Monday, December 17, 2012

Nocturnal Surprises

Squirrel, these are for you..... :-)

Since archery deer hunting season is coming to a close, Mr. Johnson decided to bring his trail camera home and put it up in the backyard. The corn trays have been emptied nightly and we wanted to see just exactly when and how many nocturnal visitors were showing up in the backyard. NOTES: the date & time stamps on the photos aren't correct -- these photos were taken from Sunday nite (12/16) into Monday morning (12/17). Also, these photos were taken about 5 yards from our basement walk-out patio door....
With our current point restrictions, this isn't a legal buck, but he might be a good one to watch our for next season...

oh, hello!  more visitors arriving....  


I think there's only room for 1 buck here!

In all photos of this guy, he seems to be favoring his left hind leg

Looks like there's something wrong with his "knee"

It's obviously swollen and it doesn't appear that he's able to put any weight on it either

Checking out the suet!

I don't think this doe is gonna let this sorry little buck stick around for long.....

Looks like this doe still has her fawns with her

You can see the little antler "buttons" on the deer to the left

Eyes in the background......

Now the deer are gone, so it's time for bunnies to clean up the leftovers.
(I didn't realize we had this many bunnies -- time for some visits by the Great Horned Owl!)

The corn in the tray is gone, so the deer try their luck with the hanging corncobs

This is pretty challenging because the corncobs move quite easily

it's kind of like "bobbing for apples"

there!  finally got it!

nom, nom, nom

here's another buck!

this makes a total of 3 different bucks visiting in just one evening

Bunny acrobatics

This hanging corn feeder was designed for squirrels.  They're really the only critter that's able to reach up to grab the corncob with their little paws and successfully munch on the corn. 

but the lack of "hands" doesn't stop this bunny from trying!

the camera even captured this bluejay attempting to get some corn

There's Holly!  Out for a little walk around the yard with her dad.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pileated Love

For the first time in many weeks, I didn't have to work last Saturday morning, so I got to be home and watch some birds.  I had just gotten done starting a load of laundry and I heard the unmistakable call of a Pileated Woodpecker.  I looked out the patio door and there he was -- on the suet feeder about 3 yards away!

I dashed upstairs for my camera and got some good photos of him on the tree nearby.  (See that nice red "mustache?"  That's how you tell the males from the females -- females have a black mustache.)

And on one of the other big suet feeders in the backyard.

A female Pileated Woodpecker has been an infrequent backyard visitor in the past, but this is the first time I've seen a male here.

I'm always amazed at how huge these birds are!  This suet feeder is about 12 inches long.  The long tail prop on this suet feeder makes it really easy for big woodpeckers like this to spend lots of time enjoying a suet treat.

This afternoon Mr. Pileated was back again and decided to check out the "upside down" suet feeder.  He had a little bit of trouble figuring out the best way to get suet from this feeder....

But he eventually managed to hang upside down and satisfy his suet cravings.

I really love these big woodpeckers and I'm so glad this guy has decided to start frequenting my backyard.  He always announces his arrival with his loud call, so we get some good chances to watch him for the few minutes he's here.  Fortunately I stocked up on suet a couple weeks ago and will be watching the ads for future suet sales.  I would gladly spend my last dollar on suet if it guaranteed daily sightings of these awesome woodpeckers. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bluebird Oasis

A few weeks ago while we were eating supper, some migrating bluebirds showed up at the birdbath on my deck.  It was still warm and dry then, so my birdbath was getting lots of use and had gone almost empty while I was at work. You could almost see the concern on these bluebird's faces when they realized how low the water was. 

"Good grief, there's not even enough here to make a splash!" they seemed to be saying.....

"We might as well leave now if this is all she's got for us!"  "Wait, don't go yet," I pleaded from inside the house.  "I'll leave my supper to fill the birdbath for you, if you'll just let me take a few more pictures!"

So I grabbed the water jug and slowly stepped out onto the deck and of course, they all flew away.....

But almost before I got back into the house, the bluebirds were back again!

"Oh, look how nice and full this birbath is now.  Let's get cleaned up a little!"

A bright sunny afternoon turned the splashes into diamonds. 

And even bluebirds can share a few cross words when it comes to sharing the bath!

But hey, that birdbath really is big enough for both of you, isn't it?

Super Splash!!

House Finch thought he needed to join the pool party, but look in the background -- more bluebirds!

And even MORE bluebirds!  There were a total of 6 on my deck for a few minutes.  I'm guessing it was probably a family group on their southern migration journey.

A few more splashes with chickadee enjoying a sidelines shower, and then the bluebirds were gone. 
Farewell Bluebirds and safe travels to you.  I'll be looking forward to your return next spring....

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

RIP Penny

Yesterday I had to call the vet and make that difficult appointment that every pet parent dreads.  Poor old Penny has been in poor health for months and recently had begun having difficulty getting to the litter box, some trouble with walking, and frequent vomiting.  She also slept about 22 hours of the day.  I don't think she was in pain, but it had become increasingly difficult for me to see her struggle with these things each day.  This is the one thing about having pets that I really, really hate!  I've had to make this decision for all of my furry babies and it never, ever gets any easier.  The staff at the vet clinic were so wonderful, giving us all the time we needed to say good-bye.  I know Penny didn't suffer and I was able to hold her in my arms until she went to sleep.  Even though that's the hardest part, it's important for me to be able to surround her with my love as she makes her final journey over the Rainbow Bridge and to repay her for the unconditional love she's given me for so many years.

Penny was 16 and a half years old -- the longest-lived kitty of all three kitties that we've had over the years.  I left work early this afternoon so I could spend some time with Penny.  Since it was such a lovely day, I decided we would spend her last afternoon outside.  There was nothing she loved better than being outside and I only ever let her go out for a few minutes every now and then.  After sniffing around and nibbling on some weeds, Penny was content to just lay in the grass and I was happy to sit with her, stroking her pretty fur and listening to her purr.

Holly got to spend some time with Penny too.  As Mr. Johnson and I were looking through the photo album and reminiscing about Penny's life with us, we realized that she had been a "sister" to all 4 of the dogs we've had.  A lot of times Penny acted more like a dog than a cat.  She was a good friend to all of our dogs, but best friends with Sophie because they were the two closest in age.  They had some good times.

Silly kids!
After we got back from the vet we buried Penny in the hosta garden under the deck -- that was one of the first places she'd head to when she got outside.  I found a heart-shaped field stone amongst my landscaping rocks and will take it to work tomorrow at my cemetery memorial job so my boss can get it sandblasted for Penny's final resting place.

There was one bright spot at the end of our sad day though.  Right as we were ready to go in the house, the neighbors stopped over to show us their new puppy.  Meet Theo!  He's a sweet little boxer/pibble cross just like Holly.  He's 7 weeks old and I imagine this is what Holly looked like when she was a puppy.  I'm looking forward to watching Theo grow up and hope he will become a good playmate for Holly.
(If you click on the picture to enlarge it, you can see Theo's little pink tongue giving Holly a tiny kiss!)

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Enjoying a Few Raptor Moments

Last Sunday afternoon Mr. Johnson was outside washing the car when he happened to look up and notice a big bird on the TV antenna.  Because he's the well-trained spouse of a birder, he immediately came to the back door and told me to get my camera because there was a hawk on the TV antenna!  I went out the garage and took this picture of the hawk back-side.  Do you know what it is?

I knew I could get a better view of this huge hawk from the deck on the other side of the house, so I went back inside and crept slowly out onto the deck.  Fortunately, this hawk didn't notice my arrival.....

The TV antenna tower is about 40 feet high, so it's an excellent observation tower if you're a hawk!

This hawk seemd to be relaxing and just enjoying the view.  If you notice on most of these pictures, its right foot isn't even clutching the antenna pole!

I noticed there weren't any squirrels hanging around the backyard bird feeders while this hawk was up there, but all the other little songbirds in the backyard were extremely vocal in their alarm calls.

Then the hawk gave itself a mighty, all-over shake -- feathers floating away on the afternoon breeze.....

Then a moment to settle the feathers and get everything back in correct position again......

And in an instant the hawk was airborne again!

I love the continuous shooting feature on my camera for photo opportunities like this and I was thrilled to be able to capture the majesty of this beautiful juvenile Red-Tailed Hawk in flight.

In the woods about a quarter-mile from our house, there is a mated pair of Red-Tailed Hawks that nested successfully again this year.  We see them frequently during the year and this juvenile has been hanging around for several weeks now.  I often hear its pitiful calls and I've seen the parents nearby, so I know it's not been abandoned yet.  Plus there's an abundance of small mammals and rodents in my backyard habitat to support a family of raptors.  I hope I get the chance to see this youngster up close again this summer.