Friday, 29 May 2015

Wood duck nesting box: they flew the coop!

Wood duck Nesting Box #1
Male Wood duck
Males don't hang around!

Oh me, oh my. We had another marathon trip to Ottawa Hospital for an MRI. I couldn't be here for my ducks to fly. The Trailcam is terrible for grabbing photos of birds, especially the wetland ducks. They, unlike Loons and some other ducks, do not need to do a run to gain flight. They seem to jump up and are airborne. The Trailcam, meant for game animals, has a 5 second delay before it kicks in. It only takes a second for Wood ducks to rise up for glory. [This is yesterday's post, in case you missed it, showing the babies underneath momma!]

Last year I traipsed down at 3 p.m., just as they were scurrying across the pond. I was blessed! This is the video from 2014.

We arrived home at 8:39 p.m. Thursday night after a 4:30 p.m. appointment, just like Gillian GPS predicted. I tore down to the frog pond to grab the SD Card, switch it out, and run back up, followed by a kazillion mosquitoes. I must say I owe a debt of gratitude to a woodpecker, as you will see in the video. It set the trigger off, and in the background I could see Momma duck flying. They were there, then, at 6:14 p.m. It had to be after that, or early this morning, that all 12 little ducklings climbed up and out.

The 90-day survival rate is about 30 - 40%. 

Frog pond from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.
 I repeated the wood duck momma flying twice, as she is so quick. No wonder I'm not getting her on the Trailcam.

I ventured down, in housecoat and pajamas, this morning at 7:30. The nesting box is totally empty. Last year she only hatched 5 of 10 eggs. This year, 12/12! Gone. Nothing on the Trailcam... I so sad, in a way! For those of us who are teachers, it's like moving on to the next homeroom class. You will seldom know what happened to last years batch. So, in that tradition, we still have a duck on the nest!

Wood duck nesting box #2

Wood duck egg - quite large!
This one did not hatch
 from the 2014 nest.

Crossing around the edge of the pond, which is sadly evaporating as vernal ponds do in summer, I figured I might as well check out nesting box #2. Daisy was sitting on a tree stump watching me.

Momma is on this nest and I was sure she was going to eat my snake scope. (I call it the snake scope, but it is an endoscope. This gives hubby the heebee jeebies. Snake scope is better!)

She began laying feathers May 19th, which is the prep before the eggs. They sit on them 28 - 37 days. I was most excited. *TWO* hatchings this year! The boxes aren't cheap, made to specs from recycled barn board, but so rewarding to think that I am helping these birds. With all the predators around, it's good to give them a place to nest and have a good start.

I don't know whether to keep the trailcam on her box, or put it out in the meadow to see if I can spot any newborn deer! The Robins are onto brood #2! Everything is sprouting. Our newest granddaughter is doing well out in Vancouver, as well! Our 5 and 7-year-old granddaughters will visit us next week for the week. Much fun is anticipated!

Nesting box #2 2015 from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.
Momma duck #2 is in confinement! She went after the snake scope, protecting her eggs. Good girl. It's a dog-eat-dog world! I think there are about 7 -10 eggs.

So hard to tell how many eggs are here!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Wood ducks hatched!

My endoscope
 I took an endoscope video of momma on the nest. (The video is below!)

About 10 or so. Apr. 27
I screamed with delight and surprise!
May 25th is the day they could hatch, I thought.
Momma was pretty calm, but then we've had trees taken down, and there is much action in our forest. This looks like a snake, and she didn't seem to bat an eyelash.

The bugs weren't too bad that time, since it was quite cold! This week we are much warmer and they are terrible!
In Wood duck box #1 momma sits on 12 eggs, despite having trees chopped down around her. She nested really early this year! I felt so badly for her, but she hung in despite the chainsaws.

They are due to be hatched May 25th, I thought I'd take a peek with the endoscope camera May 24. Momma #2 was on the frog pond, in the second part of the video. She began laying May 19th, I think.

May 25th, down I went to see if brood #1 hatched. I couldn't see anything but one egg on the endoscope.  I was afraid she'd already gone. Turns out momma was away, the egg was warm and the others were still there. I felt badly opening up the box, but no harm was done. Me bad!
Little grooves to allow the babies to get
a leg up and climb out of the box.

In the meantime, on the way back, I tripped on a fallen branch and fell on my hands, right into the Poison Ivy! Argh! I washed and washed when I got back to the house.

There were 12 eggs, I think. They were quite uncovered, perhaps momma knew they were hatching?

Wood duck eggs from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.
I checked the box with the endoscope Tuesday. They were due to be born any day now. I counted 12 eggs! Momma was on the pond watching me. The bugs are bad, and I had to use hubby's special hat!

May 27th

Back I went next morning (Wednesday).
Just to keep you posted...they have hatched. I anticipate that they will jump out of the box on Thursday. They follow momma, and just...jump! I've set up the Trailcam, and I hope I will get something. Last year I just happened to go down as they were going across the pond to the wetland, it was a guess. I don't have that option today. I got them on video in 2014: 5 ducklings out of 10 eggs. That was June, though. They ARE early this year.

May 27 hatched from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.
After 30 days the Wood ducklings have hatched! It is normal for them to take 28 - 37 days.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Annabelle – Norwegian Forest Cat?

I am so in love with her! She's settled in so well. She was featured at our Vet's office, taken in from a local barn owner, but needing a home. She'll sit for 20 minutes while granddaughter Josie scratches her cheek!

There is still some tension between the other cats, but she defers to them, while defending herself and the house against a barn cat that keeps coming over for food! She'll sit all night, at the foot of the bed, watching the cat door for said interloper. In the day time she follows me all over, whether I'm gardening or computing!

My Facebook friend suggested she might be a Norwegian Forest Cat. I Googled images of said cat, and there are similarities. Who knew? She supervisies when I'm stacking wood, while the others get bored! On our walkies in the forest and down to the frog pond, she's begun relaxing enough to climb trees. In the beginning, she was afraid of going outside, happy enough being safe indoors. In the first photo, you can see her in the tree!

Norwegian Forest Cat

Just for fun, I did some research. She was found in a barn, we don't know her story. I wouldn't be surprised that citiots threw her away in the country, as is their way. A fierce hunter, she'll nab a mouse with lightning speed, but so affectionate with us, and the grandkids, I thought I'd check this out.

This is a very old breed, who have lived in the forests of Norway for thousands of years and played a part in Norse mythology. In the early 1970'a a group of Norwegian cat fanciers formed a group to try to preserve this breed called Skogkatt [forest cat] in its homeland. In 1979, the first breeding pair were imported to North America.

 They are semi-long-haired, with a double coat that sheds water. She doesn't need as much grooming as the short-haired Daisy, who is shedding a whole other cat! They are known for their suitability as a domestic cat, loving human and other pet contact. (This we've found true!) But according to the CFA, they will let you pet them on THEIR terms, resting on a chair, cat bed or caterpillar, they are said to be sensitive yet social. Again, she'll tolerate a certain amount of grooming, then growl - having had enough. Trimming her claws in winter was a trial, let me tell you!

She's also growled at a booming roll of thunder, the deer outside the window, and she's very protective of her house. She doesn't seem to need to go outdoors, as do the other cats, and she loves indoor play, with many toys. Again, her bursts of energy, then a long nap, is an indication of Norwegians. Her expression is indicative of the breed, as well, almond-shaped eyes. That big eyebrow is a hoot!
Barn cat visiting, begging for food.
Annabelle will growl at her, chase her away.
Barn cat snuck into the house, after cat food in the kitchen.
Playtime on walkies
Daisy and Dorah
Buster, helping with stacked wood!

She loves being indoors!
Not to neglect the others cats:
Dorah in the morning sunlight

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Flower planting and nurseries!

This is called 'ketchup & fries!'
Both potatoes and tomatoes.
They have such a sense of humour.
What a glorious rain we had, finally! My rain gauge had 10mm in it! This gives us a May accumulation of 41mm, so far. It was a prefect rain, all day, with enough time to really seep into the ground.
I harvest 4 ticks from Daisy yesterday, 5 the previous day, even though we had rain. She came in soaking wet and bugs on her eye and whisker patch.
This makes 24 in total. It's going to be a good year for them, methinks!
We have peas sprouting. Isabelle and I planted them on Mother's Day. That was a blast. I can't wait to show her how they are growing, let alone pick some to eat!

My planters are full, although I've given up on many of them. I cannot find a good reason to water baskets of flowers 50m down the property! I'm more in favour of perennials than annuals, but the petunias are lovely, and I HAVE to plant impatience in honour of my mother! You'll recall we even shopped locovore for native plants.

I planted some cucumbers, squash and zuccinni in a water barrel, on the middle deck. I have no confidence that we can keep our Mr. Groundhog, labbit, or the deer. And the bugs have been terrible. Also, this barrel is close to the hose, and I can water it easily. We'll see what happens.

There is nothing nicer than walking into a rich, moist space, like this. Lovely colours of flowers. We frequent a lot of different nurseries, just to spread our business around.
This is on my fave list!
Happy Anniversary?!
Nudge-nudge, wink-wink!

I have enough lawn ornaments, I know...
but they are so cute!

Videos! Deer, Buster chasing Daisy

The silly critters! I think a couple of them have round bellies, getting ready for birth!

Deer selfies #2 from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.

Buster is such a dingbell! Chasing his little 7 lb. sister up a tree. At 12 lb. he could take her, but they are having fun.

Buster chase from Jennifer Jilks on Vimeo.

Monday, 25 May 2015

May 18th clouds – no tornado!

They warned us that there could be big winds and a tornado. They were wrong, but better safe than sorry! We were on the edge of glory, however. Strikingly beautiful clouds, with shadows.

We were on the edge, but it seems as if the heavy clouds, as they are blown across the land, dump their water and eventually blow off. It was a relief. Ottawa had some heavy wind and rain, but nothing too serious!

We had no rain, at all. It's going to be a bad month. So far, only about 30mm. Last April, May, June (2014) we had somewhere around 160mm each month. In 2013, we had 117mm in May.

I am getting worried. This seems as if it might be like summer 2012, when we had a drought and only 1.7mm rain all August. This is the year the Monarch butterflies population was reduced by 80%.

Thankfully, there is a gentle rain today, Monday. I hope it lasts. We are dry.