Thursday, April 29, 2010

More turtle sightings:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Still working doggedly at the garlic mustard removal. It's heartening to see that some of the places I've paid special attention to in previous years seem -- for the moment -- to be free of garlic mustard. Marnie's Point is looking good, and the little section across the path from Beechwood, where we planted sumacs and cup plants, is remarkably free of GM this spring. I don't have to go far to find more, though: the greenery in this photo, taken a very short distance down the path, is all GM.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Sumac leaves opening:

I just can't get enough of these:

Even that ant looks impressed.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Remember this?

Someone thought it was yummy:

One of these things is not like the others:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day! I celebrated in my usual way, by pulling up a load of garlic mustard. In fact, I worked so hard that I didn't stop to take pictures, so I've recycled this one from last year. (Recycling = good.)

I was glad to get back to Beechwood. Cultivated parks and fluffy cherry trees are all very well but I'd rather hang out where the ducks don't swim up hoping for a handout.

In other news, the turtles must be wearing a new disguise because I haven't seen any for a few days. The water level in the pond is quite low, increasing my chance of turtle sightings, but no luck. There's rain in the forecast for the weekend so the turtles should be happy. I'll be happy too; everything's very dry and crunchy underfoot, making it impossible to sneak up on anything lately.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Special Report

This post has nothing to do with Beechwood, but I wanted to share some pictures I took at High Park this morning. The cherry trees are blooming and people are flocking from far and wide to enjoy the sight. They all look serene as they stroll with cameras in hand. The blossoms only last a week or two, so get out there and experience them soon!

Even the birds at High Park seem serene:

I've seen wood ducks a few times at Beechwood but they didn't let me get close enough for a good shot. High Park ducks, on the other hand, don't mind posing for the tourists:

Watch out for the crocodiles, though:

Monday, April 19, 2010

I've got a few video snippets for you. First, a swarm of ants. These nests are everywhere; disturb the ground in any way by pulling up a plant or digging a hole and you may find a billion angry little creatures erupting like lava:

Next, a crappy view of the smaller snapping turtle cruising into its hiding spot. It's the black thing in the middle:
Turtles are much easier to spot once you realize you should be looking for a pile of mud, not an actual turtle. For example, consider this:

"But wait," you're saying, "that really is just a pile of mud." Aha, but check out its tail!

It's a snapping turtle in disguise!

What's more -- there's a second one! If I hadn't watched it swim up to this branch to "hide" I wouldn't have suspected it was really a turtle.

Another kind of shell I found today was this carapace discarded by a cicada:

That was the only shot I took of it. Fortunately the picture turned out, because I paused to adjust my camera and a breeze blew the thing off its perch and out of sight. I took that as my cue to get back to work pulling garlic mustard. I gotta say, things are shaping up nicely after a solid effort over the last few days. I can lick the GM handily. The bad news is that there seems to be twice as much Japanese knotweed as before.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Usually I take a bottle of water along to Beechwood but sometimes, if the weather's not hot, I get more civilized and have a coffee break:

I was going to say I had another visitor today, but that struck me as arrogant. I expect this raccoon is the resident and I am the visitor:

I've seen several of these over the last few days:

But only one of these:

After a serious garlic mustard session I went over to look at the pond for a while. It's covered with these catkins from the mumble tree:

(Editing to add: I'm going to say those are cottonwood catkins. Apparently people do really interesting things with them.)

Suddenly I noticed something moving through the water:

I stared and stared. Muskrat? No. Beaver? No. Drifting log? No. What in the name of -- oh!

It was a turtle! Yay! While I waited, hoping it would move closer or do something photogenic, I enjoyed the antics of this downy woodpecker:

The turtle didn't do anything but poke its nose above the surface once in a while and eye me suspiciously, so I gave up, but I'll be on the lookout for it over the summer.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Visitors! I was toiling away at the endless garlic mustard when a couple of fellow stewards stopped by to say hell0. Don Watcher and Cup Plant had been helping with a spring clean-up around Todmorden Mills, and they spotted me as they made their way past Beechwood Wetland on the bike path. Always nice to see some friendly faces. Thanks to all the volunteers who work so hard to clean up the junk others leave behind!

You can tell from their attire that the warm weather has been a bit unpredictable. Today was chilly, windy, drizzly and occasionally sunny, with a couple of brief rounds of ice pellets. Funny sort of day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Why it's good to check your gloves before putting them on:

A healthy clump of garlic mustard:

It can't be easy being this GREEN:

Firsts of the season: dragonfly (today) and ant bite (yesterday).

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

After a frosty early-morning session of pulling garlic mustard I decided to make a second visit later in the day.

a) to photograph the bloodroot flowers once they'd opened:

(they open up real purty)

And b) because at noon I watched a webcast about garlic mustard removal, sponsored by The Stewardship Network. I didn't learn anything new about GM but hey, a webcast! How cool am I? I was so inspired by being part of a bigger effort to control this pest that I just had to go back and pull another bucketful.

I learned a new bug today, too. This little guy was about the reddest thing I've ever seen:

A quick Google gave me its name -- velvet mite. They're a good thing!
Bloodroot is another sign of spring:

Who wants a hug?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Here's a sign of spring: a red-winged blackbird calling.

After a brief setback in the weather (SNOW the other day, hmpht) we're back to spring conditions.

Today dawned bright and clear so I set off to Beechwood.

High time to make a start on the garlic mustard:

The ants haven't warmed up enough yet to be a problem, but I turned over a brick and found one of their secret hideaways:

Another lurker:

I also discovered a few more pieces for my potsherd collection:

Today's harvest:

An inspector came along to check my work:

Yesterday was the first day I noticed bugs in the pond, too, both underwater and skating on the surface. Everything's gearing up for another busy summer.