All posts tagged: animal

The Robin Welcome Wagon

Two years ago, a pair of American Robins built a nest on top of the electric meter box near our front door. (See this post: The Endless Quest for Food.) Yesterday, a pair of robins were checking out the same location, but almost immediately afterward, a magpie landed on the meter. This seemed to dampen the enthusiasm of the robins. They haven’t returned. The Car Guy and I remembered, though, that the previous robins had a great deal of difficulty building a nest on the narrow, smooth surface of the box. It seemed to us that it might be a good idea to mount a platform on top of the box that would make it easier for the robins to anchor their nest. This is what The Car Guy came up with. Just to make it very clear to the magpie that this was for the robins, The Car Guy added the name of the intended occupants. A wall, an electrical meter box, the robin platform – do you see anything else in this photo? …

Right Place, Right Time

Every now and then (but not if I’m in a line-up at the store) I’m in the Right Place at the Right Time! Here are three photos to illustrate what I mean. In 2011, I wrote a post titled Lady’s Slipper Orchids – Surprise in the Ditch. At that time, the orchids were growing in a ditch – about a 5 minute walk from us. Not a great distance, but they were easy to overlook in the tall weeds and their blooming season was short. I only saw them once again after that. A few days ago, I was very surprised to find the pretty yellow orchids again growing in the ditch –  but this time right at the end of our driveway! It would have been easy to miss their yellow flowers, surrounded as they were by clumps of yellow dandelions. But, they must have whispered to me… “It’s your lucky day – we’re your  neighbours now!” I’m a Canadian ‘Snowbird’ who spends part of the winter in the USA. Last winter I went …

Muskrat swimming

The Elemental Muskrat – Reshaping the Banks of Their Watery World

One evening I watched some Muskrats ‘working like beavers’ at a friends farm. The muskrat is a largish rodent that looks like a stocky rat. It seems harmless enough, but has the ability to reshape the banks of any body of water it decides to call home. In this photo, you can see a cut in the bank where one of its underground dens has perhaps collapsed. If they dug bank burrows under the windmill on the other side of the dugout, it might eventually cause a big problem! Muskrats primarily eat a wide variety of plants. This pair were transporting sweet clover – doesn’t it almost looked like a bridal bouquet!? I really was disappointed when I downloaded my muskrat photos and looked at them on my computer. The early evening light wasn’t optimal for capturing detail with a zoom lens. I fancied the photos up with a few filters, but all in all, I’d say they are good examples of what ELJAYGEE calls  Second Best Shots… This week’s WordPress Photo Challenge is Elemental. …

A Satisfying Day at the ‘Gamma Dogs’ House

We recently became ‘Grandparents’ to a puppy, though the term ‘puppy’ seems odd for a dog that never was very small and is growing really quickly. Our daughter and her husband are taking their puppy, Ghost, to puppy classes and are making good progress in establishing themselves as the ‘Alpha Dogs’! This training is quickly forgotten, however, in the excitement of a day here at our rural Red House. We joke that I am so far down in the dog’s ‘hierarchy of obedience’ alphabet that I am the ‘Gamma Dog’. “So many smells. I wonder if any of them are dog approved food. The ‘Alpha Dog Lady’ sure didn’t like the dead gopher I found here last week.” “Sniffing, running, digging, rolling! People – I need a bowl of water!” “And I’m done. Could someone carry me to the car?” This week’s WordPress.com Photo Challenge is Satisfaction. Are you a dog owner? Or – do you just enjoy a dog when it visits, then get to send it home with the owners?

Grow Up, Snake!

Transient – a snake passing through the yard, my ‘fear’ of said snake, the snakes skin. I have to say at the outset that I don’t really like snakes all that much. Not big snakes, for sure. (A snake always looks bigger than it really is, by the way.) So the first time I saw a ‘pretty big’ snake in my yard in Arizona, I was a bit ‘freaked’ out. It looked suspiciously like a Rattlesnake… Fortunately, our local Fire Department comes running when you call and ask for their Snake Removal assistance. I think they would rather deal with a snake than with a snake bite. The snake turned out to be a Gopher (or Bull) Snake. From a safe distance, Gopher snakes and Rattlesnakes resemble each other – they have the same sort of markings and colors. When I’d calmed down, and took a closer look, I saw how the Gopher Snake differed from a Rattlesnake. Both snakes can be a bit short-tempered. The Gopher Snake will rise to a striking position, flatten …

Donkey and Pancho – Boats and Sea Lions at Cabo San Lucas

We were in Mexico last week – specifically Los Cabos, which is a municipality on the southern tip of Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, in the state of Baja California Sur. Though we spent most of our time in San Jose del Cabo, the Cabo San Lucas Marina was the scene of the most excitement – if you like all the things that ‘bob’ on top of or ‘swim’ in water. This Marina has 380 Slips and 33 Megayacht Berths and just about every craft had a name!     The Sea Lion might have a name too. If you Google ‘Sea Lion Cabo San Lucas Marina’, you will find several items about ‘Pancho’ the bandit sea lion. The sleek dark beast demanded fish from every boat that came in to dock, and it would aggressively attempt to ‘take’ any fish it spied. A flock of brown Pelicans followed the sea lion, supplying diversionary tactics that kept the fisherman busy scooting the birds off the motor and the back of the boat. It was all quite …

Your Dad Won’t Call an Exterminator

This post is for my children. It explains why their Dad doesn’t just call the pest control people… GEICO’s recent commercial, “Spy – It’s What You Do,” features a Bond-style hero who is interrupted by a phone call from his mom. (Be sure to watch for the squirrels as they run around in mom’s yard) Well the squirrels are back in the attic. Your dad won’t call an exterminator. He says its personal this time. – Geico ‘Spy’s Mom’ Commercials at Mother Knows Best – At the Arizona House, The Car Guy is waging his own war on critters. Their attack on hearth and home is personal, and he is determined he will outwit them. A dozen or so bats have made their home under the roof tiles on the back patio. The bats aren’t really the issue. The bat droppings on the patio and the island counter top are the problem. The Car Guy’s  first plan of attack was to stuff steel wool into the holes. He waited until the bats went out at …

Well of Lost Thoughts – 2015

When I find ideas that speak to me, but I’m not ready to blog about them,  I save them on my Fueled by Chocolate ‘Well of Lost Thoughts’ Page. Here are just a few of the ones I have ‘rescued’ from there to share with you. For more posts is this series, click on Lost Thoughts. Years from now, when telling my future grandchildren about 2015, I will speak at length about the treachery, fibs, toxic scoops, deceits, tall tales, viral hoaxes, half-truths, tomfoolery, unverified junk and fake news. “What a time to be alive,” I will say. “You just didn’t know what to believe in 2015.” – From The Truth Wasn’t Out There – According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers in the summer each year, Male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter, usually late November to mid-December. Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring. Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa’s reindeer, EVERY …

When the Deer Move Into my Alberta Yard

We spent part of our winter in the sunny south. We returned to our Alberta home yesterday and were met with the carnage that happens when white-tailed deer move into a yard. I beg your pardon, But I am eating up your garden. – The White-tailed Deer – They had eaten all the tulip and grape hyacinth shoots, the top two feet of the raspberry canes, most of a honeysuckle bush and a cedar shrub. There may have been other plants that were up, but they became deer fodder too. The deer dug up and ate many of the bulbs and shortened the willow hedge by a foot or so. Their sharp little hooves chopped, diced and trampled most of the flower beds. The sole survivors were the Daffodils. This specimen was nibbled on just once, then the deer left it alone. This is the first time in twenty three years that the deer have caused this much damage. Mostly they stay on their side of the fence. Sometimes a few juveniles will enter the …

The Ultimate Cold Water Wash – Samsung EcoBubble

The Samsung EcoBubble Washing Machine and a Canadian Brown Bear – watch what happens when the two meet on a frozen lake in British Columbia, Canada… Yes, I know you are thinking the same thing I am – just what kind of detergent are they using?!? Now they show you how detergents take out bloodstains, a pretty violent image there. I think if you’ve got a T-shirt with a bloodstain all over it, maybe laundry isn’t your biggest problem. Maybe you should get rid of the body before you do the wash. – Jerry Seinfeld – Post 454

Responsive to Change – My Cat and Wordpress Themes

It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Charles Darwin – This is Mooch. He is a very large cat (see story The Cat Compendium) that may not be the brightest bulb in the box, but he certainly was extremely responsive to change. It took him about a nanosecond to accept that he no longer lived at our house and had been adopted by the people next door. But Mooch isn’t what this story is really about. This is about my blog, and your blog, and how everyone reads our blogs. Surveys suggest that nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds. But there is more: people no longer just use their desk top or laptop computers to read our blogs. More and more people are using their phones or digital tablets to view our ever so entertaining stories. And did …

A Visit to Never Never Land – Arizona

For the past 10 days The Car Guy and I have been Canadian Snow Birds. Yes, we packed up shorts and sun tan lotion and headed south to a place where snow flakes rarely fall – Phoenix Arizona. We have a few friends there, several who like us well enough to invite us to stay in their home. So stay we did – 5 days with some fellow Canadians, and 5 days with an American couple we met in the Middle East. We enjoyed ourselves immensely, which made us wonder how we could stay there for several months a year. We made some mental calculations. How many friends would we have to have if we wanted to stay as guests  in their homes (as opposed to buying a house or hauling a honking big RV down south each year?) There were too many variables to come up with an exact number, but it appeared that 5 days was about the maximum we could expect to be welcome before the host ran out of wine and …

Moose Tracks in my Alberta Yard

This past winter a new set of tracks appeared on the edge of our woods – Moose. These tracks were made by several moose, likely traveling together. Exciting, but moose can be very dangerous during certain times of the year. One of them has already challenged a car on the road out front, I hear. I’m not too concerned about my personal safely, however. I have an early warning system – the chatty birds – Magpies. I’m not the only creature they harass! Owls, deer, coyotes, crows, fox, skunks – nothing slinks through these woods without being vocally assaulted by the magpies. All I have to do is listen carefully and I’ll know in advance if there is something I should be aware of. Just how big is a moose?  This is a close up shot of one of the tracks in the snow. The two little holes on the right side of the track are left by the animals dew claws which are two small extra toes that are situated a bit higher up …

Fox Tracks in my Alberta Yard

Suburban foxes are not simply tame towards men. They are also damn supercilious. One pads amongst the azaleas in our garden at night, staring through the lounge windows to watch the News at Ten. – Richard Gordon – Tracks in the snow – an animal telling a story – if the photographer can figure out who left them. I found these tracks in late February, but I didn’t discover who the owner was until this past week-end. Now I think they belong to the Red Fox, Vulpes vulpes. See the four toes with the claw marks on top of two of the toes? The heel pad is the triangular shaped part on the right side of the print. Research says this is likely a fox track. (But it could be a dog or coyote track – I’m not an expert on this!) You might remember that two week-ends ago we had a Coyote inside our yard (Flat Stanley goes to the Zoo.) This past week-end, it was a Red Fox. Foxes are primarily nocturnal, which …

Coyotes, Geese and Flat Stanley Goes to the Zoo

If you feel the urge, don’t be afraid to go on a wild goose chase. What do you think wild geese are for anyway? – Will Rogers Three little stories in one – encounters with a Coyote (Canis latrans), a Goose (Branta canadensis) and Flat Stanley (Homo sapiens charta plano). I suppose I could write three different posts, but these meetings all happened on the same day, so I’ll deftly wrap them up into one tale. Maybe. We often see coyotes, off in the distance, in the field behind our house. We have never seen one inside the fence – the fence that is supposed to keep cat eating canines out of our back yard. So, we were just a bit surprised to see this fellow on our side of the fence, pacing back and forth, looking for a way out. He must have jumped the fence to get into the yard, but he seemed to have forgotten that he would have to jump the fence again in order to regain his freedom. (In all …

Musings about Moose in my Alberta Yard

Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing ‘Embraceable You’ in spats. – Woody Allen – If I was asked to describe typical moose habitat, I would NOT say it was where I live – a prairie landscape dotted with a few stands of aspen and a small body of water that can  hardly be called a lake; farm land and various size acreages; a city of 40,000 people just a mile away, poised to swallow us up. No, I don’t think of this as moose country, yet every so often a moose or two or three trot past my back yard. They are not there by accident. They are our neighbours. Right across the road from our house is the hay field where the hawk kids hung out this fall. A few mornings ago we spotted the moose family grazing  there. There were five of them all together, slowly mowing the pasture in the same manner as a herd …