Monday, June 3, 2019

My Pet Predator

Last week was the awards ceremony for the writing competition I entered. I was short-listed but did not win which was what I expected. But two other writers from my writing group and a husband (of one of the other writers) and myself headed into the city for the event. We went early enough to go for dinner beforehand and had a great meal at a tiny African restaurant just around the corner from the Art Bar where the ceremony was held. The winners in each category read their entries and then four people who were in a mentorship program read excerpts from their works in progress. One of the writers who came to the city with me is a poet and she was hoping to hear the winning poetry selection, however the winner was a no-show and they did not read that entry. Too bad, I think it would have been interesting.

We had a good time. I left Hapi with friends and unfortunately she howled most of the time that I was away. They were a little taken aback by that, they had never heard her howl. Separation issues I guess.

I took Hapi to the feed mill with me to get some seed potatoes, onion sets and pelletized lime. They let dogs into the store there. There is a feed mill cat who is unafraid of dogs and another customer had their dog as well. I let Hapi wander, I didn't think there was anything she could get into. Boy was I wrong.

One of the girls behind the counter had ordered chicks to raise for meat birds and her order had arrived and was sitting on the floor behind the counter. A big box full of very cute looking chicks. Hapi eventually made her way behind the counter and saw the chicks. She plucked one out of the box. The girl behind the counter was very fast, she got that chick out of Hapi's mouth in a split second. The chick appeared shocked but alive and hopefully not injured. I apologized profusely but she said not to worry, they were just meat birds.

I was a bit of a nervous wreck when I left the feed mill, I thought I'd take Hapi for a walk to calm my nerves. So we went to the Reservoir. There's a duck there with a nest. Apparently this is the second next that duck has tried to sit on, the first nest and its contents were destroyed by dogs. The current one is only slightly better hidden but I knew about it and roughly where it was from one of the other dog owners. On this particular day I found out exactly where the nest was. Hapi found it. She flushed out the duck sitting on the nest and proceeded to investigate its contents. Meanwhile I was running throught the bushes and across a ditch yelling, "No! No! No!"

I managed to get to the nest before Hapi could snatch an egg and I dragged her away. There were 8 eggs in the nest. A couple of male ducks had been patrolling the pond nearby and when the mother duck was chased off her nest squawking in protest, they joined her in the air, also squawking. I used to joke that those ducks were her bodyguards, but I think they are actually opportunists waiting to see if they can impregnate her again if the nest fails. At any rate the whole gang flew away.

I took Hapi home, thoroughly wrecked by the two incidents. What fun to have a predator for a pet! But I dare not go back to the Reservoir now, she knows exactly where the nest is and will continue to seek it out as long as it is there. Not that I think there is any hope that any of those eggs will survive, if the dogs don't get them then the eagles surely will. Not to mention raccoons, skunks or coyotes. But I just don't want Hapi to be the one to do it. So I am having to take her elsewhere for her morning walk.

Two geese hiding their babies on the left, beaver swimming by on the right
Today we went to the Gaspereau Canal. I saw two ducks, two geese, two eagles and a beaver. I saw the geese twice and it turned out that they had four goslings with them. When they saw Hapi and me they herded their charges across the canal and positioned themselves so that I couldn't see the babies.

Beaver lodge, just left of centre (looks like a heap of sticks by the water's edge)
The beavers around here are "bank beavers", they don't build lodges in the middle of a pond but on the banks of rivers. they don't build dams either, which is a good thing because if they tried to dam the canal they would be removed. One day last month the power company lowered the water level in the canal and you could see the whole beaver lodge including its underwater entry point (which wasn't underwater at the time).

Female eagle in tree, probably waiting for the goslings to appear
There are a lot of micro-hydro installations in this province. They are the original dams built back in the day when such things were quite small. The canal goes between two such dams operated by the power company here, my neighbourhood is powered by one of those dams. There is also a fish ladder around one of the dams for the Gaspereaux fish (they are called alewives in Toronto). Fishers along the river catch them with big dipnets every spring on their spawning migration up the river, and they are shipped to Haiti for food. Fishing season on the Gaspereau is a big deal, it just ended this past weekend. The power company is supposed to run their operation in such a way that the fish are not killed but periodically they screw it up and thousands of fish end up dead.


Wisewebwoman said...

Hapi looks thinner or has she had her summer trim?

Wow that was nerve wracking, did she not display this predatory business before?

Lovely wild life photos, you live in a beautiful spot.


Annie said...

WWW, she looks thinner because she's wet. Summer cut coming next week and I don't think she has lost weight. Hapi has always been a predator, I knew that about her. Now that she is old she lets a lot of opportunities pass her by, squirrels and cats are safe with her, even other dogs. I have lost my sense of vigilance so it is a wee bit shocking when she does these things. Two times in one day!