Saturday, July 30, 2016

Day Lilies

A busy holiday weekend here with visiting grandchildren, but here are a few photos of some Day Lilies currently in bloom.

Friday, July 29, 2016


For the first time in my life, last week I had a good look at a Katydid!  I've probably heard them, and I've certainly heard about them, but I've never seen one to my recollection.
I saw it first as a big bug fluttering into the grass and disappearing, just a few feet away - but I saw where it landed and I had my camera in hand, so I crept close and there it was, pretty well exactly the same colour as the grass.

I had to dig out the insect book, and check on-line, but I quickly figured out it was a Katydid by it's appearance, about 2" long, a bit like a green grasshopper.

The flat space on the top behind its head is one obvious characteristic, but there are over 6000 species!  They are members of the Cricket Family, Tettigoniidae, and this one appears to be a member of the Bush Katydid group.

Luckily I had my macro lens on, having been photographing flowers in the garden, and I had a close look at the fabric of its wings - amazing!

There I was crawling around on the ground, with my head right down in the grass, following this Katydid.  I'm so glad I've finally seen one, even if it does look a bit like a monster from this viewpoint!

I think I'm being hacked!

Over the past week or so, I've had between 500 and 1300 'pageviews' most days, and most of these come from Russia.  Typically I get fewer than 300 visits, and mostly from the U.S. and Canada.  I'm thinking that a computer in Russia must be set up to explore the internet, linking into sites it finds.  I think I'll just ignore it.  Anyone else have such visits?

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sunset in the East

Every now and then we get one of these weird sunsets in the east!  It happens when the conditions for a sunset are there (setting sun and clouds), but there are no clouds in the west.  The result may not be as dramatic as a bright western sunset, but it`s nice to see.  It happened again just last week.

It started out with what I thought was a really interesting evening sky.  It just smelled like a sunset might be coming, so I stayed out on the back deck to watch..

Over half an hour there were some interesting clouds; this line was the start of it.

That line of clouds broke up a little, and shifted position as it drifted to the east.

Soon, it was turning a faint pink.

And then a more dramatic pink!  This is looking pretty well straight to the east.

After that picture, I turned around and for a brief second thought maybe we did get some western sunset, but but it was a reflection in the kitchen window!.

It never got to brilliant colours, but I find these `sunsets in the east fascinating.

In fact, it extended all the way from east of us overhead to south of us, but my camera wasn`t wide angle enough to capture it.  I must try and remember that my cellphone can take panorama shots; it would have been perfect here.

A couple of you commented on the heat here, and I have to admit for those of you who live in Texas or Florida, it is probably almost cool.  But when it hits 30°C (which is only 86°F), I begin to feel it, especially if it`s humid.  I guess it`s what the body gets used to!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2016


It's the colourful season in the garden, highlighted by the Day Lilies, but added to by a lot of other flowers in bloom.  For a month in the middle of the summer, it's just stunning.

The bright orange Day Lily on the right here is 'Saugeen Sunrise', one of our favourites, bred locally at Artemesia Day Lilies.  Someone said the other day that there are 80,000 varieties of Day Lilies, with amateur breeders by the thousands registering new varieties.

Here are other Day Lilies in front, and Bear's Breeches in the back, a striking vertical blossom with larges leaves that are sharp as thistles.

But among the flowers adding colour right now, the bright red Crocosmia is one of my favourites.  It has just burst into bloom, and adds bright flashes of colour wherever it grows.

I particularly like how it peeks through the decorative cedar rail fence I built as a backstop for the garden.  You can scarcely see the fence from the front anymore, the plants hide it so much, but behind it, both this beautiful purple Clematis and the Crocosmia show off their blooms unimpeded by all the other flowers.

It peeks over and through the fence, making this a time I like the looks of the garden from the path behind the fence.

It's been a busy and hot week, with lots of work getting done.  I've been working for 15 minutes and then taking 20 minute breaks in the heat, to finish a small water feature in our yard that I started far too long ago!  And we've had a team of 3 students out working on trails, building a bridge and fixing deep ruts and mudholes left by ATVs, so far very successfully I might add.  Today I walked for 3 hours ground-checking a large trail map.  Then I collapsed in a comfy chair with a large glass of water.  I think I'm almost satisfied!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Paddling the Beaver River

We managed a nice paddle down the upstream stretch of the Beaver River last week, the stretch that's often plagued with log jams, and we managed it without once getting out of the canoe.  Nearly a 3 hour paddle, a lot of it in the hot sun, I was exhausted when we finished, but we saw lots of wildlife, including several Great Blue Herons and several Great Egrets as well.

Driving to drop a car at the finish point the water in the river looked very low, as low as I've ever seen it.  But the river looked beautiful when we started at Access Point 1, and we were hopeful of lots of shade.  There is a designated canoe route here, with four different public access points.

We started to run into the log jams immediately.  Most of them were like this, extending out from one shore where logs get piled up, but here leaving a gap on the left side.  We slid by easily.

But sometimes the river looked like this, apparently blocked all the way across.  Never-the-less, as we got close we were able to find a way through.  There's actually a 6 foot gap on the right side here, though some of the gaps were only canoe width.

At other times the entire river appeared to be blocked by assorted logs.  But somehow we wiggled through, twice shipping our paddles and pulling ourselves through by the branches, but we avoided any muddy portages!

We saw a lot of wildlife compared to other paddles I remember, though the only evidence I captured was these raccoon tracks in the mud at the edge of the river.  We did see a real live Raccoon though, and we also saw a Muskrat or Beaver disappear into the grass by the bank.

By the time we'd gone halfway, there were no more log jams, and we just paddled along.  The river opened out, and the shade disappeared.  We got hotter and hotter.

There was lots of evidence of higher water levels.  This part of the river flows through a huge soft maple swamp, and the entire area floods in the spring - you could paddle among the trees!  The bark knocked off this tree is evidence of ice damage, at least 8 feet above current water levels.

We passed what I think of as the Cormorant tree, since I've seen the birds here on previous paddles.  We never did get a picture of a Great Blue Heron; they flew as soon as they spotted us, which was inevitably before I spotted them.  A greyish-blue sitting on a log, they were hard to spot.

Then we started seeing the Egrets, I think 7 or 8 all together.  They were much easier to spot in the distance, bright white against the trees, though they usually flew before I got closer than this..

Luckily I spotted this one early, put my paddle down and got my camera out and ready.  I have my fellow paddler trained to just keep us moving when I'm taking pictures.  And surprisingly, this one just sat there - can you see it?

This is as close as I was expecting to get.

But with this bird I was lucky, and got one really good picture!

Shortly thereafter we came to the new Epping bridge at Access Point 2, and heaved a big sigh of relief.  Out of the sun and off to the village for a late morning coffee!

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Changing Seasons

My image of the changing seasons over the summer is composed of several things, the colour in the garden, the maturing crops in the fields, and the changing species that dominate our meadow.  The big signal that we're getting into late summer is the spreading yellow of the Goldenrods which is now just starting.

If there's a dominant colour in the meadow right now, it's the white of the Queen Anne's Lace or Wild Carrot.

Parts of our meadow are looking white indeed.

Bird's Foot Trefoil, a widely escaped pasture and forage plant, brightens parts of our meadow, many roadsides, and a few front lawns with its yellow pea-like flowers.

If you wonder how it got its "Bird's Foot" name, this is its seed pod, looking indeed like a big bird's foot.

I have to go out in the early morning to catch the Yellow Goat's Beard in bloom.  It opens in the morning sun, always turning to face the sun, and closes again by noon.  I have the impression that these blooms are smaller than usual, due to the dry summer we're having (and our sterile clay soil).

It's seed head is like a giant Dandelion.

The Evening Primrose is sharing its yellow flowers.  I once took a botany course where we had to pick a wild plant and grow it from seeds under different experimental conditions.  I chose Evening Primrose and gathered the seeds down in the floodplain of the Thames River in London, Ontario, where I went to university.  It was more about learning experimental design than about the plant!

I even found a Sow Thistle in bloom, just outside the front door.  How it escaped my attention when I was weeding I don't know.

 Along the driveway I spotted this Bush Clover, an unusual very dark purple colour, a plant I don't actually remember seeing before

One that Idon't really like is the Spotted Knapweed, which is pretty, but is a vigorous weed, with tough wiry stems that are hard to walk through.  It often forms dense patches along the trail and is somewhat invasive.

I wonder if you'll recognize this one.  One of our most common burs, those pesky small balls of stick-ums that grab your clothes in the fall, this is the flower of the Common Burdock, actually very pretty when its in flower.

But this one is the one that made me think of the changing seasons, one of the goldenrods.  By mid-August our meadow will be a sea of yellow as these all flower, and it means that summer is coming to an end.  I'm never too happy to see the first goldenrod bloom!

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