Wind!Lots of Wind! Wildlife! Hockey!
I didn’t have much exciting planned this afternoon when I opened the door and headed out to my car with my camera equipment. I thought that I might like to head to the Experimental Farm and photograph the Magnolias and other flowering trees. Then the wind and heat hit me right in the face. +26C or higher and wind gusts forecast in the 60kph- 90kph range!
So much for thinking about macro shots of magnolia blossoms out in an open area. Change of plans. Headed over to the Old Quarry Trail instead. Wind is not as bad as the snow storm that hit Northern Ontario earlier or the huge sandstorm that darkened the skies of the capital of Saudi Arabia last night so I’m certainly not about to complain but weather can certainly change one’s plans in a hurry.
At this time of the year, the deer are shedding their winter coats and growing in new summer coats so can look rather ragged for awhile.
As the wind whipped across the open areas of the marsh, I was somewhat surprised that the cattails were able to retain their integrity so well but I guess they managed to keep their heads through the winter so a bit of wind would be just one more challenge. I half expected a blizzard of cattail seeds to be filling the air.
The woods provided some shelter from the wind which, by 4PM were beginning to gust in the 90kph range and Environment Canada had a wind alert/warning issued for most of southern Ontario.
Since wildlife was a bit jittery, I decided to focus on things that weren’t moving much – tree trunks!
This first couple of images are of the trunk of the White Birch (Betula papyrifera) which is also called the Paper Birch because it is possible to write on the bark of this tree, and thus use it as a form of substitute paper. It is the provincial tree of Saskatchewan. The bark of this species will peel off as a single sheet and is waterproof. For this reason, the White Birch was used in the building of the famous light weight but durable birch bark canoe used by early fur traders to transport goods into the central parts of Canada. Then, on the return trip, these canoes were used to transport beaver pelts back to the Eastern fur traders who would ship them to the European markets. Interestingly, this is the Birch referred to when singing, “Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver” but is not the European Silver Birch, a different Betula sp. Just another example of misidentification by the early settlers and traders.
Although the wood of the Paper Birch is sometimes used in the manufacture of furniture, most Birch furniture and birch flooring is produced using the wood of another Betula sp, the Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), so named because of the yellowish coloration of its bark. Unlike the bark of the White Birch, which peels off in sheets, the bark of the Yellow Birch is ribbon-like and shreds. This birch species is the provincial tree of Quebec.
There are a number of evergreen species growing in Ottawa’s Greenbelt so, when walking on the trails or crossing a piece of swamp land, it is not unusual to be surrounded by many different species rather than a single species as one might find in a planted woodlot or some reforestation projects.
Each of the tree species have a bark which is different. In the cases of the hemlock/cedar species, the bark is grooved vertically while in the case of the Pines and Firs, the bark has a flaky, scaly, appearance.
The bark of the Poplar is rather smooth when younger but, as it gets older, it can develop a warty appearance.
No trees fell on me, but there was lots of swaying and creaking going on. There were plenty of trees in the woods that had fallen or were getting closer to the end. Some had been visited by the large Pileated Woodpecker, while others were sporting various species of polypore fungi.
There were a number of butterfly species along the trail today, but only this Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) would stay in the same area long enough for me to get a picture or two. The Red Amiral overwinters farther south as an adult and then, when Spring temperatures moderate, the adults migrate north to recolonize areas of Canada. From the number of Red Admiral butterflies that I saw in the area today, this migration is now fully underway.
In addition to butterflies and deer, there were other things of interest along the trail including a porcupine up in a tree.
When I got down on my knees, it was nice to see the mosses springing to life and small mushrooms coming out of the ground.
At another location, I sat by a trail and spied a Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis) coming toward me. Eventually, it got close enough for me to get down to its level with my vintage Nippon Kogaku 55mm f3.5 MF Macro lens. A bit like playing hide and seek, the snake poked its head out through the space in the grass and used its tongue to “sniff” the air as it tried to determine just what it had encountered in its path.
There is a NHL playoff hockey game on at the Scotiabank Place home of the Ottawa Senators tonight against the New York Rangers, so I will be working on today’s photos with a bag of potato chips on my lap and one eye on the hockey game on TV.
The Senators lost tonight’s game 1-0 and I’m back continuing to work on uploading a few more photos from today’s outing.
As I was walking around the trails, I met a few others out enjoying the warm weather and the wild winds. One of them was this photographer out for a stroll with her nieces. They were happy to see the deer and a pair of Mallard ducks.
Another person whom I met on the trail today was Larry. He had just received a gift from another one of the regular visitors to this trail and was pretty happy about it.
Me, I had had a pretty decent walk in the woods. All that was left to do was get myself up off of the ground one more time and head for home. The Chipmunks and Squirrels would take care to clean up after all of us visitors had left :-).
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