Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Brush Pile Sit Spot

In Edwin Way Teale’s book “A Naturalist Buys an Old Farm,” he writes of sitting in a brush pile. The book was written in 1974 and I read it in 2007. Since 2007 I have been thinking of trying to do the same experiment of making a brush pile with space inside to sit and observe nature around me. 

I am not sure how old the idea of a “sit spot” has been around but I had heard about  using a special spot to sit and observe years before and had done it almost every day for a few months. With all that as background, I decided during late winter this year to make a brush pile for my sit spot and to sit at least 10 minutes for starters on as many days as possible.

I started piling brush when there was still snow on the ground by picking up loose branches in the area near the west end of the property. Gradually the pile got larger and larger by only adding a few branches each day. I put the pile next to some deer trails with hopes of someday being in the pile as deer went by. No luck so far but then I have been going fairly late in the day and only spending 10 minutes so I am not expecting much yet. Sometime later I want to spend a few hours in the spot starting before sunrise. That should be more rewarding. Meanwhile, following are a few observations from the brush pile:

No records for the first two sits . . .

Sit 3: Mar. 30, 2017
Turkey just called
Duck calling from being disturbed 5 min ago at willows
Flicker calling 
Train & car noises in background 
Also Crows in background
Hands cold!

Sit 4: 9:20 Apr. 2
far away Crows
moths fluttering 
traffic noise - cars, jet
Cardinal, Song Sparrow, Woodpecker 
Red-bellied Woodpecker, Flicker calling
Some grasses &moss green - all else grey, Brown
Sunshine & blue sky 

Sit 5 - Apr. 3 - 9:10
Crows & Song Sparrow in background
(+ Jet & car traffic)
Blue Jay's call 
unidentified bird chips 
Red-winged Blackbirds calling &  Cardinals 
Robins chatting 
Sun breaking through catching spider's Web
(jets & traffic noises never stopped)

Sit 6: Apr. 5, 9:00 a.m.
Crows close  by
Mourning Dove, Robins call 
(Usual traffic noises & jets)
Blue Jays scream 
short, high chips - Chickadees?
scattered clouds with sunshine 
Cardinal calling 

Sit 7: Apr 9: 9:25 a.m.
Wood duck alarm
Crow cawing 
Cardinal & Song Sparrow calling
(traffic noises)
Red-bellied Woodpecker call 
Starlings chatter 
Robin chirps 
Red-winged Blackbirds 
(Usual jet crossing overhead)
unidentified chirps

Sit 8: 9:25: Apr.10:+17° 
(loud train & traffic noises)
(oh yes-jet too)
wind in trees
Flicker, Red -wing Blackbirds 
Geese flying over
Song Sparrow calling
Robin chirping & singing 
Crow cawing 
more wind noise than usual

Sit 9: Apr.12 - 9:07 a.m.
Cloudy +4 (+1)
Goose overhead 
Flicker, Crows, Song Sparrows 
Dog barking in far distance 
(Traffic & Jet)
 Red-winged Blackbirds 
(Train horn, traffic noise > loud)
unidentified chirps 

Sit 10: Apr.14 9:17 a.m.
Sun +7 
Cdn Goose overhead 
Red-winged Blackbirds 
(traffic, jet)
seed fluff floating by 
Song Sparrow 
Mourning Dove 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 

Looking Out

Sit 11: Apr 16-9:20
Cloudy +18
Cardinal, Song Sparrow 
(Traffic, jet noises)
American Toad trilling 
Field Sparrow 
Red-winged Blackbirds 
Horsetail coming up 
Leaves on Honeysuckle growing
Apple tree leaves just starting 
Garlic Mustard shooting up taller 

Sit 12: Apr 17- 9:25
clear +8
Mourning Dove, Crows, Song Sparrow 
Red-bellied Woodpecker 
(Traffic, jet)
Field Sparrow 
Buzzing Fly
fast chirping - lower than F.Sparrow 
Red-winged Blackbirds 
Mallard flying over 

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Some Early Flowers

            From the Royal Botanical Gardens Arboretum Shrub Collection, here are two Witch Hazel cultivars. Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena' is the red-orange flowered shrub in the background with a close up photo of one flower inserted. Hamamelis x intermedia 'Pallida' is the pale yellow flowering shrub in the foreground. They are two of the thirteen Witch Hazel cultivars currently blooming in the arboretum.

            Also from the Royal Botanical Gardens but from the wilder part of the Hendrie Valley, here is my annual photo of the early blooming Skunk Cabbage. I liked how the sunlight lit up the interior of the spathe on this specimen. The flowers are the little bits on the golfball sized part in the bottom middle of the spathe.

            OK, the last photo is not of a "flower," but the lichens are getting ready to spread their spores, I think. Anyway, they are beautiful in their own way. Yes it is a close up of a very small part of a dead willow branch.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Moving Onward

            A fair amount of action since the last post. I guess the most important was a blood pressure spike (209/85) that put me in an ambulance to get checked out in the local emergency department. By the time I got to the hospital my blood pressure had dropped a fair bit and I decided that I was not going to die anytime soon and that there were way too many sick people in the halls waiting for attention so I walked out of the hospital and got Fleur-Ange to phone for a Doctor's appointment. I was seen the next day and have gone back on blood pressure medication. I was off for 2 or 3 years due to diet changes suggested by the naturopath but had been on blood pressure meds for over 30 years before that so was happy to have been off for a couple of years this late in the season of my life.
Blood pressure is back to normal readings.

            I missed a couple of long runs due to the blood pressure scare and also due to a nasty cold and being dizzy for the first week after the new meds but did my walk/run routine for 20 k yesterday so I think I can still do the 30 k race in March unless something else nasty shows up.

            We seem to shift from warm to cool almost every day but over all had a warmer than usual January, and February forecasts do not look too cold either. I suppose the cold will come in March when the long run is happening.

            We got freezing rain after some snow this morning and as afternoon arrives we are getting snow again.

            The Skunk Cabbage is adding size and looking like it will bloom sometime soon but so far the spathe is closed up tight.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Fresh Snow

            We got about 10 cm of fresh snow last night to make the world look white and clean again!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

First Post of 2017

            Every day I think, "I am going to write on my blog." At the end of the day, I am tired and on my way to bed and I remember that, again, I did not write on my blog. So it goes.

            OK, a few thought on the first days of 2017:

            I saw 5 White-tailed deer on January 1, three on the 2nd, and our neighbour saw 8 hanging around our cars on the 5th day. 

            I have worked on my French lessons 5 days out of 7 so far but hope to do better sometime soon.

            We have run out of water for the 5th time since the end of September. Our well was only dug down 55 feet and that appears to not be deep enough for dry years. That being said, we have never had to buy water to dump into the well so many time in a row before.

            I did my usual Friday Flower Walk yesterday. I think I saw over 50 flowers but they were all of one species:

Common Groundsel
Séneçon vulgaire
(Senecio vulgaris)
The name "Groundsel" comes from an Anglo-Saxon term that means "ground-swallower." Given that it is one of a very few plants that can bloom and go to seed at temperatures below 0 degrees Celcius and that it can produce many, many seeds the name seems appropriate!

            We have had some beautiful sunrises during the last few days. Here is one of them: