Well, this unusually warm day has really hastened spring along! All sorts of things were out and about. While I was out in my favourite west end wooded area looking at beeflies, butterflies, garter snakes, and four species of frogs, Jeewanthi was at FWG seeing some really neat critters. She saw two painted turtles in the pond, so they survived another winter! She also described some calls from frogs in the pond, and managed to take a couple of shots. These turned out to be wood frogs. They are certainly calling vociferously in many other locations right now.
Along with chipmunks, groundhogs have emerged in the last few weeks too!
These poor little guys have to be pretty careful as they are a favourite prey item for so many animals and birds. Owls, hawks, foxes, weasels, will all prey on these guys. This fat little field mouse (as they are also called), Jeewanthi said, was eating seeds below the feeder.
Seven-spotted lady beetle
A gorgeous shot of this pretty beetle by Jeewanthi. An introduced species it is one of the most commonly encountered of the lady beetles, though not as frequently found as the ubiquitous Asian ladybeetles, used as an aphid control.
Red-winged blackbird, female
Well, the females are back, so nesting will begin in earnest in a little while. The pond is a bit deep at present and the dead cattail stems in which they build their nests are largely submerged, with only about 1/4 to a 1/3 above the water. This may inhibit them from nesting or else cause their nests to be dangerously close to the water. We'll see.
House finch with nest material
Jeewanthi found some house finches gathering nest material at the garden. All these resident birds get a head start on nesting and often have young before the first Neotropical migrants have even returned. Crows are also nesting, and house sparrows and starlings ditto, though no house sparrows at the garden.
Juvenile Cooper's hawk
Jeewanthi photographed this juvenile which has been seen on and off all winter.
For the cuteness factor, chipmunks certainly rival red squirrels! More and more of these little ground squirrels are being seen as the weather warms up. This was in the Backyard Garden area.
Butterfly meadow, new section
The snow has melted, and now we can see the new section of the Butterfly meadow that Diane and her volunteers started work on last year. By the end of this summer, there will probably be a substantial number of flowers planted here and a dramatic change! The rocks are for butterflies and other insects to perch on, and Diane has also created a small damp area for butterflies to "mud-puddle" on. At the moment, it looks like there is a large damp area, but that will dry up eventually.
Downy woodpecker, female
I went to the FWG just after the rain ended today. On an old apple tree by the Butterfly Meadow there were a hairy woodpecker, and two downy woodpeckers, all on the same tree, all very noisy. I was hoping to find some new arrivals, perhaps golden-crowned kinglets, but all the birds I saw were the the usual: cardinals, chickadees, house finches etc. along with three song sparrows, whose song can be heard all over the garden now. The goldfinches now have their breeding plumage, and are singing up a storm, even though they won't even think about breeding for a long, long time yet!
Red eating sumac
There are not many sumac cones left around the garden, but the big shrub just behind the centre still has some bedraggled ones left. This squirrel was so intent on picking them off and extracting the few seeds that he allowed me to stand and take many photos!
Lilac buds (Syringa sp.)
Long before the FWG became the FWG, there were lilac bushes around the site, mostly in the thickets surrounding the Old Field, but also near the Butterfly Meadow. The leaf buds have been swelling for some time now, and they look ready to begin opening soon. If we get the expected heat wave (+21!), all sorts of things may happen!