Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I see the cow vetch is off to a good start along the bike path. Hey! An invasive plant that we don't have on our site?! Can it be possible?

I saw "my" raccoon again this morning. The tail looks better, but it's favouring the right front paw. Despite this, it seems to be getting around just fine. I watched it climb all over the big oak tree. It gave me a good looking over but didn't make any advances this time. It did communicate a message, though:

I tugged on a stubborn garlic mustard root this morning and came up with this. I'm guessing it's a raccoon jawbone.

My enjoyment at watching this little chipmunk ...

... was spoiled by seeing a dead one on the path a moment later. It seemed quite newly dead, and whole; I didn't notice it on the way in, and I didn't see any vehicles go by while I was at the site, so I'm wondering if a bike hit the little guy. Chipmunks do tend to zip across the road in front of people. I nudged it into the grass with a little apology. My walks in this area have become a litany of the bodies I've found: there's the dead raccoon ... there's where the dead snake was ... there's the dead thing-that-might-be-a-dog ... there's where the chipmunk died ... Such is life.

And a bit more life: here are some wild grapes developing.

Monday, May 28, 2007

From a distance I wondered what kind of odd toadstool was growing on the lawn at Todmorden Mills, but when I got closer I found it was a paper wasp nest. (Right? If anyone knows better, feel free to correct me. I'm eternally confused about bees/wasps/hornets etc.) This is an abandoned one from last year that's fallen from its branch. It's an amazing structure, isn't it?

Friday, May 25, 2007

Oh yeah, we rock. There's a mountain of garlic mustard waiting to be disposed of. At the orientation meeting the other night we heard about the six sites involved in the stewardship program this year and had a look at various invasive plants we'll be dealing with. We decided to switch the Beechwood night to Wednesday, so heads up, team members! You'll just have to tape So You Think You Can Dance. I noticed a few new people signing on for our site. Welcome to Beechwood wetland! As John (our fearless leader) said, "We have it all." Unfortunately, what he meant was, "We have garlic mustard, and dog-strangling vine, and knotweed, and phragmites ..."

This morning I went back to the area by the pond I'd worked on earlier in the season. There was a bit of garlic mustard I'd missed, perfectly obvious now that it's flowering, and a new crop coming up thick and fast. I worked away happily for a while, then suddenly realized I was not alone. I looked up to see a raccoon not just regarding me but making a beeline for me. Um, hi, I don't have any food in this bag, so scram. It wasn't intimidated by my shooing techniques, just kept coming straight at me. I could see it had a nasty wound on its tail, so I decided discretion is the better part of valour and moved to a different part of the site. Dang, I can't believe I was chased off by a raccoon! I wouldn't say it was aggressive, exactly -- let's say assertive. I saw it later dabbling in the pond, and got a few pictures. You can see the wound near the end of its tail, although you can't see how raw and bloody it looked. (A bit of dead grass is helpfully "circling" the area in question, in case you're having trouble seeing it.)

Here's a plant called Dame's Rocket. Isn't it lovely? I bet you can guess the rest of the story: it's not native, and it produces tons of seeds, so we'll be getting rid of it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oh good, reinforcements have arrived! It looks as if more garlic mustard met its match last week. The green box is full too. (Edit: it seems John, Lise, Charity and Bruce were the workers responsible. Come on out this Thursday night for another round if you can. Alas, I work Thursday nights and can't join you.)

I got to do a little outreach yesterday. I often wonder what people are thinking as they walk or cycle past and see me grubbing in the dirt. ("What on earth is that crazy woman trying to do, weed the entire valley?") Hardly anyone stops to ask, but yesterday a cyclist came over to find out what I was doing and we had a chat about the stewardship program. I even got in a plug for my blog, so hello to you, visitor, if you found your way here. We'd love to have you bring the kids out some time to see what's going on.

Reminder: meeting tomorrow night, 7 o'clock at Riverdale Farm. This will be the official stewardship kick-off for 2007. (I figure the season really started yesterday, when I got my first ant bite.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Apple blossoms, and a couple of notes:

The orientation session for the Community Stewardship Program is set for May 23 at 7 p.m. at the Riverdale Farm Meeting House. Come out and learn about what we do and where we do it. Please RSVP to greentorontoATtoronto.ca if you plan to attend.

John is planning an outing Thursday night to remove garlic mustard at Beechwood Wetland. Apparently I haven't quite got it all yet, so please come and help out if you can. It's very rewarding, I swear!

I saw a mockingbird this morning. There are now 21 different birds on my list, and that's not counting the catbirds until I ID them for sure.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Gratuitous shot of crabapple blossoms not found on the Beechwood site. You can never have too much pink and green.

The garlic mustard is in flower too. Must ... work ... faster ...
(Actually it makes it easier to spot the plants that are hiding among the good stuff.)
I saw my first oriole of the season yesterday and a few more today, along with a redstart. I'd better keep a running list of birds and report back in the fall.
Thank you to Ontario Wanderer for identifying something I posted recently: "Just for the record, your 'tree thingies' are the male (pollen or staminate) flowers of the Manitoba Maple also known as Box-elder and Ashleaf Maple (Acer negundo). At least that is what it looks like to me from your photo."
Ontario Wanderer has just taken part in the Blogger Bio Blitz. I've been reading along with a couple of bloggers who attempted to list all the plants, animals, insects, etc. they could find in a small area. I admire their dedication! I'm happy to know the common names of the most obvious stuff I see, and I'm even happier if someone else will do the ID work for me. Thanks, OW!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Update on the odd goose: I posted the pics on a birdwatching forum and people have been tossing around some suggestions. The goose was there again yesterday with a mate (regular Canada goose) and I got some pictures of it out of the water. Orange legs, so it seems to be a domestic/Canada hybrid. A domesticanada? A Canadomestic?

Check out the kung fu moves!

Monday, May 07, 2007

A few scenes from early this morning:



Tree thingies!

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's a lovely day for digging up invasive plants. I was joined by a common yellowthroat warbler and some tree swallows. Sorry, no pictures of those -- the problem with actually working is that my camera isn't handy.

The garlic mustard is bolting. Sadly, this means it's sending up a flower stalk, not running away.

Here's what the roots look like:

An intriguing little hole in the ground. Anybody home?

What's the story with this goose, does anyone know? The first glance at my field guide made me think it was a barnacle goose, an unusual stray from Europe, but no, it doesn't have the black chest. Is it a hybrid?

I found an old oriole nest on the ground:

If you peer inside you can see the empty eggshell: