Yesterday I was reminded how blessed I am to live in such a wonderful place surrounded by wildlife on a daily basis. My riverfront location lends to the presence of many different species.
Last evening I finally spotted the Beaver making his way down the river to the stand of young willows which he likes to ‘nibble’ on. I swear that he must be 5 feet long! In 2009, he came up from the river to my frozen pond for ???? (honest, Graham, he really DID!) Of course, everyone knows that the Beaver is the national symbol of Canada, ever since the time of the fur traders – but did you realize that the beaver is a member of the rodent family? Poor fella, he was really struggling against the strong current but making progress nonetheless. I was glad to see him just swim on by and not stop at any of my trees again. I’ll have to go for another walk to the ‘Private Prop’ swamp to see his home…..
The Great Blue Heron is absolutely huge in stature! When he flies over the yard, it looks like a prehistoric Pterodactyl is invading the neighbourhood. He stands at least a meter tall when he’s at the edge of my pond debating which fish to try to eat. I’ve installed a ‘Scarecrow’ water device at the edge of my pond, which is supposed to scare off wildlife by a burst of water (and my grandchildren or myself get soaked more!). But it seems like the heron loves water and this doesn’t faze him one bit. I’ve also added “Scare ’em” bird tape that I bought at Lee Valley Tools: 12 inch streams tied onto 1 meter bamboo poles, delicately blowing in the wind or long, twisted lines of it around the pond which shimmer and shake at the slightest breeze. Nope, my resident Heron isn’t bothered by any of it. The only recourse I eventually take is to put a net on the water in the pond to protect the fish. I know that right now the Heron is recently back from his long migratory voyage and is hungry – BUT there’s a whole river to choose from! Why my puny little pond?
I’ve woken up a couple of times this week to find a pair of wild Mallard Ducks swimming in my pond. This ‘couple’ have been springtime residents of our neighbourhood for a few years now. They arrive in early April from their southern home and visit everyone’s property, nest somewhere, raise their young, then go off for another year. The other day, Mr. Duckie was strolling down the road without a care in the world when I attempted to drive by. I slowed way down to a crawl until he annoyingly moved slightly over so I could pass. Thanks. It reminds me of the time that we had 6 wild ‘pet’ ducks who we started to feed breadcrumbs and scraps to, at the river – they would even waddle right up to the house if we were tardy! They stayed till hunting season……
Last winter I had a new visitor to my yard: a Red Tail Fox. Actually there were a pair of them I would see on my walks throughout the winter, but I’ve yet to see their kits/babies this spring or them for that matter. I think that the low snow fall amounts enabled them to venture further out this winter.
A few years ago there was a yearling Black Bear in the neighbourhood. He was just curious about the new ‘city’ neighbour’s bird feeder I think (welcome to the neighbourhood!). Then about 5 years ago, my son excitedly claimed that him and his friends saw a bear while bike riding. “Riiiiight” I said skeptically. Then that very evening on our walk, we saw the young bear run across the road right in front of us, headed towards the river for a drink perhaps. Exciting! Then on our way back, he skittered back across the road into the forest on ‘Geoff’s farm’. But the most exciting bear sighting was the one about 20 years ago in our own backyard: it was around 8 pm and the kids had just come inside from playing out back all day long when I looked out and saw a 3 year old bear saunter across the yard. I phoned the neighbours immediately just in case they had their dogs tied outside. This bear actually climbed up my neighbour’s stairs to their patio doors! Then afterwards he just leisurely strolled back through our property and into the forest……….
This time of year, the frogs are ‘waking up’ from a long winter’s nap. I’ve already heard Spring Peepers which I love listening to after dark. And of course there are a kazillion Leopard Frogs everywhere! There are many Bullfrogs who inhabit my pond too. I think they come up from the river bringing with them ‘river’ fish eggs which hatch in my pond because I’m forever catching them and returning those minnows to the river. These huge bullfrogs love to sun themselves on the rocks surrounding the pond. Other frogs which I often see are the Grey Tree Frog and the Wood Frog – who knew there were so many types of frogs! And lets not forget the Toads. I have alot of toads especially in my garden ever since I stopped rototilling it every spring. I’ve also seen a few Blue Spotted Salamanders.
Of course, we have a huge variety of birds in the area: Heron, Seagull, Bluejay, Cardinal, Oriole, Scarlet Tananger, Chickadee, Goldfinch, Nuthatch, Mourning Dove, Downey Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Piliated Woodpecker, Crows, Starlings, Kingfisher, Quail, Turkey, Osprey, Red-tail Hawks, Sparrows, Swallows, Ruby Throated Hummingbird, etc. There are several birds that seemed to have disappeared from my area like the Evening Grosbeak….. I love filling my birdfeeders with ‘black oiled’ sunflower seeds and putting beef fat in my suet feeders all winter long. I don’t feed them in the summer since it attracts ‘unwanted’ wildlife. I only fill my hummingbird feeders with sugar and water all summer long.
Occasionally, White Tail Deer come out of the woods and onto the property to snack on my hostas and ‘windfall’ apples on the ground. I usually don’t have a problem with them helping themselves to my vegetable garden unlike some of the neighbours……’touch wood’. I have seen wild rabbits too.
My former neighbour “the Ronster” always claimed that the only wildlife around here were my 7 children…….lol