Unicorn

Searching for blackbirds
At the marsh
Found instead

Disguised
Among the cattails
A unicorn


Cattail   Typha latifolia

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Under/Cover

The calendar tells me we are nearly a month past the official start of spring. Elsewhere crocuses and daffodils are blooming but here? Not even dandelions have popped up.

Although we lack arrays of bright spring flowers, the “hibernators” — plants that remained green through the bone-cold months of winter — are emerging from under the snow and lifting leaves to the sun.

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Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
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Feather moss and Orange Jelly (Dacrymyces chrysospermus). Yes, that yellow-orange fungus survived intact beneath the snow.
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Common Pink Wintergreen (Pyrola asarifolia) and Twinflower (Linnaea borealis)

Spring, in her fashion, has arrived.

Here & Now

A couple of weeks ago it was spring on the desert. Now it’s come to The Great White North and that means snow. Lots of snow.

For more than a week the temperatures have dithered around freezing. Whether that’s 32F or 0C for you, it’s hat-scarf-mitts-coat-and-boots weather for awhile longer.

So far today more than 10 cm have drifted down — that’s 4 inches and then some. The forecast is for more of the same for several days but that will change. Meanwhile I shall enjoy the soft fall of flakes and the muffled world outside my door.


Mountain ash   Sorbus spp.
White spruce   Picea glauca
Balsam poplar   Populus balsamifera

 

 

Ruff Work

Who’s feet be these?

Two ruffed grouse wandered along our driveway — a little pigeon-toed —  leaving the message of their passing in the snow.

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Ruffed grouse tracks, coming and going

These “wild chickens” have spent several weeks around our wooded yard, pecking for insects, eating buds and rose hips.

Someone one described the ruffed grouse as a lunchbox on legs. An apt description. It’s high on the menu of many meat-eaters including owls, coyotes and foxes.

Ruffed grouse have a weird habit of freezing when danger threatens — which perhaps gave rise to another nickname, fool hens. Freezing is all well and good when you blend into the background. When you’re standing in the middle of the road and a car is bearing down on you, well, not so much.

The Ruffed Grouse Society has an excellent website — info, photos and, of course, an audio clip of drumming. (The male grouse is quite musically inclined when in the mood to mate. Sounds sort of like an old steam engine picking up speed as it leaves the station.)


Ruffed grouse   Bonasa umbellus
October 16, 2016

On Track

 

I wandered a muddy dirt road after the recent snowfall melted looking for tracks. This day I got lucky — I also spotted the track-makers.

I surprised two white-tailed does and their fawns grazing in a nearby field. A flick of their tails and the does disappeared into the bush before I got my camera out.

The fawns were a bit slower (wake up kids, it’s a dangerous world out there) — no time to focus, only to click the shutter before they, too, vanished among the trees.

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White-tailed deer   Odocoileus virginianus

Owed to Winter

Rosy cheeks
Runny nose
Chilly fingers
Frost-nipped toes.

Yup. Winter has launched a shot across autumn’s bow. The faint drizzle yesterday turned into several centimetres of the white stuff by morning.

But the temps will rise later this week and the panic to install snow tires, replace the weather stripping and buy new gloves will wane. After all, winter is months way.

Right?


Wild rose hip   Rosa acicularis

 

Closed for the Season

First snowfall of the season arrived yesterday. Not a lot. Just enough to let us know that winter has checked its bags and is on its way south.

A walk along the fence line revealed that many local inhabitants have already hunkered down.

On sunny days just a week or so ago, wood ants in this ant hill still foraged outside for food. Now all is quiet, muffled beneath the white.


Wood ants   Formica spp.