Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Earthworm in January

This is the first time in my life that I have seen an earthworm in January.

This Raspberry has fresh leaves.

But this plant rosette is more normal although it should be buried under the snow. (I think it is a Goldenrod of some sort as Canada Goldenrods and Tall Goldenrods both grow near where I found this rosette.)

Monday, January 30, 2006

Rainy Sunday

Églantine's first photo tells the story of the day.

Églantine, being Églantine, found a way to make the day more delightful!

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Another Ski Day

Sunrise yesterday found us on the ski bus headed north. The sun was warmly rising over the city.

We have no snow left at home, but there were drifts across the trails at Highland Nordic near Duntroon, Ontario.

Sharp eyed Églantine saw these lichens growing on the side of a tree. I could not see them, at first, even when she pointed them out. She did the photography for these as I seemed to be semi blind from the bright snow.

Later, I did find these tracks in the snow that appealed to my sense of design. I am not sure what animal made the tracks. Églantine suggested a mouse. I was thinking of something larger like a chipmunk that had come out early. Any ideas?

Friday, January 27, 2006

Frosty Friday

There was lots of frost on the trees, shrubs, and grasses this morning.

Later in the day the temperature went above freezing. Below is a photo of a gall on an Eastern Redcedar (aka Eastern Juniper, Red Juniper, or Juniperus virginiana). It is part of a Rust cycle that affects Apple trees so we have to cut off and destroy the gall before spring if we want to avoid losing our wild apples.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Chilly Again

It was a crisp, cold morning again this morning even though the forecast is for above normal temperatures again tomorrow. I have just about given up on winter.

Do you see Jupiter in the sky behind the tree branches? (It's right above the "r" in January.) It's a photo of sunrise, Jupiter-rise, and moonrise.

Calla is ready to walk anytime that I am. I've not been able to use my snowshoes since the middle of December.

Here is a winter bud of a Red Pine growing along one of our trails. The sun was catching it just right I think.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

January 23 - A Darker Day

We had a bit of sun and a lot of cloud today. The light colours of the seed "keys" of an Ashleaf Maple (aka Box-elder, Manatoba Maple, Acer negundo) caught my eye this morning.

On the way out to walk our dog, Calla, I spotted a dog shape in the ice of a puddle.

During the afternoon walk, Calla grabbed this Common Shrew and killed it before I knew what she was doing.

Because I was reading the chapter on "Berries Preserved" in Bernd Heinrich's Winter World for the Whorled Leaves blog, I was looking to see what berries were left on the property. The only shrub with lots of berries left was the Highbush Cranberry Viburnum trilobum. If you have ever tasted one, you will know why they are still on the shrub.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A Colour Filled Day

I started the day with a view of Jupiter. At the time I photographed it, I did not realize what it was. I had to look it up later. Tomorrow, if it's clear, I'll try to see the moons of Jupiter but I have my doubts about getting a photograph.

The dawn came with great colours this morning.

During our afternoon walk, we walked through our west ravine and I photographed a Hairy Woodpecker.

Next I had a look at the cattails. I stood in the middle of the shallow icy stream to get this view.

Meanwhile, Églantine took this great photo of moss growing over some shelf fungi that were growing on a tree.

January Wild Flower Walk

Every year near the end of January or beginning of February I lead a wild flower walk. The aim really is not to find wild flowers in bloom but to identify dried bits of stems, leaves, and fruit as well as looking for signs of next year’s new growth. For the last few years, my partner Églantine has been co-leader. This year, we were joined by 18 other people who were curious about what we all could find and identify. In addition to the many plants that we were able to identify by species or genus, we also found two species in bloom.

Our first blooming species was Common Groundsel (Senecio vulgaris). It was no surprise as I have found this plant blooming in every month of the year. It does not happen every year but if one looks carefully, one may find it blooming at unexpected times and places.

This single blossoming stem on a Pussy Willow shrub (Salix discolor) was the other bloom of the day. I have never found this shrub in bloom before March before and the average date for first blooms in our area is mid April so this one was really out of season.

Although we were out looking for flowers, a few birds also caught our attention. There was a Bald Eagle flying over the open Hamilton Harbour. (Most years, one can find iceboats on the harbour at this time of year.) The eagle caught us by surprise and no one got a photo. On the other hand, Églantine caught this Double-crested Cormorant just emerging from an unsuccessful fishing dive.

At this time of year, the cormorants should be on the Atlantic coast or near the Gulf coast i.e. Texas, Louisiana Mississippi, Alabama, or Florida.

I managed to get a photo of a juvenile Black-crowned Night-Heron. It too should be with the cormorants on the Atlantic or Gulf coasts now. With not only the Hamilton Harbour, at the tip of Lake Ontario, but also the local marsh being water instead of ice-filled I suspect that there are other birds that did not bother to go south this year.

This last bird photo was taken by Églantine. She was intrigued by the number and arrangement of Canadian Geese in the field. We have Canadian Geese that stay the winter all the time now regardless of snow or cold but obviously they have easy pickings without snow right now.

Églantine just informed me that she has not seen iceboats and didn't know what they looked like. Somewhere, among hundreds and hundreds of mixed slides, I have some photos but it's a lot easier, if you want to see a photo, to put "iceboat" into the Google image search. I found over 6000 hits with many photos better than mine there.

Friday, January 20, 2006

High Temperatures

The record high temperature for January 20 at the Hamilton airport was 10 C (50 F). At 5:00 a.m. this morning it was already 8 C (46 F). When I checked the last 24 hours, I found that it had been up to 8 C at 3:00 a.m. By noon it was up to 11 C (52 F)for a new record for the day.

Below is yesterday's sunrise photo. It was -2 C (28 F)yesterday morning with the temperature rising slowly all day and all night.

This morning the sky went from black to grey with no colour in between but the sun did shine off and on during the morning. Below is a photo of the melting ice from our east pond.

Other discoveries of the day...

a rich, brown, old, shelf fungus,

a black raspberry leaf that is going to freeze,

and a tiny, 1 mm (0.04 in.), brown spider on the wall. Why was it not frozen?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Weather Woes

The weather continues to cause problems. Temperatures were below freezing yesterday morning and it was snowing a bit. Temperatures went up and we had an hour or so of freezing rain and icy roads. Temperatures went up more during the night and we had rain and wet, icy roads and accidents. (We drove slowly and carefully and stayed on the road.)

Today temperatures went the other direction. We started above freezing and the temperatures slowly dropped during the day. The rain turned to snow and started to freeze again.

Long range forecast: More yo-yo temperatures. Sigh! Will the raspberries canes have ice or snow or rain or be dry?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006


I was "tagged" a few days ago by Rurality and had to think a bit about doing this project but, in the end, I did it.

First the definition, as I was not sure what a "meme" was either....

"Meme (pron. meem): A contagious information pattern that replicates by parasitically infecting human minds and altering their behavior, causing them to propagate the pattern. (Term coined by Dawkins, by analogy with "gene".) Individual slogans, catch-phrases, melodies, icons, inventions, and fashions are typical memes. An idea or information pattern is not a meme until it causes someone to replicate it, to repeat it to someone else. All transmitted knowledge is memetic." - Glenn Grant

Four jobs you've had in your life:
Elementary School Teacher
Child Care Worker for Emotionally Disturbed Children
YMCA Gym Instructor
Swimming pool Life Guard and Maintaince Person

Four movies you could watch over and over:
Lord of the Rings DVD
Cirque Du Soleil DVD's
Winged Migration DVD

Four places you've lived:
Hamilton & Rural Ontario, Canada
London, England
Elkhart, Indiana
Rural Kansas

Four TV shows you love to watch:
I watched the news, once, a few years ago, I don't really remember when . . . .

Four places you've been on vacation:
Hiker's Fellowship hikes in Lake District, Wales, & Scotland
Art Museums of London, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice
Skiing in Italian Dolomites
Outback cross country bus and camping tour of Australia

Four websites you visit daily:
Local Weather
Space Weather.com
Bloglines (about 40 blogs including yours)
Flicker.com contacts - as time permints or not

Four of your favorite foods:

Four places you'd rather be:
How about 4 places I'd like to visit? I like where I am!

Canadian Arctic
Rural France

Four albums you can't live without:
I don't need albums to live but if I could have only 4...
Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Beethoven's 9th Symphony
Works by Mosart
Works by J.S.Bach

Four to pass this meme along to

No one needs to do this, but if you read this perhaps you should share a bit of your life too, just so we are even....

Colours of the Day





Sunday, January 15, 2006

Cooler January 15

As the sun came over the horizon and into the trees the winds were calm but now, a few hours later, a breeze has sprung up making a wind chill of -12 C (10.4 F). Tonight the wind chill predicted to drop to -20 C (-4.0 F). We don't have any snow in the forecast however, and the temperatures are to be above freezing again later this week. It continues to be a warm January.

Below are two more of Églantine's Wild Cucumber skeleton photos. They are interesting at this time of year.

Saturday January 14

I'm a bit late with this post because due to a wrong turn, or two, our section of the running group added a bit to our Saturday long run. We ended up running/walking/running for 21.5 km instead of the 18 on the schedule. It was the longest run for one of our group and the longest I had done since last summer. For some reason I was a bit tired after the run. When Églantine and I did our afternoon walk with Calla I did not have the energy to take photos. Fortunately, Églantine had lots of energy yet as she had not participated in the run. She got some excellent photos during our walk.

Here are more new fungi growing on small tree branches.

Strawberry plants stay green all winter but this plant is starting to put up new growth. I think it will be in for a shock as temperatures are down to -7 this morning (Sunday).

Friday, January 13, 2006

January 13 Warm Spell

We've lost all of our snow. The temperatures have gone to near record highs. Mushrooms are coming up. . .

Three Shrikes and you're out. But this was only one Northern Shrike three times so I'm not out.

Temperatures went "down" to +3 C last night and were up to +10 C for over five hours this afternoon. Crazy weather!!!


I put together some of the tracks that we've photographed and identified. Unfortunately they are not to scale. Perhaps I can add a ruler next time so one can see the relative sizes. That really is necessary for some of the tracks.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Another Warm Winter Day

It's too early for a January thaw because to thaw it first has to freeze. The temperature was up to + 10 yesterday and only went down to + 4 last night. This is very strange January weather!

On the other hand, it was nice to see the sun this morning!

Here is Églantine's photo of a racoon's track on "ice." As you can see, the ice is not very solid. I am surprised that the racoon did not fall through.

And below is a bud from a Sweet Virburnum (aka Nannyberry or Viburnum lentago). It is already thinking spring and starting to loose it's outer winter cover. I am hoping it's a bad idea and that we really do have winter yet.