Friday, December 1, 2017

Not Many Critters!

I haven't seen much in the way of wildlife here at the new place.  Living in town is not quite the same, but we are seeing a few birds and the ubiquitous Gray Squirrels.  I am also still having lots of trouble with the auto-focus on my camera lenses.

There's a little flock of Chickadees and a Nuthatch that passes by the feeder usually twice a day, and visits briefly.  I don't think we have enough vegetation cover around for them to feel comfortable.

I enjoy the White-breasted Nuthatch, a rebellious little bird which seems to prefer walking upside down.  Both Chickadees and Nuthatches take one seed at a time, fly away, hold it down on a branch, and hammer it open.  Their visits to pick up seeds are fast and furious.

I'm afraid I've never had a high opinion of Gray Squirrels, or their melanistic companions, Black Squirrels, but we have seen a pair in the back yard regularly.  I guess I gotta take my wildlife where I find it!

Where did Meaford get its name?

The day before yesterday, Mike, of A Bit About Britain (a great blog if you're interested in British history), commented that Meaford sounded like an English name.  He was right.  Before Meaford was actually established, in the 1830's, the area was known as St. Vincent, after a British navy hero, John Jervis, 1st Earl of St. Vincent, who became First Lord of the Admiralty.  He was named Earl of St. Vincent because of his victory over the Spanish in the Battle of Cape St. Vincent in Portugal, in 1797 - bit of a Spanish connection there too.

Early settlers petitioned to have land set aside for a harbour at the mouth of the Bighead River, and the surveyor Charles Rankin laid out a townsite there.  He called it Meaford because the Earl of St. Vincent was born in Meaford Hall, Staffordshire, England in 1735.  The house still exists.  All the names of townships in southern Ontario seem to be named after the British upper class!

Until recently the rural area west of Meaford was still St. Vincent Township.  In 2001 the provincial government forced amalgamation on rural areas, so St. Vincent, the town of Meaford and the next township west, Sydenham, were amalgamated into the Municipality of Meaford.  We now have the strange situation where 'Meaford' is still used by 99% of the population to refer to the town itself, but officially it refers to the much larger political municipality which includes the large rural area between the town Meaford, and the city of Owen Sound.  (By the way, Sydenham was named after another Brit, Charles Thompson, the 1st Baron Sydenham, first Governor Governor of Canada).

That's just some extra history for you Mike.  The story of how surveyors named so much of rural southern Ontario after British Lords of the 17th and 18th centuries, must be an interesting one.  I will look to see if I can find a Scottish connection!

Linking to:


  1. Some years ago there was a contestant on an Australian show." Who wants to be a Millionaire" and the questions are harder as the dollars go up the scale. One question was which king or queen followed who" I cannot remember the names. but this young man knew exactly.And how did he know" He had learnt this piece or rhyme when at school. Sorry I couldn't find your email, but thought Mike might enjoy it too. Best wishes for the rest of December, love that wee squirrel. Please send some cool weather down here, another scorcher.

    The Kings and Queens of England

    Willie, Willie, Harry, Ste,
    Harry, Dick, John, Harry three;
    One two three Neds, Richard two,
    Harrys four five six, ... then who?
    Edwards four five, Dick the bad,
    Harrys (twain), Ned (the lad);
    Mary, Bessie, James the vain,
    Charlie, Charlie, James again
    Will and Mary, Anna Gloria,
    Georges four, then Will, Victoria;
    Edward seven, George and Ted,
    George the sixth, now Liz instead.

  2. At least you still get lots of birds and squirrels. And I think they're fun to watch.

  3. I think any squirrel is cute! Love nuthatches...

  4. Interesting history. We have Jervis Inlet near us. I just looked online and it was also named after John Jervis. Wikipedia says, "Vancouver named this main waterway after his friend Rear Admiral Sir John Jervis (Earl of St. Vincent) for his victory over the Spanish fleet on February 14, 1797 at Cape St.Vincent in Portugal. He named St. Vincent's Bay (near the entrance of Jervis Inlet) after the location of the battle, St.Vincent Bay." - Margy

  5. I'm gla dyou are settling into your new home. I love your photos I've been seeing a multitude of nuthatches in my area this fall. The weather has been very mild so far --no snow--so they seem to be enjoying it and finding lots of food

  6. You have found some animal friends already. The squirrels are huge compared to the red squirrels here.

  7. Our nuthatches do that upside-down thing too, though they're not common in my immediate area. On having a quick look at your area on Google maps only Hamilton and Tobermory jump out as Scottish names.

  8. Nice photos despite your auto-focusing issues. I rely 100% on it because my vision is too poor to get a sharp manual focus.

  9. Your few birds are the interesting, cute ones. I love nuthatches and chickadees. Maybe once the birds figure out it's safe they will increase in number. I've never been much of a squirrel fan either. We have plenty of black ones around here, though. :-)

  10. those are 2 great birds to see and you got nice photographs. if you are shooting through glass, you are going to have a difficult time, using any focus. does your camera have an auto focus for bird watching?? that's what i use (i never manual focus) and it works perfectly. plus the birds will need a little time to adjust to you and seeing you around, then they will sit still and not be bothered by your presence!!!

    when i am going to photograph the birds, it's an event so to speak. i dedicate an hour or so to it and i stand by the open window. i always have birds at the feeders, which makes it easy for me. it does take a little time!!

    your squirrel is adorable and he sat nicely for his picture!!!!

  11. Thanks for the bit of history lesson about your new town.
    I too am not a fan of squirrels though they are cute.

  12. Hello, love the cute Chickadee and the Nuthatch. Squirrels are piggies and I am constantly battling them on my feeders. It is nice learning more about your new town. Thank you so much for linking up and sharing your post. Thanks also for the nice comment. Happy Saturday, enjoy your day and weekend!

  13. Wonderful bird and squirrel photos! And an interesting bit of history!

  14. Great photos of the birds!
    Lots of squirrels here, too, and I agree 'we have got to take our wildlife wherever we can find it' - squirrels can be cute even if they are pests.
    Interesting bit of history. Maybe people thought they could get some money from the British Lord for the town by naming it for him.
    Have a wonderful week-end!

  15. Your camera might not have this feature, but some cameras allow you to adjust the part of the picture frame that it actually uses to auto focus on. Mine allows me to choose a small spot (spot focus) in the middle of the frame and is especially useful when I have the zoom cranked up trying to take pictures of birds and other critters. It does not work very well for landscapes, though, so you do have to keep switching back and forth. Check your camera manual, yours may have it. I think it would help your auto focus issues.

  16. I forgot to mention in my previous post, but I have REALLY enjoyed your series of posts about the progression of crops thru they year on the various fields around you. Very informative.

  17. Gray squirrel are better than the fox squirrels. Auto focus on mine goes nuts when there is a busy background

  18. The nuthatches and chickadees are the primary visitors at my feeder - I don't even attempt to take pictures since they move so fast!

  19. Hey, nothin' wrong with squirrels! Except for their thievin' ways, that is.

  20. You have the same birds as we do. I have a Red Squirrel who was not invited so now I put a bounty on his head! We have one brown/black and a number of grays:)

  21. I'm quite fond of squirrels, actually!

  22. I love your barns.
    I love our kookie squirrels, too. Lovely photos.
    I hear you about the autofocus! My graduated lens glasses are horrid, too. I'm surprised I get anything in focus!

  23. The majority of my bird photos here at home are taken from inside our sunroom through glass windows and auto focus is never a problem. The trick though is to have the glass squeaky clean or the auto focus may focus on the dirty glass itself. For birds I have my Nikon set up to focus on a small spot directly in the middle of the screen. Same thing for exposure. I rarely use Matrix metering. I think these things may be the problem some of the commenters are having.

  24. Interesting history of the town. Your critter pals are cute. Maybe if you put out lots and lots of feeders, you will see more wildlife--something that the city life cuts down on.