Tag Archives: Wildlife

Shell Games

No luck getting any photos of the empty goose nest yesterday, so I went back again today. You can see chunks of the hatched eggs laying around the sides of the nest.
Empty goose nest, lined with feathers, surrounded by hatched shells.
No sign of Mama Goose and kids today either, I think they’ve moved off to be closer to water. The facilities people must think so too as the traffic cones have been removed from the adjoining spaces.
For the longest time, I could never understand what the appeal was to putting a low-quality camera in a cell phone. It hit me a year or two back — the camera may not be very good, but it works well for casual shots, such as these, which might not have been taken otherwise. (Thankfully they’re starting to use slightly better cameras.)

Empty Nest Syndrome

When I went into the office this morning, Mama Goose was still sitting on the nest. It looks like last week’s goose photos were “just in time,” because when I went to get something from the car in the late afternoon, I found a few of these signs in the parking lot.
Sign: Slow! Please Be Careful! Baby geese are here!
I tried to get a couple shots of the nest, but they didn’t come out right. No sign of Mama Goose and the kids though. They either waddled off to the stormwater pond out behind the building, or else she was already busy teaching them to poop on cars.

Watering the Deer

(As a side note, or, at very least, a quick digression, after writing that title, it occurs to me to wonder whether Dave might think “watering the deer” is some sort of euphemism.)
After losing most of last year’s tomato crop to deer, I’ve been looking into ways to discourage the critters from coming into my yard. It turns out the most obvious approach – a fence – isn’t terribly effective. Anything less than eight feet high and the deer will jump right over it. And who wants an eight foot fence blocking their view? (It’s not a great view, but it certainly beats the parking lot views I’ve had at various apartments.)
One solution is a liquid deer repellent that you spray on your plants at grazing height. There are a few catches though. For starters, you have to reapply the stuff every time it rains. You have to apply it consistently across all the plants or else the untreated vegetation will mask the taste of the treated plants. And, of course, the way this stuff works is it makes the plants taste bad; so you don’t want to get any of it on the stuff you plan to eat.
One of the possibilities I ran across is a motion-activated sprinkler. The idea is that a deer wandering into the yard will trigger the sprinkler and get pelted with a few cups of cold water. This startles the deer and it goes running. Once a deer is scared out of an area, it’s not likely to come back. (By some accounts, these devices are also effective at deterring one’s neighbors from stealing tomatoes; though I haven’t had that particular problem.)
Mom and Dad gave me such a sprinkler back in February. I’m sure it’s not the most requested item on most people’s birthday lists, but most of the “toys” on my wish list (e.g. a decent point-and-shoot camera) were a bit on the pricey side, so this seemed like a reasonable alternative.
I came home on Wednesday to find a deer standing in my front yard. The deer stood its ground as I backed the car into the driveway, and didn’t even seem to take any particular notice as I got out and closed the car door behind me. It didn’t seem perturbed by anything until I started running toward it, yelling. (Hopefully the neighbors had their windows closed, otherwise they may be wondering about me a bit more than usual.
Sensing that this might be a good time to start trying to scare the deer away, I spent some time on Sunday afternoon getting the sprinkler set up.
One of the steps for setting up the sprinkler is to test it by standing behind the sprinkler and trigger the motion sensor by waving a hand in front of it. One detail I wasn’t entirely clear on though was how to set the sprinkler head’s range of motion. I’d set it to spray the area of the garden, but when I waved my hand in front of the sensor, first it spun to the right and sprayed me from that side. An instant later, it spun nearly 360 degrees and sprayed me again. At that point it paused for eight seconds before looking for more deer.
My next-door neighbors were out working in their garden and must have thought I’d lost my mind. The entire incident had taken place too quickly for them to have seen it, but at that point I started laughing uncontrollably. I’m not sure whether I stood up too quickly or perhaps just lost my balance, but either way the world went all wibbly-wobbly and I fell into the flower bed. I got up a moment later; unscathed, but still laughing manically.
My insomnia kicked in on Sunday evening, preventing me from getting more than a few moments sleep. But it was worth it. Around 4:30 I heard the sprinkler activate as the first deer got soaked.

Squirrels

It was rainy this morning, but sure enough, the first squirrel has found the bird feeders.
The first squirrel of winter.
Spotting the first robin of the spring is supposedly a big deal, if nothing else, I guess that somehow means it’s officially spring. I wonder if there’s any significance to “the first squirrel of winter”?

Squirrels

The bird have found the feeders. So far it looks like it’s all finches, but in the past I’ve also seen cardinals and blue jays. In the original squirrel photo, the tube shaped feeder on the left is filled with generic bird seed which appears to be mainly small seeds. The larger, hour-glass shaped feeder on right is filled with sun-flower seeds and that seems to be the one that the birds are most interested in. (The size of the openings in the mesh make it impractical to fill it with most other kinds of seed.)
Birds on the feeder
As of this morning, the squirrels haven’t found the feeder yet, but one came exploring while I was watching. My guess is that it was drawn to my yard by the sound of the birds.
An exploratory squirrel
For all I know, the squirrels actually discovered the feeders while I was at work. But it was dark by the time I got home, so it’s hard to say. My guess is that I’ll see squirrels on the feeder tomorrow.

Squirrels

Looking out the window this morning, I saw a squirrel running through the tree and across the yard. It may have found the seed that spilled when I was getting the feeder set up, but so far the actual feeder doesn’t seem to have been discovered yet.
So far, the birds haven’t found the feeder either.

Squirrels

One possible definition of the word “optimist” is anyone who thinks a squirrel-proof bird-feeder will prevent squirrels from getting at the food.
One of today’s activities was to give the bird feeders the first fill-up of the year. It’s been about eight months since the last time there was anything in those feeders, so it’ll probably take a day or two before the birds realize they’re back in business.
I’m sure the birds will enjoy the food, but at about the same time the birds find the feeders, I expect the squirrels will find them as well. The last few years, I’ve probably done a lot more to feed them than the birds. Last year, I even wound up replacing one of the feeders after if broke open when the squirrels chewed through the cord that was holding it up.
So, here’s the feeders as they looked this afternoon. We’ll see how long it takes before the first squirrel arrives.
Squirrel Feeders

Oh Deer

Wylie and I were about 2/3 of the way through our evening walk, we saw a car turning onto a side street and slowing down. I thought they were slowing down to look for a parking spot, but it turned out that they were watching a group of pedestrians.
There were five of them. As Wylie and I watched, three adult deer and two fawns crossed the street and went into the park on the other side.
For the next half mile, Wylie looked in the backyard of every house we passed, looking for more deer.