Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Plume moth on milkweed. I'm cheating a bit -- this was taken in my garden today. But see what kind of cool things you can attract if you plant milkweed in your garden?

Monday, June 29, 2009

This will be a little picture-heavy today. It was a lovely morning and sometimes the light does amazing things by the pond:

Another view of some pond plants:

I cleaned up the rest of the party remnants -- hot dogs and corn, pickle jar and pickles, mustard container, binder rings, half-burned papers -- then pulled plants for a while. A few little treasures appeared, like this columbine (hmm, is it columbine? Maybe it's meadowrue?) ...

... and this nice caterpillar:

Black-eyed Susans:

There were more snails climbing trees:

The spotted sandpipers were by the river again ...

... and I saw the indigo bunting for the second day in a row at Todmorden Mills. I wish I could get a good picture. Here's most of him!

Common milkweed is flowering now. If you get a chance, go sniff some. Delightful! You can check underneath the leaves for monarch butterfly eggs or teeny caterpillars.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sigh. An end-of-school party, apparently. Hot dogs, corn, chips, pop, beer, marshmallows, cookies. What, no baby carrots? It was still smouldering so I couldn't do much but spread it out a bit and wait for the rain we're expecting today. At least they didn't write on the signs. It's too bad those police officers don't walk their dogs along here on a Friday or Saturday night.

If anyone knows Emil, I'd like a word with him ...

Having tidied up what I could, I returned to the tansy patch and cleared out a section. By the time I've laid waste to the tansy, Queen Anne's Lace and thistles, there's not much left in places.

(There are some little sumacs getting started in there, and fleabane and a few other things that belong, so maybe they'll have a better chance now.)

Those of my readers who aren't in the Toronto area may not know we're in week one of a strike by the garbage collectors. I expect there will soon be a lot of illegal dumping in the valley. So far it's at a level I can tolerate ...

... until the animals rip those bags apart and scatter the contents, of course. Also involved in the strike are city-run museums like Todmorden Mills, city daycares and daycamps, ferry service to the islands, and park permits for things like wedding photos and the upcoming Canada Day celebrations. (BTW, if you were hoping to attend the local Environment Day at Riverdale Park, it's been postponed to October 17.) Oh, and one more thing that hadn't even crossed my mind until Don Watcher mentioned it -- the stewardship program is on hold. Of course, as a "guerrilla steward" I'm not affected. Now not only am I the only steward at Beechwood, I'm the only game in town! Well, perhaps some of the others have turned rogue as well and are continuing work at their sites -- I wouldn't like to speculate. The dog-strangling vine is not going to wait around while we resolve labour disputes.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

News from farther afield: common reed, or Phragmites australis, is threatening shoreline and wetlands in Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. It's another of the invaders at Beechwood.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The interpretive signs at Beechwood are a popular target for tags, and I spend a little time each summer scrubbing them off. Before:

The official cream cleanser of Beechwood wetland:


Not perfect, because the painted surface is pitted and hard to clean. I would have been better off just painting over the tags, but this will do.

Spot the raccoon hiding in this picture:

Of course, while I'm scrubbing signs and tracking coons, the tansy is swarming over the landscape in every direction:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

This groundhog beside Pottery Road was too busy eating to worry about the photographer approaching:

All those larvae I saw earlier in the year are turning into a swarm of beetles. Here's a typical one on a cup plant:

I paused to admire a cedar waxwing; it approached an empty nest, selected some nesting material, and flew off with it. Recycling!

At one corner of the Beechwood site is a little viewing point where people can look at one end of the pond. This corner has been bugging me for a while as it fills up with dog-strangling vine, tansy and thistles, so I had a go at it this morning. Before (tansy to the left, DSV curling gracefully in the centre):

And after:

Dog-strangling vine has impressive roots. This is from a single plant:

You see the problem with getting rid of it! These have to be dug up one by one. As long as you have good gloves, though, thistles are fun to pull. They tend to come out fairly easily and have a simple tap root. They make a good reward for the frustrations of removing DSV.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Boy, go away for a few days and the kids have a party and trash the place. I started my work this morning by clearing away a lot of broken-off sumac branches, burned sticks from a "campfire," and assorted food-related garbage. I was a bit puzzled by the clumps of uprooted tansy -- did the partiers have a little stewardship session as well? Their choice of party food surprised me too:

Kids today. I left the remaining baby carrots for the local creatures and threw away the plastic bag. Here's a Beechwood bunny who might appreciate the treat:

Notice all the cottonwood fluff lining the path. Here's a closer look:

After I tidied up:

I guess the ants find the cow parsnip as interesting as I do:

It's so cute the way the daisies rush up to the fence and poke their noses through, hoping to be petted:

The blackeyed susans are just on the verge of opening:

They'll be spectacular soon. In the meantime I'm still enjoying the little roses:

Friday, June 19, 2009

What happened to the terrible weather we were supposed to get today? I took advantage of a fine sunny morning to walk down to Beechwood and get a little work done.

Know how to tell if you're standing under a black locust tree right now? Look down.

This is the kind of hole a pileated woodpecker leaves behind in the dead trees it searches for food:

There was a very pretty spider in the equipment box today. I don't know what kind, sorry.

I'm quite taken with the cow parsnips, as you may have noticed. Here are a few pictures of the flowers, close up and from below:

I removed tansy around our group of sumac trees, and found a little sumac coming along nicely. I'll have to go back next spring to remove that garlic mustard (the small, scattered leaves on the left) when it starts its second-year growth spurt.

I've been noticing what seems like a huge number of snails this year, and on my way home today I suddenly realized why: they're growing on trees! Seriously, this tree was covered with them. What the -- ?