in the basement. There is a pile of discarded wood, bikes, lawn mowers and chairs piled along the fence line ... his own personal garbage dump. Now this ... ugh!

Is it any wonder skunks, possums and raccoons have been running wild in his yard (and now into mine). There's an empty inground swimming pool with a discarded plastic cover draped into and around it filling the backyard. Not very nice to look at or sit beside.  It's on a rather nice street too.

Anyway, just a bit of this and that ...

Thanks for stopping by!


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Happy Birthday Dad!

My dear old dad celebrated his 93rd birthday recently. 

Happy Birthday Dad!

This photo was taken just before I went on holidays along the path near his residence.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chocolate Moose & Loons

As I mentioned in my last post, I wanted to share some of our moose sightings while in Algonquin Park last week. I get such a thrill at seeing the moose. This big bull was quietly enjoying a feed alongside the highway, when what to his surprise at least 20 vehicles pulled up alongside him and people started popping out and taking his picture! I don't know how long he stood in that still water trying to enjoy his meal and ignore dozens of people gawking at him, but he left shortly after we arrived and sauntered slowly and elegantly back into the forest. Isn't he gorgeous? One of my daycare clients told me he hunts moose. I don't talk about moose to him anymore.

This next guy was "our" moose. We paddled out in the late evening specifically for a little moose "hunt" on the lake where we camp. There is a lovely raised pond adjacent to the lake that is separated by a very solid beaver dam. We saw two female moose here last year and one of them came out of the woods about ten feet away from us! That day I didn't have my camera with me. The quality of these photos is a bit poor because the light was fading fast.

Giving himself a good scratch with the hind hoof

... and the other side
Finally, he acknowledged us ... "What you lookin' at?!"

We left him in peace at this point
This next young moose was very nervous. He too was alongside the highway, but he was really agitated and definitely not enjoying the camera-shooting public. Some people were getting up very close to him and he was running away from them and bawling. He looked like he was maybe  a yearling. As he ran along, he just moved so gracefully. Those long legs are sort of spring loaded, and he had such a smooth gait. I've not seen a moose running before, they're not awkward looking at all, and they sure cover the ground quickly! He didn't stay out in the open too long, and soon bolted into the safety and comfort of the deep forest beside him.

Look at that sweet face ... what's not to love?
With every step a swarm of flies rise up off his bum and settle back into his fur when he stops.

We saw one more bull moose alongside the highway, but he didn't waste any time getting back into the brush, and I didn't get a photo of him at all (my husband snapped a few quick ones from his phone).

Although I've always had some difficulty in naming my favourite bird (I love almost any bird I see ... except pigeons), I have now decided that loons are my favourite. We saw lots of loons while out canoeing this trip. I love the loons for their amazing plumage and their haunting cries. Can anything beat the cries of the loons over a northern lake as the sun is setting and night is closing in. (You can hear a great recording of the loons here too.) I don't think so. This loon was diving quite close to our canoe as we were paddling along. At one point we could see him swimming underneath the water beside our canoe ... amazing!

A mother loon with her fluffy brown chick.

Linking up with Eileen's Saturday Critters :)

Thanks for stopping by!


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