Piles of snow everywhere! But at least it was sunny that day, if cold.
Red squirrel with sumac seedhead
Although most natural food sources have been depleted, and squirrels are turning to remnants of cached food, there are still some sources to tap, such as the sumac 'cones'.
Red squirrel with walnut
As winter continues and natural food supplies become increasingly scarce, red squirrels turn to the last of their food caches stored up in autumn. Here, one has retrieved a walnut.
Oak bullet galls
A small cluster of oak galls on a bur oak sapling. These are made by one of the tiny Cynipid wasps, likely Disholcaspis quercusmamma. The female lays her eggs on the twig thus stimulating the formation of these hard woody galls which form a protective case for the developing larvae. However, the protection is not absolute for other wasps can penetrate these and parasitize the Cynipid larvae. You can see the exit holes on the bottom, but whether cynipid wasps appeared or a parasitic wasp, I don`t know.
A shaft of sunlight streaming into the old woods hit this yellow lichen and made it glow. I am not sure which lichen this is.
Thanks to Tony who made and installed this lovely new feeder, the birds will continue to be well fed at the garden. This one is located in the Backyard Garden, while a second one is on the southern edge of the old woodlot. Chickadees, house finches, and white-breasted nuthatches were all showing their appreciation!
Damage or vandalism?
I would like to think that the damage to this sign was accidental, but I don't see how. It is more likely the result of someone deciding it would be cool to have the "Insect Hotel" in English half of the sign. It would mean someone had to bring a saw to cut this metal sign. It is disheartening that people can't treat the site with respect. Well, fortunately, most do, but there are always a few unpleasant types....
Looking north to the old woodlot
The band of conifers on the southern edge of the old woodlot which shelter one of the two bird feeders at the garden. There were house finches singing away, cardinals, chickadees, and a white-breasted nuthatch all making use of the feeder at this site.
Sitting high above the bird feeder by the old woods, this red squirrel appeared to be dozing when I first came along. It was a cold day, but the sun was shining and he seemed to be taking full advantage of that.
The snowplow has cleared the areas in front of our interpretive centre and as you can see, we've had quite a bit of snow since our green (snow-free) Christmas day! The centre is on the left, and our garden shed is on the right.
House finches and black-capped chickadee
In this cold weather the feeder by the old woods is active, with chickadees and house finches coming and going constantly. Also saw a pair of cardinals and white-breasted nuthatch there. A downy woodpecker was in the birch grove, and more chickadees, finches and cardinals were at the Backyard Garden feeder. While there today, I saw few birds, just a few crows flying past, in addition the ones noted.
Split gill mushroom (Schizophyllum commune) with cocoon cluster
Another shot of the tiny mushroom with its cluster of cocoons. If you look closely you can see that the top has been neatly cut and the 'lid' pushed back to allow the insect to emerge. Judging from the cocoons, possibly something in the Hymenoptera family. The mushroom is very small, perhaps 1/2 inch across, so you can see how tiny the cocoons are.