Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Whimbrel - Numenius phaeopus

Yesterday I got a call from a lad over at Dumas on Feldman road. They have a Long-billed Curlew on the grass out in front of the office. WOW. Did someone get pictures?

Yes, Lynn Clement has an excellent camera and took some pictures. I have included a couple of her pictures. Thanks Lynn. I sent the pictures down to Ron Ridout at Bird Studies Canada he will be able to confirm the sighting.  I do not know enough about these types of birds to make informed comments.

Here is the comment back from Ron:  

They are truly wonderful photos and allow me to identify your bird as a Whimbrel. Still, a good bird for Timmins I’m sure.  Long-billed Curlew lacks the definitive head stripes of the Whimbrel  and has a very long bill, easily half again as long as this Whimbrel.

Today I was again informed the little visitor was again on the front lawn on Feldman road. map   I could not resist, at lunch I went for a drive to see for myself. I watched from afar, but noticed traffic passing without creating a reaction in the bird.  I drove past the bird, turned around and came back. I was able to park close to the lawn and watch the bird for awhile. Even took a little video.  The bird remained after I left. 

I wonder what it is finding in the grass, it seems to be plucking something from between the grass blades. Maybe what ever is in the grass will keep the Whimbrel here for sometime.

This is the greatest bird sighting since the Brown pelican was spotted in the lake behind the Mac. No one got pictures, but two excellent reports confirmed the presents. It was only spotted on that one day and never heard from again. The White pelican had a real presents in Timmins for a couple of years, but I have not seen them here for awhile.

If you come across a species out of the typical range I am always interested to hear!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Tree Planting Today

A perfect day for a tree plant.  It was raining, but warm.

The Delta Class from THVS set up  a tour with Goldcorp to see some of the reclamation that has been going on. Part of the our included planting a tree. This was a great opportunity for me to finish the tour I had started at the greenhouse. We did not get to plant a tree during that visit. More on the greenhouse visit.

The rain stopped long enough for us to plant. Each student planted a tree. The area they were planting in had been tailings covered with a biosolid, a waste product produced at the Iroquois Falls paper mill. It grows grass great.

The seedling had some sawdust placed around the tree to help keep the weeds down while they establish. 

The seedlings were also a bigger stock with good root growth filling the 6inch pot they have been growing in. 

This summer Goldcorp expects to plant over 200 jack pine and white spruce seedlings with the help of those taking the tours arranged by the Chamber of Commerce.  

You can buy your own local seed source trees now, or wait for the the Arbor Week special at Millson Forestry Service.

The best time to plant a tree was 50 years ago, the second best time is now!  Get into the habit of planting a tree every year. If you do not have a place to plant your tree I am sure I can point you in the right direction where trees are needed.

Oh yes. One lad asked about the foot print in the mud. What had made the print.  While we were all talking at a story board I could see far in the distance the animal that had made the mark coming closer. The class was distracted from the discussion while the large sandhill crane flew over the group.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Porcupine Watchful Eye

This evening was regular meeting of the Porcupine Watchful Eye people. This group has been meeting for a number of years, I think I have been a regular for the last couple of years.

Goldcorp is in the postition to work with the 
City of Timmins and private land owners to capture tailings that have a problem for the last couple of years.  It is an interesting project and some of the walking trails will have to be relocated for the short term.

In the picture Kees poses for the before picture. In the background a drainage ditch will be constructed to improve water quality.

Tree planting I expect will be the final phase to the rehabilitation.

May 19th - Snow - Come on!

Woke this morning to the wonderful, pretty snow coating everything. It was a little unexpected, but this is Timmins.
I had planted 2 sunflowers in the garden the night before, they were about 20cm tall and in good health. I was surprised today to see them still alive.  

We got the bikes out this weekend and went for a bike ride. I guess I should have made the kids put them in the shed. Mine is in the shed.

In the bush we again have ice in the low shaded areas. This little bird was poking along the ice looking for bugs.  I got a picture and looked in my bird book in the truck. I was unable to say for sure what it was. I will have to look in a differesnt book to be sure.

Do you know what it is? One of you must know. Give me your best guess.

The weather guy tells us warm weather is coming.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Great Horny Toads

Not a great horny toad, but it is the first toad of spring. this little guy was just sitting in the grass beside a small pond beside Gillies lake.
I think the little creature must have just crawled out of it's winter hiding place. It just sat there. the dog gave it a little push with his nose , but no response. I gave it a little push just to see if it would move forward, but it was only interested in absorbing the little bit of  warmth from the sun that was beaming between the clouds. I think it will have to sit for a couple more days until some warmer weather. enature a great site for making identifications of creatures tells me there are 2 types of american toad, but does not discuss the difference. I wonder what it is?

While I took pictures of the toad Roll'n had his head stuck in a hole on the side of the pond. I am sure a muskrat must live there. He likes to play with muskrats. When I was ready to leave he had worked his way into the burrow so that his entire head was not to be seen.

His white face was blackened with poop and mud, he smelled so bad!

We got home and into the bath he went. He hates baths, he hates water for that matter. He will not swim and walks around puddles on the road.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Observation - Cold Day in May

Woke up to a light dusting of snow on the ground. May long weekend, never fails.

Not close to being the record. This morning it was -2C. The record -7.2C was set in 1956. I would prefer the 1962 record high of 33.3C.

Need fire wood to keep yourself warm? Here is the Millson May Special

Friday, May 15, 2009

Bird and Bud

Today I watched a bird and I saw some buds. You just got'a love spring.

I have been watching the growth of a honey suckle for about 07 years now. I noticed it growing in a white spruce plantation that had plenty of poplar competition when I was in the block doing some tending.

I have tried to start cuttings from it, but have not been successful.  How do I regenerate the honeysuckle? If you know - tell me.

The poplar are not yet bursting their buds, but the honeysuckle already have leaves starting to show.  I just love the way the honeysuckle wrap around the poplar, twisting around itself and the poplar stem and branches.

Humming birds enjoy the sweet nectar the flowers produce.

The white spruce are doing very well. 

On the way out of the bush I watched a bird fly across the road. It was a woodpecker, but not one of the small ones. I watched the bird for awhile and figured it must be a black backed woodpecker.

It is a little bigger then the downy and the hairy woodpeckers, with a very black back. The woodpecker was not alone because like Canada Geese  they mate for life. The pair moved around the forest with ease landing on trees that would provide some food.

I took the picture of the woodpecker with my camera-binoculars.  Too bad the picture does not turn out as good as what I see through the binoculars.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Today in the Greenhouse

Seedlings that had been started early in the new year have been moved out of the greenhouse and into a shadehouse.

This means there is more room in the greenhouse to start some more seedlings. I am told we are now starting black spruce.

In the picture is the seeding machine with Mindy, again. If you have been following this blog you will have seen her near the seeding machine a number of times.

What is going on in the picture?  The sheet (insert) of jiffy pellets is placed on the conveyor. A template is place on top before the inserts continues under the seeder. A "cruchunk" of the machine drops seeds into a tube which travels down to the jiffy pellet under the insert. It continues down the converyor where it gets watered before traveling another conveyor to the greenhouse bench.

The jiffy pellets will expand once watered to provide plenty of rome for roots.

Mindy - did I get it right? Dan you are looking good!!

Moose on Highway 101

Come up over a hill and right on the middle of the highway are 2 moose. One large cow and a smaller yearling got off the road faster then I could get my camera out.

I did have to slow down before reaching into the back for the camera. The cow went south and the little one went north. Roll'n really wanted to go and give a little chase. 

If we had been in the bush I would have let him out, he will only chase for a short time, or if the moose turns around.  If the moose stops he stops.

He likes to chase, but he knows better then to catch. Moose are a little bigger then he is.

He does like to attack, once they are down.  Look, here is a youtube video called

We also saw our first bear of the season. We pulled to the side of the road to watch the little bear. The window on Roll'n side was down and he has jumped out of the window before. Not to go after a bear, he knows about bears. He is funny in the bush - a bear is the only animal he will bark at. As the bear leaves the side of the road and enters the bush Roll'n lets out 2 little barks just to tell the bear he better get going.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Oxygen grows in the garden too

So far I have nothing growing, but the snow is gone.

I finished turning the small garden in the back yard. I am behind on starting seeds and did not get it done this weekend again. next weekend is the long weekend so I will have time to play - I hope.

Since oxygen also grows in the garden, soon it will be producing.  I can plant carrots and peas next weekend in the garden the flowers and other vegetables will have to wait until June.

White birch bonsai

I have had a nice little white birch in a pot for the last couple of years. I collected it at the same time I was collecting small yellow birch. I found a clear plastic bowl, I think it was a salad bowl. Drilled some holes in the bottom for drainage.

In a couple of months I will be able to begin to shape it. 

Once I had 5 Ginkgo biloba that I had for 5 years. They were turning into great little bonsia trees. When kid number one came I did not over-winter them properly and they all got root rot. What a drag.  I have not had a good bonsai since then. So I am hoping this one will become a good example.

Kid number 1 really likes it and wants to keep it in the living room. So I guess that is where it will be. I just have to teach the kids how to take care of it.

The one picture has a round piece of glass as the table top on the hollow birch stump. The next thing I want to try is to plant a tree directly into one of the hollow stumps. That will look wonderful. It will be a little heavy and too big for our house.

You can see all the pictures I took, when I take more as the tree takes shape I will post them in the same place. Follow this link


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ducks Water and Ice

Yesterday was the first outdoor soccer practice for the kid.  The field is a little wet on the edges, but other then that it is pretty good.

Finally getting a start to summer. The boys of summer kick'n a ball.

While the kid was ran, jumped and kicked the dog and I went for a walk.  There is a great trail south of Northern College along the lake. One part we had to turn around since it was underwater.

A beaver has been very busy along the side of the lake as many downed trees litter the trail. 

A pair of ducks, male and female mallards, flew from the shore into the lake. Along the lake edge is water, out in the lake only gaps in the ice have water. The ducks are at home between the sheets of ice.

This picture was taken with my camera-binoculars. A 3mp digital camera attached to a pair of binoculars. What you see in the binoculars is what you get a picture of. A light-weight answer to having to lug around a camera and a pair of binoculars.

I still have the pocket digital camera with me, it comes with me everywhere. I have had the digital bino-camera for a couple of years now and I find it pretty good. 

i will put up more pictures from it this summer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Observation - Snow in May

What a wonderful weekend!!

I walked uptown, about 45 minutes. By the time we got to where we were going we had walked in the rain, snow, sleet and more snow.

It has been a long winter so when the next day the boys were out playing basket ball in the warm cloudy weather, they got a little surprise.

Big snow flakes and basket ball go together in Timmins.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Delta class teaching old Muddy Mark

Once again the Delta class from Timmins High and Vocational School came for a tour of the greenhouse complex.

I enjoy having the older kids that ask good questions and have that keen interest to understand the forest.

I was surprised that they knew the White pine is Ontario's arboreal emblem, our provincial tree. 

Wonder about the other Ontario Emblems and Symbols

It was a perfect day for the class to come. In true teenager style they wore running shoes and even one in shorts, while the dusting of snow fell from the sky onto the muddy, very muddy ground. You just got'a love rubber boots!

While walking from the back to the front the class taught me about (oh I know I am not going to get this right but here is my stab at it) potoku, a cree word. It is the area between the snow and the ground where the mice and little creatures forage for food.  We could see in the field where this happened this past winter. You could see the trail on the ground from hole to hole.

The greenhouse is green and very hot. It is wonderful to come into the greenhouse on such cold days. Ask the people working there how nice it is . . . cloudy days are not bad, but it can get pretty hot in there on sunny days.

I wonder what they were impressed by the most?

Spring in the bush

I got to go to the bush this week. !!!!!

That makes me happy. I was out to look at the roads and harvest area. Lots of water. All the snow is gone in the cut over area, but there are still pockets of snow under the trees.

A pair of sandhill cranes flies up as I come over a hill walking on the road. I had my camera and my camera-binoculars, but I was not fast enough to get a picture of them flying away. 

Starlings were super loud. There was a big flock of them moving across the cut over, jumping from standing water puddle to the next. Mixed in with the group were chickadees and sparrows.

A couple of ratty looking butterflies came lofting along the muddy road. They would land, I would chase, they would not let me get very close. I think they are Mourning Cloak

It is good to be out walking in the sunshine again.

The dog is covered in mud up to his belly and my boots are covered in mud. the side of the road is soft at the puddles and my boots sink 25cm, not deep enough to go over the top.