zondag 24 april 2011

AVWS - Week Three.

Three weeks already! It was a quiet week, no new babies, no injured animals...a regular week at Aspen Valley. But we do have some remarkable highlights! Up in the woods we have eight bearcubs in rehab, they've slept for a very long time but they are awake now, waiting to be released! They are marked with eartags to recognize them because they have to be released where they are found but first we need a permission from the MNR (Ministry of Natural Resources).

And Tuesday was a special day! Elly's big removal. Everybody was a little bit nervous. After installing some fresh Sprucetops and filling Elly's little pond, it was time for some action. She played me for a few minutes, hopping from perch to perch in the top of her enclosure. When I finally got her in the net, it was stuck on a perch and she jumped out to a lower branch. Janalene managed to throw a blanket on her, nice catch!!! We put her in a cardboard box, a big moment for Aspen Valley.

A few weeks ago, Joe and I have been building the frames for a temporarily otter enclosure. The otters -Lenny and Addie- will be released whenever the ice on the lake is gone and it almost is. Janalene found a beautiful spot to release them and that's where Ed and I built the enclosure this week. The otters will be in there for two weeks and then they'll be free. The ice is almost gone and you can see in the head of this page that the Common Loon (Gavia immer) is back, so there's fish!

You know that Hannah is responsible for Petunia. So we decided to refresh her enclosure. She needs some exercise and some enrichment so we installed some logs, some rocks, a sand box, a woodchip box and some real small Spruce trees. What a difference!!! We also hung up a bucket with holes. The bucket contains woodchips, sand and dew worms. Once in a while, a dew worm will fall out into the sand box...a nice snack for the skunk!

There are a lot of wild skunks on the sanctuary causing trouble. They are nocturnal and they keep us awake during the night scratching and fighting under the Bunky...and beware if they release a StinkBomb!!! So we try to trap them and we release them somewhere else far away from the sanctuary. I placed three traps this week and I had a very special catch on friday...Ripley, Marilyn's 10 year old Jack Russel got trapped the day before her birthday, hilarious!

I told you that we saw our first wild bear! Here it is, this rather shy animal comes to our compost pile for lunch after it's hibernation. We saw bear tracks near the bear enclosures so the wild bears are wandering around the sanctuary! And Elly...she's doing great in her new enclosure. We were afraid that she wouldn't eat the first nights of her stay but she did so that's a great sign! She can fly from perch to perch now...a happy ending for The Great Horned Owl!

Coming up: we're going to move Billy Bear, Thurber is going for a Vet-check, the big GM is coming up and the Giftshop is almost ready!

Happy Birthday Sis, Dad and Nico!!!

Kisses from Rosseau
T&H and the Rocket.

maandag 18 april 2011

AVWS - Week Two.

It's been a busy week, it's been a very busy week. First of all I finished the second owl enclosure. Both of the owl enclosures are ready now and we'll move Elly, the Great Horned, tomorrow. Our friend Gandalf has to wait inside till the weather gets better. We had some warm days but the nights are still cold and today...we have a snowstorm, seriously!

In the meanwhile we are still feeding babies. We have to feed every two hours. Nine squirrels and the raccoon -Carlos- at 6 am, four squirrels at 8 am, the raccoon at 9 am and that all day long. There's hardly any time to do something else between two feedings. I usually start to help with the feeding from 4 pm till 10 pm which is the last feeding. Hannah mostly starts with the 8 am feeding and helps till the last one, which is very exhausting. This job asks a lot of concentration and that till the very last minute. Unfortunately one of the little baby squirrels died on thursday. The three older squirrels -Rocky, Carla & Clyde- that came in last week, are doing great.

I told you that the sanctuary has two big cats as permanent residents. The cats have been here for a long time. They were here before the current staff took over two years ago. Subira is an African Lioness, she was bought by a seventeen year-old girl in British Columbia for $50. She got too big and dangerous and ended up in the sanctuary. It's a shame that every canadian citizen is allowed to breed, sell and rent these big, exotic cats and exotic animals in general. It should be prohibited by law like it is with any native species in this country. I might write my paper on that subject but it's a very big picture. I'm planning to build an enrichment construction for Subira to make her work for her food and to keep her busy.

The second cat is Banshee, a Eurasian Lynx and eventhough this wild cat is bloodrelated to the Canadian Lynx (call it subspecies but it's practically the same animal living on a different continent), she is an exotic cat and can not be released. She's been used in TV-commercials as a kitten... Her enclosure needs a refreshment so that's another priority on our 'things to do'-list!

Do you guys remember Thurber? The suburn Bassethound we've met in Maberly? The unhappy one that was looking for an adoption family? Well you see...we loved him and wanted to adopt him but we couldn't find a place for him to stay in Belgium till we're back because practically nobody replied our emergency call, very sad. We thought things through, we made some arrangements and we're proud to introduce you all to our new travelcompanion, yup...he's officially ours now, Meet The Rocket, again!!!

We drove to the Lanark Highlands on Wednesday to pick him up! It was great to see Rosemary and all her animals again. She was proud to tell us that the last lambs of the season were born, a beautiful black twins! She had a newborn Highland calf and all the others were doing fine. To get to Maberly we had to cross Algonquin PP again and guess what we saw...(five of them : ))!!!

We also met our first wild bear and I spotted a coyote. Wild bears come wandering around on the sanctuary looking for food so we have to be careful from now on. Well a new busy week is coming up! Several things have to be done before the general meeting on the 25th. More news next week about Elly in her new enclosure, the awakening of the bearcubs and many more.

Take care and enjoy spring! Ontario's trees are still leafless...: (

T,H&The Rocket.

maandag 11 april 2011

AVWS - Week One.

Hi folks, where do I start? You know that the olws are my responsibility and that we are planning to move Elly -the Great Horned- to a bigger enclosure. The interior of the enclosure was old and crappy so I asked if I could rebuild it completely. I had an idea in my mind and the result came pretty close. I finished my first project yesterday so we can move Elly somewhere next week...very exciting!

Meet Petunia, she's a female skunk. She was raised as a pet and they took away her 'spray glands' so she's unable to defend herself. She's Hannah's responsibility the next three weeks. We took her out on Wednesday to check on her weight. Janalene -Director Animal Care- decided she's too fat so she's on a diet now! The little house with the white door in the back is our house, the Bunky : )!

The sanctuary can use as much help as possible. The 'Beaver Creek Crew' is a group of prisoners on their way out, they do community service and help us out at the sanctuary. They came three times this week and the work they do is great. We've put the steel blinds on the beaver enclosure to make sure nobody will disturb the beaver in its rehabilitation. Bibi is still inside but she'll be ready for the enclosure in a couple of weeks. Many hands make small jobs, those guys are great and its hard to believe that they are in prison...

We've met Sadie, a female black bear! Like many of the permanent residents, human interferance is the reason she's locked up for life. We were astonished to see such an incredible creature right beside us. She just woke up after a long period of hibernation and we slowly start to feed her. Janalene feeds her raspberries through the fence. Sadie is so gentle that it's hard to believe she's able to break the neck of a moose with a single paw.

Two nights ago, Brenda picked up five baby squirrels in Huntsville. They are one week old, naked and blind and they need milk every two hours. You have to be very careful and feed them very slowly because if the milk comes back through their nose, it can end up in the lungs and when that happens they mostly die. At first, the little babies didn't feel very comfortable in my hands. Maybe my hands are too big our is it just me being clumsy...you can see that I've been watched carefully by Jan and Brenda.Well I'm getting used to it now after a few feedings but to be honest, these little guys drive us crazy. They just need a lot of care and we just need a lot of patience. Hannah already had some experience with Theodore. He's a little bit older but still a handful.

We did our first release on friday. We went out for a short hike and we released the porcupine! Porcupines are amazing animals. The way they move, the way they look at you, the way they defend themselves, everything they do is so funny. We found a good spot near a beaver pond and opened the door to freedom. So long porcupine, don't fall out of a tree next time...: )

The temerature is rising, busy times are coming. This little boy came in on friday. He was cold and nearly dead. It's a little bit early for baby raccoons but isn't he cute. Once they get bigger, they scratch and bite and get wild and vicious. Janalene takes care of this baby because they are not the easiest to feed in this crucial period.

That's what we do...and many other things! We're planning to rebuild a several enclosures and you never know which animal they are going to bring in tomorrow. Every day is different and we keep on going. Another thing we do is picking up roadkills, mostly deer and sometimes moose. It's a very sad job but at least there is no waste. The meat goes to the wolves and to the big cats...Later on this week I'll tell you about Guhas and we might have some big news coming up!

Keep on reading my friends and family
We miss you all

T&H-Volunteers With A Heart.

woensdag 6 april 2011

Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary: MeetTheAnimals.

You already know that I'm responsible for Gandalf and that the sanctuary isn't allowed to treat injured birds. The injured birds go to a nearby Bird Sanctuary within twentyfour hours. Well I can tell you that I'm very happy because two of the permanent residents are Owls. So meet Gandalf, The Great Grey Owl (Strix nebulosa) of Aspen Valley. He lost his wing in a car accident. The Great Grey is my all time favourite Owl and to work with him, feed him and to rebuilt the interior of his enclosure to make it more attractive, is just a dream coming thrue.

The other bird is Elly, she's a Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus). This Owl is the smaller nephew of our European 'Oehoe' (Bubo bubo). She's been raised by humans so she'll never be able to hunt by herself. All her life she has been in the wrong enclosure for any predatorbird in general so I carefully suggested to move here to a new one. They already thought about it many times and after talking things through and calling the Owl Foundation for their opinion, we're actually going to move her. I'm still working on the brand new interior of that enclosure so she'll have to wait a couple of days. It'll be an exciting moment for all of us because we don't know how she'll react to change after so many years. We'll have to be careful.

These owls were here before the totally new staff took over so they stayed. The sanctuary has some more permanet residents. There is Subira-the Lioness, Banshee-a Eurasian Lynx, Petunia-the Skunk, Chippy- The Chipmunk and five Wolves-the Arctics, Luna, Amarook and Mkom. I'll tell you some more stories on them later but you can already meet Luna, a beautiful White Timberwolf...she's very submissive and she's found in an abandoned house...nobody knows her story. Enjoy this picture Little Sora, : )!

A little Red Fox came in a few weeks ago. She was full of mange (Sarcoptes scabei). I didn't see the pictures of her first days yet but you could barely see her face. She's doing much better now. She's moved to an outside enclosure and Hannah and I decorated it. We made her a den from an old bathtub and covered it with wood and branches, she uses it now to play HIDE and SLEEP, : )! You can still see some mange on her ears so she needs one more treatment and some extra fur and she'll be ready to go, isn't she cute! Her neighbour is a Porcupine, it fell out of a three, he's recovering well and will be back in the trees in a few days.

There are many of last years Raccoons, Squirrels, Bears and Deer at the sanctuary so I guess you already know that this won't be my last story on this great place in Rosseau! And ofcourse there's a great staff surrounding us so you'll probably meet them too. I can already say that my college training will be an awesome experience and by the way...Hannah is responsible for Petunia...it's hard to take pictures of her because she's a nocturnal but we'll get her out this week to check on her. We will also be redecorating her enclosure...enrichment is what we'll work on! And oh yeah...meet Koda Bear, Brenda's beautiful Great Pyrenean Mountain dog, Handsome Boy é, Hannah's shot by the way!

So it's time to feed Gandalf, Elly and Petunia...and after that, we'll call it a day!
And I'm sorry but...you'll have to book a flight Frederick...: )

Sweet dreams and Happy Birthday Suk!!!


zondag 3 april 2011

Georgian Bay Area - Parry Sound.

A few days ago, we left Algonquin for Georgian Bay. This beautiful bay is very touristic in the summer season but right now...everything is closed, even the provincial parks so we drove and we drove and we...drove, ending up in Parry Sound without a real goal. The only positive thing by then was that the weather was gonna be beautiful, they promised us some pre-spring days...And hey Parry Sound was not to bad, we found a beautiful spot to spend the night and we just hang around for two days enjoying the weather, the view and the people passing by!

The bay is still frozen but the view was magnificient. We had a very nice hike along the shoreline and we enjoyed watching the last icefishers going up on the ice waiting patiently by a little hole till the trout decided whether or not he wanted to end up in the frying pan. So off we went to go and see the fishermen...well we did not, I didn't pay very much attention and I went through the ice close by the shore. Pretty, cold I can tell you...I fell very strange in order to save my camera and I got off with some scratches and a strange shake in my body. I was thinking it all over while my clothes were drying and I know now that you have to be careful close by the shoreline because thats where the ice breaks when the water moves and it gets very thin at some places. At other places the ice is pushed up by the water and it's so solid that you actually can stand on it!!!


The next day I couldn't find my sunglasses so it must have fell in the water while I was struggling to save the rest. I went back on the ice and broke it again where I went through to search for it. I was about tree feet deep and I could see the bottom very clearly lying flat on the ice to spread my weight...well I found my glasses a few hours later in one of Hannah's shoes...perfect fit : )! Before all that happened, a guy promised us to take us out icefishing the next day so we were very excited! He'd come and get us at ten a.m. and he never showed up...A lot of Ring-billed Seagulls (Larus delawarensis) showed up instead, beautiful!

Well we didn't go icefishing but this lonely man did while we were enjoying this beautiful sunset, we'll be back in Parry Sound by the 15th of May for a canoe trip to the thousand islands with Peter...if he shows up : )!

So after some new adventures a new challenge has come up! We're the first volunteers of 2011 at Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary (Rosseau) and we can assure you that it will be great! I write this story while the Wolves are howling and I can already tell you that Gandalf will be my responsibility for the next six weeks so keep on reading folks...and oh yeah...the sanctuary doesn't do birds so that gives me the opportunity to focus on new worlds, the worlds of Wolves and Bears and many more...AWESOME!


T&H-Howling with Wolves.

vrijdag 1 april 2011

Winter In Algonquin Park - Ontario.

After a few very good spring days and a sad goodbye in Maberly, we decided to spend a week in our lovely Annabel travelling through the province! Algonquin Provincial Park, established in 1893, is the oldest Provincial Park of Canada! There was only one campsite open this time of year but it was the one with the blackest skies and the brightest stars, amazing!

This park covers a lot of wildlife and is a great piece of nature about a quarter the size of Belgium. We expected a little bit of Spring but travelling further up North brought King Winter back in full glory, nights of twenty below, ice and a lot of snow! And again we took the challenge, did some wonderful hikes and had a great time in the park! Tree days of cold sunshine made us discover different trails while encountering some beautiful species. Wild Turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) for Rosemary, a lot of White-tailed deer, a beautiful red fox but not as beautiful as Chunky, a young Moose cow and ofcourse Mister Beaver.

We already saw a handful of beavers but this was far out the most funny one. It was dragging a big branch through the woods right in front of us on the hiking trail. The little soldier was so busy that he didn't even notice us. When he reached his home next to the trail a few feet a way from us, he dropped his branch and ran straight back into the lodge entrance under the ice. Enjoy his big beavertail...: )!  Weten jullie eigenlijk waarom bevers dammen bouwen? Bevers houden van stilstaand en diep water om verschillende redenen. Diep water is een ideale omgeving voor de waterlelie, hun favoriete voedsel in de zomermaanden. Diep water rond de lodge vormt een betere bescherming tegen verschillende vijanden zoals wolven en coyotes. Een laatste en zeer belangrijk voordeel is dat in diep water de verschillende ingangen naar de woonsplaats 'ijsvrij' blijven gedurende de strenge wintermaanden. Door het bouwen van grote dammen creëren ze dus diepe stilstaande waterpartijen, het ideale habitat en dat niet alleen voor de bever! Jammergenoeg kunnen ze op die manier ook voor grote overlast zorgen indien ze bij de verkeerde boer de verkeerde waterstroom afsluiten met alle gevolgen van dien...Zo Algonquin ligt achter ons en ook een beetje voor ons want we keren hier belist terug binnen een zestal weken voor de eerste echte lentewadelingen, kanotochten en ontmoetingen met wolven en beren.

More stories to come on Georgian Bay's Parry Sound and the start of our new adventure...Aspen Valley Wildlife Sanctuary here we come!


Rosemary Kralik and the land of her Dreams.


It's been a week since we left 'Tiraislin Fold', we had to go but again...it was strange to leave. We lived on this crazy farm for five weeks. I can tell that it was a mixture of different emotions, we had a good time that's for sure. Thank you Rosemary for your hospitality, for your open mind about Wwoofing, for sharing all your knowledge and stories with us and for taking us to beautiful places where we've met beautiful people! Thank you for honouring us with the 'Triumvirate'! We hope everything works out on the farm and we're sure spring will bring better times for all the animals and for you.

Good luck Rosemary, good luck Juanita, good luck Daisy, good luck Victoria, good luck Hent, good luck Izmir, good luck Rambo, good luck All the Others and ofcourse las but not least good luck Thurber...it was our pleasure to help were we could in what you called a difficult period, thank you for everything and take care! It's nice to know we have a home in the Lanark Highlands! We will not forget...Sorry for Viktor.

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T&H - OnTheRoad.