Thursday, August 31, 2006

Here's some glossy buckthorn. The leaves have an interesting leathery texture, and the berries are plentiful.

Here's how it looks when we're done with it:

The Japanese knotweed is sporting a similar look this season.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Last night we continued our work on tansy, knotweed and Queen Anne's lace, and tied bright orange "flags" to some offending invasives that will have to be sprayed or painted with evil chemicals by a city crew. The site is very festive now with all the splashes of orange; I'm thinking of doing it in red and green for Christmas.

Here's some glossy buckthorn that met its fate a couple of weeks ago -- not so glossy now, are you? Doesn't Glossy Buckthorn sound like a character in a Harry Potter book?

The goldenrod is blooming, creating a sea of yellow:

I happened to photograph these elegant Japanese knotweed flowers shortly before the grove was cut down:

The water level in the pond is quite low now, leaving lots of mud around the edges for tracks. Deer, I think:

Muskrat ... I think ...

(Feel free to leave a comment with corrections if you're more certain than I about these hoof/pawprints.)

Friday, August 25, 2006

Sorry about the lack of posting this week. While the others were (presumably) working up a storm at the Beechwood wetland site, I was enjoying myself at Sibbald Point Provincial Park. It wasn't all sun and sand, though: I taught some young relatives to recognize spotted jewelweed, Joe Pye weed and St. John's Wort.

Friday, August 18, 2006

I wonder what happens if you phone that number. I wonder if anyone has ever phoned it.

[Don Watcher reports that it gets you the voicemail for restoration services. Good!]

Four of the regulars got together on Wednesday night and were joined by Shauna, a new recruit. The first thing I noticed as I approached the site was a dead grasshopper being dealt with by a swarm of ants. A moment later I spotted a dead bird beside the path -- also a big hit with the ants.

The death theme continued as we felled tansy, Queen Anne's lace and glossy buckthorn. Shauna and I removed the flowerheads from tansy and QAL across from the site in the hope of creating a buffer zone: there's no way we'll ever keep our site clear of these aliens if they're living right across the road and wafting seeds our way.

At the end of our work sessions we always report on wildlife we've noticed. This week I forgot to mention the "shore birds" I've been seeing on the pond and river lately. They're a bit shy, so no photos yet, but I assume it's some kind of sandpiper. A slender bird, brownish-grey on top, light underneath, long legs, medium-long bill, no black collar. Do we have any birders in the audience who are familiar with our local sandpiper types? My best guess, after consulting my Peterson's Guide, is a spotted sandpiper.

Check out the orange pollen sac on this bumblebee's back leg:

The apples are ripening on a tree near the Beechwood site:

Another mystery: does anyone know what these purplish, yellow-veined leaves are?

Here's a closer look:

Monday, August 14, 2006

This just in: outing cancelled tonight due to the threat of rain and thunderstorms. Arrghh, the one crummy evening in weeks of beautiful weather! Stay tuned for a possible Wednesday-night outing instead.

Another look at the aptly named turtlehead.

The Japanese honeysuckle that was cut down several weeks ago is refusing to go gentle into that good night:

Here's what the purple-flowering raspberries are up to these days:

Sunday, August 13, 2006

One good thing about visiting the site early on a cool, dewy morning is that the insects haven't woken/warmed up yet. (One bad thing is that I get dew-drenched.) Here's a primrose moth, helpfully (for ID purposes) resting on an evening primrose:

Whitetail dragonfly catching some sun:

This bumblebee has found a dainty sleeping chamber in a turtlehead flower. Shhh ...

Here's a new one for me: buttonbush. I've found a few growing around the pond. Aren't those flowers fascinating? They smell a bit like lilacs. They'll turn into brown seedballs -- apparently a favourite with ducks.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

There's a bit of cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) growing around the pond. It makes a nice change from all the green and yellow.

Speaking of green and yellow ... the cup plants are covered with these black beetles:

Friday, August 11, 2006

Muskrat Susie, Muskrat Sam, do the jitterbug down in muskrat land ...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Bumblebee on blue vervain:

Some kind of giant horror-movie-type fly on tansy:

Male downy woodpecker on mullein:

Uh-oh, I think he's spotted me:

Turtlehead; Joe Pye weed; elderberries starting to ripen.

I'm afraid I don't have an update on our teamwork this week; while the others were toiling away like beavers, I was relaxing beside Georgian Bay. (The water was great for swimming.) Instead I'll give you a picture of an actual beaver that I saw last week by the Don River, not far from our site. Sorry about the terrible quality -- it wasn't fully daylight yet, and I had to hurry to get this snap before the beaver departed.

I had suspected the existence of an Uber-Beaver in the neighbourhood ever since I saw this damage on Broadview Avenue:

Saturday, August 05, 2006

It's time for a little science experiment, boys and girls. I have it on good authority that soapwort got its name because it will make suds in water. I think we need to test that, don't you? I gathered a few soapwort leaves:

Of course I don't make a habit of pillaging our precious, limited wilderness areas, but I also have it on good authority that soapwort is not a native species, so I allowed myself a minor pillage.

I prepared three jars, each containing 125 ml of cold water:

The first jar served as the control jar, with nothing but water. In the second I put a couple of soapwort leaves, and in the third a few drops of liquid soap. I shook the second and third jars twenty times each. (Twenty = Highly Scientific Number, chosen entirely at random.)

The liquid soap foamed up nicely, but the soapwort? Nothin'. I added a few more leaves and some flowers for good measure, and shook it quite a bit longer:

Still no sign of suds. On to Phase 2 of the experiment! I prepared three scraps of cloth, each stained with chocolate sauce and ketchup:

Each bit of cloth went into a jar and received twenty scientific shakes. All the water was murky afterwards:

I removed the bits of cloth and compared the results. Water on the left, soapwort in the middle, liquid soap on the right:

Finally, I rinsed each scrap in water and squeezed it out:

I don't know how well this comes across in the pictures, but -- blow me down! The soapwort is a clear winner, despite its lack of sudsing ability. Nature wins!