Thursday, October 25, 2012


Ruthven was the first place we saw a "Tufted Titmouse", and it's always a thrill to see them.
The Ruthven Bird Banding Station closes officially for the Fall season this Saturday, and because I'll be on plane to Florida when that happens, Rob and I drove over last Sunday for a one last visit this year.

As per normal, the banding station was humming with activity, and unbeknownst to Rick, the chief bander, I climbed a hurdle while there.

I haven't been able to handle a bird since my Mom passed in January. The many trips we made over to the station this Spring and Summer, I wouldn't even release a bird, let alone band it. The two have nothing to do with each other, but somehow I got the two associated in my head and I couldn't do it.  

There were many Pine Siskins moving through Ruthven on Saturday, and while we were in the banding station, I was commenting on how small there were, and next thing I know, Rick is putting one in my hand to release. I didn't even have time to refuse. As I was walking out the door, holding the pretty little bird for release, I looked down at the fragile little thing looking up at me and had one of those "Ah Ha!"moments, yes, I can still do this.  I have no pictures of the moment, as it happened so fast, and Rob didn't even have his camera out yet, but it's one of those moments I won't need a picture to remember anyway.

We spent a great morning at Ruthven walking the grounds and enjoying the variety of visitors to the banding station. We always have a good visit when we're there, even when the birding isn't great, but the birding was pretty sweet on Sunday!

Ruthven was the first place we saw a Tufted Titmouse, and Sunday we saw four! We also had a great low fly over of an adult Bald Eagle. The lower field was full of Golden Crown Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warblers, always exciting to see birds I associate with Spring migration in the Fall.

An adult Bald Eagle checked out the Ruthven grounds.
Pine Siskins, many at the feeders and in the Ruthven nets for banding.
A Yellow-rumped Warbler enjoying a sunny Fall day.
 It was a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning and now has me wishing Spring wasn't so far away.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


A sleepy little budgie.
Our children are of the fur and feather variety, but when something happens to them I can't imagine the fear, worry, and helplessness you feel being any different if they were human.

Last Thursday morning my phone rang at work, it was Rob, he was at the vet with Misfit, emergency vet appointment, she had laid an egg, but it broke inside her, there was blood. My heart immediately starting racing, and I was so scared for the little yellow feather-head that Rob had captured over 5 years ago after she spent four months making a home out of our backyard.

Rob was overwhelmed by all the information the vet was throwing at him, we discussed options, costs, and came to a decision of what we were able to do for her. When the vet came back in the room I was put on the phone with her, and after a lengthy discussion we made a plan we were all happy with for Misfit's recovery.

Instead of leaving her overnight she was brought back home, where Rob and I both felt would be less stressful for her. She had pain medication, antibiotics and calcium to be given, orally. Oh boy, we never handle Misfit, so this was going to be a new experience.

Rob stayed home with her and I was home just a couple hours later. We were told that the next 12 hours were critical. It was heart breaking to see her so ruffled and sleepy, and we had no way to let her know that we were doing all we could for her. It was overwhelming to me to realize just how much I love this little bird. Rob and I were both emotionally exhausted when we went to bed that night.

Misfit survived the night. Rob and I were both nervous about him giving her the medication that was to start Friday morning. I had plans to go away for my annual "girls weekend ", but was having second thoughts. I left for work happy that Misfit was still with us, but with loads of worry too.

I shouldn't of worried, Rob was a superstar in taking care of her. And after he gave her, her first dose of medication, we both felt that it would be ok for me to go away for the weekend as planned. Misfit was in very capable hands.

Misfit snuggled up in a facecloth to receive her medication.
   Rob took her back to the vet on Saturday morning for a follow-up and he told me that the vet was amazed at how strong and feisty she was. We believe the time living in the back-yard contributes to this.
Misfit in the truck on her way for a follow-up visit with the vet.
 As much as I enjoyed my weekend away with the girls, it was nice to get home to my little family and check-up on Misfit. I watched Rob intently as he gave her the nightly medication, as I was going to do it on Monday, and Rob would be there to supervise.

Monday didn't go very good. I got so nervous and I was scared I was going to hurt her. After the 3rd attempt of me trying to give her the medication, which ended up with her lose flying around the room banging into things and me having a melt down, it was decided it was better for me, Rob and Misfit for Rob to continue to play nurse maid. I was so disappointed in myself.

Today, both Rob and I took Misfit to the vet for another follow-up. The vet says she is doing good, but she is not out of the woods yet. She's still on antibiotics and calcium. Once she is done the antibiotics, we will start putting the calcium in her water.

She's sleeping, a lot. In fact, in the five plus years we've had her, I have never seen her sleep so much. She's also lost a lot of weight. I'm honestly not sure if she is going to bounce back from this, but I still have hope. Every once in a while we see signs of how she was before this happened, and we hope to get back there, but if not, we're both content in the fact that we have done all we can for her.

As I type this, they are both in their cages on the table, Misfit is fast asleep, and Moonie is in his cage looking longingly up at her, he seems so sad, but that is part of the story that Rob needs to write, and I'm sure he will.   

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


My 200th "lifer" bird, a stunning Great Gray Owl.
The alarm went off at 3am on Thanksgiving Monday. Rob and I got up, no complaints, and got ready for Jim and Lynda to pick us up at 4am so we'd be in Algonquin Park for sunrise. We met Lev as planned and we all (besides Lev) had our first look at a Great Gray Owl in his natural habitat.

The above paragraph may not seem like a big deal, to really understand why this past Monday was so special to me, we need to go back in time.....

In February 2011, Rob and I went on our first Authentic Canadian Tours trip, the founder and guide leader, Murray, who we now call friend, told me about a story I "must read". It was on a blog by this "young guy, Lev Frid", who wrote about a family of Great Gray Owls in Algonquin Park. Murray sent me the link to the story; "Days with Great Grays" a day later.

I was completely blown away by the story, it had everything I love in a story; it was heartwarming, it had some drama and most of all, a happy ending.

This is my favorite part of the story, to read the full story, and I suggest you do, click HERE.

 How awkward this must've looked - a human and an owl sitting on a log in the middle of the woods, looking at each other like two kids on a playground making friends for the first time. Of course the bird didn't understand the concept of friends or companionship, but I think at that moment that animal realized that I was more than an inanimate object in it's environment.

His sibling's screech notified him of his mother's arrival with a vole, and he swiftly took off from his perch and awkwardly made his way out of the bog. And so did I.

I told everyone about this story! I must of read it a hundred times and emailed it to everyone I knew and some people I didn't, including the Canadian Wildlife Federation, telling them they need to publish it. I became an instant fan of Lev Frid for his commitment and dedication to the health and survival of this family of owls.

I commented on his story and he sent me an email thanking me for my words. Over time his name would come up once in a while in our birding circles and I soon discovered we had some mutual friends and acquaintances. Eventually we became "Facebook Friends". I've emailed him a couple times with birding questions and tried to make arrangements with him to give Rob and I a guided tour of Algonquin, but our calendars and schedules never quite meshed.

Imagine my surprise when a week ago Sunday while having brunch at Milestones with Rob, my BlackBerry buzzes and it's a message from Lev. He knows of a Great Gray in Algonquin and if Rob and I can make it up within the next week or so, please do, he'd like to show us. I was literally bouncing in my seat after reading his message. A day and time were picked and arrangements were made.

We all knew driving up there Monday morning that the owl may not be around, but it was a chance we were all willing to take. Mother Nature was on our side though, the owl was there and as we entered Algonquin Park the rain that we had been driving through for over an hour suddenly turned into big, white, fluffy snowflakes, but stopped long enough for the guys to take some stunning photos.

A Great Gray Owl through the snow.

What an absolute gift it was to see this majestic creature.

Standing in Algonquin Park with Lev Frid watching a Great Gray Owl was a full circle moment for me and an unforgettable experience for us all.

For Lev's new blog, please click here.


Saturday, October 6, 2012


Back in June when I attended the harbour front "Down Home" festival, I did a bit of shopping. They had a fair sized tent set up show-casing some maritime  products. One of the purchases I made was some goats milk soap from a company called, "Nature's Natural Solutions".  I really liked the soap for the bath and decided to have a look at their website to see what else they sold.

I have what I call "fussy skin", it's on the sensitive side, but I'm in my mid-forties now, so am also interested in keeping my skin young looking.  I had been looking for a new moisturizer for a while, as the one I was using was ok, but felt it was far too expensive.  After reading some reviews of their facial products and exchanging a few emails with the owner I placed an order.  

Now I also use their facial cleanser, and have really noticed the difference in my skin the last couple months. My skin is more even toned, smoother and softer. The facial cleanser removes makeup just as good as the product I had been using before but at more then half the price.

I use many of their other products as well and just adore their lip balm, my favorite is the "Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry".  

I live in Toronto where I could get any facial products I want and spend various amounts of money on each. Using Nature's Natural Solutions products is using a high end product without the high end price tag.  

I am really glad I decided to pick up that bar of soap back in June, and I love having something in my house that says "Made in Nova Scotia".