Evicted?

We aren’t certain when or how it happened, but the Horned Owls are no longer occupying the Osprey nest. We stopped one morning to have a look at how the little ones were doing, and we were shocked to see the Ospreys enjoying their old home. All kinds of emotions ran through us; fear that the owlets were tossed over the side when mommy wasn’t there, and shock when we considered that maybe they were eaten! We were happy of course for the Osprey, seeing as how they seemed to be clueless as to how to build a new nest.

Cleaning up the nest after the squatters left

A few days later, we stopped again to check out the nest, and just as we were leaving, my lady noticed what looked like a plastic bag in a nearby tree. When we put our binoculars on it, we realized that it was one of the fledged owls! Big sigh of relief. After posting it to our local birding group, we learned that the owls actually come in early in order to use other bird’s nests, and then leave before the residents arrive (usually).

Fledged Horned Owl

Point Pelee is closed. Hillman Marsh is closed. Provincial parks are closed. Fortunately for us, our local conservation area is still open for walking in, but there are no facilities available. The birds don’t care, they are coming in bit by bit. So far we’ve see the Yellow Warblers, Yellow Rumps, Black and White Warblers, Blue Grey Gnatcatchers, Flycatchers, Cowbirds, Catbirds, Herons and Egrets, a couple of Sandhill Cranes are hanging out nearby, a pair of Prothonetary Warblers are trying to get into the Tree Swallow nests, the hummingbird and Baltimore Oriole have returned to our backyard, and we have seen some Warbling Vireos around as well.

We had a pretty nice day late last week, we were over at our favourite spot, and met a couple of our birding friends who brought us some extra luck. We were able to see a few Summer Tanagers, a Female Scarlet Tanager, and even a Woodcock out in the daytime.

The weather is getting warmer, but we are all still under physical distancing restrictions. The area we live in is pretty close knit, so lately a few of us have been having “end of the driveway” meet ups. We sit around, at a safe distance, and shoot the breeze with each other. Such is the new normal I guess.

So, once again this is a short one and hopefully we can get this pandemic over with and return to some semblance of real life once more.

In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and we’ll talk again soon.

Till then.

No Paparazzi !

Welcome to all of my new readers, and thanks again for everyone who continues to follow our little escapades.

Point Pelee is closed, and as of May so is Hillman Marsh, effectively shutting down the local birding season for this year. The birds are coming in, and they are going to have the parks to themselves without all the paparazzi. This is just so sad. How are we going to know when the Cerulean Warbler comes in?

Fortunately a couple of conservation areas near to us are still open (for now) as long as people follow the distancing rules, so we can get out once in a while to check things out. Likely won’t get as many photos as last year, but hey, I can hope can’t I?

We have been keeping an eye on the Horned Owls squatting in the Osprey nest, and there are now 2 young fluffballs keeping their eyes on us. We were watching them one afternoon, and noticed an Osprey sitting in a tree a short distance away. As we waited, it took off and started circling around and rising up to the height of the tower, before finally doing a strafing run showing off its talons. As quickly as it started, it ended with the Osprey flying away right after.

On another day, we watched as the 3 original occupants flew in, and we got excited for some real action, but the same damn thing happened. What a letdown. Couldn’t even get all 3 Ospreys together.

Now 2 of the Osprey are thinking of setting up house on top of the light stand at a ballpark across the road from their old home. Sadly, for every 2 twigs they bring in, 1 falls down to the ground. At this rate, it will take a couple of years before they can bring up a family there.

The little ones are starting to come in now. We’ve seen Kinglets flitting gingerly in the trees, as well as an Eastern Towhee, Yellow Rump, Carolina Wren, a couple of Wood Ducks in the trees, Coopers Hawks building a nest, a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker, as well as some of the bigger guys returning, such as Cormorants, Herons and Egrets.

Eagles have been plentiful this spring and we have a couple hanging out pretty close to our home.

As for the Astrophotography, it’s taking a little while to learn what part of the night sky to take photos of, and how to get worthwhile shots, so this time I have nothing new. Hopefully in the next couple of months I might be able to get some Milky Way shots, and maybe the Andromeda Galaxy.

Well, that’s all for now.

Till next time, just stay safe and healthy, and let’s get through these interesting times that we are currently cursed with, and look forward to brighter times soon.

Birds, Bees and Bugs

This year we were fortunate to be able to visit Point Pelee during the Festival of Birds, and we met up with our friends Damian and Doug who provided us with most of our identifications of the over 125 species that we spotted. Once again, I took far too many photos, and it is taking quite a while to go through them all and select the “best of the best”. Here are a few, but there will be a lot more to come in the near future.

Our Ruby Throated Hummingbird still visits our backyard feeder, and up until last week, the Baltimore Orioles were making sure we kept them fed as well. It looks like the Orioles have moved along now. And how’s this for something funny, during the inbound migration, I spent days trying to take a decent photo of a House Wren, but all they wanted to do was scurry around the leaf litter and undergrowth on the ground, and then fly away as soon as the camera would focus. I may have a good shot in there somewhere. Then a few weeks ago, I heard some sweet little “Whirreee – poop poop poop – peep peep” in the tree in the neighbour’s yard behind our fence. Then, as I watched, a House Wren popped down to the deck, found a little bit of fluff, grabbed it, and flew into a birdhouse that we put up on the fence. I was dancing with excitement. Not only was our birdhouse being occupied, IT WAS A HOUSE WREN! There have been a few ladies checking it out, but so far it doesn’t look like it met their standards. He is still in the tree, calling for the ladies, and occasionally tidying up the little love nest. Good luck to him.

One little fella that we really don’t want hanging around, is a Carpenter Bee. At first I thought it was a Honeybee, so I left it alone, until I found some wood shavings under our steps, and saw the bee make its way into a hole under the stair. Did some quick reading up, and sure enough there is a difference in the Honeybee, and the Carpenter bee. Looks like I have to make the bee a little uncomfortable about moving in, but I might not be able to evict it until the fall.

When we came to Leamington a few years back during the Canada Day weekend we were introduced, rather rudely I might say, to the common Fish Fly. At night, they would fly in from the waters of Lake Erie, and buzz around anything that a) moved, b) didn’t move, c) was lit up, d) wasn’t lit up, e) breathed. We woke up in the morning and the hotel was covered in them. The cars were covered, the roads were covered, and the grass was alive with them. Millions upon Millions of them. And when you walk on them they crunch and emit the smell of rotting fish. Imagine the smell in town as people try to go about their business, driving over them, walking on them, cleaning them off the signs and buildings everywhere. Our neighbour told us when they lived in Belle River they had to use snow plows to get them off the street.

Well, this year isn’t too bad in Amherstburg. Sure, we have them, but nothing like Leamington a couple years ago.

On the other hand, we were in Kingsville (just west of Leamington) on Saturday and found some areas that were like a carpet of bugs.

These bugs are at the end-of-life stage, and the only thing they are interested in is mating. They swarm around looking to hook up, then go off to the nearest streetlamp, neon sign, light coloured car / house / building / person, to wait to die. They live for 24 – 72 hours, and don’t even eat. In fact, they don’t have a mouth, so other than being a nuisance, they won’t bite you.

After a couple of weeks, they will be gone, and we wait for it all to happen again next year.

Welcome to Summer and Happy Canada Day.

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Thanks