Archive for the ‘Wildlife observation’ Category

Whitetail mating ritual captured on film!

- November 17th, 2014


This weekend, I was presented with a rare opportunity near my place to photograph the whitetail rut up-close-and-personal. To see a magnificent buck, firsthand, as he pursued a doe coming into estrus was a scene I will never forget!



The courting ritual begins as the buck feeds casually near the doe, all the while keeping her close at hand…



He is quite the attentive boyfriend indeed.



The buck took a moment to tear-up a nearby maple tree(easily 12″ diameter), in perhaps the largest rubbed tree I have ever seen!



The buck then starts to make a scrape just as the battery dies in my camera – doohh!

Luckily I had another one available, although the delay did cause me to miss the majority of his scrape making.



As doe made her way across the field toward me, the old buck was in hot pursuit.



I managed to slip my way around and photograph the two deer from another angle, as the buck continued his pursuit of the doe.



In this most incredible image, the buck can be seen scent-checking the doe for receptiveness.

Estrus cannot be far off!


This is the last photo I have in the series before the two moved off together and out of range.

To be able to witness the white-tailed deer courting ritual firsthand is something I will not soon forget; and without a doubt, the greatest series of photographs I’ve ever captured.






Return of Garfield – local buck lives on!

- October 18th, 2013

My old pal Garfield, now an impressive 6 1/2-year old whitetail buck (who was born in my back field) has returned for yet another fall!




The mature buck who has returned to my neck of the woods year after year may not boast the most symmetrical set of antlers in the world, but he is impressive animal none the less.

And toughs as nails too!






It’s always nice to see a familiar face, especially one I have photographed many times with my Bushnell Trophy cams over the past 5 years. I realize you are not supposed to name a wild animal, but this bad boy is more of an old friend than anything.

Of all the whitetails who’ve come and gone in my area, Garfield is the most resilient of the bunch. He’s been chased by coyotes hundreds of times, broken his rack two years in a row, and always had one side of his antlers look slightly different the other.

One time my daughter and I found Garfield lying flat out  like a horse in the back field, we thought for sure he was dead until we walked closer and discovered he was just exhausted and sleeping.

In the daylight, the distinctive brown patches on his hind legs are a give-away to his identity. Besides that, I just never forget a face!

Isn’t the onset of the whitetail rut a magnificent time of year? You just never know who might show up!!



Ontario cougar sighting interview

- June 24th, 2013

Last week I had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Shawn Heggart, resident of South Mountain – a small town southeast of Ottawa near Winchester.

Shawn is an avid outdoorsman – hunter and fisherman – like many of us are, and is always watching the fields and forests near his house for signs of wildlife.

Shawn was driving his vehicle near Mountain (another small hamlet north of his home in South Mountain) a couple of weeks back  when something peculiar caught his attention.

A large brown ‘cat’ with a long tail was running along the roadside in front of him. It was a cougar and Shawn knows wildlife well enough to realize what one looks like.

“I wasn’t hard to tell this guy was a cougar, I mean, he was only 30 yards away and it was  broad daylight!” said Heggert.

Upon returning home, Shawn got on the Internet and began searching Ontario Cougars, which led him to my article in the Ottawa SUN from last summer with the story of the cougar shot by Police in the Muskokas.

After contacting the MNR to share this information, Mr. Heggert’s next step(I’m happy to say) was to share the news with me..evidently the Outdoors Guy was a lot more receptive to Shawn’s cougar sighting than the MNR was.

“The Ministry told me flat out, there are NO COUGARS in Ontario and what I saw was probably just someone’s pet!” Heggert stated, matter of factly.

Shawn then asked the MNR official “OK, how many pythons owners are there in Ontario?” The MNR replied with “Well, we know there are 360 of them, but the python is a dangerous animal!”

Shawn immediately questioned why the department would document dangerous snake owners but has no record of cougar owners. My guess is that, unless you are operating a wildlife preserve, you are not even legally allowed to have a cougar as a pet.

Yet there are this many cougar owners in Ontario to account for the number of sightings?

My chat with Mr. Heggert was an interesting one indeed, since the last cougar incident I could recall from this part of the province was an interview I did back in 2005(OOD article) with a lad from Monkland (near Cornwall) who was bitten by a large cat, late one evening, while letting his dog out. Investigators determined, at the time, that his bite marks were consistent with that of a cougar.

Shawn went-on to tell me he knows of several people in that region who have seen cougars over the years. He said one man even saw a mother with cubs not far from there.

Could it be that all these sightings are from ‘pets’ or ‘formerly captive’ cougars? Sure, the one killed last summer in the Muskokas had evidently been a captive animal (it was declawed) but there are far too many sightings each year to ALL be escaped pets. It is possible that perhaps these pets have learned how to adapt and breed in the wild?

It seems no one wants to believe that a remnant population of the (now believe to be) extinct Eastern Cougar exists in Eastern Canada, yet the sightings continue to grow in numbers.

Near the end of my conversation, Heggert told me something that literally threw me back in my chair!! He shared some information that is so huge, if true, would make National News!!

At Shawn’s request, I am not permitted to  speak a work of the information he gave me, but said I would be the first to know should it turn out to be true.

In my opinion, these cougar sightings across Ontario cannot ALL be the result of Pet Cougars as the MNR would have you believe..

One day hopefully we will have the evidence to prove the existence of wild cougars living and breeding in Central and Eastern Canada.




Weekend visitor of the feathered variety

- March 18th, 2013



We had the pleasure of playing host to this beautiful feathered specimen for over three hours this weekend!

This mature Barred Owl (tks Rick for assisting with identification) roosted on a branch of our red pine yesterday, and was quite content to hang out there most of the morning.




If not for the crows harassing this fellow, I wouldn’t have even known it was there. He appeared to be sleeping most of the time but always knew we were watching him; regardless of which door we came out to take photos.



It is fabulous to see these birds around . I know Iggy told me about Great Grey Owl sightings this winter which is reminiscent of 6-7 winters ago when owls were staging in our region.

Well, I’ve never had to pleasure of seeing a Barred Owl before, let along one hanging out less than 75 feet from my house!

Apart from taking a nap, I figure this guy was keeping an eye on squirrels in the neighbour’s property. Either that or was hunting meadow voles or cottontails in the back field.

Hey, who says hunters can’t enjoy the beauty of nature!


Rare wildlife sighting for Ottawa

- January 20th, 2013


I was surprised to find these rare images on my ‘back field’ trailcam after checking it this weekend.

This little guy passed through on New Year’s Eve just a couple of hours before the arrival of 2013!

Of the over 500, 000 trailcam images I have taken since moving to Ottawa 14 years ago, I have never captured an image of this particular animal. In the forests north of town they are certainly more common, but within City Limits I would say they are a rare sight indeed.



With most of the deer gone from around my property for the winter, this little guy is a sight for sore eyes.

Soooo, can you guess what fur bearing animal this is?? Here is a close-up shot: