Backyard Visitor

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Walking into the backyard this afternoon we encountered a surprise, a little porcupine. Our little visitor was happily feasting on the plants in our flowerbeds. As the weather closed in and it started to rain, he moved in close to the house sheltering out of the rain.  He seemed pretty comfortable in the backyard, perhaps he has been there all spring and summer without us noticing him.

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Photography by Debra Hunter

http://www.htheblog.wordpress.com

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Apples for Dinner

blog apples for dinner_2669I was surprised to look out our window this morning to see a robin in our apple tree. A very well fed robin I might add. We watched the robin for a few minutes and then off he flew.

Later in the day the robin was back, along with two of his friends. The three robins feasted on the apples for quite a long time, probably trying to get their share before the huge flocks of waxwings visit the tree and clear out most of the apples.

We haven’t had many birds in our yard this year as we still haven’t managed to fill the feeders. Of course filling the feeders is going to be a bit of a production as the back gates are frozen shut, something that doesn’t happen often. We must have had the right mix of melting and freezing ….and now we have snow on top of everything too. The bird feeders are probably going to have to wait until a warm and melting day.

The Great Squirrel Relocation Project (Red Deer, Alberta, Canada)

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“Critters” seems to be a reoccurring theme in our life. We’ve had bat situations and ant invasions. We have dealt with raccoons invading shed and garden and mice moving into our house. The latest encounter has been the squirrely-est squirrel we have ever seen.

It all started innocently enough. Sometime in the summer a squirrel moved into one of the huge spruce trees in our front yard. He spent the summer scampering about and doing what squirrels do. Come fall the squirrel went into winter preparation mode, frantically collecting and storing cones from our trees. It was all very interesting to watch. However last week the squirrel experience took a turn.

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Last week the squirrel became too brave. It all started when he decided to start eating the cones while sitting on our deck rail. He was getting a little too close to the house. We remember what happened to the family across the street from us and we didn’t want it to happen to us.  Squirrels invaded their house resulting in having to replace their deck, roof and siding. Of course it doesn’t help that the lady next door was (and still is) FEEDING the squirrels. Why would anyone encourage a problem?

So the squirrel progressed from eating on our deck to bringing cones on to the deck and storing them in our planters. Then he started burying them in our planters. As the cones started to pile up we knew we had to discourage our furry friend, so we started getting rid of the cones. Then the squirrel started to dig up the planters. There was dirt everywhere. We’d clean it up. An hour later, again there was dirt everywhere. At one point we even covered the top of a planter with one of our son’s big toy diggers, and the squirrel tried to dig around it. The squirrel wasn’t getting the message.

Dirt everywhere from the planters.

Dirt everywhere from the planters.

Digging up the planters.

Digging up the planters.

 

It was time to relocate our fluffy tailed friend.

Thanks to our ongoing mouse situation, and my husband’s new hobby of buying traps, we had a brand new live squirrel trap in the basement (as you do!). An accidental purchase thanks to our four year old of peanuts provided the perfect bait. We threw in a few of his cones for good measure.

blog squirrel being relocatedWithin an hour Mr. Squirrel had found a way into the live trap, eaten the peanuts and was ready for his trip to greener forests.

We popped him in the back of the truck, and my husband covered the cage with a tarp. He says it was to keep the squirrel calm. I don’t know. Perhaps it was too similar to classic kidnapping techniques you read about………he was just making sure the squirrel didn’t know where he was going so he didn’t come back.

blog squirrel being releasedWe took the squirrel down to the nature sanctuary. My husband lifted the door and the squirrel was gone in a flash. We’ve never seen a creature move so fast.

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Gaetz Lake sanctuary, Red Deer, AB, Canada

We think the squirrel will be much happier here, even though he will probably miss the steady diet of peanuts our neighbor fed him.

Mayflies!

Here is the post everyone has been waiting for!

(Yeah right!)

Every year at our cabin we experience one or two mayfly weekends. A mayfly weekend is pretty hard not to notice. The sides of our cabin are coated with mayflies. There is a constant buzzing and humming as the mayflies swarm. A step onto the grass sets off another swarm, and if you dare open the door to the cabin the little invaders invite themselves in to fly near the house lights all evening long.

Mayflies

Mayflies

We went to the lake and got swarmed. We tried to rake the flowerbeds and got swarmed.

Mayflies on the fence.

Mayflies on the fence.

We went to check out the noise at our neighbours and saw this…….

Mayflies swarm over the roof.

Mayflies swarm over the roof.

Even sneaking into the cabin meant dealing with these flying creatures. We left the light on at the front and went in the back door in the dark hoping to lessen the number of indoor mayflies.

Mayflies by the light over the door.

Mayflies by the light over the door.

Mayfly weekend is definitely something to see, however remember to keep your mouth closed when outside or you’ll have a not-so-tasty flying treat in your mouth!

Winter Visitors – Red Deer, Alberta

(Please click on the above images to view the gallery.)

For much of the afternoon the “Littles” and I  watched the birds visiting our  feeders. This year we have three feeders in our backyard and they are all easily viewed through the windows. We tend to have a never ending supply of chickadees, but we get a few other birds popping by for food too. They are a hungry bunch and empty the feeders every few days. The birds are also quite messy eaters, scattering seed all over the snow. I am sure we will have a few sunflowers spouting randomly where the seed has been dropped once summer comes. So far we have been lucky and the squirrels have yet to figure out the feeders, but I am sure it is only a matter of time.

Butterflies

butterflyWe’ve been spending a lot of time outside recently and one of the things we have noticed is there are butterflies everywhere. Little ones, big ones and huge ones. One so huge it was mistaken for a shuttlecock in a badminton game and my poor son accidentally hit it. He felt awful, the butterfly was stunned, but it all ended well when all was said and done. Here are a few pictures of butterflies we have seen in recent days.

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Damselfly

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Well I am back to blogging what I love and what I should be spending my time on. We spent this past Saturday and Sunday at the cabin. It was a mix of fantastic weather and an equally fantastic rain storm. On Sunday we decided to head to Chickakoo natural area for a walk. It is a great place for family walking with most routes ranging between 1-4 km in length. As we neared the end of the walk we had chosen, and the kids were moving a little bit slower, we spotted an area just buzzing with damselflies. Thanks to my husband, who spoiled me with a new macro lens, I was able to capture a few images of these interesting little creatures.