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Author Topic: My Sweetie Pie's close relatives and marsh friends  (Read 11522 times)
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BW
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« on: October 17, 2009, 11:51:38 AM »

In addition to my Sweetie Pie's babies, I also rescued and gave homes to several kitties who I think are very close relatives, probably cousins.  I will put their photos here in this thread.  I also will mention some of her marsh friends, especially the swans and geese that she used to enjoy watching from our boardwalk and later after coming inside, from our livingroom window which looked out over the boardwalk and bay.  The first friend I will mention is a gorgeous swan I named Ellis, and whom I fed for a few years on a regular basis.  I really came to love him.  Here is a little about dear Ellis, wherever he may be, hopefully with a new family somewhere pleasant and safe.

Cobbie/Ellis's story.
I believe that mute swans mate for life. 
When I lived on the bay, we had many mute swans frequent the area.  I loved them so much, such gorgeous animals.  I would enjoy admiring them as they flew into our area and floated majestically on the water of our bay.  After a while, they usually crossed over to the marsh on the other side of my condo complex.   
We had electrical wires strung along the streets, as in most areas, and my condo was on a very, very narrow piece of land between the bay and the marshy wildlife preserve.  In order to get from the bay to the preserve, the swans had to fly over the electrical wires.  Since they were on their approach path, they always flew at a lower altitude and had to gauge it just right in order to clear the wires and quickly descend to landing altitude.

Every so often, one didn't gauge the altitude correctly, and we would find a beautiful body lying at the side of the street.

One day, we found a gorgeous body lying there at the side of the road, by the curve.  It was the Pen, the female, and there walking slowly, circling around and around the body was the male, the Cob of the pair.  He was so distraught, it was pitiful to see him.  He stayed by the body a long, long time, and eventually he flew off because there was so much traffic passing by.  In the next few days, he came and visited her often, then eventually, the municipality came and took her body away.

Every evening, I would look out over the bay, and see this one lonely swan swimming back and forth past my complex.  Way up past my compex, and then way back again.  All alone!!  Every night!  It was so sad to see him floating by, so lonely without his mate.  Sometimes I would look out when I couldn't sleep, during the wee hours, after midnight, and there he was, still swimming back and forth.  It broke my heart.

I started calling him Lonely Swan, then finally one day, just L S.
AFter a while, as I kept saying bless you L S, I realized I was calling him Ellis, so that became his name. 
Well, I started throwing corn out for Ellis, and fed him several years, every day, during all the bad winter storms, etc. He would come under my balcony, and I would throw the corn to him, or go down on the boardwalk, or our deck and give it to him, and he would talk to me.  We became friends of a sort.  I could tell him from the other swans because of his damaged tail feathers.  They came to a sort of a frazzled point in the back.

When I saw swans out on the bay and I called his name, he came over to me.
I am putting a photo of him here, he was so beautiful.  I loved him.

 Eventually, when they took the mute swans off the protected list, and the government started exterminating those beautiful animals in Maryland because authorities  insisted it was the mute swans that were polluting the Chesapeak Bay, I worried and worried about him, during those periods when he flew off somewhere.  My heart pounding in relief each time he thankfully returned, and I saw him again.

There was one day he did show up, after a very long absence, when I had just about lost hope of seeing him again, and I heard him calling.  I ran down on the boardwalk, and I threw him some corn, and talked to him briefly telling him how happy I was to see him again, immensely relieved that he was still ok.  I did see another swan farther out on the bay, and wondered if they were together, but that swan didn't come near.  Ellis did not stay very long that day, and after that last visit he never returned again.    I always wondered if he had come to say goodbye.

I will never know if he died a natural death, or was killed by someone down the flyway, or with the other swans being exterminated on the Chesapeak.  I pray it was old age, or that he perhaps found another mate and a preferable home.

I am thankful for the few years that I knew Ellis, and that I was able to be his friend and give him food during the hard, cold winter times.

It does seem sometimes that we pay for every bit of love eventually with tears.


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BW
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« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2009, 12:01:03 PM »

I remember one of my very last times feeding Ellis, towards the end, before he left and did not return.   I had been in conflict with some of the other condo owners about my feeding the swans and geese.  I never understood why they cared they were seldom there anyway, and the animals were so beautiful,  however, after a rather contentious meeting I was forbidden to feed any waterfowl at all.
Well, since the others were seldom there during the week, I continued "sneak feeding" Ellis.  By that time, we were good friends, and I certainly was not going to abandon him.
 
On weekends, I had to be very careful about letting anyone see me give him his corn. I began going through the side gate of our pool deck, down to our small beach area.  I would see him out in the water, gesture to him, he would see me and come quickly over to the sandy shore to get his corn.  I felt relatively safe, since our 6 foot deck fence concealed our activities, I thought.
One day, I was feeding him, all alone, and I thought no one knew, when suddenly the gate opened, and there was the vice president.  He looked furious, and said he thought we had a new arrangement and I knew I wasn't supposed to feed any of the waterfowl, any longer.
 
Well, that was an historic day, a tragic day, no one will ever forget.  I yelled up to him, that thousands of people had just been killed in NewYork City, and feeding beautiful Ellis was helping to make me feel better.   Oh, he said, looking suddenly more sober.  Oh, he said, ok then you can feed the swans, but no geese, and he quickly left.
It was 9/11 .
 
Here are some photos I took of my Ellis on our little sandy beach. Some of his friends were with him.

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BW
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« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2009, 12:04:07 PM »

Here is another photo of Ellis on our little beach, again with some friends.
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bug
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RIP little angel Katey


« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2009, 01:02:38 PM »

That landlord, and other condo inhabitants, sounded like complete morons (ha! I mistyped and wrote mormons -- I don't think they have anything against waterfowl). How beautiful he was. There's some good karma coming your way, for sure! We don't have swans up here. I think the Canada geese scare them away, or maybe the crow or magpies. I only ever see them at the zoo, which I don't go to because I'm against zoos. If you drive out to the lakes here (and we have over 100,000 of them), you will often see blue herons, huge owls and other hawks.

Thanks for the pictures. What a great-looking place to live.
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My little babies, you'll always be in my heart. Mom will see you later. Look after each other, ok?
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2009, 01:31:27 PM »

Thank you for Ellis's story, BW.  Although sad, it is powerful. And people like you who reach out to animals are very, very special.  I'm proud to know you, even if it is only through cyberspace.
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BW
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« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2009, 04:29:05 PM »

Oh Catbird, that is very kind of you indeed.  I am not accustomed to approval, and I am being serious about that.   Yes, Bug, it was a lovely place to live in the beginning.  I bought it because as I drove by, I saw all the geese and ducks floating by and was thrilled to think I could live so close to them.    I lived there for about 6 years, and if I had been allowed to interact with the animals, both winged and furred, I would have stayed there always.  But there was so much dissension, that finally, I couldn't stay and watch some of the things that were going on without being able to do anything about it.

The last straw, was one bitter, freezing day in March, when the ice was frozen all across the bay.  It looked like Antarctica really.  It had been frozen for more than a month or more.  I felt it was even more important to feed the swans and geese when the water wasn't free.  They could get nothing from the bottom.
Well, we had a long dock, and after one particularly bad snow storm, I looked out and saw a bunch of swans and geese sitting out on the ice in the cold wind.  Of course they had "down" coats, but still I knew they needed food.

I bundled up, in my winter gear, and with difficulty made my way out to the end of the dock with a couple buckets of corn.  I fell, a few times, but the snow was soft.  I must have looked comical, but no one was around, the city people didn't come down in the bad weather, seldom in the winter at all.

The swans and the geese came over and ate their fill.  It was very hard for the swans to maneuver on the slippery ice,  they are large and awkward.  they slipped and slid all over the place, but they did get to the corn. 

At times near the pilings, someone would find a weak place, and break through. Well, it worked out very well,  actually, because the geese somehow were able to work on those openings,and push and push, and eventually, they were able to make some paths of free water, and then the swans took advantage of that, and could swim through the watery paths and get the corn more easily.  They could stick their long necks down under the water and get what fell on the bottom too, it wasn't very deep there.

Well, I thought it was just great!  I was tickled pink.  Every day, I went out to feed and there were more and more paths for the swans.  My what a wonderful simbiotic relationship they have together.  I was quite happy with how it was working out.
Then the weekend came!!  The associaton was having their annual meeting!

I must mention that what goes in, must come out, as we who have pets, all know.  Snow is white, what comes out is not white.  I personally didn't think it was that bad.   It was not pretty, perhaps a bit unsightly, but the snow would melt, the ice would melt, the tide would take everything away, on the very next tide, as it always did. That was where the waterfowl lived, and that was what the tide always washed away.  That was nature after all.  It wasn't as if they were dirtying someone's lawn where people walked. It was a big bay, near an inlet to the ocean.

Well, a couple of the ladies looked out and saw that the snow had been "soiled" here and there.  They became panic stricken. I am not exaggerating.   One woman kept yelling, "Disease, disease, look at it, it will bring disease!!"  There was no calming her.  She was distraught. And she ran in and got everyone to come and look, to agree with her.
 
Well, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.  And that is what precipitated the "no feeding anything" rule.  They simply did not understand that the dirty ice was not a problem.  They were leaving the next morning, and didn't have to look at the soiled ice anyway.  They wouldn't come back till spring, when it had long since melted, and was nice and clean again.  But the damage had been done.  I had become a persona non grata, big time.

Yes, I am disobedient, and when they left and I was alone again, I did continue to feed during the cold weather. And I learned to be much more careful.
However, in the spring, I was no longer able to enjoy interacting with the animals as I had for the first year or so when we had had a different president who also liked animals.  There is a time for everything....

And I don't want to make it sound like everyone in that area was against the animals. I met some wonderful, animal loving people, who gave a great deal of themselves to help the animals in the area.  But usually, they are the silent ones, who do not want to attract attention to themselves, for fear of attracting unwanted attention to the animals.  Bless their hearts. 
I was not discreet enough, I had a lot to learn!

But this is getting too long again..
In any case, Catbird, thank you again so much for your approval.  And Bug, no I don't think that Mormons have anything against waterfowl.   Smiley That is really funny.  Our little typos can be really comical sometimes.  And you live in a wonderful place too, with so many lakes!  We only rarely get the lovely big blue herons, and I've never seen those huge owls you mention.   Do you live in western Canada or eastern?
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Janet
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« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2009, 07:42:25 AM »

Ellis certainly was beautiful! And how kind of you to look out for him.
I find it hard to believe that anyone could exterminate these magnificent birds.
It's sad that you had to leave such a beautiful area and give up your interaction with the wildlife. I don't quite understand why some people take such a dim view of wildlife. In my view, all wild critters (waterfowl and otherwise) are living creatures and should be treated with respect.
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BW
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« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2009, 09:27:27 AM »

Last winter we had a gorgeous visitor to our little lake.  I had seen a similar swan visit our condo on the bay a few years earlier.  I wondered if this could possibly be the same one, but I think this one was smaller.  This black swan stayed a couple days, and then moved on. I love the curly feathers on its back.


In this photo, you can see the beautiful red eye a little better, if you look closely.

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Janet
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« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2009, 10:18:29 AM »

WOW!!!!!  How Beautiful!!!
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BW
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« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2009, 10:24:27 AM »

Janet,  Yes, can't nature be wonderful!
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« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2009, 10:38:38 AM »

BW - I am gobsmacked (can't think of a better word at the mo') to know that such soul-less people exist.

Here I don't think that could happen - but we dont really have areas where there's so much wild life close to where people live (or even have holiday homes)  Guess we dont have enough land.  Wherever there are nature reserves / parks or protected areas they are just that.  And funded by the governement (tho' we fear cuts in these times) or by large charitable organisations (like RSPB - Royal Society for Protetction of Birds).  It certainly is a crime to kill many many species here - esp birds.

Any 'wild' space of any beauty now has conservation orders etc - often EU backed too - and its pretty much enforced & run by govt or charities.  But there arent any areas where people reside & make rules about what goes in the surroundings - the closest maybe in cities where there are upmarket apartments and the surrounds are quite limited anyway.

And of course hunting just doesnt happen to that extent here either.  Except the 'hooray' brigade with their hunting estates - again mainly only allowed on their own land - certainly not on 'public' land.
But neither are there the vast tracts of beautiful wilderness or so many wild species....sigh

We actually all sit glued to BBC programs like 'Springwatch' and 'Autumnwatch' where lucky wildlife lovers get to sit out every day/night & film the countryside and its changes.  And they get paid for it!  The other night one guy was in Scotland watching the huge flocks of geese roosting at sunset, then they film hedgehogs & doormice in more 'suburban' situations.  We even had one team last spring got some really rare footage of the Scottish wildcat.




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"I can think of many ways in which I would become a better person if I were more like my cats. But I cannot think of a single way in which my cats would be any better for being more like me."  A.N.Wilson
BW
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« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2009, 10:53:35 AM »

This is to introduce my little Blackie Cutie Pie.  Blackie is about 9 years old, and she is not related to anyone else in my home now. I rescued her from where I lived just before moving to the bay area.  I had been feeding her for a month or so prior to moving.  She had been very skinny, and forelorn looking.  I put a shelter for her on my portico and she stayed in it most of the time, but every so often she left.  I had followed her a few times trying to find out if she had a home.  And the best I could find, was a house she kept visiting that had a for sale sign on it, and was all closed up.  I thought she might be going back there to look for them.  I feared her family had moved away and left her.  Could never be sure.
At one time I feared she had had babies, she kept coming and going rather frantically, I thought,  and so after catching her in a carrier, I took her to the vet to see if she had any milk.  He said no, she didn't, and he didn't think she had babies. I was moving immediately, didn't want to take her if she had babies somewhere, but didn't want to leave her if she didn't.  I feared she had already been abandoned once.  So after the vet visit, I took her with me.
I pray he was right.  Sometimes such decisions are very hard to make.  Here is her photo.


« Last Edit: October 18, 2009, 10:56:08 AM by BW » Logged
catbird
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« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2009, 12:22:00 PM »

Such a winsome face Blackie has.  And such a sad story--I'll bet that was her house, and her family left her behind.  Cry  But she has a much better place now, with you.
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BW
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« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2009, 12:37:21 PM »

Catbird, thank you. Blackie Cutie Pie is a round little cat, with short legs.  I like short legged little cats.  She is a very timid,  but sweet.
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BW
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« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2009, 06:01:39 PM »

JoMax, Gee, it sounds wonderful actually. >>Any 'wild' space of any beauty now has conservation orders etc - often EU backed too - and its pretty much enforced & run by govt or charities.  But there arent any areas where people reside & make rules about what goes in the surroundings<<
That sounds great to me! 
Many of our national parks are so vast, that I guess people think that their activities won't make a dent in them, plenty of room for every pursuit they think, but that is not so!  We should protect them vigorously and the wildlife in them, they are our heritage for the future.  Some people just don't see it that way.

I love the nature programs too.
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