Monday, December 28, 2009

Santa Was Good To Us

















Another great Christmas behind us - nice pressies, wonderful family gatherings (they get better every year!), a couple of nice photographs of a gorgeous, beautiful young lady with fabulous hair.

Meet Madison.

Can't wait 'till she's a little older and a lot less shy!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Happy New Year!

To those folks living in the Northern Hemisphere, I offer my very best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year.

If you find a tiny little bit of new energy in your spirit and a fresh spring in your step, it's because tommorow will mark the winter solstice.

The sun begins its return! The new year begins!

Monday, December 14, 2009

G#@***#!!! Life is not fair. (#1)

I've used Gillette products - razors, shaving cream - for many years. Gillette promised me comfort and a close, smooth shave.

Not to mention lots of pretty girls who'd lovingly caress my smooth skin day and night.

I have to admit the promise was kept. The girls are nice. 'specially the full-time one now in my life. And she really appreciates when I take time to shave.

Gillette always seemd to work for me, even when, 20 years ago at age 58, I bought a shiny new English sports car. It didn't seem to make much change to my social life. (It's under cover now for the winter, just waiting for spring.)

But Gillette was keeping its promise.

So Tiger went with the Gillette promise. Certainly seemed to work for him. He got lots of pretty girls. Gillette must have been pleased. Until everyone found out.

Now they don't want anything to do with him. Seems to me they should be really proud their products work so well.

Ah well. Who ever said life was fair?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

ALL CARRION FEEDING BIRDS USE SCENT TO FIND FOOD?

Recently friends of mine found the carcass of a large, healthy, fresh-killed female white-tailed deer that had been pulled down by wolves/coyotes on their property, just before the first heavy snowfall of the winter.

This is never a pretty sight.











Anthropomorphists live in some fairyland of "noble beasts" without terror and savagery.

The reality is that cowardly canine predators run the terrified deer to the point of exhaustion, drag it down from behind and begin eating the deer alive.

One wonders how long it takes for a deer to die from blood loss?

We wanted to see if we could get a photographic record of the killer(s), so we set up my automatic, infra-red camera over the scene and left it for a couple of days.

















That was more than a week ago. The only visitors to the carcass over that time have been a Bald Eagle, a Red-tailed Hawk and a bunch of Ravens and Crows. (BTWay, did you know that a flock of Crows is called a "murder"?)










Which brings us to the point of this story. How did those scavengers find that fresh carcass, deep in a hemlock/pine forest? I doubt they could have seen it from the air.


Which leaves scent as the only other possibility. And leaves us with a new understanding of how our natural world really works.

I knew that Turkey Vultures locate decaying food by scent from an earlier experience.

I'd once collected a couple of road-killed raccoons from just down the road, and carried them out of sight into the woods well down the trail behind my home. I hid them well, deep under the dense early-summer foliage of some mature beech and oak trees. They were completely hidden from overhead view.

Couple of days later I was enjoying an early evening stroll and was more than a little surprised to startle three vultures feeding on the raccoon carcasses.

By that time the coons were pretty "ripe" and probably could have been scented from high in the sky.

But the deer carcass was fresh, not more than two or three days old, and the weather was cool, freezing at night and close to freezing during the day.

There couldn't have been much scent for the birds to pick up.

So, one assumes, the scenting power of scavenging birds must be quite acute.

The camera is still in position and we'll be monitoring activites as long as we can. That may not be as long as we'd like, however, because the weatherman is predicing -15 to -20 overnight in a day or so and the camera may not like those conditions.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

White-tail Reasoning


Hunters of white-tail deer often tell tales of the "intelligence" of these animals, and of the many calculated, effective, reasoning ways they have of outsmarting hunters.

In a long lifetime of careful observance of wild birds and animals, I have seen many examples of white-tail trickery.

But nothing, by white-tail or other animal, that began to compare with the actions of one wily doe a couple of years back.

It was a glorious early November day. Bright, sunny, crisp, hardly a breath of wind.

I was working my way quietly along a large granite hogback ridge high in the Wolf Grove of Lanark County, Ontario. The Grove is a very large, rough area blanketed by mixed forest and networked with beaver ponds on the edge of the Canadian Shield.

Below the ridge a narrow, deep beaver pond stretched a mile or more.

To the west across the pond I could hear several hounds. They were on a trail, no doubt that of a white-tail. As I listened the sound alternately faded and swelled. The hounds were coming my way.

On a large, comfortable log with excellent open view of the pond and surrounding area I settled, my back to a birch tree, ready to observe whatever might happen.

Slowly the hounds drew closer. White-tails may be hunted with hounds in this part of Ontario, and good deer hounds move slowly with lots of noise.

These were good hounds.

After some time I was beginning to chill when a slight motion well up the pond to my right caught my attention. A white-tail doe had stepped quietly to the water's edge and paused to look behind her.

The dogs were still far away. Surely too far for her to be moving ahead of them.

For a few moments she stood, still as the granite ridge itself. Then she stepped carefully into the water and began swimming quietly down the pond toward me. She had no suspicion of my presence.

Looking back occasionally, she swam ever so slowly down the centre of the pond. Just below me near the far bank was a small island, a few willow shrubs and a few strands of sedge grass poking above a foot of water.

To this submerged islet the doe swam. Once there, she settled down quickly, lying in the water, shoulders and only a little of her back showing.

For a while she was motionless, both ears sharply cocked to hear the dogs. They were closer now, their voices quite loud.

The doe didn't move, all attention focused on the sounds of those dogs.

Within perhaps 100 yards of the pond's edge the dogs turned to the north, angling away from us. Parallel to the water they went, then across the beaver dam far up the pond, then back behind me to the east.

It was obvious by now the dogs were on the trail of a different deer. This was confirmed by the trail having gone along the pond and over the dam; a favourite escape route of the white-tails in this area.

Before long the sounds of the hound pack faded in the distance. Again the November quiet settled in. But the doe made no move to leave.

Instead, she confidently groomed herself, licking the hair over shoulders and back as would a large dog, then nibbling disinterestedly at the willows.

I was well chilled by now, and badly in need of a stretch. But my experience with wild things reminded me of the patience of wild things. She might be there for some time. But that water was cold, barely above freezing.

She had to be becoming cool herself, in spite of the heavy winter-ready coat. Surely she would make a move soon.

I determined to wait her out. This was much too interesting an experience to spoil with a casual move.

After what seemed an eternity, the doe did move.

Slowly rising to her feet, she stepped from the shallows into deeper water. Swimming back to the far shore from whence she had come, she stepped out onto dry land and, shaking herself for all the world like a big Labrador Retriever, disappeared in a great cloud of spray. Then she slowly walked out of sight back into the hemlocks, still without any awareness of my watching.

Back, no doubt, to the comfortable bed she had vacated earlier with an ounce of prevention.

I'm now ready to believe almost any story of whitetail reasoning.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

PREPARE FOR CLIMATE CHANGE!

Buy a new parka and fur hat. You'll need them soon.