Thursday, 29 May 2014

Purple Woods & Thurne Parks CAs
May 29th, 2014

Yesterday was yard chores with rakes & shovels; today was nature with a camera. I decided this year to explore some nature areas that I haven't been to. Today I explored Thurne Parks Conservation Area. And an old favourite too--Purple Woods. I also plan to get to the marsh at sunrise, or shortly after, this year. I'm still working on that one.

I went to Purple Woods first. Been there many times. It's about 10 minutes north of town. It's known for Trilliums, among other things. The Trilliums were there to be sure. 1000s of them... almost all on their last legs. The blossoms will be gone soon.

This is a somewhat panoramic shot. Enlarge it (just click on it) to get a better feel for what it looked like.

There are lots of pink ones. Even though they don't have the pristine look and their petals are curled, they're still beautiful.

My favourite from the day... a Cabbage White butterfly on some Dame's Rocket (aka Wild Phlox). I swear he was staring at me as I took the shot. Enlarge it to see his eyeball staring at me.

I like the curled leafed stage, as they begin to fade away, just as much as the earlier, perfect stage.

An Indian hut set up for the Maple Syrup festival earlier in the year.

It's only in the first week or so of the blossoms appearing that you can get shots with perfect blossoms & perfect leaves. Photoshop would clean them up but I prefer what nature offers me.

Colorful decay.

Just a hint of pink.

There were lots of Mayapples too, many sporting their single blossom at the y-junction of their stem, but many still had the apple.


Thurne Parks CA

It's only a half hour from home.

My first Jack-in-the-Pulpit of the year, near the entrance, poking through some Ostrich Fern. Jack is still pretty well concealed under his hood. I probably missed some at Purple Woods.

This was the surprise at Thurne Parks. Tens of thousands of Ostrich Fern. Most of the forest floor was covered with them.

It's always interesting to me how different areas favour different plant species.

Purple Woods has its Trilliums & Mayapples that dominate, while Thurne Parks favours the Ostrich Fern. 

The fern crowded the trails in many spots.


A small creek passes through. Today it was running strong... beautiful to hear as you walk the trail. The trail follows the creek for the most part.

Some Dog-strangling Vine along the creek. After seeing so many Trilliums & Mayapples at Purple Woods, it was a real contrast to not see any here, at least not along the trail I took.
Another thing missing here was birds. I heard a few from outside the woods, but none within them. Most of the trees are Cedars. I've noticed before that woods with a high population of cedar seem to lack birds. No squirrels or chipmunks either. Maybe it's just my timing.

There were quite a few of the Dryad's Saddle (aka Pheasant's Back) fungus.

One of my favourite sights in nature... wildflowers or fungus in a wild tangle. It may not make for a very good image, but I love to see it.

The shape of the fungus is such that some of them catch some rain. The result... mushroom soup. I know, I know. :-)

Another look on the way out. This one hasn't lifted its hood yet.

We may not be keen on Dandelions, but honey bees, ants & some flies are.

I went a fair distance along the creek but I didn't reach the end of the CA. Something for me to explore with Jane sometime.

- fini -

Monday, 26 May 2014

Petticoat Creek CA & Lynde Shores CA
May 25th, 2014

"The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man."                                       
                                                          - Author Unknown 

Today we went somewhere we'd never been. I've been curious about Petticoat CA for a while. It's towards Toronto, a direction we seldom go. There's just too much traffic.

The unusual name is an anglicized version of the French name for the area--"Petit Coté". Unlike conservation areas out our way, there's a manned booth at the gate--$6 entry fee per person.


This family found a private spot. It's where Petticoat Creek enters Lake Ontario.
Love it.
When I was about to write the park off as boring, we found a natural area along the lake-edge with thousands upon thousands of Trilliums, spreading through the woods. Have never seen so many pink ones as we did here. The most common explanation is that the white ones turn pink as they age. Whether all do, or only some, I'm not sure.

Since Trilliums take 7 to 10 years to come into bloom, the woods here are full of older ones. 

When you see so many in one location it's a joy to just linger and take it all in.

Lynde Shores CA
On the way home we stopped at Lynde Shores. This young Eastern Grey was enjoying some seeds, compliments of a visitor.
Jane wasn't trying to hide on me here. She was smelling a blossom. A few years back Lynde Shores was a hot spot for Trilliums. There are very few there now. Mayapples have taken over. There are 1000s of them. It's interesting how nature evolves, at times relatively quickly.
A line is drawn... where the Mayapples end, the Ostrich Fern begins.
Mayapples are everywhere.
This was the highlight of the day for me. We weren't sure what this female goose was up to. Rearranging her nest we thought, to make it more comfortable, and to protect her eggs. The nest is only a few feet from the boardwalk so I hope no one disturbs it.

After a stroll down the boardwalk, we had another look on the way back. She was gone and the eggs were completely covered. (The bright white things are some bread someone had thrown her way.)
She'd covered her eggs so she could go for a bite to eat, as hubby stood guard. It's small things like this in nature that I enjoy so much. Things you don't normally see... but things that are going on all the time in nature.

- fini -

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Oshawa 2nd Marsh
May 21st, 2014

"I don't like formal gardens. I like wild nature."
                                                 - Walt Disney

Spring is moving along but it almost seems like its pace has slowed. Or is it just back to normal? I expected to see more change at the marsh since my last visit. Maybe I'm rushing things.

There has been change for sure. More growth but only a few species of wildflowers in bloom. I thought I might see some Ladyslippers. Maybe I missed them.

Of the tens of thousands of Trout Lily leaves I saw a couple weeks ago, I only saw these two in bloom.


It does take a few years before they flower so maybe most of the others are younger. The others have lost the spots on their leaves. They'll all disappear soon until next spring.

Mayapples are one of my favourites. They grow in large patches and their umbrellas stand out in all stages of their growth. 

Many of them have their 'apples' now. They're not always obvious since they're under the large leaves. Here one is peeking out from below the overlapping, now open, umbrellas.

This one is in deep shadow but you can see how it grows from the y-shaped crotch of the stem.

The leaves are a rich, waxy green in the early stages.

Some vernal pools are still present. This one looks polluted with some kind of scum on its surface. I've seen it in other years as well. I'm wondering though if it might be some natural process. It's not oil. And it's only on one of the pools.

The cattails aren't large enough or showing enough growth to obscure your view of the channel yet. But I didn't spot any waterfowl today.
It was sunny so I expected to see several turtles sunbathing... but there were only two. One adult and this youngster. The adult dove quickly but junior was much braver and just watched me.

Nature's attack on the boardwalk is relentless. This is the section over the Beaver Pond as it was two weeks ago. No major problems really.

And this was today... wavy & wonky enough that I proceeded cautiously.

The supports are giving way, which makes for a much more difficult repair. Plus the fact that workers need to contend with the water here.

I'm so thankful to the volunteers who repair the boardwalk each year, and to the lumberyard that donates the lumber. I was told which lumber yard it is but I can't remember which one.

The boardwalk on the Farewell Creek bridge side of the marsh suffers even more due to spring flooding. Small sections have been completely washed away.

Most of the boardwalk is easily passable and in pretty good shape. I'm definitely not complaining. Quite the opposite. All of us who enjoy the marsh owe the volunteers and donors a great deal.

My real concerns are the expense to the lumberyard (if the amount of lumber required becomes too great) and whether or not the volunteers can continue to invest the required time & effort needed for repairs. As the boardwalk deteriorates, I'm afraid that access to the marsh may become restricted in the future.

Budgets are tight everywhere today it seems and it would be a very sad day if restricted access becomes a reality.

Even now access is denied from the Farewell Creek bridge due to fallen trees (mostly I think) and damaged boardwalk. Approaching from the east as I did, you only discover the restriction when you arrive here.

This is just east of the bridge. The trail is pretty much 'gone' in this stretch. Others before me have created alternate paths.

This was a sad sight to see... a dead beaver near the creek. I tried to choose a less gruesome shot of it. I try to record what happens in the marsh, which is why I included the shot. I hope it was a natural death. The carcass seemed to be undisturbed. Maybe it was very recent.

Ostrich Fern always looks like it 'belongs' on a forest floor. It adds to the feeling of a forest for me.

Wood Violets are plentiful this year at the marsh, on my walking path, and everywhere else it seems.

The 'bottle-brush' stage of Horsetail.

A snail going about his business... at a snail's pace. I know, I know. :-)

Pretty, but I need help on the ID. It's Toothwort. Thanks guys.

Spring is the time for this ... Pheasant's Back fungus. More commonly called Dryad's Saddle, though the former name is more descriptive.

I love its colors.

It can be a foot or more across. This one is about 10 inches. They're tasty when young... so some people say.

Golden hues always catch my eye. This decaying tree is near the collapsing point.

Nature tries to ensure that the next generation thrives. The ground under this spruce was literally covered in cones. I've never seen so many under a tree... a few thousand at least.

'Til next time.

- fini -


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