Thursday, 15 January 2015

Samuel Wilmot CA
January 15th, 2015

It was a cold day but I had cabin fever so I drove down to Samuel Wilmot for a different perspective of the lake. It was much colder than I expected. I was dressed for it and had hand-warmers in my gloves, but it still felt like I was on the Arctic tundra. There was a bitterly cold, strong wind coming off the lake. My nose & face were feeling the full brunt of it.
 
'Ice volcanoes' form along the shoreline of Lake Ontario in winter. As ice is pushed ashore, water sometimes works its way under the ice, and comes up through cracks or holes and freezes. Over time, a cone-shaped 'volcano' can form with water erupting out of the cone as the waves come in. The volcanoes are only a few feet high but it's quite a sight.
















There are usually lots of them.















Something that's easy to spot in the winter—Black Knot fungus on shrubs & trees. If you're curious:
http://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/black-knot/
















Milkweed seed pods with a couple seeds that are hanging on through the winter. Not many do.
















On the walk back to the car I was facing the bitter wind. My face hasn't been that cold since I was a kid. I was walking backwards into the wind for a ways—something I haven't done since growing up on the prairies. 'Colder than a witch's kiss' as they say.

I think I'll pick up a balaclava.


- fini -




Monday, 29 December 2014

Lynde Shores CA
December 28th, 2015

“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed. We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”
                                                        ― Wallace Stegner

With Christmas behind us, I grabbed the camera and went to Lynde Shores to see what was out & about in nature there.  The squirrels and birds there are very friendly, and there are always young families with seed to feed them... some adults on their own too though.

There were dozens of Chickadees, a couple Blue Jays, lots of Mourning Doves and a Hairy Woodpecker. I was told that this particular Hairy eats from your hand — first one I'd heard of that would do that. Downy Woodpeckers are more likely to.
 









































I've always liked the coloring of Mourning Doves — the soft browns, with the slightest bluish tinge, and the black spots to add a bit of contrast. The pink legs & feet complement the browns.


Besides the birds, there were black & grey colorations of Eastern grey squirrels and a couple of Red Squirrels.

























The shier ones slip behind trees and check you out.
























Some people are very generous with their seed.















Not many fungi have color this time of year, so those that do stand out.
 
















I've seen areas of cattails flattened before, but I still don't know the explanation. A strong downdraft of wind? The crop circle folks? :-)















How many thousands of female Mallards have I seen, and I can't say that I ever really noticed how different their beaks are from the males. I like to think I'm pretty observant of nature but I find that I still notice things that I think I should have noticed before. Maybe I saw the difference but it didn't register. Maybe.

















A visit to Lynde Shores almost guarantees that you'll see some of nature's creatures. It's easy to see why it's the most popular nature area in our neck of the woods — especially to take children to.


- fini -


Saturday, 13 December 2014

Oshawa Second Marsh
December 13th, 2014


“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed. We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”   
                                            ― Wallace Stegner 
 

Winter's second punch was stronger than its first, but the effects of it are already fading. The snow is melting fast and with warmish weather forecast, it'll probably be gone in a few days. 

What's left of a Dryad's Saddle fungus on a colorful stump.

















With feeders set out for the birds, the Beaver Pond is a common spot to be surrounded by hungry Chickadees this time of year.  They perch on the cattails as they await your handouts.
 
They brighten any day with their perky, though hyper, attitude.





















This one wore a cattail-fluff hat to catch my attention.





















There were a couple dozen of them, landing on my head, my camera and my glasses, while they waited for my hand to be clear of others. They don't like to share, chipping at each other as they come and go to the seeds in my hand.





















I fed them for about 10 minutes, then cleared a small area and added some seeds before I left. The one on the right was telling the other one to scram... which he quickly did.















One day I plan on trying to capture them in flight, freezing their motion. This shot was at a 200th of a second — much too slow.
















One Nuthatch joined the fray. Usually there's a pair of them.


















The frozen pools, with their grey-blue ice stretching off into the woods, to me is worthy of a shot.






























An interesting pattern on the bark of a giant Birch.









Further along in Ghost Road Bush, kids have put up a few feeders. There are enough regular visitors to the marsh that the feeders will often have some seed in them. A squirrel was enjoying the food when I first arrived. 




This goes by any of these common names: Common Reed, Giant Reed, Giant Reedgrass, or Yellow Cane. I prefer Yellow Cane.















I hadn't made it down to the lake (at the marsh) for a while. It's a bit more of a hike than I'm up to some days, but I made it today. Farewell Creek is frozen over, other than here, where it enters Lake Ontario. At first I thought the lake was clear of waterfowl, but as I looked closer, I saw a few.
 














The lake looks cold. Good thing that ducks have insulation to keep them toasty warm. I couldn't ID these. Scaup maybe?















This is a string of Goldeneyes.














There isn't a lot of color in the marsh in winter, but there is some. This woman adds a bit more. She was heading towards the lake as I was returning from it. Is she going to feed the ducks?















On my way back  the Chickadees were still looking for seeds. As per normal, this one was scolding another that was wanting to share the bounty. "Get outa here."
 















I tend to forget that they have a golden hue on their breasts.
















If birds can be described as 'cute', then these guys fill the bill.

















As I was returning to the car, a couple told me they saw some deer... "just up the way". Well there's no way I'll see them I thought. 95% of the time when someone else spots deer, or pretty much any other wildlife that isn't common, they're gone in a minute or two — if not less.

But in fact I did see a couple deer just as I was about to leave the bush. Just the flash of their white tails, a hundred yards away, as they disappeared. But a glimpse is better than not seeing them at all. :-)

'Twas a good day to be out in the fresh air.



The Friends of Second Marsh web site...
A direct link to a map of the paths/trails in the marsh...

A link to a page that has my past posts re the marsh, in one place rather than scattered throughout this blog...


- fini -


 




Sunday, 7 December 2014

On the Path
December 6th, 2014

The snow we had is long gone. When it was here, it felt like it was going to be around 'til spring. We've been given a reprieve. No snow, easy driving, not too cold. 


I like the tree tunnels in all seasons. Add someone walking or riding and I can't resist another shot.











In fall, it's easy to see how good a climber Dog Strangling Vine is.




It's pods twist & turn as they dry out.
























I've only seen a few dozen Milkweed pods this year. They were out there. I just didn't time it right or go to the right places. These were on the path today though.





















These may look like fungi, but it's a close-up of open seed-scales on a pine cone.




















Whatever other colors may be in the scrub, red always catches my eye.















Nature's way. These are Silver Maple buds. The leaves have only been off the trees for a couple weeks but she already has next year's buds ready. They'll patiently wait for spring, when the land will reawaken and we'll come out of hibernation to see the blossoms.

















Raspberry canes with the characteristic blue bloom on its stems... so much more obvious this time of year.
The woods at the top of the path have lots to offer. This is target canker on a dead Beech tree.

























Though I've seen lots of wood borer trails on fallen trees, these are on a live one. Imagine what's going on beneath the bark of trees we walk by every day.















Notice how intricate the trails are on the right-hand side. Did the bark peel because of the borers?
























I've shot this log before. The fungus is only on the growth layers that were recently alive. The heartwood/deadwood in the center is clear. I've only seen this a few times.

These two Eastern Greys were having some kind of stand-off. They froze in this position for a minute or two, and let me get much closer than squirrels usually do. They're both Eastern Greys. Experts tell us the black ones are mainly found in Ontario & Quebec and some northern states. If you're curious about the scientific explanation—they're melanistic. It's the opposite of albinism.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_squirrel

The grey one (half-brown in this case—another color variation of Eastern Greys) is about to enter his nest in this Beech. He finally did.

Judging by the collar around his entry hole, there used to be a branch there. The tree is dead but still standing—a snag. The black one slipped into a second hole just around the trunk from this one. They're both lucky. They didn't need to build leaf nests, like most of their brethren do. Maybe the stand-off had something to do with living in such close quarters.






















He popped out to say goodbye to me. The shot is a bit soft—my shirt-pocket point & shoot with it's not-so-good zoom.
























A land snail that didn't make it. Only its shell remains.

















After leaving the woods, I came across this flop-eared fungus on a colorful log.


















An interesting stump. Beautiful coloring. The green fungus is on the recently live layers again, but this time there's a different type of fungus on the deadwood/heartwood.
















Depending on the time of day and the light, Black Locust pods seem to vary in color. They persist on the trees through the winter months.





















I call this the "Tiny-Pearl" plant. I have the proper name in an old post but I'm too lazy to look it up right now. The white seeds look and feel like pearls. They're rock hard and only the size of a BB.
















Black Locust on the left.



Seeing squirrels and other simple things in nature make my walks feel less like exercise. It also means I don't go at the power-walker pace though.


- fini -

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