We haven’t had much rain in the last month, so the water levels of the Ottawa River have dropped and mudflats are developing in Shirley’s Bay and Ottawa Beach. I wanted to look for shorebirds, but Shirley’s Bay didn’t sound too appealing – a long mosquito-infested walk through the woods to get to the dyke, which is almost completely open to the baking sun – all the while carrying a scope that sometimes feels like it weighs as much as I do. So yesterday I drove over to Andrew Haydon Park instead.
It’s been a long time.
I didn’t mean to take a break from blogging, let alone such a long one, but I realized that except for my post about owl baiting, I haven’t posted anything in almost a year.
I guess it started when I fell behind after our trip to Costa Rica. I’d also been sleeping badly, waking up ridiculously early no matter what time I went to bed. This past winter, I was waking up around 4:00 and feeling tired all day. I couldn’t concentrate, and kept forgetting things. I was starting to make mistakes at work. My mental state was permanently foggy – it was like when you get out of bed with only half an eye open and when you get in the shower you can’t remember if you just shampooed your hair or conditioned it so you start over. Worse, I can’t have caffeine, so chugging coffee or energy drinks was out. Eight o’clock or ten o’clock, it made no difference what time I went to sleep – I was awake again by 4:00 or 4:30. I work full time, and blogging was the last thing on my mind even though I kept going out on weekends and taking photos. I have to confess, some days I didn’t even much feel like going birding.
At some point I realized I wasn’t just tired, I was exhausted. When I went to my doctor to get an allergy shot one day in June, I left my jacket there and had to go get it at lunch time. Only then did I tell my doctor how I’ve been feeling. She immediately changed my sleeping pill prescription, and after a few months, I’m feeling like myself again.
My desire to blog hasn’t really come back, so I’m going to start with the present and work backward and see how far I get. I’ve got some lovely photos from Drumheller (Alberta), Las Vegas, Nova Scotia, and southern Ontario I want to share. I may not quite remember all the stories that go with them, so my posts might be shorter than usual, but hopefully I will be able to get on track – and stay on track.
The number of herons hunting at the ponds has also increased lately, which is typical this time of year as the birds disperse from their breeding grounds to look for good feeding areas. At least two Great Blue Herons, two Great Egrets, and three Black-crowned Night Herons are around; I haven’t seen any Green Herons yet so far, but expect they will show up shortly. Because there are so many herons here, and because they perch and feed out in the open, they make excellent targets of study; I shouldn’t be surprised that they are starting to draw the attention of local photographers. I ran into one this weekend specifically to photograph the egrets and herons; doubtless there are others.
I have four chipmunks now visiting my yard looking for food dropped from the bird feeder. At first I was only aware of three, one of which has a shorter tail than the others, and only two of which will run up to the back door when I open it and call them over (they know I keep the good stuff inside). Then a few weeks ago I noticed three chipmunks with long tails, although they don’t all come at the same time.
One day I noticed this chipmunk in my back garden, standing on its hind legs while munching on my pansy flowers. The pansies are situated just in front of the bird bath and do much better out back than they do in my front garden – they have been blooming profusely since May. (The ones in my front garden died only a few weeks after planting – remind me to never plant them out front again.) I tried to take some photos of the chipmunk standing up and eating the flowers, but they didn’t turn out so well.
However, I did manage to snap the shutter in time to get this photo:
I went out and put some pile of bird seed on the small retaining wall, and the chipmunk disappeared until I was gone. Then it came back out to feed.
It has a much shorter tail than my short-tailed Chippy, and it looks much more ragged – as though it was freshly broken off, and none too cleanly. I am not sure whether my short-tailed chipmunk had its tail further shortened, or whether this is one of my regular long-tailed ones. I’ll have to keep an eye out on the weekends and see.