Showing posts from May, 2007

Something else Yellow…

The photo artist and conservationist C. Bayne of BayNiche Conservancy sent me this beautiful photo of Marsh Marigolds, thanks for viewing on my browser their web pages and slide shows, "Manifestation Superior" and "Snapping Baselines", and sending comments on how they look from here. I got all excited! In "Manifestation Superior" they invite everyone to hike, canoe, and kayak the shoreline of Lake Superior during August 4, 5, and 6 this summer, with a view to conservation - marking points in time and place with each person's observations. "Snapping Baselines" introduces the concept of photo point reference, an invaluable technique for recording changes in the landscape that is simple enough for anyone who can point a camera and click. All that is required to turn tourist photography into a powerful tool for conservation in any part of the world is a well-marked point of reference and some dedicated person or institution to archi

Ostrich Fern fiddleheads!

In the face of a very tight schedule over the next few days, I respond to the seasonal imperative of spring sprouts, and head out to Actons Corners to harvest fiddleheads. Fred checked the database and gave me instructions on how to locate a big patch of Ostrich Fern that he had spotted on 27 May 1993. As I drove a bit too far east while searching for the area he described, I saw a Bittern fly up from the ditch along Actons Corners Road, and heard Toads trilling, at 11:45. Creeping down onto the fern flats of the creek called Murphy's Drain, I walk among fountains of Ostrich Fern fronds in all stages of unfurling, rejoicing that I am not too late, and after taking some photos, settle down to picking contentedly, snapping one or two tender, green, orange-scaley knobs from each clenched fist of rhizomes, leaving the rest to grow up into feathery fronds. At home, I tipped the bag into a pot of boiling water, and after it returned to a boil, waited for a few minutes as their green

Three Little Hares

Hares have been scarce these past few years, but their cycle is finally on an upswing. We have a long-term monitoring transect along part of Bolton Road, a narrow gravel road through Jack Pine plantation and Cedar fencerows. This evening I was passing that way on my way to Meeting, and saw three Hares - the most in as many years! The first one vanished into the woods without having crossed the road. The second one, half a kilometre south on same side (west), was sitting thoughtfully, not noticing me at all. Perhaps it was in shock, having just witnessed the fate of the next Hare I saw, which was being eaten on the shoulder of the road by a gray & white raptor – male Marsh Hawk I think. I made a sketch of it on my handheld computer, not having brought my camera. When I drove past the hawk at first, I noticed it as a white bird sitting at the edge of the ditch, less than half a metre from my passing wheels. It hardly looked up from its eating. When I backed up, glancing ar

Yes, fiddleheads - but no…

not edible Ostrich Fern fiddleheads. These photographed along the track just north of the Chalet on Limerick Road, are of the genus Osmunda, (Fred said) as we finished our tour of the automobile trails in Limerick Forest in the late afternoon today, failing to find fiddleheads for supper. There were three Osmunda species pushing up fat fuzzy coiled shoots in Limerick Forest today - Royal Fern, Cinnamon Fern, and Interrupted Fern. They bear their spores beneath all of their fronds, while Ostrich Fern, and the small, non-feathery Sensitive Fern have special "fertile fronds" which curl up around their spores and hold them high and dry through the winter in narrow brown clubs. Limerick Forest has Sensitive Fern all over. We had gone first to the patch of Ostrich Fern where I painted fiddleheads last year, finding the tall brown fertile fronds and the rhizome clumps all 'bed-head' with old grey frond litter. They still hold their embryonic fiddleheads in a scaley gra

Yellow things

Today's highlights were all yellow - except the first one wasn't as yellow as we'd hoped. The turtles we spottted during the "Turtle Tally" (attended by a few adults and several teens) at the ponds of the proposed Ottawa Urban Turtle Sanctuary were not "Species at Risk" Blandings Turtles, but the more common Painted Turtles. Although it was a sunny day, the wind discouraged more turtles from emerging on the many logs to bask. The Painted Turtles do not have bright yellow throats like Blandings Turtles, but they do have nice yellow plastrons. The second yellow thing was a Cepaea snail, under an old rotting railroad tie beside the unused portion of tracks near the Airport Parkway (GPS location to come) found by one of the Turtle Tallyers. It is surprising in its unbandedness, and one Cepaea snail that Fred found, by the North Pond, about 200 metres away from mine and on the other side of the tracks, was also unbanded. In the woods on both sides of th

Shadblow in bloom, Cepaea snails loitering on old boards

Ahhh, this is better - although now you can't see how this page looked before Rory Tanner helped me retrieve the design. Fred and I and dog Marigold walked "out back" together early this evening to count the young Leopard Frogs in Elsa's Pond. There were none of the previous multitude evident - just the swirl of a large body submerging - the big Bull Frog who may have eaten them all, or at least scared them away. We checked under the old boards to see whether any Redbelly Snakes might be at home, and found many large Cepaea snails, active in their 'living rooms'. Some were loitering on top of their boards as well, as decorative as easter eggs, most yellow with spiral brown bands, and one pink. Marigold chased something that must have been a Garter Snake into the big crack in the cement slab porch of the old red house we call "Pipers House" Lilacs are starting to leaf out, Apple tree flower buds are peeking, and the Shadblow, or Saskatoon, is in blo