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Posts Tagged ‘Marsh Wren’


Saturday, March 31, 2012

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Friday … the end of the work week .. and another day of activity.  A real mix of weather, ranging from brilliant sunshine to pouring rain.

What to do .. what to do … what to do…

Shopping of course .. made a list, actually brought it with me and then left it in the car!  Groceries first .. went to a few supermarkets to take advantage of sales.  Found some good deals and soon the back of my car was loaded up.   Also purchased the most beautiful umbrella at the bank, proceeds go to Children’s Hospital.  It’s just the loveliest umbrella I’ve ever had. There are two coverings.  The outer (top) is black and the inner cover is a cheerful blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds.  How appropriate for one who loves the sky so much!   And I actually had the opportunity to use this in the afternoon when I went for a little walk!   I had my blue skies with me, even though it was pouring rain!

Decided to just make a “little” visit to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.  When I got there, the little parking lot was jammed full .. so decided to leave unless a spot happened to open up.  Just as I made this decision, I noticed someone preparing to get into their car and leave.  Hmmm.. what can I say?  So I waited a few minutes and then parked in the now vacant spot.

Pulled on my gumboots and started walking.   Sauntered along  the pathway to Tuesday Pond … went to the side area  .. which is now nicely covered in mulch .  This mulch looks just like the pine chippings that I scooped up a few days ago, from “free” in Used Victoria ads.     I’m getting to know my mulch.  And glad that I still have 6 large Rubbermaid containers full at home .. plan to use this on my back pathway.   Pine mulch is not good for gardens, but perfect for pathways.

Anyway .. onwards I went .. and saw no ducks at the side area .. so I retraced my steps, planning to take the shortcut to the little bridge which spans the Tuesday Pond area.  Oops .. there is a large Canada Goose along the shores .. so I decided to go the long way around.  The Geese  can be a bit territorial and I didn’t want any confrontations.

I walked along the pathway for a while, tempted to walk the full circuit around the Sanctuary, but decided on a shorter version, it’s too easy to spend hours and hours here and I have things to do at home.

Eventually I turned back and made my way to the main observatory.  Noticed many cleared areas, invasive plant growth removed, lots of sunshine now entering the cleared areas.  Lovely ..lots of volunteers have helped to open up these side wooded areas.

I could hear the calls of many birds, some of which I recognized.  The songs of the Red Wing Blackbirds, the males and the females.  The Marsh Wrens.  And many others.

Spoke with other people looking out for birds and feeding the ducks.  Saw the Cormorants were still settled on the wooden platform which is tethered to the shore.  Separate from the main walkway and inaccessible to the public, a safe haven for the birds.

Noticed a Great Blue Heron stalking prey for lunch, very stealthy.  Then, ta da, he swiftly gathered up a rodent, and just as swiftly, in one gulp, it was gone.   Nature at work.

Stopped and watched some Red Winged Blackbirds as they sang away.  These are quite beautiful birds and the females have the most beautiful songs to sing.

Finally I tear myself away and go to the Nature House to see if my place on the Native Plant workshop has changed .. I’m currently Number 3 on the wait list. Nope, unchanged.  And no phone calls as of this morning, so I didn’t make the cut.  Boo hoo .. that will teach me to procrastinate!  If I’d contacted them when I first saw the ad, I’d be there right now.  Oh, well, there will be other workshops, I know.

Homeward bound …noticed that the sunny morning skies have changed and now were overcast.  Groceries brought in and put away.  Time for tea!

Played around in my garden room.   Sorting seeds.  Found some packages that were either purchased by me or given to me as gifts.  Boxed herb seeds.  A package of Korean pine tree seeds, complete with compostable plant pot and saucer.   I followed the instructions given on the enclosed sheet and now the seeds are sitting in the moistened potting mix and awaiting germination.  If they sprout, then I’ll keep them in pots.    Perhaps I’ll plant them on our future property, but time will tell if they will indeed sprout.

Then, the herb package, sweet little clay pots, 4 labelled aluminum plant stakes and 4 envelopes of seeds.  I’ll put them in plant pots and see if they will germinate.  If they do, then I’ll have lots of basil, parsley, thyme and cilantro for the summer.  You just never know.

Finding (and using) these hidden treasures  gives me incentive to continue on with my clearing away the clutter in my garden room.

I also found time to look through some watercolour instruction books.  Looking for ideas that I can use to paint some white rectangular tiles.   I’ll take the painting ideas and use them on a variety of things for the garden.  It would be fun to paint some leftover boards and try to make signage for the garden.  Another fun project for a sunny day.

Went outside for a few minutes, in between the rainy showers and checked out the garlic, growing quite strongly now.   Looked up in the sky .. no eagles flying around.  Heard the rapid taps at the bird feeder as a little chickadee pecked away at the acrylic sides of the feeder – to remind me to add more sunflower seeds to the feeder!   Ha ha ha .. went inside to fetch the sunflower seed container and then added a cup full to the various feeders.    The birds only tap at this feeder when it’s empty, smart little guys, aren’t they?

Rains began, so inside I went.  And on with my day.

🙂

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

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So Tuesday was slightly overcast and I went for a little walk to Swan Lake .. only for 1 ½ hours !!  I just had to go and see the new structure by the Nature House, with the green roof.   It is just beautiful and planted with native grasses, plants and flowers.  I look forward to seeing the changes over the coming seasons, as the garden grows and grows.

Listened to the cries of the male Red Winged Blackbirds as they called out, marking their territory or calling to their mates?  Heard the songs of the Marsh Wrens.  The territorial honking of the Canada Geese.   Didn’t see many Mallards though .. perhaps they were all in the side marshes.

Saw one of the local eagles soaring .. nearby was a seagull, both seemed to be sailing along on the same air currents.  The eagle wasn’t hungry, so the gull was safe.  Later on .. I noticed some crows playing around with the eagle .. and the eagle just ignored them and flew farther afield.

Not many people out walking when I was there .. just a few joggers, birders out on the trails.

Talked to one of the Sanctuary employees about the markings on the Mallards .. turns out that each one does have a different look about them.  The older ducks have longer back feathers.  There are slight differences in eye markings and colouration.  The green billed Drake is a bit unusual and might be the result of some breeding with another type of duck.  So now I will start to pay attention to the differences.  I do note that some of the females have darker feather markings.

Lovely relaxing walk!

Then, back home, outside, busy reshaping the veggie garden .. an easy thing to do, since I use rocks and bricks as borders.   Room for change .. which is a great thing for the garden.

Still feel so terrible about the Scotts Miracle Gro birdseed .. and awaiting a response to the e-mail that I sent yesterday.  I’ll go to the supermarket to fetch more fat for the feeders.

Sat down for a while to leaf through my birding books, seeking recipes for our birds.  I have most of the supplies in the cupboard so will make some for the fall.  Right now there are plenty of insects for the birds to munch on .. and I still have sunflower seeds for them.

Felt wonderful to be outside.   I’m trying to decide where to place my many propagated plants.  Think that I might change the shape of the veggie garden and then re-arrange the plants in a nice tidy fashion.

The branches are starting to green up with new leafy growth and soon the yard will be nicely framed with greenery.  The Silver Lace Vine (aka “mile a  minute”) is living up to its name and there is new growth on the old woody stems and now is the time to train them to grow along the top of the fence.  They have a tendency to grow up the plum trees . .so I’ve caught them in time.

I’m trying to pot up the comfrey so that it won’t grow wild in the yard.  There is a type of comfrey that doesn’t spread, Bocking 14, a Russian cultivar .. so I’ll be looking out for this one.  The comfrey that is in our yard (all over the yard!!) originated from just a few plants that I obtained many, many years ago.   The bees love the flowers (which unfurl a few at a time) and the leaves are good for the compost, so it really is a good plant.  I just don’t want it growing all over, as they get to be quite large.

Replanted the two large currant plants .. there is a lot of new growth on these.  And still digging out raspberry canes to form a raspberry bed.   These canes originated from just a few canes given to me by a co-worker, many years ago.   And I’ve given away the volunteers for years and they keep on growing.  Good thing, as they produce massive amounts of berries!

This year I’m also training blackberries along the fence, nice and neat.  What tastes more delicious than ripe berries, warmed by the summer sun?  I’ve dug up tons of these berries from the yard and finally decided to keep some of them.  Why fight them, they will be a nice addition on the fence, no harm.

Well, the day is marching on and I’m eager to get outside.

🙂

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Tuesday, January 31, 2011

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  Ah, Monday .. Monday .. where did you go?  I was up early enough .. wanted to go for a quick walk and then buckle down with my garden studies.

But … did I follow through with that?

Heck no!

I dillied and dallied and played with our new computer.   Took care of the feeding, playing and cleaning up of the feline part of our family.

Went outside, filling up bird feeders & suet holders.

Finally .. outside and started my walk.   Or at least, that is what I intended to do.  Then I met a neighbour and so we began a conversation about the neighbourhood . .and the ugly big box building that is going on in the neighbourhood.   And things along that vein.    Another neighbour joined our group.   And the discussion continued.

Finally, shivering .. it was chilly!  I bade goodby and began my trek to Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary.

Promised myself that I would only walk to the short observatory and then return home .. lots of studying to be done.

Well .. once I got there .. I just relaxed and continued walking on the pathways –  looking out for birds.  Then I met up with one of the guardians of this wonderful treasure of nature and we had a chat about the goings-on.    Sad to hear that the eagles had captured a Heron.   At first I was shocked, and then, later on, during my walk,  I remembered hearing that Beacon Hill Park had experienced the same problem .. years ago.  That was a time when I wasn’t tuned in to the majestic beauty of these birds.  Now, this saddens me.  I know .. it’s nature.

So I enjoyed seeing the cheerful appearance of the Robins .. the wrens .. the Mallards.   Didn’t see any eagles during my time there.  Not much happening at the short observatory.   Looked at the marsh grasses .. wondering when these grasses would grow tall enough for the Marsh Wren to build her nest.

The lake was empty of birds ..only a few Coots swimming around.  No Herons.  No Geese.  They must be dining elsewhere.  Funny, last year I used to walk around the Sanctuary nearly every day and I always saw so much activity.  This year I’ve settled into a different pattern of more activity, less walking .. and I don’t see very many birds. (except for today and I’ll write about that tomorrow!!   whoo .. eee .. this was a great day!)

Finally, time to go back home and start my “learnin”!

In the kitchen, I turned on the laptop .. this thing is a workhorse.  It’s a second-hand Toshiba that I purchased last year for $85.  It’s not the fastest laptop in the world, but .. it’s paid for.  And it plods ahead.

I opted to using this instead of our brand spanking new computer because:

a) the new computer is in the side room or “study”

b) the laptop is portable .. and I set it up on the kitchen table.  This way, I can look out the kitchen window and see the birds.

We’ve set up one of those translucent bird feeders that attach to the window with suction cups.  The birds love it.  And the aluminum blinds, well, I’ve angled them so that the birds can’t see us .. and so they can relax and feed at will.  So sweet to see them standing on the top of the sundeck fencing area and on a board beneath the window .. nibbling away at birdseed.

They are so very sweet .. tiny little sparkling eyes, fluffy plumage.  And yesterday morning, after I’d opened up the blinds and flung aside the kitchen curtains .. there was a little Red-Breasted Nuthatch.   I love his little nasal chirps.  No mistaking him.

There is so very much information to learn … I just worked away, reading from the course textbook, typing notes .. willing all this information to stick to my consciousness.

Then, later, supper prepared for DH and then it was time for me to go out for a monthly Coronation Street supper … a few hours of talking about the show .. and other things.  Quite a fun evening.  Listening to some friends discussing their travels… and catching up on what’s been going on.  Lots of fun.  There’s nothing quite as enjoyable as a good meal and lively conversation and that’s what we enjoyed last night!

Then, we dissect the life out of the show’s scripts .. sometimes they are so good and other times .. not worth the air time.  There is always a variety of writers so the scripts are sometimes much better than others.

Oh oh .. a reminder that DH & I will see William Roach in just over a month!  yippeee.  I still need to make up a list of questions. A once in a lifetime opportunity to do so.  So the questions need to be good .. and unusual!

Well .. the day is done and so time to end this lengthy rambling.

Tomorrow … I’ll focus on more studying.  I sure love this Organic Master Gardening Course .. a program like no other!!

And .. I just have to visit Swan Lake again .. I’m hooked!

🙂

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Monday, January 22, 2011

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 It was up at at ’em early this morning .. before the sun had risen.  I find it’s such a productive day when I’m up and about early in the day.  Lots of time to relax, pot of Yorkshire Tea .. tend to the kittie-kats and then spent some time entering the details of my latest batch of gardening books into my data base.

A few hours later, called Mother Computers to see about the state of the computer .. turns out that all I need to do is to plug in the external hard drive and the hub into the back of the tower, these items will then power from the actual motherboard .. instead of at the front.  The result is that my computer now runs well, very well, actually.  And I don’t have to deal with purchasing a new computer.   This store is where I will purchase (eventually, when the $$ has been saved) my future computer.  The service is always excellent at this store.  The guys know their computers and treat all of us non computer-savvy people with patience and, shall I say, respect?  Very comfortable atmosphere.

Then, I decided to take some time to visit Swan Lake Sanctuary.   I needed a connection to some re-energizing  intensive nature therapy and of all the lovely natural places that  feed my soul .. this is the closest one.

I was feeling a little, um, un-energized.  Just before I’d left to pick up the computer tower, I’d gone for a look around the back yard .. to check on the status of the bird feeders.   Most of which were empty as a result of the whirling winds of yesterday.   And I was saddened to see that a number of fence boards had become detached at one area of the fence.   They were lying on the ground and there were gaping spaces into another yard.

Most of the fence is standing strong, it’s just in some areas where the boards have become loose .. the majority of the fence is in good shape.

And I felt such a loss of privacy, it really struck hard.  My garden is my haven.  So I went about the activity of propping up the boards as best as I could, to try and restore the sense of intimate solitude that normally exists in this space.  We’ll be replacing a number of the panels this spring .. and for now, simple repairs will need to be done.    I’ll get going on these interim repairs as soon as the weather stays sunny for a few hours.

So a sense of energizing positivity was in order.   Soon, I was walking along a pathway at Swan Lake.   As I went along, I became aware of the six foot high stand of marsh grasses that bordered the section of path.   It felt like a fence and so I started thinking about the significance’s of fences.

Over the years I’ve read about, and spoken with people about .. the importance of fences on their property.   That, and screening are topics of great interest to many people.

As I walked along the path, aware of the physical presence of this fence-like growth of grassy barrier, I felt a quiet energy emanating from it .. it seemed to add a layer of privacy to the creatures that live in the Sanctuary .. a buffer between them and the thousands of people who visit their natural living spaces.   Allowing them to live their daily lives away from the prying eyes of the public.  Space for them to build their homes, raise their young, defend their territory.  A space of dignity and privacy.

And to me, this embodies the physical presence of a fenced in yard.    Most of us do not have the luxury of large properties.  In the cities, we only have a yard.   And in this yard, we live our outdoor lives.   To garden, to create and enjoy a limited square footage of freedom from strangers eyes.   A haven for relaxation and a space to be alone with our bit of freedom.   Our own little renditions of  Swan Lake.

I breathed deeply … walking slowly … enjoying the solitude.  It wasn’t quite lunchtime yet and the noon joggers weren’t yet outside.   Cheerful chirps filled the air.  The silky whisper of the dry grasses mingled with the sounds of the little streams that rippled down the sloping fields were all like music to my ears.

Until, that is, I caught a glimpse of the white tail feathers of one of the local eagles.  Flared out and flying low.  So I sped up my pace and quickly reached a higher elevation with a better view.  Except, the bird had flown on.  Darn.  Reached the little observatory and gently tread on the wooden boards … a pair of  Mallards swam out from the edges of the shore and approached the walkway.  I brought out the bag of flatted oats and tossed them out onto the surface of the water.   Luckily there were no other ducks nearby, so they were able to feast quietly.

Stood at the end of the observatory … noticed some beer cans and bottles left by some highly (not) sophisticated nocturnal visitors.   I’d noticed that someone had plucked some debris already, from the lake and there was a tidy little pile waiting at the beginning of the boards.

Out in the middle of the lake, a group of Geese and mallards were attending to their daily ablutions.   Much flapping of wings against the water, raising up on tiptoe …. they were contentedly social.  And all of them were very vocal, chattering back and forth.

Looked at the side grasses .. thinking that the Marsh Wrens will be nesting in a few months.

Not much happening here .. so I retraced my steps and went for a little walkway down the trail .. and then .. back again .. time to go home and get going.   Stopped at a little side pond.   Looking at a little Mallard who was quietly feeding in the waters.

Hey up!  Caught some aerial movement, looked through the binoculars and saw the eagle, flying low and slow over the water … was able to get a quick pic as it flew away.   Happy that I had stopped to catch sight of this magnificent creature.  By this time of the day, there were a fair number of people jogging and walking .. couldn’t see any one stop and look up to the sky, though.    What they missed.

Feeling much better for having seen, heard .. and experienced such a bevy of positivity.   Reached the end of the path .. decided to stop and have a final look at the Sanctuary before I left.   Glad that I did.

Noticed an Anna, hovering beside the top of a tall tree, then quickly, it flew swiftly skyward … higher and higher to a certain point, and then dive bombing the air space down below .. resulting in that high pitched whistle .. the supersonic sound of its flight!  I’ve often heard this in the backyard, but could never pinpoint where it was happening.  How lucky that I felt to be witness to this, today.  He repeated the procedure a number of times and then flew away.  Leaving me marvelling again at the wondrous beauty of nature and humbly grateful at my good fortune to witness this without intruding.

I returned home in a very positive state of mind.  Ready to tackle mountains.  But really, I just finished putting away my books.

Anyway, I actually did a lot more than that .. but that’s enough for today.  A lovely day.

 

 

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 Friday, November 25, 2011 

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Yesterday was one of those days when the weather was dubious enough to make one think that it might rain .. at least that is how the day started out.  Once the morning household duties were done and I’d dutifully spruced up the three litter boxes… I pondered “what should I do today”.

It wasn’t raining, so I decided to not do the “inside” jobs .. ie .. shortening the drapes.  I’m waiting for a very rainy day to do that chore.

So, I went outside, to check on the supply of birdseed in the back yard.   And once I’d spent a few minutes enjoying the feathered flurries .. I’d made up my mind to visit Swan Lake again.  And shortly thereafter, I was on my way there.  With a bag of flatted oats to feed to the Mallards .. and I sure looked forward to visiting them again.  The babies from spring are all grown up and it’s been awhile since I’ve seen them.

Ah, it felt wonderful to be walking along the pathways once again.  No birding groups were seen and I only saw a few people along the way, included some joggers and others like me .. just wandering around.

A soft carpet of leaves covered parts of the walkways, random sizes and types creating a luxurious layer of earthen beauty.  The now-bare branches of the deciduous trees punctuated the edges of the grassy meadows casting a dramatic aspect to the fall scenery.  The tall marsh grasses, in all their muted shades of gold .. swayed gently in the breeze .. creating a whispery orchestral song that filled the air.  Wow …  I sure love this place!

Along the way, I stopped off at the little observatory .. but no joy .. couldn’t see any ducks .. the wind was picking up .. sending sweeping ripples of water along the surface of the lake.

Continued on my way … enjoying the tranquility of this most lovely place.  Eventually I reached the main observatory .. and again .. could not see any ducks!   When I reached the floating boardwalk .. there was a sign showing that the walkway was closed .. and there was an alternate route, but this involved walking along roadways and neighbourhoods and I just wanted to get away from that right now .. preferring to stay in natural surroundings … sigh .. so I retraced my steps.

And on my return trip, decided to stop at the observatory.   This time I saw a little otter undulating through the water near the shore.  Such a smooth swimmer and it was just the tiniest movement that caught my eye.  He swam to shore and then played around the base of the tall marsh grasses.

I noticed that the tall grasses by the edge of the observatory had shrunk from the tall glory of spring and the remnants of the Marsh Wren‘s nest were no longer visible.

Stayed here for a while … looking out at the waters of Swan Lake, drinking in the beauty of this place .. fully appreciating the work of those who had worked so hard to retain this natural gem .. thank you thank you thank you thank you

Resumed my walk along the pathway .. stopping now and then to look at creatures along the way.  A grey squirrel, sitting on his haunches in the middle of the pathway … caught unawares of my presence .. stood still for a full minute .. and then I finally brought my camera out of its case to take a pic .. and…. Murphy!  he scampered away into the bushes!

Then a group of Robins flew past me .. settling in the trees!  So lovely.

Soon I’d reached the concrete stretches of sidewalks and shortly thereafter I was back home.    My walk had lasted for 2 1/2 hours .. so it was a decadent bit of time that I fully enjoyed.

Now I was all set to garden and so I stepped outside .. all ready to do just that .. but the rains stopped me!  So I spent some time painting glasses!  But more about that tomorrow!

It’s been a day .. and I’m happy that my fall nature walks have again resumed.

🙂

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