Sunday, November 9, 2014

2014 Plantings

The boy scouts planted trees to the west of the 2011 planting area as well as inside the 2011 planting area last year but the mowers cut the area in the fall. They replanted the area to the west of the 2011 area this spring and I put a few of the white tree protectors around the new seedlings over the summer so that the seedlings might get noticed this fall by the mower operator.

The mower operator this fall was more keen sighted than last year and I think the seedlings are safe. The mower operators also decided to leave the pathway around the 2009 area untouched this year so the wild flowers and poplars have invaded the pathway.

The 2014 planting area

The 2014 pathway

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Keeping an eye on me.

When visiting the roadside area, the birds remind me who is the real curiosity there. They'll perch in the trees and caw or chirp to tell all and sundry that I am here. Today a family of crows took up the call as I was walking past the crab apples. I attempted to get a picture of one before they flew away. Later, as I was putting white plastic tree protectors on the newly planted trees, a family of goldfinches kept me under observation. Again it was not easy to get a picture with my little old Fuji F550 as they kept well away from the intruder.

Last week as I was biking east along Hunt Club Road I surprised a deer standing by the edge of the road. It's the first time I have seen a deer on the road's side of the farm fence. She was located just a few hundred meters from the tree planting area with the only obstruction in here way being the 4 lanes of traffic. Someday perhaps there will be deer visiting the apple trees of the berm area.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Plant Succession

I find it very interesting how when the city stops mowing the grass there is a rapid succession of plants, first comes bird's foot trefoil then purple vetch and then the grass comes back as the dominant field plant again. I imagine there are further stages but I haven't encountered them yet.

In the above photo taken earlier this summer, you can still tell where the mower reached in 2011. This is a view along the edge of the 2011 planting area; in the summer of 2011 the mowers were guided by the easily visible newly planted trees. The city then put the naturalization area sign in later in the summer a few feet in front of the treed area. In the following years the mowers couldn't see the trees as easily because of the long grass and so took their cue from the location of the sign adding another broad swath of lawn to the uncut area. The strip in front of the tree planting area has since grown over in trefoil. In contrast, the 2011 tree planting area further back from the bike path has had four summers without mowing and is mostly past the trefoil stage and is now more dominated by purple vetch.

The 2009 tree planting area which is in its sixth year without mowing is mostly free of both trefoil and vetch; there the field areas are dominated by grasses again with the patches of sumac rapidly invading the open spaces. Some trees are tall enough to compete with the sumac but I have broken off some sumac stalks to let the light down to a couple of spruce trees that were becoming overgrown.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Viper's Bugloss

Clouded plant bug(Neurocolpus nubilus)

Things sometimes change very slowly in the natural world; the Manordale students that first planted trees out on the berm have mostly all graduated to middle school or even high school by now, yet many things persist out on the berm. The patch of devil's paint brush is ever in the same spot; the patch of chickory keeps coming back despite the mower, and there are always one or two viper's bugloss flowers tucked under the sumac by the road. This year the mower hasn't seen fit to mow the path between the 2009 planting area and the trees so one of the viper's bugloss plants has ventured out into the sun. When taking a picture of it I noticed a bunch of familiar looking bugs hanging out on the spike of flowers. I think they are clouded plant bugs; although there are so many similar plant bugs I am not confident in the identification.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Staying til Dusk

I wanted to see some bats this year so I decided to stay out on the berm this evening. It didn't get dark enough until around 9:30 and the mosquitoes kept me on the move walking around the berm area. The mosquitoes are pretty bad this year, fortunately I can tolerate being bitten as my skin doesn't react very much to mosquito bites. I noticed a few june bugs that would make a good meal for a bat. They seem to like to hover around the young maples along the edge of the 2009 planting area. I eventually saw a couple of bats swooping around and then hurried back home to get away from the mosquitoes. On the way back I spotted some fireflies hanging out in the long grass. I don't think I have noticed them in previous years so that was some reward for my patience (and blood) in staying out til dusk.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Amber Snails

Amber Snail (Family Succineidae?)

There has been a population explosion of amber snails in the 2009 tree area. They are climbing all over the grass and meadow plants. There are so many you have to watch where you step. It's strange that they only seem to be in that area and in the adjacent bushy area. There is no noticeable concentration in the 2010 or 2011 or 2013 areas or in the grass across the road. I tried to estimate how many there must be in the concentration by counting the number in three test areas chosen at random. In one one meter square area in the strip normally mowed but not yet cut this year (close to the forest) there were 23 snails, in a second in the bushy area there were 50 and in a third in the 2009 area there were 10. The total area is about 2000 square meters so there are probably tens of thousands of amber snails climbing all over the meadow.

One that climbed to the top of the flowering kentucky bluegrass. In the background are two snails that might be mating.

A fairly clear picture of one on a dandelion leaf.

A whole group at one of their typical hangout spots: a clump of fescue.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Emerald Ash Borer is here

The trilliums are just about over for another year. Above is a picture of some of the trilliums we transplanted to the 1995 tree area in 2009. This clump and the clump of bloodroot transplanted at the same time are only slowly expanding.

There is an ash tree close to the trilliums that I have suspected for a while was suffering from emerald ash borer. The winter before last I saw a hole which looked like a woodpecker had been feeding on the tree and last year it only had a sparse canopy. This year while visiting the trilliums I noticed that there are several of the D shaped holes (see below) in the trunk that Emerald Ash Borers make when they emerge as adults from the tree.

This spring the only signs of life on this tree are on the shoots coming up from the base. Presumably the emerald ash borers have completely girdled the trunk of the tree. The shoots at the base of the tree are another indication that the tree is under attack, but I probably should use the past tense as once you see the exit holes the emerald ash borers have done their work and have already left.

On the berm beside Huntclub these are the first definite signs I've seen of Emerald Ash Borer but last year the damage from the ash borers really became noticeable in this part of the city. There was a whole line of dead ash trees on Baseline and some dead trees along Woodroffe.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Winter Damage 2014

I took a walk around the berm area today inspecting the winter damage. The winter damage to the pine trees was more severe than last year. Some of the buds look dead. There was also a lot of meadow vole damage. The sugar maples in particular were severely damaged but even the sumacs were hit. Below is a picture of the base of one of the sugar maples where the voles got at it below the white plastic protective spirals.

Orange-Banded Arion (Arion fasciatus)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Equinox

This is the official start to spring but there is still a lot of snow on the ground and the weather is supposed to stay cold for another week. This has been a cold winter for much of North America. In Ottawa the snow came early and has stayed all winter. There are robins and starlings about but they are going to have to wait a while longer before there is bare earth along the berm.