Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Lynde Shores CA
August 19th, 2014

Before I went to Lynde Shores, I dropped by Cranberry Marsh. It's next to Lynde Shores. Didn't see a lot, but this family of Mute Swans was there, amongst the lily pads.

And a raft of Mutes was out on Lake Ontario. When I see waterfowl offshore on such a large lake, it emphasizes to me their wildness and freedom

It's less than a 5 minute drive to Lynde Shores. With the explosive growth this year, the cattails along the boardwalk block the view you'd otherwise have of the area.

Three camera-shy Wild Turkey hens. As soon as they saw me they slipped into the woods.

Mom and her kids.

Even the water lilies are bigger this year.

With more of them curled and flopping in the wind.
Lynde Shores is without doubt the best local nature area to take children to so that they can experience a bit of wildlife. There are dozens of chipmunks running around on Chickadee Trail.

Young kids love to feed them of course and at Lynde Shores they'll almost eat out of your hands. Some will I'm sure. I almost stepped on this one.

There's a path called Chickadee Trail. It's short enough that young kids can manage it and they'll encounter chickadees, chipmunks, ducks, wild turkeys, etc. depending on the day and their timing.

Today there were three racoon kits on the trail. The parents were more cautious and not obviously present, though they could easily have been nearby.

Though not welcomed in most neighborhoods, they're cute little bandits... especially when seen in their own element.

It's easy to argue that people shouldn't feed wildlife, but in this case, in this area, I think it's ok. Others will disagree.

But with the media constantly reminding us that kids today spend too much time with electronics, I think it's great to see them enjoying nature... and discovering what is 'out there'.

The look on their faces, and giggles of delight, as they watch and feed the birds & animals is priceless. Let them enjoy.

- fini -

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Oshawa Second Marsh
August 13th, 2014

There was a hint of fall in the air today... cooler and a strong breeze. I love it.

My usual entry point to the marsh is through Ghost Road Bush, so even with repellent on I had to donate some blood to the marsh mosquitoes. I was greeted by thousands of Touch-Me-Not/Jewellweed along the boardwalk.

They're not popping yet.

Leaf Miners intrigue me. They're the larval stage of some moths, flies & beetles that live and eat between the top & bottom surfaces of leaves. They leave  snake-like trails or blotches. These are the first blotch-type that I've come across.

The blotches are obvious but if you enlarge the images you can see a few trails too. They're unsightly but apparently cause minimal or no damage to plants.

My favourite land snail. I love its colors. I often see dozens of them at a time. This guy was alone though.
Shades of pink & purple are everywhere in the marsh... some Purple Loose-strife here.

Loosestrife in the foreground and Joe-Pye Weed behind.

Joe-Pye Weed
And lots of Himalayan Balsam.

I've only seen Wooly Bears the last few years. Not sure what this one is. Turns out it's a Yellow Wooly Bear. Thanks John.

A colorful tangle.
I made it down to the lake today. This bay has thousands of water lilies on it.

Where Farewell Creek leaves the marsh and enters Lake Ontario. It's a pretty spot.

Very little activity on the lake today. These Cormorants were a ways off shore. They have a distinctive profile.

They're streamlined in flight. I love watching a small flock of them flying single file, just above the lake surface. I've only seen them do that when they're a fair ways from shore though.
I saw a couple Monarchs today. They're few and far between this year. This one though, is a Viceroy... thanks Gerry.

I often forget that butterflies have four wings. From many angles, they can easily be mistaken for only two. I think there's an insect of some sort in front of one wing in this shot... that I didn't see at the time.

Silverweed grows just fine in sand. When it does, its red runners are easy to see, looking like highways on a road map. 

Later stage of Bladder Campion?
Update: I guessed wrong. It's Bouncing Bet... a cool name. Thanks John.

Some stretches have very little color.

... so share some blossoms (Goldenrod) when you find them.

Another of my favourites... Black Swallowtail.

With the heavy growth along the creek and channel, getting a clear shot of a heron or cormorant that may be alongside is next to impossible.

This Cormorant is staring right at me. Once you get too close (which isn't very close at all), they fly along the water surface for a 100 yards or so before they lift up, making a flight shot next to impossible too. Herons do the same thing. A smart move to be sure but it doesn't help photographers.

Red Admiral

Burdock almost has its burs ready to catch a ride home with passers-by.

This Turkey Tail fungus picks up the colors of its surroundings.

My first stop when I get home from the marsh is usually the patio with a glass of iced tea... or if it's hot enough, a cold beer. As I was sitting there today I thought I'd add one more shot to the day. 

It was overcast so this hot-pink Phlox beside the patio looked 'hotter-pink' than usual.

The 'ex' (exhibition) opens in Toronto this Friday. When it's over, the kids are back to school and the roads get busier again. 2014 is quickly slipping by. Tempis fugit.

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 -

Monday, 4 August 2014

On the Path
August 3rd, 2014

August is upon us, along with back-to-school ads in the local papers. They do like to rush things don't they.

These shots were all taken with a shirt-pocket point & shoot so they're a bit grainy... but the camera is much lighter. :-)

The wildflowers that are out now are already making the landscape look a bit like fall. Growth along the path (and everywhere else) has been crazy this year. The rain and milder temperatures maybe? This is a patch of Garlic Mustard, etc. that has gone nuts.

The tree tunnels are going full bore. One of my favourite shots on the path was a tree tunnel shot a couple years back but it turns out to have been a one-off. The trees change enough each year that the look of that particular spot is gone for good. So often nature gives you one chance and one chance only.

Wild Cucumber--one of the most common vines, and one of the easiest to spot as it climbs up & over whatever is nearby.

Bitter Nightshade berries are easy to spot too, with their many colors. I guess they all end up red eventually. Pretty.
Chicory is another of my favourites... a gorgeous shade of blue. Apparently it's still used as a coffee substitute in some parts of the world.

It's interesting how many common names some wildflowers have. According to Wikipedia, these are all common names for Chicory:
Blue Daisy, Blue Dandelion, Blue Sailors, Blue Weed, Bunk, Coffeeweed, Cornflower, Horseweed, Ragged Sailors, Succory, Wild Bachelor's Buttons, Wild Endive

The sawtooth-edged petals add a touch of uniqueness. Chicory seems to come & go quickly. So, as we can so easily do now... I googled it and found:
"You can't see chicory blooms all day, even when the weather is warm. The blue flowers open as the sun comes up, but they close around midday when the sun is strongest. The chicory stem produces several blooms at a time, but each bloom opens only once."

This is the time of year for climbers. It's a toss-up which of Wild Cucumber, Wild Grape and Dog-strangling Vine is the most aggressive. Maybe it's a tie. Here the grape is competing with the Dog Strangling Vine.

If I had to pick a winner though, I'd probably choose Dog-strangling Vine. It produces 100s of seed pods which is no doubt why it spreads so quickly over such a wide area from year to year. It's definitely one of the more successful invasives.

Himalayan Balsam's time is here. Aka Policeman's Helmet and Kiss-me-on-the-Mountain. Yet another pretty invasive. I've never timed it right but apparently they can shoot their seeds (up to 5m) when touched, just like Jewellweed/Touch-Me-Not.
The lowly Common Plantain, found in sidewalk cracks, lawns and just about everywhere else, is pretty easy to spot with it's pencil-like spikes. Turns out that it's a free medicine chest in our back yards. 

Common Plantain:
The leaves as well as the juice have been widely used as topical substances in poultices and lotions for treating sunburns, stings, insect bites, snakebites, poison ivy breakouts, rashes, burns, blisters, and cuts.

Furthermore, the leaves have also been heated and applied topically to swollen joints, sore muscles, sprains, and sore feet. Interestingly enough, Plantain is a common folk remedy in many part of Latin America for treating cancer. It has also been used for many centuries in treating sore throats, coughs, bronchitis, tuberculosis, and mouth sores.

Studies have shown that plantain has anti-inflammatory effects, and it is also rich in tannin (which helps draw tissues together to stop bleeding) and allantoin (a compound that promotes healing of injured skin cells). Further studies have indicated that plantain may also reduce blood pressure, and that the seeds of the plant may reduce blood cholesterol levels. Plantain seeds were also widely used as a natural laxative, given their high source of fibre. Teas made from the plant, were used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, intestinal worms, and bleeding mucous membranes. The roots were also recommended for relieving toothaches and headaches as well as healing poor gums.

I can't see many of us running outside to dig it up though so Shopper's Drug should survive. It is fascinating though how those that have gone before us learned how to use what nature has to offer.

Any flower in large numbers makes for a pretty sight. Queen Anne's Lace (aka Wild Carrot) is having a good year. There's lots of it and the flowering heads (some at least) are bigger than usual it seems to me, and some are much taller than usual. Though it could just as easily be my memory, or lack of, from year to year.

If you haven't had the 'wild carrot experience', break a stem and smell it. The scent can be strong or weak. You may have to try a few to get the true carrot smell.

One of the taller ones here--6 feet.

The purple floret that most have at the center of their blossoms is a curiosity. Botanists always try to explain the 'why' of things. One guess for the purple floret is that it looks like an insect from a distance so it might attract pollinators.

This has nothing to do with my blog but it's very interesting. I caught a clip on TV about wild pigs/boars becoming a problem in the U.S. and in parts of Canada too. I found these articles on the web. Sounds like they're more of a problem out west but some have been spotted in Ontario... a couple close to home.

Sounds like they could cause some serious problems. Has anyone seen one?

Out west:


- fini -

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