Thursday, 17 April 2014

Oshawa Second Marsh
April 12th, 2014

It was time for my monthly visit to the marsh. I'll be going down more often now that things are happening though. The rush is on. Nature is back in full swing. 

Spring is a glorious time for nature lovers. The best season in many ways, as our world warms and and begins to green. The wildflowers will burst out soon. What a great time! It's been a while since I've looked so forward to the renewal that comes with Spring.

While the trees are still mostly bare, it's easy to see the damage that our December ice storm wreaked. Broken branches & fallen trees are everywhere there are stands of trees.

I like the way the boardwalk winds back through the trees in Ghost Road Bush.

The Beaver Pond (could be called the Cattail Pond) is almost completely covered in cattails.

There are only a couple spots where you can actually see the water.

Duckweed sprouts early.

I don't see many green fungi. Is it just algae?

Vernal pools are present. They're used by frogs & salamanders, though I've never seen any in them. Just tiny larvae and on occasion a pair of Mallards.

The vernal pools (and in some years the spring floods) take their toll on the boardwalk.

Early April is when moss grabs your attention. It's the only significant green on the forest floor. If you look closely, there's a variety--it's not all the same species.

The channel along the berm... walking towards the lake. There are a few logs at the bend that are favourites of the turtles.

There was only one out today but he was a brave one. I was able to get much closer to him than I usually can to turtles. He never did dive--the usual reaction if I get anywhere inside 30 feet. He just watched me.

On my way back.. he'd moved but he was just as bold.

What a wonderful surprise this was. I noticed some movement on the bank behind the turtle and saw this mink slip through the dormant grasses & reeds. 

I thought a two-second glimpse was all I was going to get but he moved along the bank intently searching for food, I assume, and I was treated to a few views, over a period of probably only a minute--two at the most.

It's the first mink I've seen in the wild--in fact I'm not sure I've seen any in zoos. If I have I can't remember when.

He looks near-sighted (or is it far-sighted?) to me. Maybe he didn't even see me. Not sure if I was up-wind or down.

Nothing here interested him so he slipped over this fallen tree and into the woods.

Reflections add to many a scene.

There are always a few birdhouses along the boardwalk in Ghost Road Bush. I'm not sure if school kids put them up or if it's just families that bring their kids down to the marsh.

Most are small--some very colorful.

Not sure about this one. I couldn't see any entry hole, though I couldn't get a good view of the 4th side. It must have one though.

Sadly, there will always be vandals. I wonder how old Kyle is. He'll be very sad to see his birdhouse if he returns to check it. Possibly an animal did it, but I doubt it.

A touch of purple with the green.

More fungi--of course...

At some point in spring, A. E. Housman's poem always comes to mind. The numbers are way off for me now (way off) but it's a beautiful poem.

         Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow. 

               A. E Housman 
                1859 - 1936

 It feels so good to get back to the marsh in warmish weather--soon to be warm rather than just warmish.

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, 13 April 2014

Lynde Shores CA & Cranberry Marsh
April 12th, 2014

It feels so good being able to get back out into nature without freezing your fingers off when you're shooting. We can now confidently say that spring is here. Thank goodness. 

I'll be out many times in the next 8 weeks as the migrants pass through and the spring wildflowers sprout & bloom. Spring in nature is a time of reawakening, rebirth and wonder.

I went back to Lynde Shores, then over to Cranberry Marsh to look for waterfowl. With the warmer weather, more people are out & about too, enjoying nature and all she has to offer us.

Redwings are the premier marsh bird in my eyes. They cling to reeds like no other bird. Half-hanging, seemingly half-falling. Sometimes both feet on the same reed...

Sometimes a foot on each of two reeds...

A cattail doesn't pose any problem.

A fence offers a change from the reeds & cattails. Their buzzing call is unique. It heralds spring for me. I love it. It reminds of my younger days in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Ring-billed Gull

All birds spend a good deal of time grooming their feathers. They have to clear parasites, but even more important they have to be in good shape for flying.

Not sure if the red eyeliner serves some special purpose or not. Scientists seem to suggest reasons for almost every feature & characteristic of birds & animals.

Wood beetle (or borer) markings on a decaying tree trunk--formed beneath the bark while the tree is growing, the botanists tell us. I see lots of these. These ones caught my eye though since they look like cave paintings to me. They're actually grooves but they look raised in some lighting conditions.

This is the time of year for birch trees to stand out from the crowd.

A fallen birch with its coat-of-many-colors.  Lenticles are clearly visible, as they always are with birch.

Buffleheads are passing through in big numbers. They're a small duck but they stand out with their black & white coloring.

Light can make all the difference. The iridescence on the male is clear here (if you enlarge it), whereas you don't see it in the previous shot.

This female Mallard was curled up to have a snooze. She was only 4 feet from me, semi-relaxed, keeping an eye on me, then closing it, then another peek, then closing it again. I left so she could sleep in peace.

This is at Cranberry Marsh. The birds are much further away. This is the best I could do with my lens. Buffleheads, Mergansers, Ring-necked Duck, Ruddy Duck, American Widgeons (I was told)... the odd Mallard as well. And a few Mute Swans on the other side of the marsh. Thanks for your sharp-eyed IDs John.

When Mute Swans puff up their wings they look elegant.

This male Red-breasted Merganser was at Cobourg harbour last week. Not many birds have red eyes.

The female...

A Coot at Cobourg harbour.

There were Greater Scaup at Cobourg too. They're becoming one of my many favourites. They're excellent divers. I took a short video of them displaying their diving skills. Something under the dock attracted them. The wind noise is about all you hear but there wasn't much other sound anyway.

It's only 20 seconds long. I uploaded it to You Tube:

Spring, spring, spring! Keep it coming.

- fini -

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Bond Head & Lynde Shores
April 4th, 2014

Spring is trying hard to take over the land but winter isn't giving up without a fight. Can't complain too much though, it is only April after all.

My weekly trips to Cobourg get me out. I stopped at Bond Head on the way home again last week. 

The whiteness of the beach in the bay is from 1000s upon 1000s of broken and crushed zebra mussel shells--the scourge of the great lakes these days.

It was another cold day but you'll almost always find a few hardy souls enjoying the lake at Bond Head. There was a cold wind, as has been the norm for this year.

Waiting for a bite. Fishermen are especially hardy, patiently waiting for some action.

I love this--especially the window sticker. It had to be his SUV. He was the only fisherman there today.

A Greater Scaup in the harbour. Back-lighting meant I lost most of the detail.

A Mute Swan checking the wind.
Lynde Shores Conservation Area

It was a drizzly day when I decided to head over to Lynde Shores to check for waterfowl. With spring migration picking up you're bound to see some.

When I stepped out of the car I heard a chorus of bird song. What a treat! Immediately I was glad I came, whether I got any good shots of not. There are so many sounds I love in nature, and a bird chorus is definitely one of them.

There were two pair of Trumpeter Swans by the bridge.

Males guard their ladies well. Swans aren't a bird you want to tangle with.

"Enough pictures--go home and leave us alone. "

I seldom go to LS without taking a shot or two of the boardwalk. I like paths, etc. that recede into the shot. Different seasons offer different views.

A Hooded Merganser--another of my favourites. Looks like they get their hair done in a French coiffure.
The buzzing trill of Red-wing Blackbirds is another beautiful sound. There were dozens there today. The flocks haven't dispersed yet.

There were several Buffleheads there too.

Whitby Harbour Area

On a whim I swung by Whitby Harbour on the way home. The strong winds were whipping up some pretty good waves.

A raft of Buffleheads out on the lake.

Trying to keep warm.

On the path I walk... a shot that's hard for a photographer to resist. A red coat, a red canoe--a classic shot.

Turkey Vultures are back in numbers now. The way they soar and glide is a treat to watch. They always look to me as if they're just enjoying the day--even though most of the time I expect they're looking for a snack. A crystal clear blue sky as a backdrop adds a beautiful touch.

Cropped for a little closer look.

I'd never heard of anything like this before. This was posted in the lobby of a hospital in St. Catharines.

It's great to be getting out more often now that the weather is finally warming up--a little. With the migration underway and wildflowers soon to sprout, there'll be a lot more reason to get out in nature.

I can't wait.

- fini -

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