Saturday, June 30, 2012

Butterfly Season

We've noticed a lot of butterflies this year, arriving early, apparently due to the mild winter. There've been a lot of varieties too, but the swallowtails arrived as usual in early June. We saw them several times, fluttering from flower to flower - this one looking a little tattered.

The swallowtail visited these bright red pinks in the scree garden, and just kept coming back until I think it had sampled every blossom. Even so, it was hard to ever get a clean picture, as it fluttered so fast from blossom to blossom.

If you look closely at these two pictures you can actually see the proboscis, a thin black drinking straw in effect, more than an inch long. You could watch the swallowtail plunge this down into each blossom quite noticeably, then pull it out and move on to the next.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Canoeing the Beaver

Boy, over two weeks has flown by; just been too busy to get back to this - being retired is hard work! Anyway, we canoed a stretch of the Beaver River 2 or 3 weeks back, a gentle stretch partly through a swamp. Started at the Epping sideroad, in the swamp, and ended at the village of Heathcote (which has a handy bakery).

It was an interesting trip, though short and gentle. Easy drifting along in the morning sun. Only one short bend of faster water. Near the start you could actually canoe in among the trees if you wanted too - all silver and red maples.

For one stretch there was about a foot high bank along the edge, and for 100 yards or more, this was all densely populated with frogs. Most, if not all of these, are leopard frogs, and they were certainly plentiful!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fawn Birthing Season

Three times in the last week I've seen a very young fawn nearby.

Once the dog barked more fiercely than normal. I stepped outside in time to see the young fawn dash across our front yard while the dog tugged at the end of the leash. It may have been chasing its mother, but I wasn't fast enough to see her.

The second time, out for a walk with the dog, we spotted the doe in a patch of meadow. When she saw the dog, she jumped sideways into the woods rather than running away. We walked slowly on and I spotted her standing still just inside the trees - at her feet was the young fawn, probably the same one that ran across our front yard.

Then while out working on one of the Bruce Trail properties, we noticed a patch of tall grass depressed where a deer had bedded down. I was tying some flagging tape on a branch when a fawn burst out of the grass not ten feet away and took off through the woods.

Nice to see fawns in June; on the other hand, the deer have been eating the hostas in the garden -not good!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer is Here

For me, summer always arrives when the daisies come into bloom. There are just a few yet, but they're beginning to sprinkle the meadow with their white flowers. A very common flower, but one that marks the seasons.

What otherwise appears as a green grassy meadow, for a few weeks in June and July is a motley collection of white, pink, orange, and especially red as a whole series of meadow flowers come out into bloom.

The Yellow Hawkweed or King Devil is a widespread weed, but in our meadow it's a pretty yellow flower that opens in the sun and closes again at night, brightening the meadow each day with thousands of yellow spots.

My fevourite is the other hawkweed, the Devil's Paintbrush, one of the brightest weeds or flowers of the summer.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wodehouse Marsh

I've visited Wodehouse Marsh many times over the years; it's one of my favourite birding spots nearby. With a huge marsh area, a beaver dam, and Wodehouse Creek wandering through the middle, it's very diverse habitat. You can walk out on a drier peninsula between the two sides of the wetland, and you're sure to see some interesting birds.

I've always enjoyed watching the large beaver pond; the noise from the fall of water over the dam greets you as soon as you get out of the car. This time it looked like the beavers had actively been raising the height of the dam, so I went to investigate.

You could follow the creek up through the willows and grass, avoiding the ankle-twisting logs and branches that didn't quite make it into the structure of the dam, and climb right up close. The dam has certainly increased in height, backing up a large pond of open water.

Eventually I was able to climb right up on top of the dam, and look past it. Quite a feat of engineering for a few busy rodents!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

The World has Turned Green!

Over the last 3 weeks the world has turned totally green, a rich bright spring green. More computer hassles have left me unable to post things for awhile, but hopefully I'm back to normal now, with lots to share. Ferns in spring are one of my favourites, especially when the leaves are just uncurling - all ferns uncurl as fiddleheads like these when they first emerge.

These are the leaves of a northern holly fern just unfolding as fiddleheads, found along the limestone rocks of the Niagara Escarpment.

The maidenhair fern, a beautiful delicate fern found in the deep deciduous woods, with an unusual fan-shaped leaf that doesn't really look like a fern at all.

Finally, a single frond of an ostrich fern after it has uncurled; note the leaflets getting smaller all the way to the bottom of the stem. This is the only species that is actually ok to eat as fiddleheads.