Thursday, 30 April 2015

Oshawa Second Marsh
April 30th, 2015

I went down to see how spring was progressing in the marsh. There are tens of thousands of Trout Lily on the forest floor of Ghost Road Bush. Some will soon be sporting their drooping yellow blossoms. 

In amongst them were dozens of Horsetail in their pagoda-like stage.

In all my outings in nature, this is the first time I've come across a Chickadee using a nest hole. She was removing material from inside the hole to make her home more comfortable.

I had some seeds with me but she wasn't interested.

Mayapples are definitely one of my favourite spring flowers... probably my favourite. I like the way they start life as closed umbrellas, later opening the umbrella to 'protect' their single white blossom that is sometimes half-hidden from sight, that later becomes its small, single green apple.
I saw a few dozen today. Soon there'll be hundreds.

Reeds in the way and harsh light, but the turtles are out of hibernation.

A pair of geese in the water channel by the berm. The colorful grasses caught my eye.

Father goose on guard as his mate feeds on some water plants.

Nature festoons some of her trees with jewellery before the leaves are out in full. These are Manitoba Maple blossoms.

The vernal pools are murky looking. I didn't see any activity in them but there probably is something stirring in them if you were to look closely.

Unlike dandelions, Coltsfoot bloom first, then develop leaves. Huge leaves at that.

Spring Azure butterflies are tiny, roughly an inch across, but they're a gorgeous shade of blue.. their hind wings that you see in flight are at least, rather than the soft blue of the fore-wings that you see here.

As I left the marsh... this Forsythia contrasts with the barren trees.

Spring is moving along. May is the month when growth explodes in the marsh, and everywhere else in our area for that matter.

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 -

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Heber Down CA
April 16th, 2015

Heber Down Conservation Area is where my wildflower mentor showed me what Hepatica & Spring Beauties look like. They're two of the spring ephemerals, so named due to their short time on stage. They live on the forest floor and must bloom before the forest canopy leafs out and blocks the sun. Unless you're out in the woods in early spring, you'd never know they exist.

I mistook these pink Hepaticas for Spring Beauties but my wildflower buddies pointed out that all the following pink & white flowers are Hepatica. Spring Beauties will be appearing soon. Thanks guys.

Results today would have been better if I had used a diffuser disk, as my mentor taught me, but I left it in the trunk of the car and it was too far to go back.

I've never been a big fan of white flowers, though I know many love them... women especially I've noticed.

An interesting bee perched on one of the blossoms.

Mourning Cloak butterflies overwinter in our area in logs, etc. so they're the first ones we see in the spring. Look for them on paths where they warm up their wings.

I've often wondered what they look like in their caterpillar stage, so I finally looked them up. Pretty things. Can't say I've ever seen one though.  
Source: Wikipedia

One of the reasons I went to Heber Down today was to see if the Wild Leeks were up. They are, but only in smaller patches. Before long, they'll carpet the forest floor. They're another of the spring ephemerals so they come & go quickly.

I always crush a leaf or two to get the strong onion smell... another of my favourite spring rituals.

Leaves that overwinter in water hold their color much better than those that spend winter on the forest floor.

Heber Down is popular with dog owners. These two were friendly but well behaved. One was a very smooth-haired German breed that I can't remember the name of, and the other was a Pointer. Nice looking dogs. And a friendly owner too.

This tree must have been full of grubs or whatever before the woodpeckers got to it. The bark had been stripped and it was peppered with holes for a good 15 feet.

Maybe I'll check out Devil's Den Pond next time I'm up there. It's an intriguing name. Nature being nature, I may or may not see something of interest.

Male Wood Frogs were singing their hearts out for the ladies today. Often heard but seldom seen, they make their presence known in spring. The guy with the dogs wondered if they were wild turkeys when he heard them. More often people think their calls sound like ducks, but I could see why he might think they were turkeys.

I went into the woods to one small pond, but as I expected, no sign of them. They stop calling well before you get close. And I'm convinced they're invisible.

I did record their calls though if you're curious.

Wood Frogs calling: 
You'll probably need to crank your volume "way up" to hear them well. Don't forget to turn it down again after.
Click this link -->  

As I was leaving the woods, light clouds drifted over the sun... nature's diffuser. But I wasn't about to go back to reshoot things. C'est la vie.

How quickly I forget our wicked winter. Today was gorgeous.

- fini -

Monday, 6 April 2015

Oshawa Second Marsh
April 3rd, 2015

Spring continues at its slow pace. The marsh is on the shore of Lake Ontario so it's usually a few degrees cooler than at home... enough so that there is still quite a bit of ice in Ghost Road Bush and along the lakeshore.

Most of the marsh is shades of brown now, so moss stands out, having very little to compete with its brilliant green.

A soft green fungus that I don't remember seeing before.

Black Knot fungus on shrubs in Ghost Road Bush.
It can be harmful, they say, but not much can be done about it in natural areas.


I picked a warm day. There were a few families along the boardwalk in Ghost Road Bush, feeding the Chickadees & Nuthatches. Most families bring along some seed. Kids & adults alike enjoy feeding them out of their hands.

A rather unusual way to feed bread to the birds I thought.

Colorful fungi are scattered through Ghost Road Bush.

And some that aren't so colorful. Last year's Turkey Tail is my guess.

Apparently many fungi don't even have common names. I'm not interested in the least in learning scientific names. I just enjoy the variety.
A Hairy Woodpecker hard at work.

I didn't notice when I took the shot but I think he has an insect in his beak. His hard work paid off.

The best explanation for the flattened cattails that I often see in the marsh is that they're caused by micro-burst downdrafts of wind. Anyone have any other guesses?

A milkweed from last fall that didn't get to release its seeds.

Beaver are a rare sight in the marsh (for me at least) but I often see evidence that they're around.

A disturbing sight—two dead geese along Farewell Creek. I never approach dead animals too closely but I always wonder what the cause was. The fact that there were two seems a bit unusual.
I checked the spot where turtles hang out. None today, but there was a wooden, prehistoric alligator amongst the logs.

There must have been 20 SUVs & pick-up trucks, along with the odd car, of fishermen, parked along Colonel Sam Drive today. The guy I talked to said, "We've been waiting for a warm day." The Dogwood add a touch of color where Farewell Creek enters the lake.

Fishermen are a patient lot. Might as well be comfortable as you wait for a bite.

Colorful rocks on the lakeshore. I'd be curious to hear what a geologist would say about them.
A beat-up bird's nest from last spring. I still marvel at how a bird, just using its beak and feet, and I guess its body, can build such a perfect nest. How do they start it? With a bit of mud and a bit of grass? How long does it take to build one?

I was told that they're drawing down the water level a few inches at the marsh to improve the shoreline, etc. The valve here lets water drain from the marsh into Farewell Creek and then into the lake.

Probably my favourite color of fungus.

The filigree structure from the inside of one of last year's Wild Cucumber seed pods.

Colorful bark on a large Birch.

A window through an ice puddle to reveal some leaves from last fall.

Beautiful shades of brown & gold, with Red-Wings spaced along the cattails, proclaiming their territories. I love their trill.

One of nature's dried flower arrangements.

Soft reflections. A Great Blue Heron silently lifted off from behind the reeds and flew slowly along the creek before I could get a shot. A muskrat was just in front of me but he quickly dove when he knew I was there. Again, no shot. Actually I did get a quick shot but it wasn't worth keeping.

More Turkey Tail fungus.

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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