wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Dark Days, Dark Nights

I thought it was cloud cover and the potential for rain at last, but no such luck. This blanket of cloud was not made of water. Smoke from California wildfires filled our atmosphere all along the Canadian south coast, and inland through the southern half of British Columbia. The air quality rating goes to 10 but today it was 10+. It was darkish all day.

The sun tried to come out, but isn’t it supposed to be yellow? It was red! Just like it was two years ago when we had wildfires all over BC.

After a dark day, the pitch blackness of night set in, and I took the dogs outside for last call. Above me in those trees in picture one, sat Einstein, screeching to the Junior Professor who was someplace deeper in the woods. They shrieked to each other every 10 to 15 seconds.

For the video clip below, I tried to hold a flashlight in my left hand and the camera in my right, and somehow bring the camera’s lens to focus on the owl in the beam of light. Then came the challenge of turning the video button on with one hand.

Later when I looked at the video, I thought the owl was probably doing that circular motion with his head trying to follow the movement of the light and the camera, which  were casting about all over the place. As always, apologies for the blurriness, but it was pitch black and I was struggling to get a picture with both hands full. But you may be able to see the owl’s head swiveling around. Did you know they have a range of about 270 degrees? 360 makes a full circle.

Also, you can hear their shrieking, screeching call, so different from the soft hoo-hoo-hooing call they use later in the winter. Einstein must have gotten something on his bib from his last meal, or maybe it was pitch from the trees. He is pulling on it to tidy himself up for the camera.

Einstein, perched high in the tree,

Poses unafraid,

Lovely, big-eyed gorgeous me,

For the camera made.

Shrieks and screeches I can make

Scaring little mice,

Keeping nearby folks awake,

Judging by the lights.

Smoke-filled air will hide me more

When I’m on attack,

And while folks at last do snore,

I will nab my snack.


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Not “Hoo” but Where?

It was an owly night. I couldn’t sleep for the sounds of hooting and hissing and screeching right outside my bedroom window. But WHERE were they? I needed them to get rid of those pests.

Owls are not the only animals on nightshift.

Look what that destructive little bunny did to my front yard. I don’t know what he’s digging for. I suspect it’s the roots of those tiny dandelion-like flowers (weeds). He must have heard the owls, but these roots are so yummy (I guess), it’s worth the risk of becoming dinner himself.

He deposits some tiny raisins of fertilizer – a snack for Emma and Ruby –  to show his appreciation for the midnight snack, but … those huge holes are everywhere.

Einstein and the junior professor are asleep at the switch. I guess that’s what happens when you stay up all hootin’ night.

 

 

The night was black until the moon

Lit up the darkness and the gloom,

“Soft lighting on our dinner plate,”

The old owl says, “It’s getting late.

Glide down with me. I’ll show you how

To catch this rabbit. Come! Right now!”

 

As Einstein swooped on silent wings

He thought, Tonight we’ll dine like kings.

The bunny leapt, he heard the whoosh,

As talons missed his ears and tush.

Into the hedge he slipped away

“I’ll eat those roots another day.”

 

 

“The holes I’ve dug will still be there

I’ve dug so many everywhere.

I know that Anne-li will be mad

And curse me out for being bad,

But everybody’s got to eat,

As long as I’m not Owl Meat.”

 


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A Case of Harassment All Around

It was a glorious morning, very early.

Ruined!

“Caw! Caw! Caw!” came the ugly croaking call of a crow, summoning his cohorts to make a try for the breakfast that was about to happen when Robbie, Ryan, Ross, and Roberta left their robin’s nest.

I picked up some pebbles from the yard, grabbed the slingshot and went looking for the murderers who threatened to skewer the baby robins with their sharp beaks, much like hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party.

As I walked down the path in front of my house, the crows flew away, and I stood a moment to admire the view.

I took a few breaths of fresh sea air and turned to go back home. Just then, something burst out of the two-foot-high St. John’s wort shrubbery at the side of the road. It flew up onto a fence rail about ten feet away and stared down at me.

It stared and stared and stared, for maybe 30 seconds, and then it flew up into a nearby fir tree.

I hurried into the house and traded the slingshot for a camera.

It was much farther away now, and I had to zoom the camera. It’s a bit fuzzy, but I was still thrilled to get any kind of a picture of this great horned owl.

Later I saw what it might have been after.

Looking back, I was harassing the crows who were harassing the owl who was about to harass the rabbit who was about to harass my garden which held the worms that the robins were about to harass. And what was harassing me? The backyard supervisors, wanting their breakfast.

Sorry for the blurry picture of Emma. She can NEVER sit still.

And Ruby, patiently waiting for her breakfast.


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Quick Like a Bunny

M-m-m! These tall grasses smell delicious!
Oooh! Yummy! They are exquisite.
I wonder if I should turn on the tap and give the grasses a drink of water to make them grow.
This long stem is so good, and it gets better the closer I nibble it to the top. Hahaha! I could come to a seedy end!
Uh-oh! Did I hear the backyard supervisors? Those dogs are F-A-S-T! At least, the little black one is. The other one is getting pretty old (thank goodness)!
I’m just going to hide here for a minute. If I stand straight, I’ll look like part of the pipe. I think I’m slim enough, don’t you?
On second thought, maybe I should crouch down and hold still. This is when I wish my ears weren’t so long.
Just to be on the safe side I think I’ll skedaddle, quick like a bunny, until the coast is clear.

I found some grass with flavour grand,

Beside the tap and in the sand,

I nibbled it and loved the taste,

I could not let it go to waste,

But then I heard a vicious dog,

My eyes bugged out, I stared agog,

I tried to hide but then I thought,

This battle’s one that can’t be fought,

The dog has biting teeth and jaws,

I sure don’t want to give her cause

To bite my soft brown bunny fur,

I’d rather run away from her.

I’ll come back later, in the night,

When she is sleeping curled up tight.

And then I’ll munch and lunch till dawn

Cause I am safe while sun is gone.

But, oh, what is that hooting sound?

I think I’d best not stick around.


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Owl Pellets

I found these pellets (not poop, and most likely from an owl) on my driveway yesterday. Thanks to the many trees, we have a lot of owls in the neighbourhood.

When the rabbit, mouse, or rat populations get too high, the owls show up in greater numbers and stay until those populations are down again.

By the way, did you know that while rats and mice belong to the order rodentia, rabbits do not? They belong to the lagamorpha order.

You might think that owls are greedy, eating the whole animal from head to toe (and they literally do start at the head), but they have it all figured out. The crunched up fur, bones, and claws are  cast out in pellet form. In plain English, they throw up the parts they don’t want to digest. This is sometimes called casting.

In the pellets below you can see that the owl probably ate something with gray fur. A few bits of bone are showing in one of the top left pellets.

If you think this is a rather  disgusting way to eat, consider how we might tackle a piece of meat with our knife and fork. We cut around the bone and we cut away pieces of fat and gristle. The owl, lacking a knife and fork just does this job in a different way, but the result is the same. The unpalatable parts are discarded.

You might not give a hoot about this info, but owl bet you learned something. 😉


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Tree Talk

Did you know that trees talk to each other? Just look at these two firs on the far right. They definitely have their heads together, whispering secrets to each other.

“Are you there, Conan? The fog is so thick, I can hardly see my limbs in front of my face.”

“Of course I’m here, Firginia. It’s not like I’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. My feet are firmly planted on the ground.You might say I’ve put down roots here.”

“Well, it’s not like you’d get a better view  if you went anywhere else.”

“Oh, heavens, no. I knew a fellow tree, not sure fir how long, fir years anyway, he was leaning towards another  location. But it ended up all his plans went up in smoke. Some guy with a chainsaw promised him a nice cozy woodshed to live in, but the odds were stacked against him. He met some of our old friends there in the woodshed, but it wasn’t enough to save him. I’m sure from up here, I saw the other  blockheads in the shed. That girl Ashley, made a real ash of herself. Should have stayed on her mountain.  And there was some burly fellow just lying there. He thought he’d be turned into a tabletop but it ended up the tables were turned on him. He got fired, just like the rest of them.”

“That’s sounds like what happened to our friend Cy. He said, ‘Naw, they won’t burn me. They don’t like cypress. Too pitchy.’ But they piled him into the woodshed too, along with his cousin, Cedric. If only he hadn’t drawn attention to him, he might have survived. But Cy kept saying, ‘Ce-dar he is, over dar….Ce-dar, right dar,’ and he kept waving his flat, feathery fingers to point out the cedar. And just when Cedric was kindling a relationship. Now he’s just kindling.”

“I wood think about a move but I’m quite happy here, with all my cones,” Conan said. “I have a fantastic view from up here. Eagle’s eye view, Baldy told me so yesterday when he landed on one of my arms. Little pest was bouncing up and down,  though, trying to break my arm.”

“I know!” said Firginia. “He’s done that to me too. I think it’s the nesting instinct. They try to break off arms fir building their nests. I don’t mind if they break off the deadwood, but not my good arms, fir heaven’s sake.”

“I pre-fir the owls. Fowler just drifts in silently and I don’t even know he’s sitting on my arms until he calls his wife.”

“Yeah, I know. She’s always sitting on my arms, watching fir him to notice her, but he really doesn’t give a hoot.”

“Oh but he does.  Every 15 seconds, he’s hooting and ‘owling fir her. Drives me crazy some nights.”

“Well, why don’t you leave then, if you don’t like it?”

“I told you, I’ve put down roots here. Fir heaven’s sake, weren’t you listening?”

“Yes, yes. All right if you’re not going anywhere, the least you can do is hold my limbs when I reach out for you. There’s another storm coming and we have to hold on to each other, or we’ll end up in the woodshed together.”

“That woodn’t be too bad,” said Conan, twitching his fir cones. “I hear some interesting things go on behind the woodshed. Yew don’t know what yew’re missing. A hot time!”

“I said, IN the woodshed, not BEHIND it. And then you’d soon be in the wheelbarrow and heading for a hot time in the woodstove,” said Firginia.

“Well, c’est la vie. At least I’d be doing a good thing warming up the house for Anneli. I hear she’s always cold.”

“Now don’t pick on Anneli. She’s been very busy with publishing her new book, Marlie. I hear it’s a good one. Our cousins on the Queen Charlotte Islands are in it.”

“What I really like about Anneli’s books, she doesn’t insist on cutting down trees for her books. You can get the Kindle version,” Conan added.

“Oh HOT stuff! Kindle, get it? Kindle a fire under her words? I hear they’re that good!”

“But what if I don’t need to Kindle anything?”

“Then you go to smashwords.com.”

“Smashwoods?”

“Not smashWOODS! SmashWORDS. It’s smashwords.com Honestly, sometimes I think you have a wooden head.”

“Well … I do.” (Sigh!)