Friday, 31 January 2014

On the Path
January 31st, 2014

As January draws to a close, Jane joined me for my walk. The milder weather was a treat. It was great to be able to linger here and there without half-freezing to death.

Ice breakup on the creek. A good sign.

Jane stopped to watch a couple squirrels going in & out of their nests.

And then found a convenient fallen tree branch for a sit down, to wait for me, as I took a couple creek shots.

At the top of the path, Jane spotted some snow that was perfect for a 'snow angel' she felt. So... she made a snow angel.

On the way home she made a couple more.

Some touch-ups, tho I didn't think it needed any. I was impressed.

We have a few bird feeders--aka squirrel feeders. A week or so ago I counted 10 squirrels in our back yard at one time. Too many. So I made some changes to the feeders. Anywhere from 1 to 6 squirrels is more usual... and more acceptable.

We enjoy watching their antics so we don't try to discourage them too much, but when I counted 10 at once, it tipped the scale. The most we've seen since is 6. The birds do manage to get their share of the food.

We really enjoy the Mourning Doves too. Talk about laid back birds. They spend half their lives sitting around, watching the world go by...

... or having a snooze, as one of these decided it was time for. Their light blue eyelids make it easy to spot the sleepy ones.

'Til next time.

- fini -


Saturday, 25 January 2014

Oshawa 2nd Marsh
January 25th, 2014

We're having a heat wave. The thermometer rose to -7° C today. It felt ok when I shoveled the driveway before going to the marsh, but it was another story when I got there.

It felt pretty good as I walked south on the berm towards the lake, but quite another coming back north, with what seems to be an ever-present wind these days. But enough whining. Once I had feeling back in my fingers, I was glad I got out again.

January 'browns'

Even the ice is brown.

Split branches are a common sight after the ice storm--there are 1000s in our neck of the woods.

The lake looked cold. This is where Farewell Creek enters the lake. Lots of ice along the shoreline.

A flock of Trumpeter Swans lifted off the lake and headed west.

The wind has coated the shoreline shrubs & trees with frozen spray.

The wind does create a pretty sight, as the waves hit the shore.

Not their usual habitat, but there's a small patch of milkweed in the sand at the beach. I seldom pass milkweed without taking a shot or two, no matter what the season.

You can see Bonnie Brae Point from the lakefront at the marsh.

Dogwood brightens the brown landscape.

There's been an irruption of Snowies (Snowy Owls) this winter. Dozens are being seen around the province. They've come further south than usual, presumably due to a shortage of mice & voles up north.

This is the first I've seen around here.

A poor shot, but they sure are a pretty sight on the wing.

The deadwood core in the center of this branch is easy to see, a sight we're usually denied.

The 'face' on the end of it looks like an owl to me.

Yellow Cane along the berm... more commonly known by another, very boring name: Common Reed Grass. I think Yellow Cane is much more descriptive & appropriate.

It's a two minute drive from the marsh to General Motors HQ on the lake, so I went down for a quick look... to find a hockey scrum and a lone skater there today.

Almost all of us, including me, are grumbling about the long winter, the winter that won't end, etc. Like that old expression says, "It's colder than a witch's kiss" these days, but at least when you get out, no matter what you choose to do, and come back into a warm home, it becomes a little more tolerable.

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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Friday, 17 January 2014

Oshawa Harbour & Lynde Shores CA
January 14th, 2014

I had cabin fever today so I grabbed my camera and went down to the harbour & over to Lynde Shores. The ice in the harbour was interesting. After the breakup I assume the wind & currents jostled the ice chunks around to form these islands of ice & snow.

I thought they looked like puffy cumulus clouds. Jane thinks they look like white donuts.

The female looks curious as to what I'm up to... the males could care less.

The ice storm brought down 1000s of trees & branches. It gives us a chance to see inside a "live" tree. The rusty-colored section of this birch is the inner bark... a corky layer.

The boardwalk at Lynde Shores (enhanced)

A "winter" fungus and some lichen.

Birch trees have a real affinity for fungi--especially Tinder Conk. The color of it varies from grey to jet-black. We see grey & black in our area. I like the common names: Hoof Fungus & Iceman Fungus.

I tried using it as tinder last year--at least the initial stage. I lit it, and it smouldered for well over an hour. With some light tinder, I'm sure it would have started a fire.

A Red Oak leaf entombed in ice.

Another one, trying to resist a similar fate.
A couple women brought a pail of seeds for the ducks & geese. I shot a 10-second movie clip of the Mallards gobbling them up.

I'm experimenting with this clip. I converted it to a format for the iPhone (and maybe other makes too?). If any of you are looking at this post on an iPhone, or some other make of smart phone, maybe you could let me know if it works. I'm not sure if the software I used does a good job or not. 

Either should work on a desktop, laptop or tablet.
This first one is m4v format--it's sharper than the one below so hopefully this one works on smart phones.

And this one is 3gp--blurry and pixelated, even at the small size it is on a regular computer.

So if you're on a smart phone viewing these, please let me know if either work for you--and what brand your phone is too.

The outing dispelled my cabin fever, so I returned to our winter cave.

- fini -

Thursday, 9 January 2014

2,000 Miles
January 9th, 2014

I "had to" post something today. Today marked my completion of 2,000 miles on the path. It took over 6 years. It's a 2 mile walk--barely over a mile each way according to my GPS.

I started keeping track in June 2007. It just takes a check-mark on the calendar each time I go, and multiplying by 2, so the math is pretty simple. I finished the first 1,000 miles in September 2009 (27 months). The second 1,000 took over 4 years (52 months). Do you want to hear some excuses? No. Ok.

I took a camera today and took a few shots but none are worth posting so I dug up a short series from late last September to put something up.

John Foster led an outing to Samuel Wilmot Nature Area east of Oshawa. Down at the lakeshore, these fishermen were trying their luck.

Then someone in the group spotted these ladybugs. Apparently they gather in late fall for warmth and to find a warm place to hibernate.

You never know what you're going to see when you're out in nature. It was another first for me. John said they are Harlequin Ladybird Beetles, an invasive Asian species, that vary in color & number of spots. Aka Halloween Lady Beetles according to this reference...

How long will my next 1,000 miles take? I'll aim for less than 4 years. :-)

- fini -

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

On the Path
January 5th, 2014

Man, it's cold. Feels like I'm back in Moose Jaw, on the prairie. After not being on my path for weeks (long story), I finally made it the last couple days. After the ice storm and 100s of trees down nearby (1000s in the area I'm sure), the walk was a bit more exercise than usual--stepping over large tree trunks or crouching under them.

Others had forged the trail for me so I just followed their footsteps, sometimes into the ditch to get around larger trees. It's no wonder the powers-that-be are telling us it'll take months to clear up the mess. And I'm guessing a walking path will be pretty low on their priority list.

Normally it's a clear view up the path.

Manitoba Maple seeds (keys) are in bunches. The ground was scattered with single ones and bunches. The bunches look like some kind of faded wildflower, almost like someone planted them.

Normally Silver Maple buds are too far above ground to get a shot of them. Even the lowest branches can be 10 feet off the ground. With so many branches on the ground we get to have a leisurely look at them. They're in bunches like grapes--so different from the Manitoba Maple.

There's a park about half-way up the path. Someone did a pretty good job with these snowmen. Or should I say snowman and snowkid?

They used Hemlock branches from the woods behind for the hair, hemlock pine cones for the eyes, and bark for the mouth. The only thing they had to bring from home was the carrot. Cute kid. Well done.

Dad has a hat of bark. It's hard to see with the background. Looks like an owl or some sort of creature--unintentional I assume. What does it look like to you? Click on the image for a closer view.

The highlight of the day for me--I'd seen and heard a few robins the day before, but today I saw about 10. This one was close enough and sat on the branch long enough for a shot or two. What a treat to hear their quiet chirping & song as they fly off.

It isn't rare to see robins in winter, but it's not all that common either. They manage to survive winter in the thickets & creek beds where there's some protection and usually a few berries. They gather in small flocks in winter, searching for food, moving on when it's gone. They don't like seeds so you won't see them at your feeder.

As someone else who has seen wintering robins has said, "Seeing a robin won't be a sign of spring for me anymore. It'll be a robin eating a worm."

You'd almost think they'd freeze to death but the experts tell us that temperature isn't much of a threat, only the lack of food is. If you have a crabapple tree or mountain ash that still has some fruit on it, some robins may drop by for a snack. Have your camera ready.

I dug up this shot from eons ago when I was still teaching at the college (film, scanned). This small flock was there for 2 or 3 days. I didn't have a camera the first day so I took one the second day 'just in case'. I don't think they moved overnight.

Some berries for the robins.

The creek here is normally clear. Will they bother to clean it up? They may have to at some point. It could be a real problem come the heavy spring flow in the creeks, when more and more debris is added to what's already there.

Keep an eye out for robins if you're out & about.

- fini -

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