They’re Back

I intended to visit the slough early yesterday. After too many grey days the sun was finally shining. Perfect conditions. But it was for naught. By the time I got there clouds had buried the sun and a biting north wind made it hard to hold the camera.

As I was about to pack it in and head for home I heard a familiar song — a male red-winged blackbird announcing his return. He was clinging to a cattail, resplendent in his shiny coat, red and yellow shoulder pads shining in the low light.

Then a second and a third male began to call. A chorus of I’m-here-this-is-my-territory. Although the females may not arrive for another week or so, these fellows are already staking claims.

The sight and sound of such charming birds made for a perfect morning after all. 🙂

Red-winged blackbird and cattails


Red-winged blackbird   Agelaius phoeniceus

Frogsicle

Meet the only North American amphibian who lives north of the Arctic Circle.

Not this little guy — he lives in my garden — but his cousins in Alaska and northern Canada. Each winter the wood frog does something seemingly impossible: It freezes and thaws several times.

IMG_4291

Incredible? Yup. Wood frogs hibernate near the ground surface, often under leaf litter. As the air temperature drops, so does their body temperature.

If you find one of these frogs during a cold spell you might think it was dead. No heart beat. No blood flow. No brain activity. Drop him on something hard and he’ll go clunk.

Yet as the air warms up, so does he. This can happen repeatedly during the winter and no harm done.

Pretty impressive for a guy that eats snails, worms and insects. Clever little bandit.

P.S. Like to know how they do it?


Wood frog   Rana sylvatica

Just Because

This unplanned shot didn’t seem special when I took it. Just another bunch of dandelions gone to seed in the lane.

Back at the computer, however, it popped off the screen. I fell in love with the crisp outlines, the bright colours, the dark background.

Even the ordinary can surprise us.


Common dandelion   Taraxacum officinale

Fly By

The wild roses put on a colourful show this spring — their pink blossoms dot roadsides, fence lines and wooded areas.

I got quite used to finding a small long-horned beetle in almost every flower. But when I noticed a not-quite open blossom that looked black inside I came up short.

IMG_3400

It was filled with flies!

Were they feeding? Mating? Staying warm?

Moments later they were gone and I was left to ponder the mystery.


Prickly rose   Rosa acicularis

Honeysuckle

This wild twining honeysuckle is betwixt and between.

It can’t make up its mind if it wants to twine around the pine tree or just loaf along the ground. Its stems are weak and the sections between the nodes are hollow. Which may explain its lack of enthusiasm for heights.

That said, it obviously hasn’t read the book that says it can climb 5 metres or more (about 15 feet) on trunks of deciduous trees. Maybe it’s allergic to pine.

Nature can be a puzzlement.


Twining honeysuckle   Lonicera dioica var. glaucescens

Drift Line

The magical space between high and low tides is one of my favourite places.

Twice a day the push-and-pull of the sea brings discoveries. Glass floats. Fishing line. Driftwood. Shells. Seaweed. Broken bottles. Litter.

On one recent trip I found a nearly complete shell of a red rock crab. In life it is mostly red, except for the black tip on each claw. But the open, empty shell is worthy of a painter’s palette — red, orange, yellow, mauve, brown, white.

Who would have guessed?