20160429 Some sights on Hwy 522

We went for a short drive on Hwy 522 since the Jamot Lumber Road was closed.  Apparently some 4 wheelers had made a mud hole out of the road for sport.  Lots of fun for them but inconvenient for other users.  So we’ll find alternatives until some aggregate is dumped and graded.

We visited the old Portage Lake site and saw this sight:


A storehouse of grubs for Pileated woodpeckers!  Trees that have been dead for about 5 years seem to be optimum.

The seed heads of the Cattails are disintegrating now, letting the wind spread fluffy seeds on the ponds.


We seem to have a big crop of Ruffed Grouse this year.


The Marsh Marigolds will be starting to bloom next week as these buds are growing quickly:


We are  patiently waiting for the next stage in the development of these moss spore capsules.


This Brown-headed Cowbird will be starting to lay her eggs in a variety of others’ nest over the next month or so.


We’ve noticed a variety of pussy willows emerging over the last three weeks.


This variety is maturing two weeks ahead of the one above.


Finally, here are some remnant fruiting heads of the wild hazelnut.  You can see a bit of the nut shell in the right capsule.  Each nut is formed at the base of one of the pink tendrils (in the last post’s photo).


A week of above freezing temperatures are forecast.   That will encourage us to look for the Spring Beauties.

20160425-28 More birds and other life forms

Although we’re enjoying chilly nights and frosty mornings, the daily elevation of the noon sun and longer days are gradually warming the countryside.

This American Woodcock was actively bobbing while it walked across the road and onto the shoulder.  I should’ve made  a video of the action as it is quite peculiar.


Once it got into the forest detritus it stopped bobbing and made a quiet exit from the area.


Although the ruffed grouse are drumming, many are still very wary.  This bird watched me from cover for several minutes.


This pied billed duck seemed to be watching for prey.   Suddenly it dived, not to be seen again.


The always-difficult-to-photograph American Crow.


What do you think caused this scraping of bark on these silver (AKA “soft” ) maples? *


Spring colours a day after a 10 cm snowfall.


I mentioned in an earlier post that I was starting a collection of Britt / Byng Inlet architecture.   This is one piece of the collection:


Momma duck was momentarily on the side of the road, along a creek where I used to live.  Lucky to get this shot:


On the other side of the road this hen appeared when the duck flew off:

(It is worth while to click on the image to see the feather detail.   Quite amazing, eh?)


Slowly departing, using its camouflage very effectively:


Mallard calling its mate, (the duck above).   They reunited down the bay a bit.


My first photo of the ever elusive, and noisy, Kingfisher:


This is one of two fox pups born last year.  It was good to see them survive the winter in their den near the late Mr LaChance’s barn.

An intrepid S.O.B. (South of Barrie) protector of the human environment, shot the mother last fall.


I am finally figuring out how to capture these nice little gardens:


And ditto for these picture ….


So these are probably the last attempts for hazelnut blossoms/catkins (for this spring).


We are starting to hear the Spring Peepers nowadays.   Here is an excellent link that shows our froggies and gives short renditions of their calls.


Nice resource, eh?

*Ah, yes those scrapings:

Because these beasts only have lower incisors, when they scrape the bark off with their teeth they only scrape upwards.


20160426 Ring Necked Ducks & Doe and fawn

This pair of Ring Necks was swimming warily on the pond between Grundy Lake Provincial Park and the remaining 2 buildings from the lumber town of Pakesley  , at the CPR/Hwy 522 crossing.

I have seen a pair there several days ago. Same pair?  Nesting?



See the chestnut coloured ring?



This mom and offspring were seen on the swamp on the east side of Hwy 69 between the Henvey IR turn-off and the Pickerel River.  I parked on the shoulder and photo’d them at about 100 yards:



Another car stops on the shoulder …


After taking a drink, the little one looks at Momma ….


And seems to be receiving a signal of some sort …


The two of them resume grazing …


… until another car arrives on the scene, prompting this leisurely departure into the thick bush.


Gardeners will be interested in Mary Holland’s latest post about the effect of beetles on garden pests.

We have a couple of inches of snow this morning.  Hopefully the (forecast) +9ºC,  afternoon sun will remove it before the (forecast) -7ºC  freeze tonight.


20160424 Brown Creeper, Wasp Ball, Flora, Sandhill Crane Migration

Today I saw my first Brown Creeper, apparently a local resident.  It was very difficult to spot and photograph as it spiraled up a spruce trunk, stopping momentarily to prop with its tail as it probed the bark for food.  The trick was to keep focusing on the trunk’s bark so that the AutoFocus didn’t have to move the lens very far.  I shot one 3 exposure bracket in burst to get this one reasonable, heavily cropped image, before the beastie quickly “flew the coop” to disappear into the forest:


The Juniperus communis is changing its foliage colour from the brown of winter to some purplish greens.  I suspect that new “needles” are forming:


The beaked hazelnut blossoms are filling out, as are the male catkins:


Today this “ball” appeared from under the melted snow, under the spot where I saw, and photographed,  this paper wasp nest last September.  The branch that held the nest was broken with little evidence left of the actual nest.  I will monitor this “ball” to see what becomes of it ( paper wasp background ):


This bloom is poking up at the edge of Doug and Doreen’s lawn:


And, finally, this pair of Sandhill Cranes, in a field across from the former Dream Inn, shot from the road in the brush going to Bushey’s quarry.  According to all of the info I could find the best way of determining gender is that the male is somewhat larger than the female.  Your guess is as good as mine:

The blurry lines are from the branches that helped to obscure the photographer.




They look quite similar to me.  Apparently the slight difference in colouration is due to preening behaviour.


Here is a nice folksy article in the Manitoulin Expositor a few years ago:


This is the Hannah study that Mr Erskine refers to:


I wondered if the N.E.Georgian Bay birds and Northeastern Ontario Birds went to Manitoulin to be part of the Manitoulin “Chapter” of the North Eastern Population.   Judging by the following, I think not.  I suspect that our birds will join up with southbound overflyers to feed in Southern Ontario grainfields next September, as described in this adventure story.

This report from Owen Sound adds some credence to the south-western Ontario flyway:  http://www.owensoundsuntimes.com/2013/11/19/sandhill-cranes-in-hunters-sights

And this indicates that the Sandhills are back in full force, at least for the time being:


In the meantime we’ll listen for them and hope to see them a few more times before they disappear to nest to hatch and fledge a colt or two over the summer.  (Nice summer school curriculum, eh?)

Lots to learn!






20160422 Still more evidence of spring’s arrival ….

… in spite of some forecasts for snow next week.  Meanwhile the noonday sun keeps rising [until “sun – stop” (sol – stice)].

The Sandhill Cranes were seen scampering on the road across from my place.  Very skittish.  I was lucky to get this pic:


This doe was also very skittish and quickly bounded into cover, where she paused for a moment before disappearing into the bush at Grundy Lake….


A very nice specimen of Early Saxifrage…


The Bear Berries are quickly changing (chlorophyll) colour (to green from purplish/rust) with each passing day….


These Red Maple buds are well advanced, being in front of a south-facing rock reflector….



This Yarrow is in the same situation, in a rock cut on the north side of Hwy 522….


So is this blackberry bud …


This year I will follow the progress of moss spore capsules …


A pair of Killdeers were pouncing on bugs in Dave and Irene’s field in late afternoon.


Almost a “broken wing” display, but not quite….


Very interesting Burr Oak seen on Hwy 522.  We are close to the northern limit for Burr Oak —- often called “mossycup oak” because of the large cup at the stem of its acorn or “mossycop white oak” because of the rounded tips and valleys of its leaves,  a la white oak…..


I often try to sneak up on this little stream on Old Still River Road as the log is a common spot for painted turtles to sun.  Also a pair of wood ducks and a lone Great Blue Heron often frequent the stream.  This spring one of the dead elms similar to the ones in the distance was severely “visited” by a Pileated Woodpecker so we’ll be on the lookout for it also.


This morning I came across this wonderful resource: http://users.vianet.ca/turbrent/nipnat/Links/Field_Naturalists_Clubs.html

and mined down into it to see this type of report:


I will scan those reports for early warning of the arrival of migrants.


I neglected to add this pic of a pair of Ring Necked Ducks to yesterday’s posting:


These remind me of ring billed GULLS … but also have a light ring around their neck … hence ring necked DUCKS!



20160422 More evidence of Spring’s arrival

While waiting for an appointment in Parry Sound we checked out the hydroelectric dam on the Seguin River in midtown of Parry Sound.  The first edition of the dam was built about a century ago by William Beatty Junior, aka The Governor.  It currently provides about 1.2 MWatt of power for the area.  If you have hi-speed with lots of bandwidth more detailed information is available at:

Click to access FINAL%20CHIA%20Report%20July%2017%202014%20C-5.pdf

Some views of the spillways, dam and tailrace during spring freshet:

I am not sure what that is in the middle of the photo.  It could be a hole in the dam.   (Where is the little Dutch boy when we need him?)


Full spring freshet:


Tailrace downstream from the Cascade Street Bridge:


Abandoned penstock for a decommissioned turbine in the turbine house:


On the way back from Parry Sound we went to Harris Lake Marina in search of some Trailing Arbutus in flower.  No luck, perhaps in a week or so.

But we did see this fellow:


A few minutes later, after I was distracted looking at bubble formation in a nearby stream, the Eastern Garter Snake had transformed itself:


Obviously it is not bothered by ants!

When I researched the kind of (Eastern) Garter Snake I came across this wonderful site.  Amazing that Ontario Nature would provide an atlas for the colourblind!

On the way to the marina, a log dump sported these bright flowers:


Closer ….


Definitely NOT a dent de lion, eh:


… but definitely a tash plant, ass’s foot, bull’s foot, coughwort (Old English), farfara, foal’s foot, foalswort and horse foot…. or a coltsfoot, named for the shape of the leaves —- which appear when seed is setting.

Keep a close eye on the tamarack branches over the next week or so.  I suspect that we’ll see some nice little “flowers” soon.  And the Early Saxifrage will move very quickly since they are usually on sun-exposed rock faces.  And the migrating birds, of course.  And maybe a confused spring bear.


20160421 Spring is HERE!

Yesterday we saw some sure-fire indicators of springtime on these Northeastern Shores of Georgian Bay:

Appearance of crocus in D & A’s well-kept flower garden next to the former Lil Britt Inn…..


Appearance of a small patch of Glory-in-the-Snow at the bottom of the rock in front of the former “Reynolds on the Rock” residence, next to the Holy Family Parish Church, Britt……


The little casings have fallen off this pussywillow showing droplets from a bit of rain.


Two cones, from previous years,  of the Larix laricina, commonly known as the tamarack, hackmatack, eastern larch,  black larch, red larch, or American larch,  next to some buds:


Some buds: 2016 cones and needle bundles starting to form …..


Buds on the blackberries are bursting:


And finally, the most important indicator of the approaching Summer Season, the appearance of docks at St Amant’s Waterfront Inn and Marina.  (ending my obsession with photographing those dratted dock poles!)


This is what the neighbourhood looked like at the end of April, 2015:

First Springtime with my FZ1000.

Exciting time of the year!

20160420 Spring prep on “420”

What is “420”?

Ans:   A codeword for the cannabis counterculture holiday in North America.

So I celebrated by making a short drive to see some of my haunts for signs of early spring activity.

Here are the results and some preparations:

In the pond between Grundy Lake Provincial Park and the CPR crossing on Hwy 522 these skittish Wood Ducks scurried quickly away, but not before the long lens captured a glimpse.  First sight of them this spring:


A short (because of a muddy washout) trip up Jamot Lumber Road revealed these Trailing Arbutus, just before bloom.  They bloomed at the end of April last year.


Along Hwy 522, just west of the latest washout, the Marsh Marigolds are starting to emerge and will probably blossom in two weeks.


Inuksuk marks a rock-cut which has many interesting flora.


Early Saxifrage:


And here is an example of another of those horrible invasive weeds that afflict urban spaces:


The leaves and stems of Pale Corydalis are attractive in their own right.  Their purple / yellow flowers are also very attractive:


I can’t resist including this triplet:


On the way home I checked the wild leeks over the bridge over the Still River on the other side of my property.  They were up about 2-3 cm.

On the way back I heard the whistle and saw the start of a long train pulling over 200 (empty) tank cars.  (Those trees are on my property.)


And this is the end!


I thought that I’d share some nice stuff that I got from Gratefulness (which I follow) this morning.   Some very nice photos with bird and other nature sounds:


Nice, eh?


20160412-19 Spring is arriving — really!

Yes, we are getting some evidence that the earth is swinging into the part of its orbit past vernal equinox.  Some examples:

Polyamorous (?) Hooded Mergansers in a ménage à trois


a pair of Mallards staking out their territory for a nest:


Common (American) Merganser showing off:


Pair of Buffle Heads, probably passing through.  Their life history indicates that we are on the border between their summer breeding and migration spaces.  I have not (yet?) seen a family here.  Now that I know where they nest, I’ll be on the lookout for them.


A summer resident, the Pied Billed Grebe is a “submarine” bird.  I have never seen a family of them locally:


The Double crested Cormorants have been around for a week, just in time to feast on the local smelts which are starting to run up the Magnetawan and Still Rivers:


This fellow doesn’t seem happy to have his photo taken.  “I’ll sue!   I’ll sue!”, he is saying.


Phragmites are spreading their seeds along the roadsides.


Evening smoke is setting in the fields:


The Sandhill Cranes are back, turning over the grass clumps in the fields searching for grubs and the other beasties that are then rudely awakened and eaten…


This (lone) Hermit Thrush is up from wintering down south, probably looking for a mate to raise a family…..


Moss spore pods are opening …


Pussy willows buds are bursting on several local varieties of Salix.


The pinkish female “flowers” at the ends of the fingers  of this Eastern White Cedar are evident now:


Miniature spring flowers are blooming in the mossy rubble on the edge of Doug and Doreen’s lawn.  Perhaps a variety of Bittercress?


Up very very close:


Moss spore pods are swelling at Doug and Doreen’s also:


Now, one of my favorite spring flowers:


Up very very close:  ( Surprising what this is, eh? )


And finally, a sure sign.  I found these in my garden:


Mary Holland describes another favorite that is blooming in New England nowadays.   I will be heading up to Key River to see them in a couple of weeks.

In the meantime I have reviewed my Ontario Spring Warbler Guide and will be watching for them every day … especially the Yellow Rumped Warblers who hang out in the big willows near Mr Lachance’s old farm.


201604 Early April structures

We took a few photos of some human-made structures in our recent travels.   Some examples:

Three “view-of-the-Sound” houses, Parry Sound:



This one with an interesting signal of BED & Breakfast:


Nuts & Bolts of CPR Trestle Parry Sound:


Other side of trestle:  Massive 1907 engineering work, 1/2 km (517 m) long, 32 m high.


This is Tom Thomson’s version of the trestle as seen from his canoe in July 1924.

And this is Brtthome’s version of the trestle as seen from his vehicle on April 11th, 2016:


Mr. H. Brook’s snake (cedar rail) fence, Hwy 522:


“Antique” dump and log trucks, Arnstein.


Golden Valley residence:


Summer spot, Milton Lake, Hwy 522:


House with trailer, ducks, garage, and carriage-port, outskirts of downtown Port Loring, Ontario.


One of these days I’ll do an “Architectural Study” of Britt / Byng Inlet.  Quite a bit of variety!