Jack’s Walk

The Thames River, ©voyager, all rights reserved

It’s a beautiful, sunny winter day and the temp has climbed to -14 C which feels downright balmy compared to the minus thirties of the past few days. We took a slow, longish walk down by the river and didn’t stray from the path today. I’m pretty sure I know about where the beavers are, but there’s so much snow that getting there would be difficult and dangerous. I’m not sure you could even see very much because of the deep snow cover. Instead, we sang a few of Jack’s favourite songs, did a bit of dancing and pounced and frolicked our way around the park.

Jack’s Walk

Bright and cold, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, it’s another cold day here. The actual temp is -17 C, but with the wind chill it’s -28 C. Jack and I don’t stay outside too long on days like this. I can dress for the cold, but Jack can’t. I do have a jaunty red coat for the boy, but the only protection he has for his feet is a vaseline-like “dog boot.” I’ve tried real dog boots on Jack and it was hilarious for about a minute, which is how long it took for Jack to remove them. Sigh. Oh well, a shorter walk on a super cold day isn’t a hardship and at least today the sun is shining about as bright as it ever gets in January. Tomorrow promises to be the same, but Saturday the forecast is for +3 C and Sunday it could go as high as +10 C and then stay that warm for a few days. It’s all very confusing and I hope this weather won’t affect the maple syrup crop this year. It would be a shame for the trees to wake-up early only to be knocked on the head with a quick and lasting freeze again.

Jack’s Walk

HappyJack in his element, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I went to the lake this morning and frolicked in some virgin snow.Well, Jack frolicked and I trudged, but we both had a good time nonetheless. We didn’t stay out very long, though. The temp this morning is -22 C with a wind chill of -31 c and the forecast says it’s going to stay this cold until Friday when temps are expected to climb to +6 C with rain. That’s a temperature difference of 28 C in the space of a day or two. That’s just crazy weather for around here. I hope the weather makes more sense where you are.

Jack’s Walk

©voyager, all rights reserved

We had about 10 cm of snow overnight and the day began brilliant white and fresh. The sun even shone for most of the morning making the snow twinkle like a scatter of tiny diamonds. Jack and I decided to visit our little forest because the path is well used by dog people and their dogs and we were hoping it would be tramped down enough to make walking easier, and it was!  We had a slow walk, side-by-side and tried to revel in the sunshine, but today this thin, weak January sunlight only makes me weary of winter.

Jack’s Walk

Sand and snow, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Our area is due to have a snowstorm later this afternoon with 10 – 15 cm of snow expected along with high winds. Right at the moment, though, it’s just bloody cold. This morning it was -13º C, but with the wind chill it felt like -24ºC so Jack and I didn’t stay out long. This photo was taken at the lake and for a moment I imagined we were on an ocean beach watching the surf come swirling in.

Get Ready to Rumble

From Avalus, some action photos and a bit of humour to get the week started.

Hey folks, I just found this gem from 2017.

*read in a actionfilmtrailervoice*
Butterfly and Bumblebee Actionsequence! Rumble around a thristleflower!
Airing next Spring in a Field near You (again)!

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

©Avalus, all rights reserved

Thanks, Avalus. That was fun.

Identifying birds by sound…

… is like dancing architecture. Or something. Yesterday I managed to go for a walk, the first one this week. As I was standing in a clearing I heard a strange bird call, getting louder, coming towards me. Since it flew against a light sky all I could see was the silhouette: Small head, size a bit bigger than a jay, slender. Relatively small wings. And I had its call. If human voices are unsuitable for reproducing bird songs, human letters are so bad it doesn’t even make sense to get started. The best description I could give is ” sounds like your V-belt needs replacement” and if you put that into google you get 1.000.000 hits for V-belts.

I finally found a site with bird sounds that allowed you to browse by families and going from the size and shape I could finally identify it as a green woodpecker.

green woodpecker

Maybe it was even this fellow?

I also found out that the mysterious bird I’ve heard so often but never have seen is a black woodpecker.

Jack’s Walk

Yesterday I posted a photo of some animal tracks I’d found in the snow that I thought might have been made by beavers. Well, they weren’t. Chigau sensibly suggested I google images of beaver tracks in the snow and I found lots of photos and none of them look anything like what I found. The photo below is one of the best images that I found and I’m sharing it in case anyone else wants to stalk beavers in the winter. They have 4 toes on their front feet and 5 toes on their back feet and the tracks are big, about 15 – 18 cm.

Well, now I know what to look for. Lofty and rq were both correct that the tracks I posted yesterday were made by rabbits. Here are a few more tracks from the same area. I think they’re also made by rabbits.

x marks the spot, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Unidentified Tracks by the River, ©voyager, all rights reserved

What is that strange wide arc? ©voyager, all rights reserved

Thankfully, yesterday’s rain storm didn’t turn into an ice storm so all my beloved trees are safe. It did, however, get cold again overnight so there’s a fair bit of ice on the ground making walking a bit treacherous. Jack and I decided that the sidewalks were too slippery so instead we went out to the river to look for beavers again. I’m pretty sure I know where their lodge is now, but I couldn’t get too near it today because of slippery and unstable ice. We found quite a few tracks going to and from the river in the area where I suspect they live, including this set that had a strange wide arc in one place that I thought cold have been made by a beaver tail. I’m no expert on tracks and marks left in the snow, but maybe someone reading this is. Are these beaver tracks?

Jack’s Walk

It seems that the normal weather for the month of March has arrived early in Southwestern Ontario. Overnight our temps climbed from -10ºC to +4ºC  and with the warming came lots and lots of rain. Overnight it was freezing rain, but by morning it was just a steady, cold downpour. All our snow is melting into compacted sheets of ice and the rain is just laying on top making everything slick and slippery. At least the ice isn’t coating the trees, for now anyway. The temp is expected to drop below freezing by early evening and we can only hope that the rain will stop before then. It grieves me to see the big, mature trees heavy with ice and the saplings and dainty birches bending like contortionists desperate to save limb and life.

After a careful assessment, Jack and I decided that the back yard was as far as we would venture today. Even explorers and voyageurs need a day off now and then. So, sorry, no photo for today. Just kidding…here’s a fascinating tree I found at our local park last week. It’s dying, maybe already dead, but it’s decay is beautiful. I apologize for the bad light, but it was a gloomy January day. I wanted to take an initial photo with the intention to return and perhaps make a study of it. You can click for full-size to see some of the patterns on the bleached and barkless areas. The next photo is a piece of fallen bark that lay at the base of the tree. I moved it to a rock to take the photo.

©voyager, all rights reserved

©voyager, all rights reserved