wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Randolph Raccoon Roots Around

The Captain and I were having an afternoon coffee on our deck when Randolph came to visit. He’d been lurking around the yard late at night and usually disappeared in the wee hours of the morning. But lately he is getting braver about being seen in the glaring daylight hours.

He wasn’t too concerned about anything – even took time to scratch an itch.

He came right out in the open, looking for dandelions in the grass, and this explains his more frequent visits. Our grass is loaded in weeds. Definitely not a Scott’s Turfbuilder lawn. I don’t really mind him digging out the weeds to get at the roots or bugs, but I wish he would refill the holes.

Until now I had been blaming Bonnie and Benny Bunny for all the holes dug in our “lawn,” and they do their fair share of digging, but I saw Randolph in action this day, and knew I had to allow the bunnies some leniency. They are probably only guilty of digging a third of the holes in the yard.


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Introduced Species

The balance of nature has been out of kilter for hundreds of years – basically, since man has interfered to make things better. In many cases, some species have been introduced to an area where they are not indigenous to solve a problem “naturally,” without resorting to pesticides or culling of another species.

An example is the cane toad in Australia. It was brought into the country to deal with the cane beetle in the sugar cane fields. Unfortunately the cane toad is now the bigger problem.

Rabbits, too, were introduced there, and have multiplied as only rabbits can, making their population unmanageable.

The green crab has been transported in ships’ ballasts and has upset the marine ecosystems wherever it has established itself.

Zebra mussels are also an invasive species transported by ships.

Feral swine (also called wild pigs, Eurasian boar, or feral hogs) destroy agricultural fields and impact the regeneration of forests by eating the seeds, nuts, and cones of trees. The swine are omnivorous and so are a threat to young livestock. They can do tremendous damage to the agricultural industry. Feral swine carry at least 30 types of diseases and 40 types of parasites. They are really bad news!

Burmese pythons have been introduced to Florida’s Everglades through the pet trade and have upset the balance of nature there. They prey on rabbits, foxes, raccoons, and birds, to name a few. Many populations of smaller mammals have been decimated. The Burmese python has also brought a pentastome parasitic disease, infecting other reptiles. The parasite is now considered to be endemic in Florida.

 

So you see that introduced species can be quite detrimental to their new habitat.

While trout fishing on a local lake recently, the Captain encountered a new invasive species, the freshwater crocodile. It is pictured here, photo taken with the Captain’s little point-and-click Fuji camera. It is a bit blurry because he was shaking with fear, and paddling with one hand while he risked his life to take the photo with the other.

If you ever find yourself tempted to swim in a freshwater lake in British Columbia, be aware that these newly introduced crocodiles could appear from the depths to nibble on their favourite delicacy, swimmers’ toes.


40 Comments

Night Visitor

Reggie Raccoon came to visit last night. Emma dog was surprised when she went out for last call. Luckily for her, Reggie was a fast climber.  I don’t think Emma would have come away unscathed from an interaction with Reggie.

 

 

Reggie likes to prowl at night,

Finds it safer without light,

Still he gets caught by surprise,

Up the tree he’s quick to rise.

 

Little dogs might seem so cute,

But it brings out Reggie Brute,

He can be so fiercely mean,

After all the fights he’s seen.

 

Up the tree’s the safest thing,

Better than the fighting ring,

Reggie needs to watch his back,

Just in case the dogs attack.

 

Waiting in the branch’s crook,

Fearful moments while he shook,

Seem a lifetime till it’s clear,

And he can release his fear.

 

All he wanted was to check,

If the squirrels had left a speck,

They are given so much food,

Thought they’d share if in the mood.

 

Nothing left though, that was clear,

And when coupled with the fear,

Reggie wonders why he came,

He must find some other game.

 

In the meantime he will smile,

For the camera all the while,

Long as he can look so sweet,

He can hope they’ll leave a treat.

 

 

Meanwhile Emma’s found a spot,

Where she can relax a lot,

Reggie doesn’t want to play,

Maybe try another day.

 

 

By the way, Emma says,  Don’t forget to look at Anneli’s bargains for her books at https://wordsfromanneli.com/2021/11/21/book-bargains/ 

 


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All Masked Up

 

First it was the dog, growling and barking at me, and now it’s that woman waving her camera around like she’s a journalist and I’m the star of her freak show. I can see the headlines now: Masked Bandit Hides in Tree

Only one thing to do, and that’s go higher and stay put. The woman doesn’t look like she’s much of a climber – not at her age.

Emma, her dog, can jump a few feet, but of course, she can’t climb.

 

 

Well … let’s see … what’s the best way to get up here?

I’ll just have a stretch before I climb any higher. Get limbered up before I go up the limbs.

Ouch! I forgot about my owie. Think I scraped it the other night going up a tree in a hurry. Couldn’t really see where I was going and I gave myself a sore arm on one of those broken branches.

Now, where was I? Oh yeah, check out Mrs. Journalist. Yup, she’s still standing there pointing that black thing my way. Well, at least she can’t identify me with my mask on, so I can cause any kind of mischief I want. But I am complying with all the Covid rules – I have my mask on …  which is silly, because we’re outdoors in the fresh air.

When will she stop pointing that camera at me?

Sorry, but I’m a bit camera shy.

She’s a brazen one! Still there. Still pointing that gadget at me. Good thing I have a mask on for anonymity as well as for Covid. But still, still, still….

I’d better stay hidden behind the tree. I’ll just peek out now and then to see if she’s gone yet, and to make sure that dog isn’t around.

Reggie Raccoon felt quite brave around noon,

He just couldn’t wait until dark.

Running so hard across Anneli’s yard,

He leaped up the nearest tree’s bark.

 

Rushing he scrambled, his fate he had gambled,

He came close to losing his tail,

Emma, the jumper, leaped up to his bumper,

It’s lucky her snap was a fail.

 


47 Comments

Reggie Raccoon

Apologies for the fuzzy photo. In the middle of the night, I took this picture in a big hurry through the dining room window while the Captain shone a flashlight at this guy from the deck. Seconds later the bandit was gone.

 

Reggie saunters through the yard,

Looking for a treat,

Doesn’t want to work too hard,

Tired are his feet.

 

Sneaking ‘cross the lawn at night,

Hears a spaniel bark,

Though he jumps up in a fright,

Tiptoes through the dark.

 

Motion sensor light comes on,

“Oh, which way to go?

Hurry, get across that lawn,

Feet are much too slow.”

 

Soon he comes up to a tree,

Ponders his escape,

Opens wide his eyes to see,

And his mouth’s agape.

 

No more danger, no more dog,

Woodshed is quite near,

If he makes it to that log,

Nothing more to fear.

 

“Yikes! What is that brilliant light?

Shining right on me,

Wish I’d scampered out of sight,

Up that big fir tree.”

 

“Nothing else to do but smile,

Hope the photo’s good.

Then I’m getting out of Dodge,

Right behind this wood.”


45 Comments

Bald Eagles

I saw an eagle land in a tree below my house, so I went out onto the deck to take its picture.

Then I zoomed in on it and got a close up of it, but had no place to steady the camera and just took my chances.

In a second closeup, I saw that he had his beak open and I could see its tongue, but I see that the photo is quite small on the blog, so if you want to see the eagle’s tongue, you’ll have to click on the photo to make it bigger. Even so, it will be hard to see.

These birds are much bigger than they look. If you had one sitting beside you with its wings spread out, tip to tip those wings could span 8 feet. The bird might weigh about 14 lbs., the size of a small turkey. 

Anyone walking a small dog or worse yet, letting it run around in their backyard in eagle territory, had better watch out for it. They make a nice snack. Although eagles are not water birds, they will do what they have to do to procure food. I have seen an eagle with a loon in its beak, dragging it across the surface of the water as the eagle swims with one wing paddling like a lifeguard saving a drowning person, until it got to shore where it cold devour the bird. I have seen it do the same after swooping down to pick up a coho salmon just below the surface of the water. They are incredibly strong birds.

At this time of year, the herring come close to shore to spawn. This means a bounty of food for the eagles. You can see these birds showing up in the tall trees near the beaches in greater numbers to await the arrival of the herring. 

Eagles are not totally scavengers, but they are like a cleanup crew of a different kind. They are opportunists and will eat what is already dead, but they pick off sick or injured animals, whether they be land- or sea-birds, small mammals, or fish.  A crippled duck won’t suffer long with eagles around.

This is why you will often see eagles high up in a tree. They observe a large area, watching for stragglers in a flock of birds, or any weakness in animals small enough for them to pick up.

 

This raccoon may have been sick, injured, or dead, and became an eagle’s meal.

“Hmm…. There must be a little morsel left.”

 

“He’s messed up my nice white head feathers, but it’s worth it. What’s a bit of blood when you can fill your boots like this?”

“Just a few tidbits left. I hope I can still fly up into that tree with my stomach so full.”

 

Once when I was playing with Ruby, our late springer spaniel (then a small puppy), in the backyard, two eagles had been sitting unnoticed by me, in a nearby fir tree. They swooped down low across the yard, heading for tiny Ruby. I ran for Ruby and spread out my arms to provide an “umbrella” over her, and the eagles lifted up like two jets making an aborted landing. If I hadn’t been out there with her, she would have been eagle food that day.

 

So take care if you live in eagle country and have small dogs or cats. 

 


28 Comments

Night Prowlers

On the BC coast, if you have trees around, you’ll have raccoons. About three years ago, this fellow and his friends visited our yard and I managed to snap some pictures. It was easy enough to do in the daytime. But it’s the nighttime when these guys are most active. We hear them snapping and snarling and scrambling up and down the trees. Since I don’t have chickens, I don’t mind the raccoons being around too much, as long as they don’t interact with my dogs. I hadn’t seen any raccoons around for a while and had forgotten all about them until a couple of nights ago.

raccoon

I was in bed, almost asleep at about 11:30 p.m., when the room got a little bit brighter. I got up to find the source of the light. It was outside – the perimeter light on our workshop. Someone or something had walked by near the workshop and made the light come on.  I shone a flashlight around the yard and there he was. He had his mask on and was prowling around the backyard looking for trouble.

I ran for the camera while the Captain held the light on a second bandit who was climbing a tree not far from the back deck. I snapped a picture but it didn’t come out very well. The spotlight was too bright. The gray thing to the left of the raccoon is the utility trailer hitch, messing up the picture even more.

Anyway, we now know what has been causing our light to come on in the yard. I’ll be careful not to let the dogs out at night without a leash. Wouldn’t want them to tangle with one of these guys. They can be quite vicious when cornered.