Friday, July 30, 2010

Cleo and bits and pieces

Cleo is a beautiful silvery brown Italian mastiff. She is only about a year in this picture. The caption I have under this picture is "What do you want, don't bother me, I'm waiting for Mr. Minky."

Mr. Minky is the shiny brown mink that lives under the decks and docks at my brother's cottage. My brother being something of a story-teller himself who has a wonderful sense of fun and play, gives names to things - as did our father - hence Mr. Minky. Cleo loves to hunt and chase things and would watch for hours, ears drooping forward as she hung her head over the dock's or rock or deck's edge, trying to see underneath and find the elusive mink whom - she seemed certain - deliberately hid from her. It's a great game.

Cleo owns my nephew and frankly, the hearts of all who know her. She and Trixie - another beautiful dog - a feathery perky Papillon live with my nephew and his partner and visit the cottage often to check on Mr. Minky and his cohorts.

And some follow up to some previous blogs - my bits and pieces for a Friday -

Yesterday one of the men involved with the Ontario Nesting Research Survey along with a mutual friend of his and mine, visited to see and record information about the two nests that I had written about recently: the elegant feathered swallow's nest with three abandoned eggs and the triplex - the twig nest constructed by a wren on top of a swallow's nest and topped I thought by another swallow's nest or a bluebird nest.

We recorded the longitude and latitude of the swallow's nest and took more photographs. One of the fellows took a few of the pretty little striped feathers which looked as if they were from a guinea fowl or some fancy chicken to use in making fishing flies. We also discovered that the nest box immediately next door had also been used by swallows for successful nests - I'd forgotten that. Then we proceeded to the triplex.

The fellows were impressed with the twig nest which is very tall - and then the gentleman with the survey, reached into the nest. He pulled out a tiny brown egg. My eyes popped.

"It's warm," he said. At that moment I heard the wren singing away in a nearby tree. "This is an active nest!"

He counted five eggs. So my job now is to watch the nest box when I walk the dogs and determine when the eggs hatch. What a treat that will be - to see five baby wrens fledge. Imagine!

And I also recently posted two images of baby birds which I couldn't identify but thought might be bluebirds.

As the fellows were about to leave, I saw a similar baby bird on the hydro wires across from my driveway. It was calling - that plaintive call that every mother no matter what the species recognizes - "Feed me! feed me please! I'm starving."

But it was definitely a bluebird call and through the lens of one of the men's cameras, it was identified as a young bluebird - exactly the same as the ones I'd seen three or so weeks ago. They seemed to be the same age - so it couldn't have been the same birds.

We looked along the wires and discovered three more bluebird babies. And suddenly a flash of that familiar turquoise and there was mum up close and personal with a grub of some sort that she stuffed into the calling baby's beak.

We watched for several minutes as the mother attended to her hungry brood.

And I felt pleased and proud. Seven new bluebirds from my property or nearby. (There are nest boxes on two of my neighbours' properties.) The expert told me that in the 1920s bluebirds were on the endangered species list. But due solely to the construction and use of nest boxes, they have made such a recovery that they are now among the most common nesting birds recorded in Ontario for the survey.

Fascinating stuff.

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