Jack’s Walk

It’s maple sugar season ©voyager, all rights reserved

Bubba and I thought we’d check out our wee forest today and we were pleased to see that maple syrup season is in full swing. There’s a farm adjacent to our woods that’s full of sugar maples and they process the syrup the old-fashioned way, with pails to collect the sap and an old-fashioned sugar shack where they boil it down over a wood fire. The ratio is 14 litres of sap gives you 1 litre of syrup. Jack has spent a lot of time checking out the farm and those maple trees and I’d warrant a guess that he’s peed on many, maybe even most, of the trees that are tapped. That’s why we call this farm’s maple syrup “Jack Juice.”

Tap, tap, tap ©voyager, all rights reserved

Mmm…©voyager, all rights reserved

Full Fish Ahead: Part 1

Welcome to a brand new series here at Affinity penned by Avalus who’s going to take us through the process of setting up a new aquarium and talk fishkeeping in general.

Let’s begin with the start. I found this big piece of gnarly wood in a shop in early December 2018 when I helped a friend shopping for (and carry) cat-equipment. It just had beautiful depth to it so I just bought it, as I had an idea for a new fishtank and remembered having an old tank in my parents’ attic. In January I picked up the tank from my parents, where it sat for 3 years or so. [Read more…]

Friday Feathers: A New Sighting

Seeing a new bird is always exciting. I knew we had black woodpeckers in the forest by their characteristic sound, but I had never seen one, so you can understand my excitement upon spotting one in the trees. The pics are taken at probably 70m distance, but do click for full size to see the fellow a little better.

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

©Giliell, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

At the park, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Woo Hoo! It’s +13º C today and there is melting happening. There’s also a light drizzle that’s helping the melting along and already I can see the brown earthy edges of the lawns. The ice on the sidewalks is breaking up and there is a steady stream of water running down the street to the sewers. It’s wonderful. Really wonderful. Why, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s  finally Spring. At least until Saturday, that is, when it’s supposed to plummet down to zero and stay there for a week. I won’t think about that today, though. Today I’m just going to enjoy wearing my spring coat and watching Jack get muddy.

Jack’s Walk

Waiting for spring ©voyager, all rights reserved

On thin ice, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I took ourselves to our local park today and discovered that we’re not the only creatures waiting for spring. There is a paddling of ducks (I looked that up!) that is unable to paddle. The pond is still covered in ice and the river that runs through it is flowing fast and high. Not really friendly water for smallish birds. These ducks don’t migrate. They live at the park all year and are fed by a keeper in winter. These two had been sitting in the parking looking glum, but they took to the ice when they saw Jack. Sorry little ducks, stay safe.

The weather is due to change tomorrow with a promise of temps around +13º C. That sounds too good to be true, but I’ll be happy with any temp on the plus side of the scale. I’ll even happily take the rain that’s due to come with the warmer air. I’m ready for the season of mud so bring it on.

Wednesday Wings: That’s it, I move to Portugal

Nightjar hasn’t only been teasing us with her gorgeous pics of sunlight and flowers, now she’s doing it with the birds as well.

She writes: This male Sardinian Warbler is a frequent visitor to the corner of the garden in front of my bedroom’s window, the reason being evident in two of these photos: apparently, Sprenger’s asparagus berries are delicious.

©Nightja, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

©Nightjar, all rights reserved

Jack’s Walk

Bon chance, mes amis ©voyager, all rights reserved

Jack and I went to the lake this morning and for the first time all winter we saw ice fishermen.  Normally we see a few ragged huts that stay on the ice all winter, but for some reason this year they were absent. Our little lake is full of bass and pike and in the winter the conservation authority lowers the level of the water by about half which concentrates the fish into the deep center of the water. I think that’s a bit unfair to the fish, but it does make sitting in the cold and watching a hole in the ice more exciting. These chaps were in good humour and full of optimism and they even took a few minutes to play with Jack before heading out to try their luck.


Tree Tuesday

The world is full of interesting trees. This for example is the Jabuticaba Tree, or the Brazilian Grape Tree, from South America and those growths on its trunk are fruits. The tree is mainly found in southern Brazil in the Sao Paulo and Minus Gerais regions, but also grows in areas of Paraguay and Argentina.

The fruit itself is a small and round, about 3 to 4 cm in diameter, with one to four large seeds, a thick, deep purple colored skin and a sweet, white or rosy pink gelatinous flesh. Naturally the tree may flower and fruit only once or twice a year, but when continuously irrigated it flowers frequently, and fresh fruit can be available year round in tropical regions. During Jabuticaba season in Minas Gerais, thousands of street vendors sell fresh Jabuticaba in small net bags, and the sidewalks and streets are stained the same deep purple by discarded Jabuticaba skins.

Jabuticaba is largely eaten fresh, but because the fruit starts to ferment just 3-4 days after harvest, they are often used to make jams, tarts, strong wines, and liqueurs. Due to the extremely short shelf-life, fresh Jabuticaba fruit is very rare in markets outside of areas of cultivation. The fruit also has many medicinal uses. Traditionally, an astringent decoction of the sun-dried skins has been used as a treatment for hemoptysis, asthma, diarrhoea, and gargled for chronic inflammation of the tonsils. It also has several potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory anti-cancer compounds.

The full story is at Amusingplanet.com.

A Day at the Zoo: The Birds of Prey

Our last instalment in this series is one of the highlights of our zoo visits: the birds of prey.

We were missing Norbert, our gigantic vulture, and the bad news is that he won’t return, but the good news is that this is for the wonderful reason that he has found a mate.

African Fish Eagle, Giliell, all rights reserved


[Read more…]

Jack’s Walk

Nest box, ©voyager, all rights reserved

Well, it’s still the deep of winter around here and the forecast isn’t very hopeful. We’re due for snow tomorrow, rain on Sunday and temps swinging up and down for the next week. Until spring finally decides to appear Jack and I are stuck with snow and ice, but the river path is well trodden, not too slippery and a fairly gentle walk. On the south side of the river we discovered nesting boxes hanging on many of the trees and this one poor nest stuck on a stump. I hope it’s waiting to be hung higher because it looks like a downright poor location for a bird family to occupy. Seems to me that cats and snakes and most other bird hunters could just climb right in. I’ll keep my eye on it and once the snow is gone I’ll bring a hammer and nail (and ladder – I’m short) and hang it higher myself. You know what they say in real estate…location, location, location.