Thursday, July 1, 2010

All Creatures Great and Small

Frank and I had a wonderful ten days up at his family cottage where we enjoyed incredible weather, decent fishing, great company and amazing creatures - great and small.

Benny of course, is an amazing creature who is both great and small. He was wonderful company for me when I spent one night alone while Frank made a quick trip home to prepare one of his sons for his own time away from home.

This photo was taken through the screen door. He's chilling out on the front deck, just enjoying the sunshine. He loves the cottage life.

When we arrived, Frank's sister Theresa was there to greet us. She had two new orphaned raccoon kits with her - born about a month apart. The first day she had them up at the cottage, Spike came around to sniff their empty carrier which had been left outside. Sugar hasn't been seen since late last summer but we're hopeful that she's found a mate and moved on out of the territory. It's what I'd like to believe. If you're unfamiliar with Sugar and Spike, you can read all about these darlings here. They were released at the cottage last summer.

Great: This is Bubbles and she's the older of the two. She might look rather large in this close-up view but really she's only a bit bigger than her adopted brother Bayley.

Small: And you can see how tiny he is. Aren't they adorable?

Great: The Great Blue Heron is a frequent visitor of the cottage where he likes to fish in a nearby bay. I was sitting on the dock, reading when I happened to look up in time to see him do this fly-by. Luckily, I usually keep my camera close at hand.

Small: A smaller winged, blue critter, and also a regular visitor to the cottage is this lovely dragonfly.

Small: Another one of the many dragonflies seen around the cottage. This one was snapped from a distance with the zoom lens.

Great: Not a dragonfly but perhaps a great fire-breathing dragon announcing the end to a perfect day with a blazing sunset. Can you see him?

Great: A few of these beauties were circling over the cottage one afternoon. Frank and his niece Jenna each figure it's a Broad-winged Hawk.

Small: Another winged lovely circled around the front yard a few times and then posed for this photo. It's a White Admiral Butterfly.

On our last evening at the cottage, Frank's sister Lisa and I took Benny for a walk up the road. Lisa has a keen eye and ear for birds and she soon spotted what she initially thought was a hawk flying ahead of us into the trees.

Great: She soon focused on where it landed and discovered that it was this beautiful Barred Owl. The light was dim and the branch high enough to make this a less than sharp shot but I still wanted to share this wonderful bird. It was hissing at us and we were hearing similar sounds from the left and from behind us. We soon saw why this bird was mildly distressed.

Small: Landing on the branch just in front of us, was this young owlet. There were at least three owls in this young family. Lisa and I figured that the parents were upset with us for standing there so long, watching and snapping photos. Maybe Benny was of concern. Maybe Benny was a meal consideration! We decided to move along, very appreciative to have witnessed these marvelous creatures.

Small: Another stunning creature is the Ruby Throated Hummingbird. Depending on the light, this tiny gem of a bird can appear drab gray or a brilliant green. The male's throat is ruby red but often appears yellow or orange - again, depending on the sunlight or its absence. This little female is perched on the clothesline between two standard sized clothespins. It gives you a good idea of just how tiny she is. You might want to click on this (and the next image) for better detail.

Great: Standing close to the feeder which is conveniently situated to catch the late afternoon sunlight, I was able to capture a photo which shows just how brilliant this male's colours are. Isn't he great?

So ends a perfect day. More cottage photos coming soon.

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canucks!


Hilary said...

Ah, looks lovely, and your pictures are, as always, stunning.

Brian Miller said...

wow. looks and sounds like you had a great got some amazing shots...i would love to have a pet raccoon! my son has a stuffed animal of one he carries around...spectacular hilary!

Teri said...

Great photos! Sounds like you had a wonderful time.

ethelmaepotter! said...

Oh, Hilary, I just don't know where to begin!

The picture of Benny is hilarious - he's certainly taking advantage of the sunwarmed decking to heat his entire body.

The raccoons are delightful - I remember your story from last year - I think it was the first of your posts I ever read, and I was hooked!

The great blue heron, those owls, and the hawk in flight - you are the master of brilliant bird shots.

The colors in the butterfly and hummingbird are...magnificent!!!!! I have never seen a more perfect close up of the hummingbird before. And in the first hummingbird picture, I glanced and thought I was seeing three birds on a wire...when I read your description I saw that my other two "birds" were clothespins!

But my favorites may be the dragonfly photos - you've captured those gossamer wings so beautifully.

Or maybe it's your landscapes - yes I see the dragon - but the last picture is pure serenity. I can just imagine sitting out there on the dock with a cup of cider and a sweater for the chill, listening to sounds of the crickets and tree frogs, the hoot of the owls, and watching the water ripple occasionally with fish and turtles.


messymimi said...

You live in a lovely land.

I wish you a happy and blessed Canada Day.

DJan said...

You have such a wonderful eye for pictures, and I so much appreciate all the creatures great and small. I'll have to go back and read about the raccoon rescue now!

Pauline said...

SUCH a splendid way to start my day! Your photos are marvelous and I loved the great/small comparisons.

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

Fabulous shots Hilary!!! I spotted your dragon and sighed with the shots of the baby raccoons and the baby owl. Your skyscapes are 'heavenly' :=). The intricate lace of the wings of the dragonfly always astound.

What a pleasure to see the creatures that you visited and visited you while you were away!

Mental P Mama said...

What a haven! Love those baby raccoons and the owls. And, of course, Mr. Benny!!!

This Is My Blog - fishing guy said...

Hilary: Happy wishes for a friend from across the lake. Loved all the photos, they were a treat for the eyes.

CiCi said...

It sounds like you all had a great time at the family cottage. I so like the photos of the little raccoons. I can't imagine holding them and having that close time with them. We have some here but they are very large and wild. Hubby and I like the hummingbird photos. Hummingbird is Joy.

She Who Carries Camera said...

It must have taken a huge pair of pliers to rip you away from that utopia! Stunning, just stunning and your captures are awesome. I think I saw a giant turtle sticking its neck out up there in those clouds! ;-)

Dawning Inspiration said...

Hilary - fabulous images! Whoa Nelly - what a magical, glorious place.

Fragrant Liar said...

Looks like a heavenly place to hole up, reflect, and rejuvenate. Love your photography, particularly those birds, large and itty bitty. :)

Fragrant Liar said...

P.s. I LOVE those little raccoons. They are precious.

Ed Pilolla said...

amazing, amazing photos. i am so into the symbolism of dragonflies and even owls. the raccoon was a cute thing, but my fav is the doggie spread out on the picnic table:)
i love dogs!

Shammickite said...

Great pics to celebrate Canada Day!
I especially love the ruby throated humming bird closeup.
Any special events going on in your area?
Here it's Strawberry Festival, concerts, Canada Day BBQ and Cake, fireworks, you name it and it's happening! Main St is shut down on Saturday... and in fact I'm part of a flash mob that's going to happen at around 1pm.... why don't you have a day out in Stouffville on Saturday?

Daryl said...

I thought Canada Day was in October ...

Fantastic shots all .. my fav is the last sunset shot .. I am jealous of the bird shots .. pure jealousy has turned me GREEN

Tabor said...

You certainly created the perfect retreat for all your readers with your photos. Sounds like you have a little bit of paradise. The owls were my favorite and one of these days...!

Frank Baron said...

Terrific detail on the male hummer. It's not a stretch at all when viewing those tiny, interlaced feathers, to picture them as the scales they were many millions of years ago.

We're blessed to have so many close encounters of the wildlife kind. :)

ellen abbott said...

With every picture, my favorite one changed. the kits are adorable, the owls magnificent. The great blue, great, the dragonflies, in the air and in the sky wonderful. The hummingbird amazing. I wanna be there!

LadyFi said...

Wow .. what a marvellous ten days. Such gorgeous creatures - tiny racoons, delicate dragonflies and gorgeous sunsets! Yes - I see the fire-breathing dragon in the sky.

photowannabe said...

Happy Canada Day to you Hilary. Your shots of the lake and scenery make me want to go on vacation so badly.
We are Granddog sitting for the next 2 days. Snicker loves to run in our big back yard.
All of the pics. are spectacular. I especially like the hummer on the clothesline. Seated between the 2 closepins is a priceless one.
Priceless is the last sunset too. Big Sigh!!!

Pseudo said...

How gorgeous. Thank you for sharing with us, I feel relaxed just visiting virtually. You should link this up on Mr. Linky for traveling Thursdays...

Anonymous said...

Happy Canada Day to you! Always enjoy your photos and missed seeing you here.


Cloudia said...

Happy Canada Day!

Awesome shots!

Aloha from Waikiki

Comfort Spiral

Karen said...

Hilary, I love your creature photos. Those of the owls are amazing! Yes, I could see the fire-breathing dragon! I felt like I was there with you for a bit. :)

Cricket said...

What a batch of photos. Just like something out of a magazine. Looks and sounds like you had a great stay.

City-boy here is somewhat less sympathetic toward raccoons, the kits do look cute, though. I've never seen a wild owl in my life, though we have them... I've heard them in the park. Great sunset, too.

How about one of my favorites? Summer Breeze ? Not content-specific, but suits the mood, I think.

Linda said...

Wow, Hilary, I think you've outdone yourself this time. It looks and sounds like you had a wonderful vacation. Those pictures are fantastic. If I had to choose favorites they would be the shot of Benny, of course, I adore him. And the sunset with the fire-breathing dragon.

Leah J. Utas said...

Ooh, I so want a raccoon now.
Amazing pics, Hilary.

Don said...

Such wonderful photos! Thanks!!

Eleonora Baldwin said...

You always manage to capture the MOOD of the place (besides its beauty and wildlife).
That hummingbird between the two clothespins is a gorgeous image.


NJ said...

Hilary, I wish I could catch shots like you do...these are truly the sunsets, love the owl, dragonfly and the hummingbird...they are awesome.

June said...

You saw (and photographed) owls!
I am terrifically impressed!

All beautiful, but my favorites are the babies. Little owlet looks as if she's penciled in her eyebrows!
And the raccoonlets' little hands!!!!

Joanna Jenkins said...

Whoa! I don't know where to start--

First, the raccoons are too darn cute. I've never seen ones this small.

The humming bird and the cloths pins is a great shot. I've been thinking a lot about clothes pins lately and seen a few pics on other blogs-- but this one is so unique. I'm thinking I have a clothes pin post coming soon.

And the owl! I can hear one in our neighborhood but I've yet to see him. You have a great eye to have found this guy. That is very cool.

It looks like a really wonderful and relaxing holiday Hilary. Welcome home.


But the

Reb said...

Beautiful! Love the hummingbird shots. Of course I see the dragon!

SandyCarlson said...

Benny. I just want to be him when I grow up. He is so much The Dude. He lives in a beautiful place with some good folk, so it's no wonder he rocks the way he does.

beth said...

how beautiful.....every single image !

and the hummingbird....well, they just amaze me, so he's my favorite today :)

Unknown said...

Hilary: lol to you! These photos are just so majestic and inspiring to me. The hawk is interesting because during my trip to California, a hawk circled over me on two occasions. I interpreted it as a good sign of strength and that I was on the right path! :)

ds said...

I am always amazed at how you can capture the majesty of a sunset (it was a dragon!) as well as the delicate tracery of a dragonfly's wing. Fabulous photos, cute raccoons, adorable dog. Looks as though you had a great time!

Tammie Lee said...

oh my goodness, so many wonderful sitings and creatures! It looks as though you had a wonderful time away! I love seeing the world through your eyes. thank you and Happy Canada Day!

Shrinky said...

Some of these shots are utterly breathtaking, the detail on the dragon-fly's wing is amazing, and as for you capturing those owls - wow! I also love how Benny "relaxes" by splaying his hind legs flat to the floor (can you imagine relaxing doing the splits??)!

Suldog said...

Happy Canada Day, Hilary!

(I know I'm a day late with that. Sorry! ope it was a good one!)

Fantastic shots, as usual, and wonderful to see you're back safe, sound, and well-rested.

Rosaria Williams said...

You have a magic hand and a magic eye to capture such fine creatures up closely. Lovely.

Yes, your pup knows how to relax, even with all the action around.

Friko said...

How on earth can you drag yourself away from such splendour?

I am speechless!

Sniffles and Smiles said...

My favorites? The hummingbird and raccoon photos! Absolutely extraordinary! Sounds like your time away was simply perfect!! So glad! You deserve that! Have a terrific weekend~ Love, Janine XO

Unspoken said...

Happy Canada Day :). There is hardly a baby animal I can resist!

VM Sehy Photography said...

These are awesome shots. Especially the humming birds and owls.

Hilary said...

• Thanks kindly, Hilary. Much appreciated. :)

• Teri, thank you .. we sure did. I've tried visiting your blog but only come up with a blank page. I appreciate your stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Brian. These raccoons are not pets as in they won't always stay in Theresa's care. She's getting them through to adulthood when they'll be released like many who have gone before them. They're great fun until they hit puberty. Then they get surly like most teens. ;)

• EthelMae thank you so much for such kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Your description of being there on the dock sounds idyllic.. and it is but mostly the sound you'd hear at night are "slap, slap, SLAP --- Got you, you little bastid!" There are a ton of mosquitos out there this time of year so there isn't much sitting around outside at night during the early summer months. I probably acquired a couple of dozen bites just watching the owls for ten minutes but the tradeoff was so worth it. Thank you for stopping by with such warm comments. :)

• Thank you kindly, Messymimi. :)

• DJan, thank you for your kind words. I actually have a couple of raccoon rescue stories in my past. Last year's event was tragic for the mother. The previous year's story was tragic for my house as the mother fell from the attic into my bedroom right through the ceiling! I seem to link up with the little beasties and have come to know what lovely, intelligent beings they are. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Pauline. I'm happy to share and so pleased to know that my photos were a good start to your day. :)

• Bonnie, thank you. I always feel so lucky when we encounter these beauties. The owls were a first for me. It was a magical moment. I'm beginning to get used to having baby raccoons around me now too.. which is a delight. I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, MPM. I could almost imagine hearts like yours, Dary's and Dianne's melting over Bayley and Bubbles. They're just as adorable as you'd expect. Theresa's adoptees are always a treat.. as were those owls. I'm glad you enjoyed. :)

• Thanks, Tom. It pleases me to know that you enjoyed them. :)

• Thank you, Technobabe (and Technohubby). The raccoon kits are indeed cuddly and sweet right now but rest assured they will become large and wild. At least that's the plan. The kits which were found orphaned under my deck last year were raised by Theresa and one of them continues to live somewhere near the cottage. Last year he was all snuggles and cuddles and was tame enough to allow us to pet him when he came around for feedings. Theresa was even able to pull porcupine quills out of his poor little face during one of his meal times without any aggression on his part. This year, he growled at me as I approached his area with scraps. That's as it should be for his survival. It will hopefully be the same for these two. Thanks so much for your kind words. :)

• Jillsy, thank you kindly. It was indeed difficult to pull ourselves away from there, but if we're lucky, we'll get to go back a few times this season. Hopefully soon. I'm happy that you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for the visit. :)

• SD, thank you so much. I'm glad you enjoyed them. :)

• Fragrant Liar, thank you kindly. That spot is a little piece of Heaven. And the raccoon are every bit as sweet as they look... until puberty strikes. ;) Thanks for stopping by with your kind words. :)

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Ed. I'm quite taken with dragonflies too, as you can tell. I wear a silver and turquoise dragonfly around my neck through the summer. I think they're magical creatures. The owls were fascinating. That encounter was a first for me. I was so glad that I opted to take my camera along on that walk. I almost didn't. Benny, as always is a total character. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. :)

• Thank you, Shammie. There are always events going on in my area but I opted for a quiet, uneventful Canada Day yesterday. A flash mob? That sounds like an intriguing blog post topic to me. One of these days I'd like to get out to Souffville but it can't be this weekend. I can't locate your email address either on the comment form or on your blog. Could you drop me a line sometime so that when the opportunity does arise, I can contact you? Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks kindly, Daryl but you're thinking of our Thanksgiving. ;) You have nothing to be GREEN about.. ye of such fine cityscape photos. Thanks always for the visit. :)

• Tabor, thanks so much. One of these days? I have a number of ways to fill in that blank. :)

• Frank, that's exactly what I thought when looking at those tiny feathers. I'm not at all surprised that you did too. It sure was a good week for seeing critters - not all of which I caught on camera. I'm thinking of those porcupines that visited us in the very early hours of the morning. I so enjoyed the time up at the cottage and hope that we get back there soon. :)

• Thank you, Ellen. I wanna be back there too! I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. I always enjoy sharing them. :)

• LadyFi, thanks very much. It was a great time and I'm glad you're enjoying the pics. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Sue. I'll bet you're having a blast with your granddoggie! Almost like a vacation .. at least for Snickers. ;) Thanks so much for your very kind words. I hope you do manage to get away for a real holiday soon. :)

• PHST, thanks kindly. I appreciate the suggestion but I tend to avoid doing themed posts. I just blog with whichever photos I have on hand to share and that works for me. Thanks very much for thinking of me though. :)

• Snappy Di, thank you. It's nice to be missed and enjoyed. :)

• Thanks, Cloudia. Aloha from Canada, eh? :)

• Thanks very much, Karen. I'm glad you could join me. It's always nice to have good company. :)

• Cricket, thank you kindly, my friend. The raccoon kits not only look cute.. they are the sweetest little things. I can understand your diminished sympathy for them. I might have felt the same way if it wasn't for those babies worming their way into my heart. Now I just love and admire them. I'd not seen an owl since I was a young child.. and that was only once so this was quite the thrill for me. Great song choice. Summer breeze makes me feel fine... ;)

• Thank you, Linda. It was indeed a wonderful time. Benny tends to collect a few fans each time I post a photo or video of him. It's nice to know that he has one in you, too. Thanks so much for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Leah. I can't say that I blame you but they're a lot of work and they become completely ungrateful brats come puberty.. just like teenagers! :)

• Don, thank you. Much appreciated. :)

• Eleonora, thank you so kindly. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you so much, NJ. I'm so pleased that you like them. I was thrilled to see the owl and to get up close to that hummingbird. Thanks for the visit. :)

Hilary said...

• June, owls! I was in awe of those lovely creatures.. not one.. but two. And another one or two lurking out of sight. It was a thrilling moment and worth every one of the several dozen mosquito bites I got in the process. ;) You're so right about the penciled in eyebrows.. what a funny observation! And yes, the hands are incredible. They're so touchy feely too. It makes me wish they were little forever.. but they grow up pretty fast. They're beauties, eh? Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Joanna, I thank you kindly. I think a post about clothes pins sounds intriguing. Knowing you, it will be so interesting. The eye which found the owl belongs to Frank's sister Lisa - not me. It took me a full minute until I could focus upon where she saw it. Then I couldn't take my eyes away from it. Thanks always for such kind comments. They're so appreciated. :)

• Thanks, Reb. I kind of knew you would. ;)

• Sandy, you can't fool me. You're not gonna grow up! ;) He is the Dude. lol. Thanks so much for your kind words, friend. :)

• Beth, thank you so much. Hummingbirds are fascinating little things, aren't they? I'm glad you enjoyed them. :)

• Michael, thank you very much. I tend to agree with your interpretation about the hawks' messages. We look at them pretty much the same way. They're wonderful creatures and a sighting is always a thrill. Thanks for the visit. :)

• DS, thanks so kindly. We did have a great time. So much to see and take in. It's rejuvenating for sure. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks you so much, Tammie. Such kind words. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :)

• Shrinky, thank you. Nobody plays harder than Benny and as this photo will attest, he relaxes with as much enthusiasm. I think he's part cat. ;)

• Suldog, thanks for the kind thoughts and the Canada Day wishes, eh! :)

• Lakeviewer, thanks so much for the lovely comments. Yes, Benny relaxes with the best of them. ;)

• Friko, it was difficult. We were only supposed to stay there for four or five days.. we stayed for ten. We hope to get back there soon. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Janine, thanks so kindly for your warm words. I'm glad you enjoyed those photos. They were my personal favourites too. Thanks always for the visit. :)

• Thanks, Amy. I'm right with you on that one. Cuties, aren't they? Thanks for the visit. :)

• VM, thanks so much. I'm glad you think so. :)

Indrani said...

Wonderful shots of all the creatures, so neatly presented.

Dave said...

As always Hilary, an excellent photo blog. I am amazed at how you get all of these different creatures on camera. Well done and thanks. - Dave

Gary's third pottery blog said...

OH YES, you said it, I looooove Benny and absolutely ADORE racoons, esp the little ones!

Cedar said...

I always like your dragonfly photos...they make me happy.

Hilary said...

• Thanks kindly, Indrani. Very much appreciated. :)

• Nice to see you, Dave! Thanks kindly for your always-encouraging comments. :)

• Gary, I knew you'd love these critters. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Cedar. I'm glad to hear it. :)

Steve Gravano said...

Hillary, I love the photos of the Raccoon kits and the movie of Benny.
He's like a little centurion making sure his captives don't escape. Excellent photos of the Owl and dragonfly also. Thanks it was a great visit.

Kat said...

Oh, just beautiful. What an absolute treasure that cabin is.
My boys were looking at the pics with me and their favorites were the raccoons and the owls. Just gorgeous shots!!! :)

Kerri Farley said...

WOW! All are Superb but that close up of the hummer drinking just blows me away!

The little kits are ADORABLE!!!

Hilary said...

• Thanks so much, Steve. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. Your kind words mean a lot to me. :)

• Kat, I'm glad that you and your boys could join me and enjoy raccoons and owls. Thanks always for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very much, Kerri. I'm glad you enjoyed the kits and the hummer. :)

Unknown said...

This is just gasp worthy . All of it.

Hilary said...

Thank you, Deb. :)

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

What incredible pictures! I did indeed see the fire-breathing dragon. :)
I'm so glad you are having many wonderful days up at the cabin this summer.