All the shades of autumn in the wild strawberry patch (Fragaria virginiana)
The wild strawberry leaves in the BYG are all shades and even in the grey of a November day, look beautiful and vivid. However, when I took this shot early in the morning, there was a hint of sun which helped bring out the colours. You can see what a great groundcover this is.
Red squirrel and nest
The squirrels are fun to watch. They are either stashing food in tree branches or piling up cones (not many of those this year) (red squirrels), or industriously and determinedly burying all sorts of things all over the place (grey squirrels). No matter how often I see this sort of thing, and I have seen it countless hundreds of times, it still makes me smile and feel privileged to have a glimpse into the lives of another species. As well, the squirrels are making sure their winter nests are snug and secure. Every so often you can see a grey with a mouthful of leaves, or twigs, or even bits of plastic, heading up to add to their nests. Or, sometimes carrying material into tree cavities.
This red squirrel was bringing grass to a tree cavity in the Arboretum (but I decided to include it here anyway). In this photo, he looks like he is resting from his labours, before carrying on. Judging from the grass still hanging out of the cavity, he has a way to go yet.
Pond with beaver food raft
The beaver is stockpiling branches for his winter food supply. All beaver do this in the fall, getting ready for freeze-up. This guy is a youngster and it is probably his first winter on his own. He is doing pretty well for someone who has just left home. We hope he will survive the winter well.
I installed this sign by the pond today. We want to let people know that we feel privileged to have a beaver spending the winter at FWG. Yes, they take down the trees, but the trees removed by "our" beaver are the ones we wanted removed but never managed to accomplish. The sumac he is removing will grow back faster than ever. He has helped deepen the water level in the pond, something else we've wanted done. We've heard people say they will set their dogs on the beaver to chase him away. One has to wonder where these people are coming from! We welcome this little guy here and are happy to have the chance to tell people about the good things beaver do for biodiversity.
After a short spell of not seeing or hearing any goldfinches at FWG, small numbers can be found around the feeders and any trees bearing seeds.
I was watching a flock of about 50 starlings and 5 robins around a crabapple tree when all of a sudden there was a great crashing of wings as they all took off in a panic, some nearly knocking themselves out on trees in their haste to get away. Right behind them came this adult sharp-shinned hawk. I think it was a female judging from the size, which was roughly that of a rock pigeon. Anyway, I'll call it she. She then flew into this ash tree and sat for quite awhile, as nearby chickadees were giving their long, "dee-dee-dee-dee-dee-dee..." call indicating their agitation. Later I saw her sitting above the Ash woods feeder, which was, not surprsingly, devoid of birds.
In addition to the above, there were several juncos, a couple of downy woodpeckers, some goldfinches, cardinals, nuthatches, house finches and one house sparrow.
American goldfinch nest in sumac
It is at this time of year that many nests are revealed. Sometimes, like this one, they are surprisingly close to a path where people frequently walk and yet the existence of the nest is unknown. Probably just as well for the birds!
Camperdown elm (Ulmus glabra camperdownii)
The sunlight filtering through these leaves formed an attractive image. This elm is a non-native species. You can see that it has been grafted onto another elm, for if you look at the trunk there are two distinctive bark patterns!
Swamp milkweed seed pods (Asclepias incarnata)
It struck me how very similar the pods and seeds of this milkweed species are to the invasive Dog-strangling vine.
Most of the flowers on this shrub have long died, but this one was fresh and perfect. In October, on warm days, many syrphids, sweat bees, and small moths can be found around this shrub.
Grey with crabapple
This is a favourite tree with squirrels. In addition to this grey, there was another grey (black phase), and a red squirrel, all feeding on the apples. Some crabapples are ignored all winter long, others are eaten only in extremis, when there is little else around.
Wasp (Polistes fuscatus)
It was a fairly mild day and this paper wasp was moving slowly up the wall of the Interpretive Centre. I doubt he lived much after today, but you never know. There were still Asian lady beetles around on the walls, seeking a way into warmth and shelter for the winter, and quite a few flies, many Lucilia it looked like, some Muscids, perhaps others. Woolly bears and Ctenucha caterpillars are still around too.