Saturday, March 30, 2019

Sumac Seed

           Last Wednesday, as I sat at my "sit spot" to listen to sounds and observe sights around the area, sunshine suddenly broke through the clouds and a ray of sunshine reflected off a small object right in front of me on the ground. 
It appeared, at first sight, to be a brightly coloured jewel. When I looked more closely, it turned out to be a single seed of a Staghorn Sumac. 

            So I am wondering, how could I have been out and about for over 70 years without ever seeing a unique single sumac seed on the ground before? I have often seen clumps of seeds but never a single seed on its own. 

            Now that I have taken a close-up photo and projected it on the  computer, I think I also see the beginnings of a root or maybe a stem at the side of the seed.

            I continue to be amazed at what I have missed over the years when looking around.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Adventures with an Injured Red-Tailed Hawk

            Yesterday afternoon the dog and I started on our usual walk but went around the east meadow first instead of doing the usual west meadow walk. As we were walking, suddenly the dog made a lunge off trail toward the road. She, as always, was on a lead so she did not go far. I looked to see what she was going after and initially could not see anything. Then I thought I saw a racoon but on second look, I saw it was a bird. At first I thought it was an owl but it did not look quite right for an owl either. Closer inspection  indicated a hawk. It was a Red-tailed Hawk and it was standing upon the ground just outside the fence on our property quite near the road. 

            I took the dog as far as the driveway and then returned to the hawk on the side of the road. It had not moved and it looked a bit roughed up and was holding its wings in a strange position. As I was not prepared to  try to pick it up, I went back to the house and tried to find out who to phone via the internet. I made a couple of calls but since it was after 5:00 p.m. I did not get any answers. I did leave a message at one place but then thought of trying the Hamilton Bird Hotline to get help or information. 

            Through some answers from the bird people, I got in contact with the Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge in Jarvis, Ontario. 

            When I went back to check on the bird, I could not find it and thought perhaps it was not as injured as I thought and had flown away. I said as much on the internet but then thought I should take the dog out and look one more time. The dog found the bird on our side of the fence. It had gotten caught in another fence trying to get to the next property. I returned to the internet to ask again for help.

            Dave Lowe, from the Hobbitstee Wildlife Refuge, was already  looking for me and the bird. We found each other and he collected the bird. He was not sure how badly the bird was injured but suspected a broken bone in one wing. He took it with him back to the refuge.

            Later that evening I got a text saying they were fairly sure the hawk had a broken wing but they were going to have x-rays done the next day.

            Here is the message I got from them today:

            “He has bilateral wing fractures. Ulna on the left and radius in the right. We did xrays today. After a consult with an avian specialist we wrapped both his wings and will give it 2 weeks to heal. Because the ulna and radius are intact on each wing acting as a splint and because the fractures are lineup well in both wings the vet advised to immobilize and let both now we wait. He will continue to receive pain meds and such of course."

            So, we wait . . .

            If you ever need help and live in our area, here is their business card:

Monday, March 25, 2019

Observation Notes from Sunday March 24

           From 9:26 to 9:36 I was at my west brush pile sit spot in the southwestern corner of the property. During those 10 minutes I heard Robins, Cardinals, Red-winged Blackbirds, Crows and dogs barking in the distance. In addition I heard the usual traffic noise from the nearby roads as well as jet traffic noises from the sky. As an aside, I cannot remember ever being outside during any day for any 10 minute period of time without hearing jet noises. It really is disturbing.

            As the dog and I walked about the property in the morning and again in the evening I also heard the calls of Bluejays, Goldfinches, Juncos, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Robins, White-breasted Nuthatches, Mourning Doves, Wild Turkeys, Canada Geese flying overhead and Mallard Ducks flying overhead. There was also a very silent Turkey Vulture that glided over our heads. I saw a rabbit and red, grey, and black squirrels all near our bird feeder.

            The Willow catkins and the Aspen catkins have been opening for a few days and the European Larch needle buds are showing signs of opening also.

            Both the east and west ponds remain frozen in the mornings but the west pond is beginning to show open water in the late afternoons near its edges.

            Below is a photo of the east pond which is both quite shallow and very frozen yet.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Friday Flowers ( March 22, 2019 )

            I found 23 plants in bloom on Friday but only 4 were new for the season. Of those 4 only one was "native" to our area and the other three were planted cultivars in the Royal Botanical Garden grounds. 

            I took photos of 3 or the 4 new blooms. The first, and most showy, was Winter Aconite. It was blooming in the Spicer Courtyard of the RBG. I have seen this plant in the "wild" as it has been naturalized in various places but this one was planted just a couple of years ago.

            The other two flowers that I photographed were both very small. One was on a shrub called American Hazel. This plant too has become naturalized in the wilder parts of the Royal Botanical Gardens and we even have one that showed up unplanted on our property in Brant County. One has to look very closely to find the small female flowers on this shrub.

            Yes, that is my finger behind the flower.

            The last flower that I photographed is from a tall, well formed tree in the RBG Arboretum. The tree is called a Turkish Hazelnut. One can easily see that it is related to the American Hazel shrub.

            This time it is my thumb that is backing the flower. Behind my hand and the flower, one can see the bottom part of the Turkish Hazelnut tree.

            Both the shrub and the tree have male dangling catkins that will develop later with pollen. They too look much alike in spite of being on a smaller shrub and larger tree.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Aspen Twig & Killdeer

           On the dog walk this morning I found an Aspen twig on the ground that a squirrel had nipped off the tree. It seemed like a good opportunity to photograph the catkin that was opening as all of the ones in the trees were way too high to get a good photo.

            I used the flash on the iPhone  camera to make up for the bright sky in the background. When I put the photo on Instagram I added other names:

Trembling Aspen
Quaking Aspen
(Populus tremuloides)
Peuplier Faux-tremble
ᐋᐧᐱᒥᑐᐢ = Cree symbols
Wâpimitos = Cree in English letters
Tsoskwe’ió:wane = Mohawk in English letters

            On the Beckett Walk today we walked on the rail trail near Paris. The highlight of the birds that I heard was the first Killdeer of the season. (I have yet to hear one on our property, but others in the Hamilton area have been reporting them.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Monday/Tuesday Notes

            I saw the first Chipmunk of the season on Monday morning by our bird feeder and shortly after that heard the first Song Sparrow of the season singing in our west meadow.

            Below is a drawing/painting with information re the Song Sparrow from the iBird App on my iPhone:

            Today, at Plan B Organic Farm where I volunteer on Tuesday mornings, I went to the heated greenhouse to see what was already sprouting. Lots of plants were up already and many more sets were planted.

           Sorry, I did not check the labels to see what was here. Maybe next week I can check back again and get labels.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Sunday Observations

            Sunrise this morning came with a sun pillar:

            As I started the dog walk this morning, I noticed that the large Puffball that I found last fall has made it through the winter without falling apart.

            Notes from my Sit Spot

March 17, 2019 9:40 a.m.
Sit 336: Brush Pile West : Mostly Sunny 
-4° (-7°) NW wind: 6-9 kph    74% humidity 

Sounds of the morning:
Mourning Doves,
(Jet flying overhead, traffic noise),
(Air Canada Jazz flight 183 +),
Blue Jays,

Woodpecker drumming.

            Other observations as I walked our dog, Sadie:

Still lots of ice in shady spots along the trails;

Almost fell a few times but managed to stay on my feet;
Felt very quiet out in spite of bird songs because of low wind speeds;
Heard Bluebirds and Robins as I walked along the west meadow trail near the Sumacs;
The ice on the West Pond is very high i.e. out of the usual banks of the pond and over the trail;

            Catkins on the Willows and Aspens are out of their winter coverings and looking gray and fuzzy on some of the trees but all too high to photograph. I could only see them via binoculars.

             Spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon trying to finish rebuilding the bird feeder. Hope to finish after I do this blog . . .

 . . . finished the bird feeder!

            Saw 8 Wild Turkeys in the field north of the highway as I went out walking along the road and then, back home, saw an Eastern Bluebird in the small Walnut Trees just west of the house. (Sorry to not get any photos!)

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday, March 15 - Skunk Cabbage Blooming!

            I am sure I have posted photos of this plant many times and many places and I am also sure I have at least 500 photos of this plant. Need I say that it is a favourite?

            The Skunk Cabbage is the first native flower of spring and always grows in very wet areas. This one, like many I have photographed, is in the RBG's Hendrie Valley. I always start looking for "blooms" in February. I know that it is blooming when I can put my finger inside the spathe and get yellow pollen.

            Just for the record, today was the first day since the first ice storm in February that I was able to walk in our meadow without worrying about slipping on the ice. The trails with trees on the south or on north facing slopes are still icy but out in the meadow I can walk easily. Yea!

Monday, March 11, 2019

Road Rebel 27 k Run from Brantford to Ancaster

            I was running support with my car and taking photos. I think the photos speak for themselves.

Goldenrod & Goldenrod Spider Display at RBG

            The Goldenrod & Goldenrod Spider display is finally up at the RBG. The reflections in the glass that they are behind are very distracting and nothing I could do in Photoshop could eliminate all of them but I did clean them up a little. Hope you can read most of the display.

            For those of you that forgot, this includes the goldenrod project I worked on last month.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Food, Snow, Ice-cycle

First attempt at a "French Style Dutch Baby Pancake".

        I like recipes that invite experimentation. This is one. I got the original from

Snow and ice on a tall grass flowerhead.

This icicle turned into an ice-cycle due to the wind.

Saturday, March 02, 2019