Friday, 26 July 2013

Out & About in July

We went to St. Catharines to celebrate Jane's mum's 91st birthday. Jane's brother from Calgary was there too.

Port Dalhousie (near St. Catharines)
The birthday girl enjoyed a 'long wade' in Lake Ontario. It was a clear, hot summer day. If you look closely in this shot you can see the CN Tower (just barely) on the horizon, about 25 miles away.

Purse not required.

Remains of a sand castle. The kids were long gone... it reminded me of some ancient, abandoned ruins of a lost civilization.

You're apt to come across zebra mussel shells along any shoreline on Lake Ontario... a scourge that's impossible to get rid of.

Quiet, private conversation.

Time to relax and watch the world go by.

The owner must spend a lot of time emailing.

 St. John's Conservation Area
While in St. Catharines, we went to St. John's Conservation Area, a quiet spot to relax and enjoy nature. There were several young kids fishing, having a great time. One little girl just dipped her rod in the water and caught 4 or 5 sunfish one after the other while we were watching. They were pretty small but she couldn't have been happier.

Dad preparing the fishing gear.

Patiently waiting for their fishing rods.


Doll's Eyes... White Baneberry

The Tulip tree is one that grows in the Carolinian forest area (more southerly) of Ontario... named for its distinctive leaves.

Two mothers, two kids. It looks like mother turtle is negotiating with mother duck so she can get together with her offspring.

Mother duck slipped into the water, so mom & baby turtle had a chance to reunite. Hurry up guys before mother duck returns.

A canola field on the edge of town.

The canola is brilliant amongst the fields of corn. 

Lavender Farm
A lavender farm north of Cobourg had an open house weekend.

A unique garden ornament at the farm.

The lavender farm is in the middle of corn country, one of Ontario's main cash crops. Corn fields can stretch for miles along the country roads & highways. These ones, across the road from the lavender farm, with Lake Ontario as a backdrop, are huge.

Wicklow Pond
When we left the farm we decided to go to the lakefront to one of our favourite spots, a small pond near Wicklow (near Cobourg). This year it's covered in water lilies.

Literally across the road from the pond is Lake Ontario which is why we like this spot so much.

This dragonfly had a damaged wing but it didn't seem to bother him.

Like mother, like daughter. Jane also loves to wade any time she gets a chance. I should join her more often than I do. Next time.

There are a few beaches along the lake that have no sand, but rather millions of rounded pebbles. This one is at the Wicklow pond area. I finally googled it and found out that they're called "shingle beaches". Apparently they're only found in certain parts of the world, Pebble Beach in California being one of them. And Wicklow beach!

If you're curious-->

Port Hope 
It'd been a while since we were out for a drive in the Port Hope/Cobourg area so since we weren't far away, we went to another of our favourite spots near Port Hope. It's a small nature area on the edge of town. It too, has a pond, and immediately across from the pond (30 or 40 ft) is Lake Ontario.

Mother duck on the pond with a rather large brood.

A family of Mute Swans that had this section of the lake to themselves. Seeing them alone on such a large lake adds for me, a feeling of wildness & freedom.

At times the lake has a silky look. It's very calming.

We've always loved our country drives. You never know what you're going to see. And it always feels good just to be out amongst trees & wildflowers & fields & lakes & ponds, especially under a bright blue sky.

And as we're hearing more often these days, nature is good for our psyche and has a healing power that we should all be partaking of more often.

In 2005, Richard Louv came up with the term "nature deficit disorder" pointing out that too many kids these days don't get out in nature enough, which in his opinion (many others support his views) can contribute to attention disorders, lower grades in school, obesity, and even their lacking of a "sense of wonder".

This article is worth a read. Not a lot new maybe, but it confirms what a lot of us have been thinking.

Louv's book at Amazon:

A somewhat disturbing quote from the Amazon link:

"Some startling facts: By the 1990s the radius around the home where children were allowed to roam on their own had shrunk to a ninth of what it had been in 1970. Today, average eight-year-olds are better able to identify cartoon characters than native species, such as beetles and oak trees, in their own community. The rate at which doctors prescribe anti-depressants to children has doubled in the last five years, and recent studies show that too much computer use spells trouble for the developing mind."

I think if you have children or grand-children, it's important to take them out in nature and teach them the names of any wildflowers, trees, bugs, birds, etc. that you know. It gives them a chance to get interested in nature at an early age. They may develop a life long passion for nature as many of us have.

- fini -

Friday, 12 July 2013

2nd Marsh -- July 11th, 2013

Though there's a difference of opinion as to whether birds actually get drunk from eating fermented berries or just act like they're drunk from eating too many, I'll go with the drunk theory.

It was about this time last year that I came across some drunk ones in the marsh and I saw more today at the same spot.

A bunch of drunks. The bar must be nearby.

They sit down or sprawl out, wings a-kilter, waiting til you're within a few feet before they reluctantly fly off... seemingly in fine shape though.

I got a kick out of this guy's comments...
It always starts the same way. One robin finds a bush full of bad berries to feed on and ends up getting a little silly. Then a few of his friends join in and soon you have a whole flock walking around on the ground too drunk to fly. Next you hear lots of loud singing, with words that you can hardly understand. Then usually an argument breaks out over who found the biggest worm last summer or has the reddest breast. Finally, two robins end up in an all-out fight, while all the others just roll their eyes and think, "Rookies, can't hold their berries."

This one looks like it's injured, but it too flew off once I was within a few feet. Their flying looked normal, none of them crashed into trees.

With all our rain, growth is lush everywhere in the marsh.

The beaver pond is covered in cattails, with some trying to grow through the boardwalk.

For the volunteers who repair the boardwalk through Ghost Road bush, it's a never ending battle. In the wetter areas, moss is the first sign that nature is trying to take back her own. The boardwalk is through a swampy area after all.

Most of the boardwalk is in pretty good shape but the usual signs of deterioration are starting to show.

Tall Meadow Rue

The vernal pools have pretty much dried up now but there are still a few areas that offer some nice reflections.

A pair of Ebony Jewel-wing Damselflies.

Fringed Loosestrife-- with its upside-down blossoms.

Wild Parsnip is everywhere... obviously popular with the ants.

One of nature's bouquets.

White Sweet Clover has invaded the marsh this year. There was very little last year by comparison. It lines the berm for 100s of yards. It's fascinating to me how quickly things can change in nature. She never ceases to surprise.

First there was one, now there are two... turtle-nest protective covers. No sign of turtles though. In fact there are now a total of five covers along the berm. Two or three of them look like they've been tampered with, whether by humans or animals, it's hard to say.

There's lots of Field Bindweed in the marsh now.

Update: Bull Thistle... Thanks John.

Growth gone crazy. The last half-mile of the berm (at the lake end) is completely overgrown. The 'path' is only shoulder-wide. You almost need a machete. I haven't seen anything like it in the few years I've been visiting the marsh. The birds are loving it.

When I got to the lake it was just me, some swans & geese and a few gulls.

Milkweed on the beach... almost looks like someone planted it.

Some of the blossoms have a yellow tinge... from the sandy soil?

Further away from the lake they are the more usual pink tones.

One of my favourites... Chicory. Pioneers made a coffee-like drink from the roots.

Red-seeded Dandelion can easily be 3 or 4 feet tall.

Land Snail

Not sure what this is but he's kinda pretty. A moth of some sort?
Update: It's a Silver-spotted Skipper butterfly... Thanks Peter.

Update: Burdock... Thanks John.

Honeysuckle Berries brighten the landscape.

From the GM platform. The main marsh is thick with water plants.

The fire of last year is just a memory now.

Credit where credit is due. Corporations get a lot of flack these days but they provide a living for many of us, and they do contribute to their communities.

Purple Flowering Raspberry, easily mistaken for a wild rose... or a Wild Geranium ;-)  Thanks Doug.

Cedar cones in the early stage... and a visiting Mimic Bee.

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...

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- fini -

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