Thursday, April 29, 2010

Chipmunk antics

When a small pile of leaves started moving I became interested. Then all of a sudden a chipmunk popped straight up clutching a nut as its treasure. It was interesting to see how this animal would try to push large pieces of the nut into its cheek and when it wouldn't fit - pull it out to reshape it by whittling it down and trying again. Here is a short sequence of some of what transpired.

Ah, what a find!

Need to get through this hard shell!

There! - got to the good part!

Yumm ...

Now to just push it in.

OK, almost there!

Hmmm, not as easy as I thought!

Uh, oh. This definitely needs some re-thinking.

OK, let's gnaw this down a bit and try again!

Ah, there we go ... success!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A special raccoon

In September 2007 I came across a lovely "mask-less" raccoon on Mount Royal. The next season I was lucky enough to see her again and with three normally masked babies!

This Saturday I came across what I believe is the same raccoon and she is bigger and her face is whiter! Perhaps the pigment fades with age. However she was quite agile and climbed a tree to sit on a large branch and groom herself.
It was wonderful to see her again and to know she is fine and healthy. I checked into the lifespan of raccoons and from various sources found a range of 3 years to 10 years in the wild and up to 20 years in captivity. I hope she has a long, happy life.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Wild flowers - a character sketch

Every spring I am compelled to photograph the early wild flowers! One of the earliest is the Bloodroot. I find these flowers, more than any others, seem to express a character of sorts. Here are the various "characters" I found last week-end.

Fending off the cold wind.

A shy family huddled together.

Posing for a portrait.

Feeling good!

Exuberance in the sunshine!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

At last a fox!

Well, 5 1/2 hours of wandering about on Mount Royal paid off on Saturday with a sighting of a fox! And then, as if in a generous gesture for my many months without a fox fix, it curled up under a tree for a photo shoot!

I enjoy it when my subjects seem at ease with me snapping away at them. I do think many of these animals have come to adopt a certain blasé attitude towards the various camera-toting humans roaming the area.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Woodland denizens

Well, I posted about my sightings of last Friday and then another post of Saturday's adventure, so here is a sampling of the creatures I crossed paths with last Sunday. If you look closely at the wide, narrow photo you will see a Vole looking at a Sparrow. And what about the smiling Squirrel!?
All together an amazing holiday week-end!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A day at Ile Bizard

After my exciting meeting with the Cooper's Hawk on Friday, I went with a friend to a nearby nature park on Ile Bizard the next day. This is a wonderful treasure trove of swamp wildlife! We've seen amazing creatures from the vantage point of a long boardwalk and it is one of my favorite places in the world.

I was pleased to see many, many Turtles sunning themselves. The Tree Swallows were back as well as the Red-winged Blackbirds who, to me, are the true harbingers of spring. Mallards were wending their way through small channels in the reeds and it won't be long before the swamp will be filled with the delightful trills of the Marsh Wrens and the shrill cries of the Black Terns. Also, the loud scolding calls of the Virginia Rails will frustrate us as the birds hide in the tall reeds then suddenly dart into the open and back under cover (almost always too fast for my reflexes on the shutter release button)!

I also saw Muskrats and even Beavers which are a thrill. Then to top off the afternoon's delight, a fellow photographer pointed out where a Barred Owl was perched. I hightailed it over to the area and this very accommodating bird allowed me to approach within a few feet of it even though I was crunching, snapping and crackling over dead leaves and fallen twigs and branches. He was very calm and majestic and at times gave me the most intelligent gaze that makes me understand why people think of owls as wise. There was something very "knowing" in its look.

Another grand day!

Monday, April 5, 2010

A bad start but a great ending

This past week-end I did something that I have NEVER done in all the years that I have been taking pictures. I was setting out on a photographic adventure and was already at my destination (Mount Royal) when I became horror stricken to discover that I had no memory card in my camera! And I had no spare in my back-pack either. I couldn't believe it!!

Now I had three options to consider: 1) continue on and content myself with just observing nature; 2) go back home and get the card; 3) go downtown and buy a new card. Number one was rejected when I thought about maybe seeing fox kits and it would kill me not to be able to photograph them. Number two was just too boring. So it would be number three and while I was down there I would stop for a coffee and muffin.

However, this would result in such a long delay to get back to the mountain, I figured the early morning advantage for wildlife viewing would be lost and, considering this would be a very hot day (record breaking in fact!), that I would probably be back right at the hottest point of the day. This would likely reduce my chances of seeing very much but somewhere in the back of my mind (being an eternal optimist) I thought maybe it was fate that I was being delayed.

Well ... when I did finally get back the sun was beating down and I was not seeing much wildlife out and about. I did see some diehard photographers out hoping to photograph the Cooper's Hawks that are nesting on one of the slopes. In fact one of the hawks was in a tree and I snapped a few shots that were not very good. Then I decided to go down to an area where a bird feeder is set up hoping to get a shot of a Chickadee or Downy Woodpecker. As I approached I saw a Woodchuck near the feeder and decided to circle around it for a shot which brought me in close proximity to a small stream. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye something in the water caught my attention and when I turned I was only several feet away from a Cooper's Hawk taking a bath. I was able to spend at least ten minutes taking shot after shot. This was one cool bird!!

A friend of mine says that if a day starts out badly it will end well. This day certainly proved that to be true.