Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall Colours

One of the best weekends to see the fall colours is the one fast approaching -- the beginning of October.

We still have vacancies -- let me hasten to add.

Algonquin Park is reportedly about 60% now for colour. We are always a little behind the Park, not being quite as high up on the Shield, but our colours are stunning already.

It truly is worth getting out of the city to see this seasonal display. There's really nothing like it.

When I was in Kenya, I would show people photos of my home -- some were autumn photos, showing the colours. No-one would believe these were trees. "No, Momma," they would insist, "those be flowers, sure!"

The trees certainly turn the forest into a garden of delights, so who's to say they're wrong?

Harvest Time

It's suprising that we haven't had a lot more killing frosts by now. Reading through my grandfather Joseph Tapley's diaries from 1905 here at Bondi, frosts often came in much earlier.

The good news is that following such a cool damp July, the lovely autumn weather has allowed the garden to mature nicely.

This week, Brian, Mike and Dave dragged out the Potato Plow, dusted it off, and harvested our potato crop.

Once the spuds are up out of the ground, they must be sorted, for size, and damage. Any that have damage must be eaten first, so they don't go bad, but the clean, unmarked potatoes will store well through the winter.

There is nothing better than the taste of vegetables fresh from your own garden. The carrots are postively sinful, melting on the tongue... Carol just whipped up a batch of Zucchini bread, and don't get us started on the golden cherry tomatoes!

Forever Young Old Salts

I think one of the criteria to join the Old Salts Canoe Club is that you are seriously into FUN.

At least, they certainly demonstrate their ability to enjoy getting together every time they come to Bondi!

They arrive well equipped -- their canoe fleet always draws attention. Canoeing both here, and in Algonquin Park, as well as tackling our trails, the club members aim to spend a lot of their time in the Great Outdoors.

This year several of them took on the Disc Golf course for the first time, energized by the information that there exists both a Semi and a Pro-Tour for this sport.

A group of them came out with me after dark, looking at the constellations. Our wolf pack obligingly howled, even before we tried to call them. After we'd mapped out the sky, Nancy howled for them again, and they came back right away with a lovely response. Much closer to us, this second howl around!

All that time outside helps work up an appetite, and there's never a shortage of food. Irleen dons the most wonderful hats for her stint in the kitchen -- this year she crafted her chef's hat out of a milk bag. Now that's recycling!

This is a great club. We hope they look forward to their trips to Bondi at least as much as we look forward to welcoming them back.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Splish Splash

Abby is only four years old, and still growing...
Although we have mentioned to her that she can stop almost anytime now, as soon as her front end catches up to her back end! (That's how horses grow, in spurts, getting higher in front, then higher behind.
The hope is always that they finish up higher in the front end, slightly, because it makes them easier to balance with a rider)

Abby was born here, and it's been great fun to watch her grow, and come through the various training stages.
Now she's well underway in her under-saddle schooling, and proving to be a sensible, talented young lady indeed.

But the lake... now that was a big question for her. She went in with her Mom when she was just a wee foal, splashing about, but with a rider on her back, being asked to wade out into that huge expanse was a bit too much. She wasn't frightened of the water, just unsure how to proceed. With Uncle Bailey along to lend her confidence, she would splash into the lake right beside his big gray body. On her own... not so much. In fact, for a while there, the only way she would get her feet wet was if she backed into the water.

Once in, she had no issues, was calm and happy, but that business of stepping in over tiny lapping waves was beyond her.

Not now! Now she wanders happily down the field, through the ever increasing herds of deer, past the bonfire pit and the airplane hangar, and splash! In she goes.

Today, in this very blog-worthy photo, Sue captured her discovering that if she blows at the water, she can make ripples that spread out and out and out...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Shameless Self Promotion

Brian -- with help from Rebecca -- produced a new Winter Postcard to help us advertise the fact that we are open year round.

Now that the cities to the south of us don't seem to get winter anymore, being instead trapped in an eternal November -- gray, icy, slushy and dark -- people seem to forget that winter in Canada is still a season to celebrate.

The big trick to enjoying winter is that you must be able to PLAY WITH IT! Now that play can take many forms: you can ski (downhill, or on our 20 km of groomed cross country ski trails where you will see wildlife tracks, and wildlife); snowshoe, skate, throw snowballs, build a quinzy hut just for fun, craft elegant snowpeople, or snow forts and snow caves. Toboggan. Tube. Take your camera for a walk through winter wonderlands that catch the sun and transform into endless diamonds. You can simply sit by the fire, watching through the window with a cup of tea (or something stronger -- entirely your choice!) You can walk into our woods and simply listen to the silence. That in itself is a rare and treasurable commodity in our busy world now.
Close by, you can saddle up the snowmobiles and hit the well maintained trails. We make an excellent base for that activity, ensuring that you have a comfortable, spacious, warm and welcoming place to come home to after a day on the trails.
Dog sledding, sleigh rides, winter carnivals and festivals are all part of our winter.

We are blessed to have that happy combination of attitude and altitude that ensure we still enjoy winters you CAN play with.

After all, if you're trying to get the kids - or yourself - unplugged from the computers and out the door, you need a reason to be outside. Activities in the great Canadian winter would be the best thing we can think of to entice folks to get outdoors!
You can

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Then and Now, What a Change

Once upon a time, it was all forest around here. There were no fields to speak of.
The loggers moved in, taking out the big white pines to send to England for the navy, taking out the hemlock to send the bark to the Tannery in Huntsville. Then the settlers arrived, and found you just couldn't plow around trees for a crop.
Now we replant the open spaces. We are more sensitive to the delicate line where water meets land.

With 600 acres of land, at Bondi we are very aware of our duty of stewardship to the land, and very proud of the diverse ecology sharing that land. Most of our forest is in managed forest agreements. And some of the land is in managed wildlife agreements -- those require that we maintain open fields, because those open fields are themselves an endangered species sometimes. There are plenty of birds and animals that really need that difference of habitat. Our bluebirds, for one, like to nest overlooking big open fields, but close to forests.And we've won stewardship awards over the years for our land management -- not to mention getting a big thumbs up from our neighbouring wildlife!

Recently one of our guests, Gord, dropped by to visit us again after being gone some 30 years. Returning home, he dug out some of his old photos, and sent us this one. It's taken from the Bondi Lookout, back in the mid-1950's. And the one thing that really stands out -- the fields! There are no trees planted yet on the hilltop, or along the road. Very few of our cottages were built (notably Red Pine, Tamarack and Longside!) except for those right along the shoreline. The gravel pit across the road -- from where the gravel came to build Bigwin Inn -- is very obvious.

About the same time, some of our guests here hiked up to the Lookout in that last week of summer before school pulled the kids away. Boris and Sunny sent us this picture -- taken from the same spot, and at almost the same angle as Gord's.
We still have the trees along the shoreline, but over the years with careful plantings, the trees around the cottages have grown, providing shade and privacy, while still keeping our sweeping open lawns. In fact, it's astonishing how few of the cottages you can see, now!

The road is hidden behind the trees, and the back fields -- especially the neighbours! is far less of a 'field'
And we've added the detail, bottom left corner, of Brian and David returning with the Piper Cub from a flight. We think that's a nice touch.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Duck's Dream Come True

One of our guests has a delightful Blog of her own, and she's currently posting about her visit to Bondi Village.

Our Blog has already featured some of the photos from that visit. And we're absolutely delighted that we were finally able to produce a Loon for Kelly -- in the bay at the right time
timing is everything in watching birds and wildlife!

We didn't realize, however, how much their visit it September meant to one tiny member of the household. You have to go read the Post about Duckie, and her Algonquin Adventures and Swim at Bondi in a REAL LAKE.

Thanks for sharing Kelly, it's a joy.

The Mother and Child Bond, in Deer

Remember, way back in June, when the doe brought her brand new fawn to stay with us? We blogged it, and David got some awesome photos of the little creature, not much bigger than the cat (Napster, not Achmed). Well... look how she's grown! She still has a few spots left on her hindquarters, but only a few.

The doe comes regularly to the stable, to scrounge grain from the chickens, or beg a carrot. For most of the summer, she came on her own, leaving the fawn safely out of sight. Now the fawn comes too.

But she's not completely grown up, not just yet. She's still nursing. Saturday, I was able to get these pictures -- something you don't usually get to see, since the does are fairly private, and protective of their fawns.

Since folks don't always get a chance to watch wild animals suckle their young, I thought I'd share these. Including a video I took (I apologize, it's very grainy, because the setting wasn't right in the camera and I didn't dare take the time to sort that out...!)

All the same, it's a lovely Mother-Daughter moment...
and a rare chance to be included in the intimate lives of the whitetail deer....

Sunset Times Two

Andrea and Charles captured the same sunset as Syl and Kelly, from a slightly different location on the property. They were staying in Anchor cottage, a two bedroom, right out over the water.
The photo was taken just a few minutes after the one I already blogged... It still features the loon...
And then, as those incredible colours softened and began to fade, they caught the sunset one more time.
That's good. Because skies like that, evenings like that, they are worth repeating.
Thanks for sharing the photos!

Bear in the Air

Bears chomp their way through over 20,000 calories a day at this time of year, as they get ready for hibernation. Finding a tree full of apples is a bonus, for a bear.

One of our neighbours was driving home (he lives near Dorset) the other day. The old wild apple tree at the edge of the road gave a sort of a shake as he approached, so he slowed down. Stopped. Rolled down his window, and said "Hello." The branches parted, and Mr. Bear stuck his head out of the leaves, about 15 feet away.

Having said "Hello," the bear went back into the depths of the tree to concentrate on his apple snack. Luckily, Charles had his camera with him in the truck. He spoke to the bear, again, and sure enough out came the head, a polite bear, wondering what Charles wanted. Thanks for sending us the picture!

Another guest, Herman, sent us his photos of a bear near his house, well to the south of here! Also in an apple tree.

We have a lot of apple trees scattered through our back fields. The ones close to the resort, by the office for example, we take care to keep picking the apples -- we have some wonderful apple pie apples here, and lots of crab apples that make a wonderful jelly. Some just create a tasty applesauce. What we don't use ourselves, we shake down. The deer like that... cleaning up any windfalls.

And yes, bear visits are the reason we try to remove that extra fruit. Our apple trees aren't very big, you see. And bears can be. A bear will climb into an apple tree, but being big can only climb so far. The bear will settle comfortably as high as he can go, then pull the branches in close enough to clean off the fruit. Often this will snap the branches. When you have enough branches snapped off, they form a platform, and you (as a bear) can climb even higher, and reach even more branches. It creates a mess in the tree top, called a "bear nest".

Carol took a very dim view of this happening to her ornamental crabapple trees by the office a few years ago, when Momma bear and her cubs were playing jungle gym in the tree, snapping branches all over the place. She plunked the ladder into place, and climbed up, then got into the tree herself and went as high as she could, shaking down the fruit, and picking what wouldn't fall.

In the office, the phone rang. It was Carol. "Need a little help, here," she reported.

So she did. While she was up in the tree, Momma and the two cubs had returned, and were happily sitting under the tree -- under Carol -- cleaning up the apples as fast as she could shake them down.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Making Friends

Ethan's grandpa thought that swimming, playing on the water trampoline, and fishing with his grandpa would be the highlights of Ethan's visit.

The chickens, however, intervened.

This is one of my favourite photos of one of the "Bobs" (the chickens are all called Bob... I don't know, ask David!) snuggling up. It's in the Round Robin Photo Challenge, for chicken pictures. (these blog things are new to me and still a mystery!)

The children (and sometimes the parents!) are always surprised how soft and how friendly the chickens are.

And how warm a newly laid egg is, come to that.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Never Mind the Trees, Check out the Sky

At this time of year, people come north to admire the changing colour in the leaves. When the maples put on their brilliant shades of red, coupled with the deeper bronze of the oaks and bright yellow poplars, the bush is truly a masterpiece.

But that's not all... Syl and Kelly sent us this photo they took while staying with us last week. It's the view from Tamarack cottage. This is the time of year when we get our most spectacular sunsets, and I always think Tamarack is situated to get the best of the best.

Syl tells me that there is a loon in the photo. I found her! See if you can, too!

Thanks for sharing the photo, Syl! And Chip the Chipmunk sends his best regards.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Did we mention the Hills for the Ironman 70.3?

This is Amy Moritz, at the finish of the grueling Muskoka Ironman 70.3 last weekend.

Amy Moritz writes a Blog for the Buffalo News. She also runs triathlons... and last weekend she tackled her first Ironman 70.3. Now, while the Muskoka Ironman 70.3 is easily reachable from Buffalo, and so might sound like a great choice, it is noted for its tough course.
Undaunted, Amy tackled the challenge, blogging her experience.

I left a comment on one of her posts, welcoming her, wishing her well. As she came past the checkpoint Peggy and I were handling, we met up. Luckily for me, we were stationed at almost the very top of the second highest point of land in the entire township. (Yes, there is one slightly higher, near Dorset, but the climb to get to where we were, at the junction of South Portage and Dwight Beach Road, is the longest uphill pull. If you can get up that elevation, you can get up them all!)
She yelled my name, I yelled out hers, and ran alongside. If this had been a flatter piece of road, I'd never have been able to keep pace with her even for a few strides! There is something to be said for spectating a bike race from near the top of the biggest darn hill.

Amy was kind enough to mention me (and Bondi Resort!) on her blog post, as well as giving rave reviews to the hamlet of Dorset, where the entire village seems to turn out to cheer the athletes over the hump-back bridge.

Loud cheers for ALL the athletes that took on the Muskoka terrain, no matter where they finished. And extra loud cheers for you, Amy! What an accomplishment to complete this hilly, demanding course as your first ever Ironman 70.3!

We hope you'll be back again next year, so we can cheer even louder for you!

I did promise Amy I'd post the Elevation of the Lake of Bays -- this shows the hills, pretty dramatically, on the bike course alone. Never mind the run section, which is also pretty up and down. In fact, the swim is the only part that's flat (and we're working on that :) )

South Portage Road and Dwight Beach Road intersection is just before you slide downhill (and yes, Peggy and I did reassure the competitors that they were going to get a little downhill respite!)into the hamlet of Dwight.

For athletes who are wondering, the turn to Bondi Village is at the 20 km mark. We have an excellent place for you to come to train the terrain, relax a little with your support teams, and enjoy the beauty of Muskoka. Maybe we'll see some of you next year!

The Colour's Coming

Here there is a hint.

There is a splash.

Some of the trees are in full colour.

These next few weeks in Muskoka will see the trees put on the most glorious colours.

Safety First

We confess to a fondness for chipmunks. Perhaps it's that they are so little, yet so bold. And busy. Perhaps it's those cheek pouches, which give it an endearlingly comic aspect. Or the fact that they will come sit on your hand, without offering to bite.

Maybe it's that they got a cute Latin name: Tamias. Or that there is only one species that lives outside of North America (in Northern Asia).

Perhaps it's because they have individual burrows -- and spend up to 3 months stuffing those burrows with food supplies -- but still allow their territories to overlap. They also stash food in holes dug in the ground near the burrow, just in case. Chipmunks like to plan ahead. As long as other chipmunks stay away from the actual burrow zone, a space about 50' in width, they can get along quite well. Those burrows can be up to 30' long, too! While 2 to 4 chipmunks per acre is an "industry standard", there can be as many as 10 per acre where food sources are good.

There's a bunch of them that enjoy the garden. And we forgive them as they nibble on the discarded corn cobs, and strip out the sunflower seeds. We plant those sunflowers for the birds and the chipmunks, if truth be told, and because they are beautiful to see.

Chipmunks hibernate -- but with a difference. All those seeds they have stashed under their warm fluffy nests serve a purpose. With the onset of the cold winters, chipmunks retreat into their nest, and snooze. It's called a 'torpid' state, a form of restless hibernation, but they wake up every week or so for a snack before going back to sleep.

Diligent little conservationists, Chipmunks are important in the dispersal of seeds because of their habit of storing the seeds beneath the layer of decaying vegetation on the forest floor. Any buried seeds that are not consumed stand a better chance of germinating than those remaining on the surface litter. In this way, chipmunks assist in the spread of shrubs, trees, and other plant.

But at the end of the day, they are just plain cute, appealing, and fun to have around. Which is why it is important to ensure safety measures are in place. We have several sites where drinking water is available -- for the chickens, for the cats, for the horses. These are refreshed regularly, but for a thirsty little chipmunk, they can be very dangerous. So all our water sources include chipmunk-rescue devices. The horses' water trough has a raft. The water bucket by the main office -- well, it has a chipmunk ladder.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Planning Ahead, Tongue in Cheek

I dropped by the Oxtongue Craft Cabin this week. Jim has an extraordinary array of artists' and artisans' works on display here. And, jealous as we are, the deer don't seem to eat his gardens quite the way they eat up ours. Perhaps the cats, Laila and Rocky, are more efficient at patrolling the garden than Napster and Achmed???

I couldn't help but notice, however, that Jim has my Christmas present at the Craft Cabin. Just waiting for someone for buy it for me. No need even to wrap it up...

It's a wind-mobile of a great blue heron, and I think it's gorgeous. Wouldn't it look fabulous here at Bondi? Sadly, it's a bit out of my reach, at over $2000, so unless I win a lottery, I have to admire it from afar, and in photos.

I did make the suggestion that Jim put up a donation box, so folks that felt the urge could put in a contribution towards my acquisition of this... He seemed willing to consider that venture, after he stopped laughing.

All the same, this piece is indicative of the tremendous talent on display at this art centre, and just one more reason why you should drop in for a browse around. And if the heron is out of your financial reach... take heart -- you'll find plenty of unusual and beautiful items there that suit all budgets, and will complete your Christmas shopping while surrounded by autumn colours!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Muskoka Ironman 70.3: Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!

I was part of the IronCrew for this year's race, stationed on the bike course at the top of that lovely long hill leading up South Portage Road to Dwight Beach Road. It crosses what is one of the highest points of land in the Township, at Cain's Corners, with spectacular views in several directions. Not that the athletes were taking in much of the view... At the top of the hill, they were more interested in more mundane things. Like breathing. The good news was they were about to enter a delicious downhill section on their way into Dwight.

The course is described, optimistically, as a "bit hilly."

The day was as close to perfect as an autumn day can be, and the atheletes were all in great form passing our junction. With our Australian connection at Bondi, I was waving the Aussie flag, and shouting the Aussie cheer for the athletes that made the long trek to compete here. Mirinda Carfrae took a moment to give us a big wave back for that, before going on to win the Womens' Elite Division.

Making it an Aussie sweep, Craig Alexander won the Men's elite division for the second year in a row.

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!!!

Mind you, we cheered for them all, our local heroes like Mark Sinnige, and new friends we're still getting to know. Amy Moritz from Buffalo and I met by trading comments on a Blog Post -- she was competing in her first Ironman 70.3, and she did (as the kids' say) "awesome", finishing 61st. As she came past our junction, she yelled my name, and I ran alongside of her cheering her on. Hopefully we'll get to meet for more than a nano-second NEXT year! Maybe her Buffalo Tri-Sport group will even come and stay with us for a pre-race training camp, who knows. Whatever, it was great to meet someone from the "blogosphere".

There were people out cheering all the way along the route, as almost 1700 athletes tackled the course. Yes, it makes for some road congestion, but only for a few hours out of the year, and almost all the motorists passing us were considerate and cheerful.

Hopefully the athletes had a moment or two on their course to enjoy the autumn colours that are starting to show! This tree was right at 'our' corner, and we admired it all day!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Minnow Pursuit

Back in the spring we had a pair of breeding mergansers in the bay. Over the summer, we've seen the ducklings parading by. Now, come September, the kids are big!

This morning a group came steaming along the shoreline, hunting minnows. Now, when mergansers are on the move, you have to be quick to keep up. I grabbed cameras and just tore down to the far corner of the bay as fast as I could go, but they were still there before me.

Along the shoreline, with its bullrushes and cattails, old stumps and 'habitat', there is always a profusion of small minnows. Once the mergansers find these, it is nothing short of a feeding frenzy. As they dive and twist under the water, the surface churns up... I thought you might like to watch them, so I've added a link to video of the hunting mergansers.

One of our favourite ducks, these birds with their distinctive red crests and serrated beaks are always a welcome sight.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Portrait of the North

The loon and her chick were back in the bay this week. Baby has grown up -- a LOT -- since I took this picture in August. Which is good, because soon she'll be on her own. Mom will fly south, probably in October.

The juvenile loon will be left on the lake for a little longer before she, too, heads south. Maybe the youngsters just need a little extra time, maybe Mom and Dad just want some timewithout the kids after a long summer, but the young loons usually hang around until mid-November before gathering and flying south. I took this picture last November of one of the 'late loons' V-ing across the bay.

Syl was doing his best to get a photo of the loons, but they were just that bit non-co-operative, hanging about just out of camera range.

We have guests here from Germany this week, Susanne and Mihajlo, who couldn't believe that the strange yodeling laughs they heard at night were created by birds. They got to see the loons on the lake, but of course the birds remained silent, so our guests couldn't quite put it all together. I promised them I'd post on the blog so they could see the bird, and hear the bird, so this post is for them!

Our friend Gord Bell over at Beauview Cottage Resort snapped the shot of the loon pair earlier this year, floating off the end of his dock.

And we found a wonderful video of one of Algonquin Park's very own loons, for your viewing pleasure.

After all, these birds are iconic of the Canadian north. When we hear their call in the spring, we know winter is over, and all's right with the world.

There is an abundance of Native North American myths surrounding the loon, and the bird features in our historical literature as well as on our one dollar coin. The courier du bois called them "cry in a necklace" (un cri en collier) One of the most beautiful descriptions of the bird that you'll find anywhere, and still my favourite.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Napster, Going for the Burn!

One of Napster's favourite persons is here this week -- Andrea is the one who suggested that he 'spin' the negative comments about his weight, and instead should celebrate that he is an 'anorexia free zone.'

Napster wants a t-shirt... "I beat Anorexia" but we're having trouble finding one that fits.

Meanwhile, he embarked last summer on an ambitious walking program - aided and abetted by Dave and Mike. These incorrigibles would simply hoist the cat and carry him to some remote corner of the property, from whence the cat would have to walk home. This summer, having reached detente with Achmed the Other Cat, Napster has been out and about more. And more.

All that, combined with a rigourous low-cal diet topped up with the occasional mouse (or bird, dang it) and the Sit-Up routines that Shahira helped him institute (as seen in his photo, where the Nap-Cat goes for the burn...) have resulted in a loss of almost three pounds from our once 17 pound kitty.

Mind you, having heard that the cortisol produced from stressful activities contributes to weight gain, Napster ensures that he gets plenty of rest and relaxation.

And he now has his own page on Facebook: Napster Felinus.

It's all too much for his people, really...


Any pilot will tell you that there`s never enough time available to spend in the air... And this July the weather was not conducive to bush pilot antics. August was better...

Brian did manage to squeak in some air-time... Every time he goes aloft, he takes his camera along, and brings us back great photos.
This is a bird`s eye view of Bondi... You can see the Point we swim to every Thursday on the right side of the curve of the bay. The Island, 1.6 km. away at top of photo. Our back fields where the Disc Golf course, the horses` cross country fences and the wild turkeys and deer like to hang out. You can see how shallow the bay is -- that submerged ring of shallow sand is how we got our name. Grandfather Joseph Tapley, when he settled here in 1905, long before the dam at Baysville jacked up the water levels about 5`, named the farm for the famous beach at Sydney. From this height, you can easily see why.
Because we developed from that farmstead beginning, our cottages have been widely spaced on the property, giving us so much extra room and giving each cottage so much extra privacy. We still maintain that for great getaways, while it is important for everyone to be able to `get together`, it`s just as important for everyone to be able to `get apart`.
You can even spot the horses, out in the pasture. Bailey the gray is the one who shows up easiest!
Great picture, Brian!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Howdy! Welcoming Committee on Duty.

Syl hadn't even finished unpacking at the cottage when the Chipmunk showed up.
And Chip loved the wheelchair, zipping around on it like it was his own private jungle gym.
Syl had brought a packet of sunflower seeds (shelled), having read on our Blog that this was one of Chip's favourites, so he was prepared to play. We're not sure he was prepared to be boarded, however!
Within a few hours of arrival, Syl and Kelly had tracked Chip to his burrow, and figured out how many seeds per trip were ideal, and knew exactly at what GPS point on the lawn the red squirrel started to scold the chipmunk for territory invasion.

Charlotte without the Web

Stay with me on this... I'm not a huge fan of big spiders. In Costa Rica I was introduced (at a distance) to a Golden Orb spider who's web was at least 15' across. This lady isn't that big, but she's big enough. I'm impressed I got close enough to take the picture actually.
It's all very well knowing that this is a dock spider, also called a Fishing Spider, and that while they are big, and hairy, and a little scary looking, and while they can move very quickly, they are not aggressive, nor is their bite poisonous to humans (although it can cause a reaction... so the trick is to ensure they're not in a threatened position where they might feel the need to bite you.) Knowing in your head is one thing, reaching right down beside her with the camera is another.
But I did get the photo, and Charles and Andrea got at least as close as I did with their camera, too. Fishing spiders are actually amazingly cool. First of all, they can actually fish.
Holding onto docks or vegetation with their back legs, they trail their front legs onto the water's surface, feeling for vibrations. In effect, the entire lake surface becomes their 'web', and they are able to discern between a fish rising to the top, an insect splashing into the water, or a leaf falling from a tree. Which, to be honest, is more than I can do...
Having located the source of the vibration, the spider then 'runs' across the water to grab dinner. These spiders can also move around under the water -- encased in their own little silvery coating of air that helps them breathe.
The female carries her egg sac with her until the babies are ready to hatch. You can see this big bag carefully held in one of her mandibles. The babies will hatch out looking like little tiny spiders, and will then swarm up onto her abdomen until they are big enough to go out on their own. Not such good news for the male spider -- the females of this species can and do eat them after mating. When the little ones are ready to move on, however, move on they do... with a vengeance. While large spiders have to walk from place to place (or hitch a ride in the boat, like this one is doing), little spiders can fly.
Well, not actually fly... not with wings, but small spiders are very light. They can spin out some silk into a nice breeze, and then be wafted aloft. It's called "ballooning" and this is the time of year you see it happen, in the autumn, when the air seems to fill with gossamer strands and drifting seeds. Some of those are spiders off to see the world.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

"let me say this about that"

Never mind that the wolf pack has been waking up our guests about 4 a.m., howling so close. Never mind that the Barred Owls are back, hooting on the hills early in the morning. Never mind that the full moon has made star-watching almost impossible... So what if the wolf howls, owl prowls and dark skies have been a bit of a challenge this week, coming as they seem to be at an hour when most folks want to sleep...

We just had to let this doe have the last laugh...

Turkey Tails

Kate and Justine went for a hike up the hill, looking for wild turkey feathers. They'd found some last week, and were hoping for a few more. They found not only a clutch of feathers -- small ones, fluffy ones to add to their collection. Even more exciting, they also found a roost tree, where the turkeys have been sleeping at night!

Today Henry and Corrie walked back up the same trail, and there it was: the classic wild turkey tail feather. What a prize!

You could write great novels with a quill like that! Lots of people are now reporting sightings of the turkeys, and their young poults. We haven't seen them in on the lawn yet this year, but now that Labour Day is almost upon us, and it is going to be a bit quieter, we wouldn't be at all surprised if they come to call!

New Friends

When you're as small as a chipmunk, it's important to check out the area before you go anywhere. If there's a lot of commotion, movement and noise, it's probably a wise chipmunk who just takes cover and waits for it to get quiet.

On the other side, it's hard to stay really quiet and still when you're only 3 years old.

Justine managed just fine, however, and Chip decided it was safe to leave his post as a hood ornament and come on over for a little snack, and to make friends.

Three for Three, First Try

We had a lot of 'first-timers' trying waterskiing yesterday. Anya was a little tentative -- she decided to hedge her bets by cutting a deal: both Samuel and Tobias had to get up within three tries or she wasn't going to even make the attempt.

She thought it was a safe bet...

Until Sam stepped up on the very first try, and sailed off around the bay.

A bit nervous, Anya pinned her hopes on Tobias...
But he also was up on the first try. Mind, he was so thrilled, that he punched the air in triumph just a teensy bit too soon... but he was UP! It counted... On his next try, Tobias, too, was zipping about the bay, waving to the crowd, looking totally pro.

With a little muttering, Anya practiced some dry-land starts with Nancy, then got into the lake, still unconvinced. Her cry of "hit it!" was a little tentative... but, wow, she was up right away, and around the bay. And around. And around... we thought for a moment there she was never going to stop.

"Most fun ever!" she exclaimed.

Owen was little too young at seven for the waterskis, but he went on our surfboard, as did Graeme, seen here.

We're waiting on photos of Samuel, Tobias and Anya -- since Nancy was in the water with the kids, she didn't have her camera.