Here we have an American Bittern doing battle with an American Bullfrog. We also saw a lot of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds around the flowers so I wanted to see if these ones might come to a feeder. I have tried this in the past with zero success but have never tried at this house so decided to experiment. We didn't have a feeder so we made our own out of a water bottle and piece of aquarium airline tubing. The flower was made with Christmas wrapping paper. I didn't put too much work into the feeder as all I wanted to see first was whether the hummingbirds might be curious. It was surprisingly successful. Within minutes of putting the prototype feeder outside a hummingbird found it and began drinking from it. Once we saw this we decided it would be worth getting some nice feeders to put out for the birds.
There are a good number and variety of snakes showing up on the rocks where they sun themselves. So far we have seen Garter snakes, colorful Eastern Milk Snakes (in the two photos below) and Dekay's Brown Snakes (being handled). All these snakes are non-venomous, shy and reclusive. The Dekay's Brown Snake is particularly gentle. They feed mainly on very small insects and don't get much larger than the one seen in the photo. Milk snakes get bit larger and mainly feed on small rodents. They are non-aggressive but can try to strike and bite when feeling threatened. Garter Snakes (not pictured) seem to be most feisty when I try to catch them. I've been bitten more times by those than any other type of snake. They usually hang around moist areas looking for small frogs. The only venomous snake in the province is the Massasauga Rattlesnake which is so rare it is very unlikely I'll ever see one around here.
Another interesting creature found under rocks, where we look for snakes, is the Six Spotted Tiger Beetle. They have great color and markings and are beneficial in the garden. The cat, "Cubby", has also taken an interest in catching snakes. He likes to bring them to the doorstep for us. I of course try to rescue the snakes as quickly as possible so they can be released back into a safe hiding place. When Cubby isn't hunting snakes he likes to be by someone's side at all times. He is a very clingy cat, and big too! If he can't be by your side he'll just get as close as possible or lie all over you instead. Here he is trying to stay as close as he can to the jigsaw puzzle activity, and again, trying to stay as close as possible to Devon as he sleeps.
Wild Calla Lilies found growing wild in the ponds and wetlands
The pond was lively with activity during the spring. This pair of birds are American Bitterns. They like to visit the pond and walk around the edges looking for frogs. These birds make one of the most unusual calls I've ever heard.
The turtles are always happy in and around the pond. The smaller ones seen here are painted turtles and the large one is one of our rare Blanding's Turtles.
On the lawn and in the woods around the pond we've seen a porcupine a few times. Devon and I chase the porcupine and throw an old cloth over it to collect quills. Harassing the porcupine a bit isn't doing any harm but will hopefully discourage it from hanging around too close to the house where the cat might get into it. As you can see in the photos those quills mean business!
Devon and I explore the trails and have found some nice new ponds and other signs of nature. In one area we found a beaver pond and saw some of their attempts at taking down and moving massive trees. As you can see beavers will take down trees that are far too big for them to manage. We also found a mass of eggs which we assumed belonged to frogs. As we watched these eggs during the next few weeks we discovered they were salamanders, probably Blue Spotted salamander. The newt seen here is an Eastern Red Spotted newt.
One of the most exciting events was seeing the pair of calf moose visiting our lawn. I managed to get some photos and then after the moose moved on I went out and measured the tracks. Now that I've seen the size of tracks made by small calf moose it gives me a better idea of the size of the moose who made the monster sized tracks seen a week or so earlier.