Friday, May 30, 2008

Let's ignore the fact that I skipped the third Beechwood evening because it was raining and extra cold -- although several stalwart stewards did show up and defeat more garlic mustard -- and turn our attention to this week, when Sarah from LEAF came to teach us about identifying trees. Being fairly hopeless at this, I was happy to attend the workshop, and I learned some useful things (which I will have forgotten by June if I don't write them down here):

*MADHORSE: This reminds me that the trees I'm most likely to see around here with opposite (as opposed to alternate) leaves are Maple, Ash, Dogwood and Horse Chestnut.

*That big tree by the Beechwood signs is an American Elm. Huh!

*Leaves from red oaks have pointy lobes -- remember the devil with those red pointy horns -- and leaves from white oaks have rounded lobes. Here's an example of some pointy oak leaves:

If only I had thought to snap some rounded ones to illustrate the difference. Another day. Many thanks to Sarah and LEAF for the great info. I'll have to start carrying my Trees of Ontario with me and actually using it.

I went back this morning to continue a little project I started last year, clearing "the point" (properly called "Marnie's Point," just waiting for the official plaque) of garlic mustard. I spent a lot of time at this last spring, and was curious about what I'd find this year. Would it be GM-free, or completely overrun? Somewhere in the middle, I discovered, with enough of the stuff to keep me busy for an hour and a half, but certainly much less than last year. I'm optimistic. I also cut down a lot of Japanese knotweed here last year, and of course it's returning as thick as ever, but I'll keep at it.

This little guy kept me company as I worked:

The sumacs we planted last fall are coming along pretty well:

Alas, so is the Japanese knotweed forest we keep cutting down:

There's a yellow jacket hard at work in the always-entertaining equipment box. I'm thinking this spells trouble for us later in the season:

Stay tuned for exciting updates!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Another rainy night, another small group of people who don't have the sense to come in out of it. We pulled more garlic mustard, spurred on by our leader's promise of one air mile per pound. I don't think we're going to be flying very far.

I saw the great blue heron in the river again. For a water bird, it sure does look miserable in the rain. I studied an animal on the bank for a while, hoping it would turn into a beaver, but it was just a groundhog. (You can tell the beavers -- they're the ones with the cellphones.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

First outing: I joined half a dozen team members for a session of garlic mustard removal. It rained steadily all evening, but I didn't find it unpleasant; in fact, it softened the earth and made the pulling easier. An oriole came to supervise and serenade us, and there was a great blue heron in the river along with the usual gulls, mallards, cormorants and black-crowned night herons. I didn't take my camera because of the rain, so you'll have to use your imaginations.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's time to get back to work! Tomorrow night will be our first Beechwood outing of the season. We're off to a good early start this year, so beware, all you clumps of garlic mustard. Anyone interested is welcome to join us at Beechwood Wetland, Wednesday nights at 6.
Remember the gypsy moths from last year? The city is planning a helicopter spraying of several locations (Moore Park and Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, Bayview and Lawrence E., Sunnybrook Park) to control the pests. More info here.
Stay tuned for a report on tomorrow's stewardship work. Until then, here's a picture of the oven-bird that was walking around in my garden last night. A first for me!