Archive for outdoor experiences

Update on the Mangy Fox

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The fox took the second dose of Ivermectin last night, 10 days after the first.  I’m concerned that it doesn’t look any better but it probably takes a long time for the fur to grow back.  It didn’t come back for 6 days after the first dose so it either tasted terrible or made it feel sick.  At least it now has the second dose.  Stay tuned!

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Helping a Red Fox

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Fox with mange looking for its hot dog

This adventure began when I set up a trail camera to try and see who was eating my tomatoes.  I never did find that out (I suspect chipmunks) so I set it up in a different location just to see what animals were in the yard at night.  The camera documented lots of deer, raccoons, and a couple of red foxes, one of which had apparent mange.  Mange is a miserable condition caused by tiny parasitic mites that lay their eggs under the fox’s skin.  The eggs hatch and the larvae burrow causing intense itching.  The fox scratching causes skin lesions and infection develops which weakens the fox, eventually killing it, usually because of starvation.

Now, I realize that foxes are predators of birds and small mammals but it is not in my nature to know an animal is suffering and not to try and help it, if I can.  My research has shown that it is a relatively simple disease to treat, if the fox can be medicated. I decided I would help if I could put medication in food that the fox would eat. I remembered our old friend John in Maine who had a fox coming to his door for a hot dog every day.  In the spring when she had her kits, she waited until he gave her a hot dog for each kit. I found inexpensive hot dogs at the market and the mission of mercy was underway. We first tried trapping the fox with our large Hav-a-Heart, but it was too smart, backing out of the trap with the hot dog.

Then I put the hot dog on our highest woodpile and waited.  The fox found the hot dog after a few nights but the raccoons also discovered it.  I discovered that it needed to go out after dark or other critters got it; Crows, red squirrels and once I even found a Cooper’s Hawk mantling over one.  The fox was learning too.  He discovered that he missed out to the raccoons if he came too late so he started coming at 8:30 p.m.

After a week of the fox getting the hot dog every night I consulted our local vet who provided me with three syringes of the appropriate dose of Ivermectin which I was instructed to inject into the hot dog.  The dosed hot dog was to be administered once every two weeks for six weeks, which will probably be enough to cure the mange.

Last night was the first time I tried and it was with heavy anticipation that I collected the chip from the camera this morning. If you look at the picture you can see the hot dog with the Ivermectin dose lying on the 4×4 on the right.  The fox went up and evidently got the hot dog because it was gone in the next picture.  I’ll continue to put one out at night and give the fox another dose in two weeks.  I’m hoping to see a fluffy tail before long.

Note: Some breeds of domestic dogs can’t tolerate this medication so it is important to be sure to place it out of their reach.

 

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Making Wreaths

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One activity I enjoy at this time of year is making a wreath for the door.  I especially like a natural wreath made with local materials.  For this project the  most fun is going into the woods to search out just the right boughs, berries and cones.  They must have variation in color and form to make it interesting.  There are a surprising variety of coniferous trees in our Maine woods so I quickly gather a nice assortment.

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Cup of tea and binoculars at hand (just in case a bird lands by the window), materials sorted, wire, wreath form and clippers at the ready.  Let us begin!

 

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Wire your elements together.  First wire cones, (leaving wire “tails” to secure them) then make an attractive bundle, (see below) wiring it all together with florist wire.  Leave about 4 inch wire “tails” on your bundle so you can wire it to the form.

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When you’ve got 10 or 12 bundles start wiring them to your wreath form individually using the 4″ lengths.  Attach the end of a roll of florist wire securely and wrap it around further securing each bundle as you go.  Place each bundle so it hides the base of the one before (I was working counter-clockwise in the picture above).

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When you get to the final bundle arrange it so the base of the first bundle is hidden under the loose end of the last bundle.  You will have secured each bundle plus made sure it won’t get dislodged by wrapping it around the form with the running length of florist wire.

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When you are finished make a loop in the wire for hanging, securing it tightly.  Then cut the wire off the roll.

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If you don’t think your finished wreath will be full enough, put down a plain layer of branches for a base and lay your bundles over them.  This base will be secured by the running wire wrap as you go along.

OTHER WREATHS:

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Wreath of fresh herbs (smells  sooo good!)

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Magnolia Wreath (see my post of December 14, 2013 for instructions)

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Bridled Tern: A Rare Connecticut Visitor

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Bridled Tern (Onychoprion anaethetus) Photo courtesy of Valerie Gebert

Yesterday we had the opportunity to see this rare visitor from southern waters in Connecticut, only the second record sighting of a Bridled Tern here.  The bird was sighted about 10 days ago on Falkner Island which is under conservation as a portion of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge.

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Falkner Island a/k/a Faulkner’s Island.  The island has been drastically reduced in size by erosion, reducing the size of the Roseate Tern nesting area available.  It was estimated at 8 acres in 1639 and reduced to 2.87 acres by 1987.  Hurricane Sandy and other storms have done even more damage and the Army Corps of Engineers have reinforced the eastern boundary in an attempt to slow the damage.

Andy Griswold took a day off from work to take his boat out to try and see it and we were lucky enough to get seats.  We waited 2.5 hours before the bird made its appearance.  It was a life bird for all of us.  During the wait we constantly scanned the rocks, enjoying the interactions between the parents and chicks of the many terns that nest there.  Most were Common Terns, a few the endangered Roseate terns (the island hosts the largest breeding colony in the State) and a couple of Black Terns were sighted as well.

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Just a few of the thousands of terns coming and going around us.  What a cacophony!

Finally Andy spotted it and we watched delighted for 16 minutes as it perched, flew and was chased by the Common Terns.

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A Walk in the Woods Yields a Mushroom Frittata

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Chanterelles and boletes, trimmed and ready

We found quite a few chanterelles and boletes on our morning walk, one bolete was the prized “penny bun” and a good size too.  I trimmed them, caramelized a vidalia onion and sauteed the mushrooms until they released their liquid and browned a little.  I added fresh thyme and spread the mixture evenly in the pan.  I added salt and a small glug of water to five eggs, beat them with a fork until creamy then spread them over the mushrooms in the pan.  I cooked them on the stove top on low heat until I saw the edges start to harden then finished it off under the broiler (this ensures a tender interior without the trauma of trying to turn it over in the pan).

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Yum!

We rounded off our lunch with a slice of a lemon/ginger/rhubarb pie which I had brought from home.  I gave the recipe for this pie in my July 25, 2016 post on this blog.

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The Panama Hawk Migration

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Panama City from atop the Canopy Tower.  It reminded me of the Emerald City of Oz.

We traveled to Panama in early October mainly for the hawk migration, but there were many other fascinating sights such as the Three-toed Tree Sloths munching on the Cecropia leaves outside our window.

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We stayed at Canopy Tower an old converted US Military radar installation.  The food was excellent with menus prepared by the owner’s Mother (?) who was a well known chef.  We came back from one day’s outing to find the remnants of that cuisine being sampled by seven juvenile Coatis.  They didn’t mind in the least if we watched them and they were relatively respectful of each other, unlike their cousins the Raccoons..

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It was a thoroughly enjoyable trip bird-wise as well with my eBird total of 195 species.  There were beautiful insects with Blue Morpho butterflies fluttering everywhere.  I also encountered a creature completely new to me, a Helicopter Damselfly (Megaloprepus caerulatus).  It was lovely at rest but absolutely mesmerizing in flight, twirling delicately down the path (click on the name for a link to a short video)

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Here is the Helicopter Damselfly at rest.  It is huge, about 7″ long and with a similar wingspan.  (Photo courtesy of Christine Howe, all rights reserved)

But of course the hawk migration was the primary reason for our visit.  We drove to Ancon Hill where the official Panama hawk watch is held.  We were told that almost no hawks had come through on the previous day but they had heard from Veracruz, Mexico that they should expect large influx were due this day.  We saw very few at first but then they started rising from the canopy and flying in from the west.  They gathered and rose swirling (kettling) until they reached the top of the thermal and then slid off to the east.  We were told that in one half-hour period we had seen approximately 18,000 hawks, mostly Swainson’s Hawks and that every Swainson’s Hawk in North America passes over the Panama Canal on its way to its wintering grounds in Argentina.  I found the experience very calming, watching them floating in, up and on their way, hundreds at a time.

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There are a few Turkey Vultures  and Broadwings but most of these birds are Swainson’s Hawks, a tiny fraction of the spectacle.

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Svalbard 4: Views from the Boat

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The bow was the favored location for the hardy but many of us watched from the comfort of the lounge.

Life aboard ship was very comfortable.  Even with 24 hour daylight there was almost always lots of action, birds flying by or on the water, walrus, polar bears, the occasional seal and whales.  My most exciting whale sighting was a Bowhead whale, an arctic species I have never seen before.  I didn’t get a picture of any of the whales but I was able to see the unique Bowhead mouth shape in a friend’s picture.

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We passed large icebergs when we were  in the bay where the Monaco Glaciers were calving.

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These photos show the bird cliffs at Alkefjellet.  We had hoped for zodiac rides to get closer but the sea was too rough (hence the blurry photo) and we had to settle for views from the ship.  It was impossible to count them but we were told there were over 100,000 birds nesting there, mostly Brunnich’s Guillemots (a/k/a Thick-billed Murres).  There were many opportunistic Glaucous Gulls hoping to find unattended eggs.

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Among the Polar Bears we saw were this threesome: mother, yearling cub and a male in pursuit.  She seemed to just want to get away with her cub but he followed them for quite a distance before she finally eluded him.  We saw Ivory Gulls where the bears had made a kill, six or seven at a time.  It was a thrill to see these elegant pure white gulls.

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This is as far north as our journey took us, according to the dashboard in the ship’s library.

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I’m looking due north at the beginnings of the ice surrounding the North Pole.  We turned around shortly after this picture was taken.  The ice would get thicker and finally we would not be able to go further.  We traveled 1031 nautical miles. (photo Frank Mantlik)                             For a detailed description of our trip check out the TRIP LOG.

 

 

 

 

 

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