Friday, 27 June 2014

Out & About
June 2014

A few shots from the St. Catharines area...

Enjoying the view. The water color could be better though.

Yah... that's better.

On a sailboat in Port Dalhousie harbour. Does a dog really need a life jacket?

Lots of Mallards & geese in the harbour too. The male Mallards are moulting. They can't fly for a few weeks and they lose their brilliant plumage while they moult. This one has barely started or he's almost finished the moult.

This one on the other hand, is clearly moulting now.

This shot was taken with a point & shoot in late day light so it's grainy. It's the Toronto skyline from St. Catharines (about 30 miles/50 km). I don't remember seeing the band of pollution before. Usually it's very clear.

I was over at Darlington Provincial Park the other day. It's only a 15 minute drive so I drop by fairly often. There were more geese on the beach than people. This family was typical... father goose standing guard while the family relaxed. The kids are getting big.

This young couple strolled for half a mile along the beach while I was there. With only half a dozen of us there that day, we all had lots of room to wander.

In our garden:
After a rain these hostas really stood out, their bright green contrasted against the rhubarb leaf, etc.

Not a lot of color in the garden right now, but where there is, it's gorgeous.

Hostas come in so many shades that they add color in their own way. The garden is going full-bore now. Everything is thriving.

Jane added some urns full of blooms around the patio for color. It's a great time of year to sit out reading a book. No mosquitoes yet and though we're having some high humidity the last few days, it's beautiful in the mornings and later in the day.

We're only a few days into official summer. Will it be a scorcher or something more tolerable this year?

- fini -

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Oshawa 2nd Marsh
June 11th, 2014

"I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me."
                                                                               - William Hazlitt

A lot happens in nature in our area in May & June. I try to get out often to see what nature has decided to show me. I always hope that she'll show me more of her creatures than she does, but I'm just not a morning person so I miss a lot. I'm working on it though. She shows me lots of her wildflowers.

I was at the marsh on my own twice in the first week of June, once to an area I seldom go and once following my usual path. Then, this week I returned with a group of friends.

Many of the Mayapples have their single blossom now.

What a gorgeous color this guy is.

This term is new to me.

I've been lucky enough to see a few Baltimore Orioles this spring. When they fly from tree to tree and the sun glints off their gorgeous plumage, it's a joy to see.

A flat fungus.

Dazzling & brilliant... Dwarf Yellow Ladyslippers. I look forward to seeing them every year.

There are more this year and they've extended their range. It's one of only a few wild orchids we're blessed with in our local woods.

It has some interesting common names, including Squirrel Foot, Golden Slipper, Venus' Shoes, and Whippoorwill Shoe. The slippers are about the size of the top joint of your thumb, or smaller.

I like their pigtails.

They're only in one area of the marsh as far as I know.

At the lake, the gulls were fishing while the geese enjoyed a relaxing swim.

This gull found a quiet spot he didn't have to share.

Wind gusts kept him on his toes.

A strategically placed web... only smaller pickings so far.

This is a case where a picture just can't do the scene justice. It makes you feel like nature set it up just for you, as you walk the berm with Dame's Rocket in full bloom on both sides. It's the mix of mauve, white & pink blossoms that make a massive display of it so beautiful. Enlarge it to get an impression of what it was like.

When the group of us went to the marsh we spotted this male Trumpeter in a quiet cove, just off Lake Ontario. He'd obviously been feeding in the reeds to get such a golden neck. He didn't bother to get up to greet us. He was about 30 feet away.

A quick look out in the bay and we spotted the rest of the family, 100 yards or so from the bank. She brought her brood in to meet us, swimming to within 20 feet.

She didn't show any fear or aggression. It was as though she was looking for a handout.

Meanwhile, the male just sat, snoozed or groomed himself. No aggression on his part either. In fact, it was almost as if he didn't care that we were there at all. He glanced our way now & then, stood up a couple times but then sat down again. Maybe he sensed that we were no threat to him or his family.

Fred decided the female was being a little too friendly so he made a quick retreat. Meanwhile, the male is unconcerned and grooming himself. He must figure the missus can take care of herself.

This female Mallard was on the path when we were returning to our cars. No nest or ducklings that we could see, though we could easily have missed them. When we got too close she flew to the bay, 50 yards or so away. A bit of an odd encounter.
June is definitely the month to see Dame's Rocket. It's 'everywhere'.
What will my next visit bring?

- fini -

Friday, 6 June 2014

On the Path
June 5th, 2014

"Nature rejuvenates so quickly, so completely.  Though we often view ourselves otherwise, we are nature."

                                                     - Jeb Dickerson

It was coolish today... my kind of day. Not sure what this is, but it sure is pretty. Update: ID'd as Highbush Cranberry (aka American Cranberry)--thanks to Michael & John.

Dame's Rocket (common names include Dame’s Violet, Night-scented Gilliflower, Summer Lilac, Sweet Rocket, Mother-of-the-Evening) is scattered in the ditches along the path. It's showing all its colors in this patch.

...but only pink here.

The tree-tunnels are forming.

We had a staring match for a minute or so, then he slipped into the woods.

This year's crop of poison ivy is well on its way. If you're not familiar with it, look for the two leaves 'joined at the hip' with the third leaf on a short stem from the other two. I'm sure it's not the only plant that has this characteristic, but be safe and avoid them all.

Some have a fresh batch of berries already.

Some is in the early stage still, with reddish leaves.

I never tire of seeing & hearing geese fly over, honking as they shift formation. If I can, I always stop, watch and listen 'til they're out of sight.

If I have a camera with me, I always snap a shot or two. It's a sight & sound we're lucky enough to encounter often in our area, though I notice most people don't even glance their way.

Dog-strangling Vine is an invasive, but a pretty one, with its small, wine-colored, star-shaped blossoms.

It grows in dense stands, overwhelming many native plants. There's more on the path each year. The brown vines here are from last year's crop.

It's in the Milkweed family, which I assume is why Monarch butterflies sometimes lay their eggs on its leaves. But since it's not Milkweed, the Monarch larvae all die when they eat the leaves.

The Black Locust trees are blooming.

It's the only tree in our area that I know of that has vicious thorns.

They're hard as rock and needle sharp. I found out the hard way last year.

Intriguing markings on this bared trunk... look a bit like fossils. Made by artistic wood borers?

It's midnight. Better go to bed now before I turn into a pumpkin.

- fini -

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