Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fungi in the woods

On my walk through the woods I described in yesterday's post, I encountered several interesting fungi, and got decent pictures of a few of them.

At first glance I thought these were Turkey Tail mushrooms, but looking through the Audubon Guide, I think they're more likely the Crowded Parchment fungi.

They were cascading all the way down this old stump in the woods.

The colouring fit perfectly with the fall weather.

These ones were over my head on another tree, and I never did identify them, though I suspect they are one of the Oyster Mushrooms.

And in the farthest corner of the woods I encountered this old friend, the stump of a giant Sugar Maple that split and fell in 3 different directions in the forest.  Artist's Conk bracket fungi have been growing on it for several years now.

Some of them are older and are beginning to deteriorate, but the one on the left here was huge - at least 2 feet across, and 15" deep.

But there are still new ones growing, with the white underneath that I would draw a picture on if I found a large one as a child exploring the woods.

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Monday, October 20, 2014

A Walk in the Woods

I'm a volunteer Land Steward for the Bruce Trail Conservancy, which means that I go and wander through a property the Conservancy owns 2 or 3 times a year to be sure that everything is ok, and build up our knowledge of the plants and wildlife there.  I 'steward' the Harshman and Jordan Springs properties, so last week I went to do my annual fall inspection.

This is just one stretch of the Bruce Trail through the property (marked by the white blazes).  This property also has some pine plantations and old fields, but the part I love (and where the trail goes) is the deciduous forest.

Stepping into the forest beyond the White Pine plantation (in the background), it was like entering a golden world, bright yellow Sugar Maple leaves on all sides.  This giant old maple log fell about 3 years ago, right across the trail.

The trail here is simply one of the nicest places to go for a walk in the woods that I know of.  Walking through the woods last week I thought to myself 'Why isn't everyone who lives around here out for a walk?'.  It's the single nicest week of the year in the woods.

This part of the woods was used for maple syrup production many years ago, but you wouldn't even recognize this old woods road unless you knew what you were looking for.

At one point the trail goes almost under a youngish Beech tree, and I knelt down to get a picture looking upwards.  A magical canopy.

Heading on through the woods you come to a very small stand of huge 'old growth' Sugar Maples.  Here billions of maple seedlings border the trail, and you can see the base of some big old trees in the distance.

This is my favourite, a Sugar Maple with two giant arms reaching out to embrace whoever cares to pass by.

I've explored woodlots all over southern Ontario - I wrote a book on Woodlot Management.  And I have never seen taller old Sugar Maples than these ones.  Lots of big open crown maples along fencerows have much fatter trunks - but only 4-6 feet high before they branch.  This one rises nearly 60 feet perfectly straight before the first branch.  Truly one of the giants of the forest.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Raindrops

As a photographer, I'm always watching for those sunny days to get the best lighting for pictures.  But then I realized that I'm giving you entirely the wrong impression of our changing seasons - because lots of days in the fall especially are grey and rainy.  In fact we're just finished 6 days of rain in a row.  Frustrating when you're trying to get the fall chores done and get out and take pictures too.

So in search of a more honest portrayal of seasons, here are some raindrops!  Most of these are White Ash leaves right here at home.

I've noticed that the raindrops seem to sit and stay when the leaf is upside down, on the back of the leaf, but they seem to run off on the front of the leaves.

This is a deeply indented Silver Maple leaf, lying on our patio, the dark grey concrete as a background.

I just thought these pictures represented so well what the last few days have been like.

We've had so much rain that we even have streams running where I've never seen them before.  It reminds me of the spring run-off in April.

Hope you appreciate my more balanced portrayal of the seasons!!!  (Today was sunny, and I got a lot of outdoor work done for a change).

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Back to the Apple Orchard

When our grandson and his parents came up for Thanksgiving, we headed out to a nearby orchard, 'The Farmer's Pantry', where we found a few hundred other folks and their young children!  This orchard has a store, a pick-your-own operation, a petting zoo, and a pumpkin patch among other attractions.  We had a great time, mainly picking a big bag of apples for them to take home.

The early varieties are now completely picked, and we had to walk a long distance down the rows to pick our own, but in the commercial side of the orchard with the harvest about 2/3 done, these trees were as yet unharvested.

 The trees were absolutely laden with fruit.

It was tempting to fill up here, but we stuck by the rules and only picked in the public area.  This year we chose Courtlands and Ida Reds to pick and take home.

The commercial side of the orchard is a very different story.  These apple boxes have all been picked by the crew of pickers, and will be shipped off for apple sauce or apple pie filling.

The rows of picked trees stretched out as far as the eye could see - 125 acres all together, providing 4.5 million pounds of apples.  In fact I talked to the owner one day when it wasn't busy, and she said that they just run the pick-your-own and public attraction part of the farm "for fun", because she enjoys meeting the customers and families.  The real financial operation is the commercial one.

There was also a pumpkin patch, somewhat picked over by now, but bright on the sunny Sunday.

And of course the store, with about a dozen varieties for sale at this stage (five were available for pick-your-own).  There's quite a price differential between the popular new varieties like Honey Crisp and Ambrosia and the older ones like Macs and Melbas.  It made for a great Thanksgiving Sunday afternoon.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Looking Through My Windows

I was sitting comfortably in the living room (in the log cabin portion of our house that we built ourselves when I looked up and noticed the beautiful colour out each of the windows in front of me.  It was as if the glow of golden leaves outside was seeping right into the room.  So I got some pictures - through the windows.

But first, a reflection of the view, the first time I've ever tried to photograph a reflection in glass - in this case on the front of a large framed painting (of Beech leaves in the fall).

I certainly didn't avoid the blurriness in this one, but the entire thing is a reflection off a painting.  The same window as the next photo, but a different view because of the angle of the reflection.

We've got windows on three sides of this room, so the light shines in beautifully anytime.  The first one looks northwest toward the small Birch tree out front, now all yellow.

This window view captures the young White Pine tree and Sumachs across our lane, and the trees across the street.

This, looking straight west, shows mostly trees on the property across the street.  There's a screen in the left window here, which doesn't help.  We have hawk silhouettes on several windows to deter the birds from trying to fly through the house!

Here I'm looking south out over our yard, toward the old stone fencerow; the green tree on the right is a very old apple tree which never really turns colour, but just loses its leaves while they're still green.

And a slightly different angle looking south shows the big boulder they dug up when digging our foundation; it's a focal point for a ring of Brown-eyed Susans and Coneflowers in August/September.

I'm disappointed in the blurriness of these photos, but it was fun to capture the actual views I see out the windows, sitting reading my book and thinking how lucky we are to live here!

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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Golden Skies

I am absolutely mesmerized by the magical golden light when you step inside a woodlot around here this week.  The skies are light grey above, but the canopy is gold, and by the time that filtered light reaches you, it's like a golden sky.

I stepped into the woods behind our neighbour's house, and this was the picture that greeted me.  The light was absolutely magical.

Looking up, the entire canopy was yellow with a hint of orange, and tiny bits of leftover green, and the light filtering down made it feel like you were under a golden sky.  I took dozens of pictures!



I found it a challenge getting the colour and lighting correct with these pictures, and had to adjust the aperture back and forth to get what I wanted.  These are as close to what I was actually seeing as I can get.

Even under foot it was largely gold.

And the golden light was the same at every woodlot I've stepped into.  This was a 'Slowpoke Walk' on the Bruce Trail yesterday.  I'll have more pictures to share of that.

This was the woodlot down at the end of our road where I often go snowshoeing in the winter.  The woods road beckons!

This was along the Bruce Trail on the property where I'm the volunteer Land Steward.  I went to check things out there today.

And this was a road on the way back from picking up the dog at her new sitter's place yesterday.

I now have enough pictures of fall colours to keep posting til about Christmas!  Hope you'll keep coming back!  This year the colours just seem more spectacular than ever, and I can't stop taking more pictures.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Fall Fences

I continue to try and find photos that show the fall colours in the landscape here in the valley.  When I'm lucky, I do find some good views, and a few of them also feature fences of various sorts.  Here are a few more results of chasing landscape photos in the fall.

I really like this one, which is the old Sligo schoolhouse from over 100 years ago, a short distance up the road from us.  A beautiful stone building that's been turned into a residence.

Still trying to find that classic view of a red barn framed by a nice old tree in the foreground, I came across this shot yesterday.  I like how this fence has fence posts so frequently, most of the thinner ones presumably added later to help keep it up!

And this was the view of Old Baldy Sunday, when we had a perfect fall day.  It really was this bright and beautiful!

 Over the weekend we had a hard frost, and it was as if all the remaining trees turned golden-orange.  This shot looks over an alpaca pasture divided into several pens by diagonal fences.

But just in case you get the impression we always have bright colours and nice skies, I thought I'd better add a couple of more ordinary pictures.  This was before the weekend and the frost, when a lot of trees were still half green.

And these are some of the more typical skies we've had recently, a lot of dark grey clouds and a lot of rain.  But another interesting fence!

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