Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 30 May 2014

The limey green season

I love this time of year at Rondeau, when the vegetation is such a vivid green, the breeding birds are in full song, the mosquitoes are almost non-existent, or at least tolerable, and on weekdays, there is hardly another person in the park. The trails, indeed almost the entire park, is all mine :-).

One can really appreciate what the natural world has to offer, when you are in it by yourself. The only sounds, sights and smells are those of nature. You aren't distracted by human chatter, passing vehicles and such.

And it can be a real opportunity to see wildlife when it is less inhibited. Just recently I was walking along the trail shown in the first two photos, Spicebush Trail, and there is at least one pair of Pileated Woodpeckers that have a territory overlapping this trail's area. I had been photographing wildflowers since there was a profusion of them, and during the middle part of the day the birds were quieter. So the only lens I had was my 100mm macro lens, on a full frame camera, which had very little telephoto effect. I noticed some movement out of the corner of my eye and there, ripping into a rotting log, was a female Pileated Woodpecker. They are not typically tolerant of humans, but this one was an exception. She could see me, I was sure, but made no move to fly, so I cautiously crept closer, getting a few photos as I got closer. The one shown below was taken with my macro lens....I was no more than about 3 metres from this bird and as I got closer I wondered if I would have to use my macro feature! In all my years at Rondeau, this is the closest I have been able to approach.

After watching her for a few moments, she moved off to another rotting log a short distance away. And I went back to shooting wildflowers, which are abundant in this early spring season, but still revelled in the encounter with this magnificent bird.

Violets are extremely common, and there are several kinds. Some violets have flowers on the main stem that also has leaves, such as this Smooth Yellow Violet.

Other species have the flowering stem separate from the leaves, such as this Wooly Blue Violet.

Similarly, the Long-spurred Violet has flowering stems on separate stems from the leaves. They are easily distinguished by their much paler colour and the very long spur at the back.

Wildflowers didn't use to be so lush and abundant at Rondeau, due to the extremely high number of white-tailed deer. At one point there were about 600 deer overwintering in the park, and when the first bits of greenery showed, the by now ravenously hungry deer devoured the fresh plant was a welcome change from dry twigs all winter! But it played havoc with the wildflowers. Back in about 1978 there were two deer exclosures constructed, to demonstrate the impacts of a high population of deer browsing. The response of wildflowers from no deer browsing pressure in those exclosures since that time has been dramatic.

This first photo shows typical spring wildflowers and greenery inside the deer exclosure.

For this next photo, I turned around 180 degrees and took a shot showing what the wildflowers looked like in the unprotected area.....same camera, same lens.

The exclosures are just south of Bennett Ave and also just south of Gardiner Ave. They can be viewed by the public, although the trails to them aren't as obviously marked as they once were, so take a look for yourself next time you are in the area. It is dramatic!!!

Some wildflowers are easily recognized by most people. Trilliums, for example. But these next few photos show trilliums that you probably have never seen before.

This is actually a Red Trillium. I don't have the Photoshop capabilities to produce something like this :-). I had never seen one with six petals before. I have seen trilliums with four petals on occasion, but never six. This individual occurred along the Spicebush Trail in 2013. It did not reappear in 2014.

This is also a Red Trillium.....very rarely a yellow colour form will occur. I have only seen this on 3 occasions. This one was growing right next to a typical Red Trillium as shown in the next photo. Interestingly I first found this individual in 2013, and the same one appeared at exactly the same spot in 2014.

Other typical spring wildflowers are as follows:

Wild Blue Phlox

Wood Anemone
The next one is a species that you have walked by on numerous occasions if you have been on Spicebush Trail, but chances are you have never noticed it. It is known as Mitrewort, and is quite diminutive. This first photo is an overall shot, and you can see a spike of tiny white flowers. The whole plant is often less than a foot high, with two small paired leaves.

As one gets a closer look, the intricate details become obvious.

 And if you get really close, you may be amazed at the level of detail in this tiny flower, which in real life measures only about 3 mm in diameter! I took this with a 100 mm macro lens at minimum focus, and then put on all three extension tubes (an additional 68 mm) to increase the magnification. Then I cropped it heavily on the computer, to illustrate the detail seen here.

You really have to get on your hands and knees to see this beauty, and even then it is handy to have a hand lens. The macro world is fun and fascinating to explore!

As I completed the loop of the Spicebush Trail, the very southern section had another Pileated Woodpecker show up, and he was quite agitated. Actually he was agitated before he got close to me, but I don't know what about. This is the male, as the red crest extends from the beak to the back of the head, whereas in the previous image showing the female, the area closest to the beak is brown, not red.

1 comment:

  1. Great "pics" will show them to Gail's mother she will be thrilled.