Early February miscellany

World Wetlands Day

Yesterday (February 2nd) was World Wetlands Day; a lot more important than Groundhog day. So here are a few pictures of the wetlands around our home.  We live in Kawartha Lakes which, as the name hints, has many lakes. It is largely flat so the lakes and rivers have large borders of wetlands.

Wetlands are important for many reasons, but I’ll let them speak for themselves via this sign at Windy Ridge Conservation Area, about 20 km downstream from where the Pigeon River flows past our home.

Wetland sign
Wetland sign

Here’s two pictures of the Pigeon River at Windy Ridge, just before Fleetwood Creek joins it.

Pigeon River at Mount Horeb
Pigeon River at Mount Horeb
Pigeon River at Windy Ridge
Pigeon River at Windy Ridge

The next Windy Ridge picture is of one of the many duck nesting boxes along the river.

Windy Ridge Duck nesting box
Windy Ridge Duck nesting box

This is inside a conservation area. The smart ducks live here. Just downstream, there are more hides for hunters than there are nesting boxes in this part, so I don’t think ducks would be safe.

The next picture is of a stand of elms just by the river. I hope they are healthy. We have two healthy-looking elms on the edge of our garden but they’re not yet showing the classic elm shape, even though they’re 10m (30′) high. However, I’ve had to cut down most of them and burn them, because of dutch elm disease. I had to cut two this year.

Elms at Windy Ridge

About a kilometer upstream from us is where the Pigeon starts, in another wetland. I was surprised to find it still flowing, as further downstream it is frozen over (not solid). I suspect that the wetland is spring-fed with slightly warmer underground water as I don’t think the bog is big enough to contain enough water to feed that amount of flow all winter.

Pigeon River source
Pigeon River source

Back to our home

The frontage of our home, along the road, is edged by a small strip of bog, which has shrunk considerably since the council put culverts in. Still, I was lucky it was frozen as I had to walk across to retrieve garbage that had blown into the bushes.  I have also retrieved balloons from here and all over our 13 acres from time to time. It’s not just the people who wander over the land that leave them, but also airborne garbage that is cluttering up the countryside.

Garbage in tree
Garbage in tree

The very mild weather has left us with very little snow. Usually there is an extensive underground network of vole tunnels, but this year they are very exposed. No doubt our local hawks and owls are happy.

Vole tracks
Vole tracks

I expect the birds prefer warmer weather. The ground birds are particularly happy as there are more seeds to eat when the weeds are not covered with snow. But this downy woodpecker felt the need to fluff up and shelter on the south side of the tree from a bitter north wind.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Finally, as a warning, make sure you set alarms when multi-tasking with bread baking, so that this doesn’t happen. The bread turned out fine, maybe a slice less, but the cleanup was a nuisance.

Bread Bowl oops
Bread Bowl oops

Winter birds in Ontario

Birds in my garden in the last few days.

It has been around -15ºC so being a small bird means you lose heat rather fast unless you have really good insulation.

This Downy Woodpecker has what is needed although it resembles a sphere of feathers with a beak sticking out of one end and a stiff tail from the other.  In summer it is much a much sleeker bird.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

This nuthatch follows its example.

 

Rose-breasted nuthatch 1
Rose-breasted nuthatch 1
Rose-breasted nuthatch 2
Rose-breasted nuthatch 2

We have two species of nuthatch around, the Rose-breasted and the White-breasted.  You probably don’t need the captions to know which is which.

White-breasted nuthatch
White-breasted nuthatch

Nuthatches tend to run down trees and to feed what to us seems to be upside down.

White-breasted nuthatch 2
White-breasted nuthatch 2

The chickadees seem more sensible.

Chickadee
Chickadee

The female cardinal likewise fluffs out her feathers and gives me some side-eye because I am in a nice warm house, shooting through the window.

Female Cardinal 1
Female Cardinal 1

This was a day later when the temperature had soared to -8ºC.

Female Cardinal 2
Female Cardinal 2

The sunset maple twigs also provides a bit of colour.  I got a “bird and garden” magazine for Christmas.  It suggested some plants I could use which would flower outdoors in January for a bit of colour. (Well, it said “color”, which explains the optimism).

Female Cardinal 3
Female Cardinal 3

But for real colour, the male cardinal is the real thing.  You may get tired of my pictures of him but we don’t tire of his visits.  The junco wants his share of the attention.

Male Cardinal 2
Male Cardinal 2
Male Cardinal
Male Cardinal