8/30/11

Today I Saw….

This year, August has had unusually cool weather. It feels more like fall around here, even more so with all of the turkeys I’ve seen lately. Early the other morning I spotted this foursome by the edge of a wooded area, and last week I saw a family of baby turkeys waddling across a busy road nearby.

Turkey

Turkey 2

On my morning commute yesterday, I saw these four turkeys again, but this time a doe and fawn were walking toward them (well, the fawn was awkwardly trotting, as young ones do). I also saw a fox running along the riverside bikepath~ probably the first time I’ve seen a fox in the city.

8/21/11

Caterpillars: Changes Already!

What a difference a day makes. I had no idea it would happen so quickly, but about 24 hours after stringing itself to a branch, one of  the caterpillars (#1) had transformed itself into this pupae.

Pupae Stage 

We noticed it last night, right before going to bed and I was almost too excited to go to sleep.

Pupae Stage Face

I know it is meant to be camouflage, as it looks like part of the branch or a dried leaf, but it reminds me of so many other things. In the first photo, it looks reptilian, with patterned scales and knobby skin, and its shape even reminds me of a whale. In the second photo, it looks like it has ears, eyes and even a protruding nose; it reminds me of a Horned Owl. Do you see anything else?

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.
Author Unknown

Spiral Shells

A few days ago I took some time out for myself and went for a walk down by the Ottawa River. I was in need of some reflective time, and I could have sat quietly by the water for hours. I collected some of the shells that had washed ashore , which I found to be just as meditative.

Curls

Actually, sorting and arranging them had a very calming effect on me. Looking at them all up close, I could see how they were all so different yet the same~ spirals.

Shells

Twirls

I had been meaning to do more of this “Land Art.” It really does bring a new perspective to these little things all around us, that really are little works of art on their own.

Rock shadows

It looked like someone had been there before me collecting things. These white stones were arranged in the shape of a heart.

White Heart

8/20/11

A Caterpillar Update

I’ve been caring for two Swallowtail caterpillars for almost a week now. They had been eating so much over the last few days that I had to buy more parsley at the supermarket; there is none left in our potted herb garden. Actually, one of them (#2) seemed to be doing  most of the eating and had started wandering upwards, probably looking for a place to settle. The other smaller one (#1)  had become more or less sedentary (my mum and I had a good laugh over that, as they are hardly energetic). 

Yesterday afternoon I set up some new branches, hanging some from the lid of the container and others propped up more vertically. After a couple of hours I came by to check on them, and #1 had chosen a branch and was stringing itself up.

CaterpillarThread

It is now hanging in a little harness made of silk. This is the pre-pupae stage, and apparently it should shed its skin in a couple of days.

CaterpillarThread 2

Read about this stage HERE

8/17/11

Wordless Wednesday - Black-Eyed Susans

Well, almost.
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I took this photo last August, although I have no idea where. I found it while looking through archives and this one was all by itself.
How do you keep your photos organized?

8/14/11

Life in the Herb Garden

Yesterday I discovered a couple of chubby caterpillars living in our parsley plants. I checked some of my books and online and I am fairly certain they are Black Swallowtails. A few weeks ago my husband had seen one in the yard, so it must have been laying eggs in our herb garden. Apparently the larvae and caterpillars prefer to feed off of plants in the dill and parsley family.

 caterpillar 2

While I was searching online, I came across this blog post about keeping caterpillars in a container so that you can watch them as they change into butterflies. I hemmed and hawed about it for awhile (unsure of how I felt about interfering with nature) and finally decided to try it. It seems fairly simple and fool-proof, provided they have enough to eat.

So I got a breathable plastic container, furnished it with some branches and filled it with herbs.

Tank

I was laughing at myself the entire time.

Twig Trellis

I felt like a six-year-old, building a little habitat for bugs. 

Nom nom nom

They seem to like it, though. They love to eat.  And poop. That’s about it.

Corner

So now it’s just a waiting game.

Grumpypants

If you are interested in knowing more about this, all of the life stages are described on this website.

8/7/11

Weekend Colours

There was a lot of blue in my weekend~ blue skies mostly, and some rainy day weather today. Also, there are baby Blue Jays in our backyard. Still begging for food from their parents, but flying all on their own. The evidence is below in this blurry photograph. 

Blurry Blue Jay

The cat looks all mellow and relaxed on the sun porch, but don't let that sweet exterior fool you. She was up late the night before, delivering her own brand of vigilante justice. The neighbourhood mice don’t stand a chance.

Roxie sunporch

Other than laundry, cooking and cleaning, I set aside some time to paint this weekend too. I piled up all of my nature books (for inspiration and colour reference), dabbled a bit with my watercolour pencils, and noticed a lovely rainbow connection:

Pencils and birdbook

8/3/11

Wordless Wednesday - Fields

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Wisteria Blooming

For the second time this year, the wisteria on our front porch is gracing us with more flowers. They are several shades of purple and smell like heavenly perfume. They were in full bloom when we moved in on June 1st, which was a lovely welcome, but I thought that would be it. Since then the vines have been spreading like wildfire and trying to climb in through the front door.

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Any surprises in your garden?

8/2/11

Sunflowers

The sunflowers are back at the farm. When I photographed them last year, I focused on the field as a whole. There were so many of them and I wanted to capture that sense of abundance.

This year I thought I would get closer (this is where I would love a macro lens) and pay attention to the little details: floppy yellow petals, prickly green leaves and unfurling bracts, and faces made up of hundreds of star-shaped stamens.

Sunflower Curl

Sunflower Face Down   Sunflower Closed

Sunflower Side Face Down

Sunflower Sky   Sunflower Stamen

Sunflower Top

If you’re in the Ottawa area, you should stop by the Experimental Farm. I don’t know how long they will last, but there are two fields of sunflowers located on the corner of Baseline and Merivale.

SEE MAP

Arachnophobia

As someone who loves insects and spiders, I find it hard to relate to people who are afraid of them, especially spiders. Spiders are one of the most beneficial insects, who keep to themselves more than any other I can think of, and yet they are the most feared by people all over the world.

I just don’t get it.

It became a little clearer this morning when I saw this specimen. Is it just me or does she have a human skull tattooed on her back?

Spider Skull

{American House Spider}

Spider Skull Close Up

Creeeeepy……..

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