Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Who Goes There?

When I set out the recycle bin for pickup this morning, I noticed a fox's prints in the snow. I thought there was a chance I'd see the animal among my trail camera photos.

Overnight, the camera had taken 937 photos. Their time stamps indicated that the first skunk arrived at the community supper dish at 5:35 pm. These chaps are learning that it's first come, first served. At 8:05 pm (long after the dish was empty) the fox made a brief appearance. Then at 3:08 am a rabbit hopped by. At 5:30 am, cat roomy Ellie Mae asked out. A good sniffing over the dish let her know details of the nightlife she had missed seeing.

Thanks to many little footprints and a deeply worn trail in the snow, I know where this family of skunks are denning. In daytime, they stay under an upturned speed boat that one of my nephews intended to turn into a fish trawling boat. You could say that it actually repurposed into a house boat (of sorts).

Nothing brightens a winter feeder like a male cardinal.
A red squirrel enjoys the spiffy feeder my cousin-in-law crafted.

In a previous life, this ground feeder was a honey comb frame.

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Jimmy Scores A Meal

I've a soft spot for skunks. Aside from the cute factor (in my view, their babies are as darling as any kitten), they help keep rodent populations and insect grubs in check. You have to admire their natural ability to use 'bear spray' if threatened. Unbullied, they are shy and peaceable. Skunks and I have shared many walkabouts and I must say, they have been nothing but polite to me. My cat, Ellie Mae, prefers them to other cats.

As children, we thoroughly enjoyed the series of fictional animal adventure books by Thornton W. Burgess. One of these was titled 'The Adventures Of Jimmy Skunk'. Consequently, we tend to refer to every skunk we see as 'Jimmy'.

Last night I opened the back porch door to let Ellie Mae in for the night. There, staring back at me from the garage, was a surprised little skunk. I asked him if he was hungry. He only silently stared back and remained perfectly still.

"Just wait there, Jimmy, and I'll bring you something."  When I returned with some dog food and a slice of bread, the shy fellow was nowhere to be seen. So I left the meal in a little wooden trough. About half an hour later he was back. Concentrating on the food, he never even looked up as I snapped this picture.

Enjoy your meal, Jimmy! Your tail could certainly use a good brushing. Just sayin'.

One of the Thornton W. Burgess books we enjoyed as children.

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

The Usual Crowd

I must say, I'm enjoying this early stage of winter. The cold air is refreshing and I rather enjoy the productive exercise of clearing snow from my smallish driveway. On very cold days, the snow squeaks pleasingly underfoot. Also, I take pleasure in the feeder birds, the rabbits and reading tracks in the snow. The prints (or lack thereof) tell me that the raccoons and skunks are spending more time in their dens and that every few days a fox trots by. Sometimes I see two rabbits of about equal size, peacefully sharing a feeder together.  They especially enjoy the occasional peanut butter treat. I may have overdone it here with the bunny pics, but they are just so irresistibly cute!

Peter or Petra Cotton Tail and I focus on each other.

No sign of danger from the road.

All looks clear from the backyard.

It's safe to chow down.

Ellie Mae enjoys the live theatre from her window seat.
My little screech owl is now using the boxes I made for winter roosting and for storing prey items safely away from crows, etc. It's fun to think that while I have my pantry, it also keeps a larder.

The Eastern Screech Owl has resumed winter roosting in it's rustic old box.

Bluejays feel duty-bound to report it's whereabouts.

So far, only the usual crowd has shown up at my feeders. There is still plenty of natural forage about. As winter progresses, I expect surprise bird species to appear and always expect the unexpected. No doubt my yard must compete with those of bird loving neighbours who also keep well-stocked feeders.

The usual crowd of gold finches feeding near my kitchen window.

Ellie Mae reminded me of an arctic fox as she lay curled, nose to tail.