Thursday, 29 October 2015

Morning Hike

The past several days have been cold and wet and windy. I've been denning up and spending way too much time on the comfortable old couch. So when I went outside early this morning to dispose of yet another mouse trap victim, I was surprised to find warmish and only slightly breezy conditions. The air, freshly washed from twenty-four hours of almost continuous rain, smelled wonderful. My nose begged for more. Nothing but a hike would do!

Flocks of Canada geese selecting newly harvested fields to rest and forage on.

The drainage ditches are filled from recent and heavy rain.

Our bush lot has the marvelous spicy Autumn fragrance of fallen hardwood leaves.

There is a bumper crop of hickory nuts this year.

A burr oak adds a splash of lime green colour.

This variety of leaves gives testimony to a biodiverse woodlot.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Surprise Visit

Weeks ago, my resident robins flew south. But in the last few days the largest flock of robins I've ever seen have checked in to my yard and are focusing on the berries of my mountain ash tree. There are at least a dozen of these migrating birds who are making a stopover here. They chatter among themselves and make frequent forays to the bird bath. I can't help but wonder how far north they've come from and if they will perhaps be back in Spring with a view to nesting here. How I wish I could interview them.

This morning's sunrise paints a dramatic textured scene.

A large flock of migrating robins enliven the branches of my mountain ash tree.

Viewing me with suspicion, this robin seems unused to people.

A drink to wash down the berries and a quick dip before more feasting.

A goldfinch enjoys a tranquil moment in the shelter of a shedding cedar.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Catering Business

The business of backyard catering gets complicated when half a dozen smash-and-grab artists in blue hoodies are involved. I'm talking about bluejays. They have strong instincts to store food for harder times and in only minutes they strip the feeders before smaller birds and my red squirrels get much of a chance at the grub.  Counter measures are called for!

Five of a family of six bluejays have their way at the feeders.

This container foils bluejays but not flexible little squirrels.

A redpoll enjoys a feeder cage designed to keep out bigger birds.

A white-throated sparrow pauses before foraging on the ground.

Not chatting with the weathervane, this warbler is watching for cluster flies.

On offer to chipmunks, unsalted peanuts are munched by the quirky Ellie Mae.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Change Over

Last night we had our first hard frost. Minus 6 Celsius over night and this morning. My lovely cosmos flowers are history. The sun now rises hours after I've awakened. What I used to consider late afternoon now has the dark feel of evening. Yesterday I drained and put away my garden hoses and this week the deck furniture will be stored in the barn until Spring. My lawn mower is in storage already. It seems that a dial has been turned from the setting marked 'summer' to the one marked 'autumn' -- in fact, a little past autumn and pointing partway towards winter. Like my friend Jimmy Skunk, I'll be spending more time in my comfortable den.

This morning's frosty garden view from the kitchen window. No more cosmos blooms.

My amur maple tree has changed from it's green dress into a yellow one.

This morning the grass had a thick coating of frost.

By mid-morning the frost had melted. Ash trees are among the first to disrobe.

Our bush lot flaunts a final burst of colours before losing it's foliage.

A revealed nest. I expect the family has flown south for a warm vacation.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Day In The Life ...

The day starts with the honking of Canada geese as they wing southward in "V" like formations. I rise, pour myself a cup of coffee, turn on the radio and retire to my couch to sip and listen to the latest broadcast. Next, I check my mouse traps in the basement and workshop -- areas not accessible to the prowling feline, Ellie Mae. Three mice were caught yesterday -- none this morning. At this time of year they find their way into my dwelling, seeking a winter shelter. Can't blame them for that but it's wise to catch them early before they get a chance to reproduce. Their bodies will be quickly consumed by crows, skunks or other scavengers.

I check my night cam to see who enjoyed the community dish meal of table scraps I set out last night. On offer was chicken skins and fat cut from lamb chops. The plastic container was licked clean and ready for the recycle bin. As usual, Jimmy Skunk was the lucky diner and I notice he is making good progress on layering his body with fat to tide him over the oncoming winter months.

At my bird feeders, small birds try to grab a meal before the half dozen local bluejays haul away the goods. I laughed yesterday to see one of the young squirrels dash into a feeder to startle away one of those greedy blue feathered pilferers. My strategy has now switched to restocking the feeders with lesser amounts but more often.

I've got errands to run -- groceries and furnace filters to buy. But I'm reluctant to leave this little paradise even for just an hour or two.

A family of Canada Geese winging south in the early morning.

A gold finch checking the contents of a hanging feeder.

This nut hatch is in luck to find a fresh stock of peanuts and sunflower seeds.

A warbler watches for cluster flies which it will feed on before heading south.

This cardinal seems to be looking for the waitress to refill the feeder.

One of the young red squirrels has somehow lost the tip of it's tail.

Bees foraging on blossoms as yet untouched by frost.

Lucky for some, having a nap while others have to graft for a living.

Jimmy Skunk enjoying a meal of meat scraps.