Friday, 29 April 2016

Oshawa Second Marsh
April 29th, 2016

Spring is playing games with us. After teasing us with some T-shirt weather not long ago, she has us back in sweaters and jackets. 

I went down to the marsh today to see how spring was progressing there. First thing I saw was this Waterleaf plant with its unique spotted leaves.

Then I spotted this tree-spirit swimming down a gnarled, decaying tree.

Moss has its time on stage now. It stands out before the forest floor takes on its coat of green.

Nature doesn't have photographers in mind when she does her planting. There are lots of tangles and jumbles. In the middle of this one is a Mayapple, just starting to open its umbrella.

But some umbrellas are open. At this early stage you can see the Mayapple's single apple, before the umbrella opens and hides it.

There were a few hundred Mayapples. I think of this stage, with partially opened umbrellas, as their crab stage — looking like crabs marching across the forest floor.

The apples are hidden with these ones.

I always keep an eye out for fungi, fresh or tattered. Some nice tones on this one.

So many of nature's plants start life in hues of red, including Fiddle-heads.

The early pagoda-stage of Horsetail — aka snake grass & puzzlegrass. It changes significantly through its life cycle, later looking much more like a horse's tail, where it got its name.

It harkens back to the age of dinosaurs, when it grew up to 30 feet tall. Lucky if it makes it to a foot or two now.
Birch bark hung out to dry.

The sign talks about sloughs. To a prairie boy like me, that's a bit of a stretch. I'll stick with a vernal pool in this case.

There are literally tens of thousands of Trout Lilies in the marsh. They're everywhere in the woods. I didn't see any flowers but they should be showing themselves soon. 

They got their name from the mottled appearance of the Brook Trout.

School kids are allowed to put up bird feeders & bird houses in the marsh. They don't last long. Occasionally the culprit is a vandal, but usually it's the squirrels.

I've only ever encountered one pair of Nuthatches in the marsh. This one made regular visits to me, to pick up a seed and then hide it in the bark of a nearby tree. 

He was very choosy about his seeds. He'd pick up and drop 3 or 4 before he found one he liked. I fed him from my hand for a bit, then set the rest of the seeds on this log.

Chickadees were looking for handouts too, as per usual.

One of nature's abstracts — grasses and last year's leaves, along with some reflections from above, in a shallow pool.

Dandelions don't get much respect from us humans, but I like their look in the early stage, as the one on the left is here. An interesting center and some tiny curlicues around the center. Pretty pretty, don't you think?

Not having our prejudices, bees are quite happy with them. Nectar is nectar.

I saw a family of deer at one point, but I didn't get a shot. They headed back in the direction I came from though, so I thought I'd look closely for them on my return, never expecting to see them again. After all, it had never happened that way before. 

But lo and behold, if I didn't see the doe and her young one when I was just about back to the car. I didn't see Papa this time.

The doe was watching me intently.

And the young one, about 20 yards from Momma, was keeping an eye on me too.

Then it put its tail up, ready to bolt.

A look over to mum, as if to say, "What are we going to do, Mum?"

Mum slipped deeper into the woods, and the young one quickly followed, effortlessly bounding over logs, white tail raised. I never tire of watching them leap and bound their way through the bush.

I'm looking forward to the greening and warming of the land. It's started, but there's a way to go yet.

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 -

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Deer & Wild Turkey Day
April 12th, 2016

A group of us went to Lynde Shores today. The day started slowly. It felt like we were only going to see ducks, geese & some chickadees. But there were Red-wings, Bluejays, Cardinals and Downy, Hairy & Red-headed woodpeckers. I didn't shoot any of them though. I just enjoyed watching them.

Then I saw a slight flash of white in the woods. It had to be a white-tailed deer, I thought. It was. 

They blend in so well with the brush. Without the flash of white, I would have missed this one for sure.

The deer here spook fairly easily, but they're a bit more accepting of humans at Lynde Shores than most places.

I took this shot, not realizing there was a second deer. I only saw the second one when I saw the shot on the screen. These two were near Chickadee Trail.

Squirrels don't get much attention when there are deer & turkeys around.

No wonder these ones are named Red Squirrels.

Three of us were hanging around the parking lot, wondering where the others were, when one of them wandered by... saying there were 6 or 8 deer up the road, a few hundred yards away.

Two of us headed there for a look-see, expecting the deer to be long gone... the usual case. But we ended up seeing a bunch. :-)

As per the Red Squirrel, it's no wonder these are named White-tailed Deer. When danger threatens, they raise their white tail, exposing their white rump, as they exit stage right. It still surprises me a little, just how large the white flash is.

Keeping an eye on photographers. We were on both sides of them. They were watching the other guy when I took this.

Tired of us, they headed into the woods.

I love seeing deer. I've been on an African safari and seen any number of exotic animals, but as wonderful as that was, I'm still thrilled seeing our local wildlife.

Wild Turkeys are common at Lynde Shores, but today was a record for me. There were 30 or so, scattered through the woods.

I was thinking today how little I really know about them, so I did some googling. They were extinct in Ontario for 100 years, so they introduced 274 of them from the US in 1984. Today there are estimated to be between 80,000 and 100,000 in the province. And they're working their way north, as far as North Bay.

I thought this was interesting:
  • Ontario traded 18 River Otters to Missouri in exchange for turkeys.
  • More came from Iowa, where Ontario had sent Canada Geese some years prior.
  • To New York went 120 Hungarian Partridge.
  • New Jersey and Vermont both provided some birds that had been given to them during turkey spawning programs.
  • And 50 moose from Algonquin Park were sent to Michigan in exchange for turkeys. 
A group of turkeys is a flock... but also a crop, gang, posse or raffle. Posse sounds cool.

Wild Turkeys don't just gobble. They also cluck, putt, purr, yelp, cutt, whine, cackle and kee-kee. I'll let you try to figure out what those sounds are. They even spit we're told.

Males can also 'drum', much like the booming of prairie chickens.

Males are toms or gobblers, females are hens... all young are poults, but young males are also known as jakes and young females as jennys.

Then there are the turkey body parts... wattles, snoods, beards. And caruncles... fleshy bumps on the head and neck. The bright red appendages on their necks are wattles. They're fleshy and blood-filled, so they can change color, depending if they're alarmed, in mating season, etc.

The snood is the fleshy thing hanging over their beaks. It can change color too. To me, turkeys look like birds designed by a committee.

Though I think turkeys have gorgeous feather coloring, moreso because of their iridescence, no one can change my mind about their faces... faces only a mother could love.

Hens are a little less ugly, but not by much. They remind me of Vultures.
We all want the toms to spread their tails so we can see their fanned tail feathers. They're chocolate brown in this species. Their wattles add color... bright red when filled with blood. They can be pink or white or red or blue though.

The toms hope their puffed chests & fanned tails will impress the females.

The beards that hang down from their chest are hairlike, thin feathers according to the experts. Males have the beards but one reference said some females do too.

Whitish wattle.

They really are weird looking. Pink wattle.

Another red wattle.

Cool snood.

Sorry, but you're ugly.

Mostly they walk or run, but they can fly. At night they roost in trees. Not something most of us will ever see.

Pretty nice necklace. Nice beard too.

'Twas a great day.

- fini -

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