If you have been to Rondeau in the last couple of days, you may have noticed that some formerly grassy areas which showed the beautiful dried grasses of a healthy prairie or savanna and looked like this.....
The results of such a burn are dramatic. The soil, now temporarily covered with black ash, absorbs the sunlight energy more readily, and warms the earth to stimulate the prairie vegetation to start growing. In just a few weeks it will look something like this, with wonderful displays of colourful wildflowers to attract butterflies (and photographers :-).
Wildlife will be attracted to it, either very soon or next season. A fire doesn't have to happen on a prairie every year. In this part of the world a fire every 3 years on average would be about right, depending on the condition of the prairie site.
While I was at Rondeau yesterday, an American Woodcock was ditsy-doodling right along the road side, in an area of a prairie site that had not burned. It was rooting around in the soil, searching for worms or grubs, and did not seem in the least bothered by my presence. I was able to use the car as a blind and got several shots.
At one point after several minutes, the bird must have been startled by something in the leaves....perhaps a mouse or something. It jumped up, turned around and raised its tail feathers showing some agitation as demonstrated in the next image. But only for a minute or so, and then it resumed feeding.
The east winds had picked up, and birds that were around earlier in the day seem to have moved on.....or moved back south! At any rate, birding had diminished.
Even though a deer herd reduction had taken place at the park late last fall, they are still around in good numbers. They do look a little tattered this time of year, as they shed their winter coat of gray-brown to be replaced by their summer coat of reddish-brown over the next few weeks. Hopefully they don't need their winter coats any more!
I decided to check out Clear Creek Forest Provincial Nature Reserve. I hadn't been there in awhile and I have a spring wildflower hike scheduled there in a couple of weeks.
The spring wildflowers are coming on, but not all that quickly due to the slow spring. Hopefully the timing of the hike will match the peak of the wildflower display. Some of the earliest wildflowers are already visible in small numbers, such as Bloodroot and Spring Beauty.
I also had the opportunity to catch up with a couple of salamanders, in this case a Red-backed Salamander and a Lead-backed variation of a Red-backed Salamander, both of which were resting under the same bit of debris.
|Red-backed (L) & Lead-backed (R) salamanders|