Saturday, 30 April 2011

McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Reserve -- April 30th, 2011

I actually started at 2nd Marsh at the GM viewing tower. I went to see the Little Gull Viewing event put on by Friends of Second Marsh. I was a little late I guess so I didn't see much but I had a good chat with the birders that were there.

The Little Gulls enjoy breakfast in the marsh, feasting on the clouds of Midges that fill the air.

Wilkinsons Pond west of GM HQ

I headed over to McLaughlin Bay reserve-- the 2nd Marsh abuts it to the west and Darlington Provincial Park abuts it on the east.

I found another pair of "walking ducks" on the path at Dogwood Pond. They decided walking was just fine-- no need to fly. They just kept me at a distance. I was walking slowly so they were cool with that.

Tree Swallow in the reeds of Dogwood Pond.

This male Goldfinch (at Dogwood Pond) was enjoying the morning sun and singing his heart out. What a beautiful sound.

These underwater "volcanoes" were at Dogwood Pond too. The stubs of some water plant or reed from last year I expect. Bull Rushes maybe?

A Red-Wing Blackbird calling out for all to hear.

Still at Dogwood Pond, these Midland Painted Turtles are perennial residents there. I've seen as many as 7 at one time  here.

Purple Martin Apartments-- rooms available. Tree Swallows welcome.

Purple sand on Lake Ontario shoreline. Not sure I've seen any before. Algae?

Colorful stones on the Lake Ontario shoreline.

From the reserve, you can see these beautiful Willows across the bay on the shoreline of Darlington Provincial Park.

Buds are bursting everywhere.

So ends my blog for April. May-- the month where Spring explodes in this part of the world. I'll be venturing out to more conservation areas & nature areas in May to see what other surprises nature has in store for me this year.

- fini -

Friday, 29 April 2011

Oshawa 2nd Marsh -- April 27th, 2011 -- Post 2

I went through my images from the 27th a little slower today, culling and deleting and found a few more that I thought I'd add-- Post 2 for the 27th.

One of the channels that leads out of the marsh to the bay.

The Willows are showing their color. 

There are interpretive signs in the marsh. This is part of one of them-- since I had shots of Garter Snakes earlier.

Some plants look more complex to me in winter & spring when they're withered than when they're full of life. The intricacy  fascinates me.

These galls have a story far more interesting than I'd have thought. It often surprises me when I research what first appears to be a simple thing and discover the details. This gall is on a Goldenrod plant, caused by a Gall Fly as shown in the last image.

If you share my passion for nature, you'll find the following interesting. It includes references to ice fishermen, Downy Woodpeckers, anti-freeze, a larva that plans ahead (how can that be?) and an adult fly that doesn't eat. A link to the source of most of the text (edited) and the image of the Goldenrod Gall Fly is below the image of the gall.

This gall forms in late spring, caused by the Goldenrod Gall Fly that lays her egg on a Goldenrod stem. After the egg hatches the larva eats its way into the stem and forms a feeding/living chamber. This stimulates the Goldenrod to defend itself by creating the 'ball gall'.

When winter arrives, the fly larva slows its metabolism and replaces much of its internal water with glycerol, a compound that serves as antifreeze. In northern areas, ice fishermen collect Goldenrod galls, cut open the ball, and use the hibernating grubs for fish bait when snow-covered ground makes earthworms hard to come by.

Downy Woodpeckers peck open galls to get the grubs within. (That's my guess for the one I shot. Otherwise the hole would be more circular as many are in images I saw on the web.)

If a gall goes undisturbed by humans or gall-invading predators, the larva inside slumbers until spring when warm days stimulate it to eat a narrow passageway radiating from its feeding chamber.

The larva stops tunneling just short of the gall's outermost layer of cells and goes back to the main chamber to form a pupa, emerging in a few weeks as an adult fly able to pop through the thin-walled porthole on what has become a hard, brown, one-inch gall.

Adult Goldenrod Gall Flies do not eat and last only about ten days, living only to mate and produce a new generation of gall-causing young.


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 -


Thursday, 28 April 2011

Oshawa 2nd Marsh -- April 27th, 2011

Another good day at the marsh. More signs of Spring and warm. Some of the fallen logs have Borer Worm tracks on them. The worms must be one of the things woodpeckers are after when they're pounding on the trees.

The early stage of Horsetail. I don't usually see them in water but these ones were.

The brown-headed one is way ahead of the rest for some reason.

Garter Snake with Trout Lilies. There are tens of 1000s of Trout Lilies in the marsh now.

The moss is such a gorgeous shade of green and it especially stands out against the mostly brown of the forest floor this time of year.

Mayapples still have their "umbrellas" tight around their stems but before long the umbrellas will unfurl and the single mayapple will appear under it.

On any given day you can have the 3 "friendlies" eat seeds from your hand. The Chickadees will come any day, the Nuthatches & Downy Woodpeckers are more selective. 

The heavy rains & the flooding that comes with them take their toll on the boardwalk.

The green stage of Pussy Willows...

 The twigs of the American Basswood  look a bit like plated armour. Thanks for the ID John.

It's always a happy surprise to see ducks in the woods. The vernal pools seem to offer them everything they need. This pair of Mallards didn't seem particularly afraid of me. As I got closer they just slowly ambled off deeper into the woods to the other end of the pool. They didn't seem to think it was worth the trouble to fly-- they walked.


I love seeing a lone swan in a quiet cove or in this case a channel in the marsh. It seems to emphasize their freedom.

Mother goose found a quiet spot in the channel too.

I didn't see it when I took the shot but it looks like she has a turtle to keep her company.

I always check the vernal pools for life but don't usually see much. This time there were twisty, jerking things swimming about. (Not very clear in this image because of the water.) I was told what they probably are but I can't remember. :-)

The Dogwood really stands out this time of year.

I saw a lot more Coltsfoot today. Some of it past its prime, some fresh & strong like this one. They'll soon go to seed and their huge leaves will appear.

A Land Snail... Thanks John.

After we see our first 2 or 3 in the spring most of us take the Robin for granted but they are a beautiful bird. Maybe they'd get more attention if we called them Rust-Breasted Thrushes.

 I find that a lot of smaller creatures pose on the boardwalk for me. This Red Admiral butterfly was soaking up the sun.

Maybe someday the money will be there for the marsh to use the artificial material they used for the new boardwalk at Presqu'ile. It would save money in the long term I assume.

Besides offering wildlife some habitat, the vernal pools do provide some nice reflections.

This has been my longest post to date, most are shorter. I appreciate the kind comments that some of you have said about this blog. Thank you. Until next time...

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 -


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