Thursday, 24 April 2014

Out & About
April 2014

It feels like spring most days now, though winter seems to want to push the door open a crack on the odd day.

These days there are signs of all sorts for animal crossings. Not many for the birds though. Lake Ontario is on the other side of the road here. The geese apparently find the grass a little greener on this side.

I was over in Ajax (25 minutes away) for a change in scene and spotted my first Coltsfoot of the year. It was a cool (bordering on cold), windy day. The Coltsfoot were on a south-facing slope on the edge of Lake Ontario.

Blossoms come before leaves. The leaves are huge when they do appear.

It was a strong wind, whipping up some noisy waves. The deeper water, appearing green here, is a real contrast to the water in the shallows.

"Let's get outa here. The rocks are hurting my feet." 
They left just after I took the shot.

A strong wind on the lake can churn a lot of water. The lake is about 25 miles wide here. The wind can race across it unhindered.

Watch & listen to the waves crashing in? (I put it on YouTube)

On the beach...

High-bush Cranberries that survived the winter in fairly good shape. May the same be said of us.

Mallards hardly get a second glance around here. There are just too many of them. They are a beautiful duck though. As per usual, especially the male--have to look pretty to attract the ladies' attention--not at the moment mind you.

The lakeshore varies considerably. It can be all rocks like this spot, sandy beaches--with or without 1000s of mussel shells, sometimes clay cliffs--the list goes on.

Pussy Willows have been out for a while. In fact, they're already entering the green phase. These were on the path a week or so ago.

Coltsfoot are on the path too. Often mistaken for early Dandelions, they'll be mostly gone when Dandelions appear.

Silver Maple is one of the earliest trees to open their buds.  The blossoms show before the leaves. Same idea as the Coltsfoot.

This bunch looks like a wild samba dancer from Brazil.

Came across this cat in the woods on the path. Another coolish day, so he was picking up some warmth from the tree while he snoozed.

He'd half-open his eyes for a brief look, then back to snoozing.

With so many damaged and cut trees after our ice storm, the sap of some maples is running from the recent cuts.

These holes are probably from a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Straight from the tree. No boiling required.

This creek runs through the heart of town. I was checking for the spring trout run. Didn't see any, but the water tumbling over the row of rocks was mesmerizing. Miniature whirlpools.

Running water, or a small campfire or flames in a fireplace, can put me in a trance for a few minutes. I decided to take a short video-clip of it. Click on this link if you'd like to see why I watched for a few minutes. It's on YouTube. 

A moss forest..

Catkins are well on their way too.

It's normal to see peeling bark on Birch trees, but it doesn't usually hang on like this.

I just liked the pattern of the dried Dog-strangling Vine against the peeling bark of this Silver Maple.

Escapee Scilla--a gorgeous, brilliant shade of blue.

Hundreds of leathery Black Locust seed pods are still on the trees. These are just across the street from us.
And there are 100s more on the ground. Almost none will sprout. Just like the animal world--only the strong survive.

The beautiful, delicate Hepaticas now have center stage at Heber Down CA. They're only 5 or 6 inches tall, the blossoms just over a half-inch across. They, like all the spring ephemerals, will be gone when the trees leaf out.

They almost seem too weak-stemmed & fragile to poke through last year's leaves, but they manage to.

Another of my favourite sights in spring--Wild Leeks carpeting a forest floor. Crush a leaf and smell it--it's a  wonderful, wild smell. Onion-like as you'd guess. Crushing & smelling one is part of my spring ritual. In fact, one is never enough.

Trees have become one of my passions of late. Learning how they grow, etc. is fascinating. Consider for instance that the only living part of a tree trunk is an extremely thin, almost microscopic, layer (the cambium) just under the outer bark. Even before this tree was cut down, the darker inner layers (heartwood or deadwood) was dead, so were the lighter layers outside the dark area. So was the outer bark. I think it's incredible.

The cambium keeps creating new living cells on each side of it, but they soon die. But in the end the tree does grow in diameter, which is why the bark breaks or peels on most trees.

Even ants enjoy the sweet sap that oozes out of some cut trees.

A clever church sign from Easter weekend.

Another sure sign of spring. We've only had Dickee Dee on his bicycle in other years. I'm sure Dickee won't welcome this competition.

Another week or two of warm weather and our wicked winter will fade in our memories.

- fini -

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 -


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