Sunday, June 22, 2014

Park Post-Ponders

It has been some time since I promised this third in the series dating back to early May.  Jan and I sold our house and bought another in Arnprior, Ontario.  This takes the nature buff into the unpleasant world of reality and reality.  Personally, a shack on a coastal shore would suffice.

Our culture seems more house-obsessed than previous cultures.  We invest time energy and money into keeping our house as close to a regal palace as possible and add so  much artificiality, that our connection to the natural world is lost. 

Being wrapped up in keeping the Victorian English ideal of a lawn is ample evidence.  We live in the Great Lakes Forest region of Canada.  Grasses are Savanna or Prairie dominant plants. Here, they are scattered amongst streamsides, alvars and marshes, where they mix with a diversity of rushes and sedges. Plant native trees and shrubs!

Learn more by coming to the next meeting of the Macnamara field Naturalists' Club in Arnprior on September 2 (Tuesday) when Ed Lawrence, noted horticultural guru, will present to us about gardening with native plants which attract wildlife.  Ed, with the most enthusiastic support of the Governor General, re-landscaped Rideau Hall with native plants.

Recap:  we left Prince Edward Point on Friday May 9th and arrived in Brighton, ready for an early foray into Presqu'ile Provincial Park, just to the West of the Bay of Quinte on the north shore of Lake Ontario.  The morning was bright, windy and COLD, certainly not the best conditions for we humans, but the birds were nonplussed, and were arriving in large numbers, feeding, mating, establishing nests and singing their wee feathers off.

Our intrepid small group went trudging through the various habitats this small, diversified park has to offer. Each habitat houses a different array of plants and animals, diversity being the key to life on Earth,  Conserving diversity is a self-serving goal for humanity. Strange that we don't honour it.

(Note: the following 3 photos are from Prince Edward Point. The production staff responsible for equipment maintenance failed to properly charge the blogger's camera batteries, creating a lacuna in the graphic element of today's Blog.  Said staff have been replaced by memory enhancing foods, like fish oil and spinach.  The Blog CEO respectfully apologizes for this gap and promises better photos in the future,)

Our group spots a bird!

The day previously,  we viewed waterfowl in the big lake from the spectacular cliffs on the shore.  It always amazes me how some individual life forms, unlucky in placement, still survive...for a while. This snag attracted friend Steve, a true "treeman". I found his juxtaposition with the snag an interesting study in form and function.

The following day was warm and sunny, mid 20's C, and this Blogger decided to fulfill a favour for Michael |Runtz, a most excellent nature mentor who teaches these things at Carleton University in Ottawa. As many know by constant media reports, a Lemming cornucopia resulted in a Snowy Owl continental swarm over the winter. These population bursts happen cyclically, as the Lemming populations are cyclical.  This was a great year for the owls.  I have already posted a few photos of mature owls enjoying the bounty of our winter fields.

Several owls spent the winter at the Central Experimental Farm along the Rideau Canal in central Ottawa.  Michael wanted the pellets (owls cough up bones, feathers and fur of their prey in pellet form post digestion) the owls had left behind after their departure the week before. Risking personal harm, hopping fences and proceeding into unknown territory, I spotted the owl resting/digesting spots in the fields.

Note several of the pellets, grey and cylindrical, they measured 4-5 inches in length, by far the largest owl pellets I have seen.
This Savanna Sparrow was watching me closely.

Upon completing my collection of about 50 pellets, I went next door to the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, operated by the Ottawa Field Naturalist Club, and found

this immature Red-tailed Hawk closely watching me, or was it posing?

A newly-arrived Least Flycatcher pausing from gorging on midges.

A Red Trillium in full glory.

Podophyllum peltatum, commonly called Mayapple. Common in the deciduous forests around the southern Great Lakes. The white flowers weren't out yet.
The next installment, if I survive, after relocating to Arnprior, in the Ottawa Valley.