Tuesday, March 29, 2005

A new Turkey joins the Crowd

This morning, at the usual time we had a new visitor, a second Tom. This resulted in considerably more strutting on the part of both males. And there was a fair amount of chasing going on as well. I had to break up the contests as I had to leave for work.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

X-Rated Turkey

The turkeys arrived today at the crack of dawn, which is becoming a usual event. At first they all partake in a feeding frenzy but the Tom soon starts to strut his stuff. This morning he was strutting as usual when he hid behind a tree and all I could see was his tail feathers flicking up and down. It looked as though he was standing with difficulty and needed help balancing. I looked around the tree and here was Mr. Tom standing on the back of a female who was crouched on the ground. While seeming to balance precariously he proceeded to make steps on the back of the poor female. This seeming abuse went on for a good 10 minutes or more. The process seemed quite futile, until suddenly the female’s tail flicked straight up. The Tom immediately squatted onto the female and most likely culminated the mating ritual.

The Tom then jumped away and the female went off with ruffled feathers. I guess we can be expecting some more turkeys this summer.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Report from MNR

MNR replied within half an hour after the start of business Monday on the possibility of rabies in the porcupine. I was informed that it is highly unlikely that the porcupine has rabies. MNR of Ontario has not received a report of a porcupine with rabies since 1982. So I have returned the carcass to the forest to let nature take its course. I was none-the-less curious about quills, so I plucked and collected a dozen for future analysis. Porcupine quill embroidery is in high demand. A little box decorated by quills can go for as much as $300.00 or more. Quill embroidery is a common art of North American Aboriginals in the Great Lakes area and especially popular before the arrival of beads.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Lefty didn't make it.

I went out in the middle of the afternoon to check up on the Porcupine, and sadly it had perished. I was now able to better examine the carcass. It was not malnourished which was the first thing I questioned especially in the middle of winter. It was likely sick. I will report it to the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) Monday morning as soon as the office opens since it may be rabid. I was initially planning to let nature take its course but with the risk of rabies, I would not want to spread the disease to other local carnivores like the coyotes or fisher. Rabies is a very contageous and always fatal disease that can be spread to humans and is carried through saliva or tears and usually caught through a bite or a scratch from the rabid animal. I wrapped the carcass up in a heavy spent grain bag and put that inside a garbage bag. The quills still stuck through.

I then buried it under a foot of snow for freezing and safe keeping in case MNR want to pick it up.

I found Lefty

I took a short walk through the bush near the house this morning. The snowshoe trails that I created last weekend made an excellent path to walk on since I did not sink into the snow on the crusted and hardened snowshoe track. Off the tracks however was another story. There the snow was still deep and quite soft.

Just as I was about to arrive at the house I found Lefty, the porcupine that I had spotted earlier in January – see Jan 30th report. He or she was now sitting in the snow and was not moving much. Lefty is in pretty bad shape. Looks like a very old porcupine. It is blind in the left eye and its nose is heavily worn. It has two very significant orange coloured incisors, like a beaver, and the characteristic claw on its left front foot was bent upwards. Its fur is very matted. I thought that its foot might be stuck in a branch but that was not the case as I was able to move it away with a stick.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Renfrew Chapter AGM

I attended the Renfrew Chapter of the Ontario Woodlot Association at the Legion in Eganville, 2 hours and 156 km. drive from here. The group only recently joined OWA but were in existence for at least nine years as the Renfrew Woodlot Owners Association.

The meeting began with normal AGM business including President's reports etc. followed by two presentations.

Wade Knight, Exec. Dir. of the OWA gave a presentation on an update on MFTIP. There are plans by the Province, Minister of Finance, to revisit the assessment of Woodlots and to treat them the same as farm properties.

Dave Gallagher and Vincent Csunyoscka then gave a report on a new initiative entitled The New County Private Woodlot Stewardship Committee. It was quite interesting since it promotes a volunteer approach to promoting woodlot management. I think a lot can be learned from that presentation that can be helpful for the City of Ottawa.

The Chapter is doing some excellent work with respect to educating youth on forests and woodlot management.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Flushed a Ruffed Grouse

After completing my set tasks for today I rewarded myself with a walk in the woods. I started walking but the snow was quite difficult to walk through so back the house I went and put on my snowshoes. The snow by now has a good crust on it but with today’s warmth the snow softened considerably. In clearings the snow was easily half a metre (1½ feet) thick. In the woods it was quite a bit less ranging around 15 cm. (½ ft.) thick. There was lots of activity according to the tracks. The porcupine tends to plough through the deep snow and create paths that it sticks to. These paths often sink down 15 to 20 cm. down in the snow. There was lots of snowshoe hare activity, coyotes have been scouring the area, and the fisher seems to have a hard time hobbling through the deep snow. There are some solitary deer tracks. On my way into the woods I flushed out a ruffed grouse. This was probably the closest I have ever come to one. Snowshoeing in that thick and heavy snow was a good workout.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Changes with the end of winter

Our daughter left us with a white spruce seedling last fall. It was part of a cancer fundraiser at Loblaws (a local super market) with the tree provided by Ferguson Forest in Kemptville. It was too late to plant it so we put it in some water in a cup and kept it on a windowsill for the winter. It is wrapped in a narrow plastic sleeve. Recently the plant started to produce moisture or condensation on the inside of the plastic. Might it be that the seedling has awakened and is starting active photosynthesis? All winter there was no moisture to speak of as there is now, and there has been no temperature change inside the house. The only real difference is that the days are getting noticeably longer, that must be the trigger.

The dozen turkeys are becoming regular visitors. When we are not near the windows to spook them, they even just hang out in our door yard.