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:

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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.

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

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

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Early Saxifrage:

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

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

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I can’t resist including this triplet:

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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.)

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And this is the end!

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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:

http://www.gratefulness.org/resource/sound-sanctuary/

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

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

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Common (American) Merganser showing off:

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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.

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

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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:

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

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Phragmites are spreading their seeds along the roadsides.

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Evening smoke is setting in the fields:

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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…

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

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Moss spore pods are opening …

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

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

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

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Up very very close:

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

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Now, one of my favorite spring flowers:

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

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

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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:

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This one with an interesting signal of BED & Breakfast:

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Nuts & Bolts of CPR Trestle Parry Sound:

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

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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:

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

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“Antique” dump and log trucks, Arnstein.

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Golden Valley residence:

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Summer spot, Milton Lake, Hwy 522:

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

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

20160407-15 Birdies

As spring’s advance stopped and restarted the local and migrating birdies disappeared and reappeared.  Here are some samples of what they were doing.

Ring Billed Gulls doing a soft shoe on the ice:

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… and putting on an airshow:

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… with their well-fed friend doing the fly-by finale in the evening light:

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Robin Red Breast implores photographer to cut back on the snow.  “Enough!” he says…….

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While a pair of Starlings chuckle from their high wire act:

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and this song sparrow sings its heart out …

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and this tree sparrow scrabbles on a rare bit of ground for seeds …

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and this Purple Finch or House Finch surveys the scene:

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One local person believes that he has seen an Evening Grosbeak (“a great big goldfinch”) and Mary Holland reports that they are up to New England now.  We’ve seen a couple of small flocks of Sandhills flying around and a pair was seen on Belanger’s fields this spring.  So the spring migration is well underway.

20160406,07,08 Winter’s end! (?)

Old Man Winter had his last kick at the cat, with some snow and freezing temperatures, showing us some interesting scenes:

First some frosty Ditch Art:

Field of frost flowers:

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lil star:

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Frosticles:

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Growth on a twig:

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Waterfall, freezing….

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Pane of ice:

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More frosticles:

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Bubbles frozen in time:

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Pussy willow in the snow:

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Birdies in the snow —- all fluffed up:

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Ice fishing for this Great Blue Heron?

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Patrick’s Point:

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Mary Holland wrote an interesting post about the effects of variable spring weather on amphibians such as our soon-to-be-heard spring peepers and salamanders.

 

20160404-05 Some local potpourri

Here are a few photos taken the last few days:

Melting snow on rock art:

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Ditch art:

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Weathered rock art:

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Weathered rock with some lichens:

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Icy reflection:

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Ice floating on algal pond.

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Creek on Old Nipissing Road in spring freshet:

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The Bald Eagles referred to in the previous post were around yesterday.  So were the Turkey Vultures spying on that carp carcass.  But not photo opportunities.   I suspect that the Otter went hungry … or got another carp!

We are experiencing an late spring snowstorm now.  After its passage we can start looking for the first of the migrating warblers (see http://www.ofo.ca/ofo-docs/Spring%20Warbler%20Migration%20Guide.pdf ) and for the arrival of the Sandhill Cranes.

 

20160401-03 Some birdies

We put the long (100-300 mm) lens on the GH4 and kept alert for birdies to polish our skills for the migration of warblers due in about 3 weeks.

This is a sampling of what we found:

A Red Tailed Hawk on top of a high telephone pole on Hwy 69 between the Mag Reserve and Harris Lake made me stop and turn around to take a provisional shot  from a long way away:

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As I got closer it flew away to another pole.  I tried to sneak up on it but it was prescient about me focusing the lens on it.  Finally on the third pole I was able to get this photo just as it lifted off — to depart the area.

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Smaller birdies:

Male House Finch:

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Song Sparrow:

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Tree Sparrow:

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Ring-billed Gull,

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Calling:

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European Starlings:

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“Nice muddy bottom?”, she asks.

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“Ok, check it out yourself,” he says.

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“We gotta stop meeting like this,” they both say.

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“Lets get outta here before that old guy takes any more pix.”

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Remember this one?

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The birdie in the rear is a Dark-eyed Junco.  You remember the one in front.

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Up on a tree branch this time.

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We are going to keep a look-out for migrating birds, especially the Trumpeters and the Sandhill Cranes.  I have seen a Bald Eagle in the distance and even stayed around this Carp that an otter had killed and pushed up onto the ice, hoping to see the otter return or a baldie come for it.  No luck.

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Those otters have very sharp teeth, eh?

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