This black phase grey squirrel was sitting quietly in the old woods, catching the same sun's rays as the grey squirrel in the next photo. They look quite different, but are in fact the same species. The further south one goes, the less these black squirrels are found, until they just stop appearing at all. Thus, they appear to be a mainly northerly colour phase. Speculation is that the darker colour absorbs and retains heat better in the winter. Whether this is so or not, there are definitely more black phase greys than grey greys here.
Catching the sun while having a snack
This grey squirrel had the right idea. He found a snug perch in the sun's rays on a cold day, where he could enjoy a snack!
Asian ladybeetle (Harmonia axyridis) and wooly alder aphids
OK, this is not in the Fletcher Wildlife Garden, but it is in the Arboretum not far from the garden. The cluster of wooly alder aphids (Prociphilus tessellatus) are attracting the hungry attention of the ladybeetles ... one in this photo, but there were at least three more on the branch. I've seen this same scenario repeated in many locations around Ottawa, alders + aphids + lots of asian ladybeetles.
Backyard Garden pond
A reflective moment in the BYG pond before the snow. Over the years the pond has seen many green frog and even, once, a tiny painted turtle, which sadly did not survive.
Looking across to the old woodlot
We call it the old woodlot to distinguish it from the new woodlot! The latter was planted by volunteers over 20 years ago, but this one in the photo, was already well established when we began the Fletcher Wildlife Garden here.
Fletcher Wildlife Garden Interpretation Centre
Photographed in mid-afternoon sun on a cold but sunny (and snowy) day.
This looks like a moth cocoon made probably by one of the tussock moth caterpillars, who make these very hairy cocoons using the hair from their body. Of course, there are others who make similar ones, so it is difficult to say for sure who might have made this. It was underneath a broken off branch. It looks like it has been prodded, perhaps by a chickadee or some other bird.
Black-capped chickadee with cocoon
I was standing in the Backyard Garden, when a chickadee landed in the phlox and began rattling the dry stems and plucking things from them. Then another chickadee landed on these cut stems, reached in and pulled out a tiny insect cocoon.
It was a cold,blustery day with both snow flurries and sun. Birds were not abundant, except for chickadees, but I did see a small flock of juncos, a couple of cardinals, a mourning dove, crows, house finches, american goldfinches, a white-breasted nuthatch, and best of all, a beautiful big fox sparrow.
The Backyard Garden
The phlox in the foreground was definitely attracting the attention of chickadees who were finding various things to eat along the stems. Just because we can't see eggs, larvae and cocoons, doesn't mean these things are not there. Chickadees can frequently be found plucking almost minuscule (to our eyes) things from all sorts of vegetation. This is what helps them survive the winter and even thrive.
American beech leaves
The sun shining through the bronzed beech leaves always seems particularly attractive to me. These are beautiful trees, and this one, planted not all that long ago at the garden, north of the old woods, is doing well.
A few flowers on this cranesbill geranium were still blooming before the snow came.
Blue-green stropharia (Stropharia aeruginosa)
Ice crystals formed on this fading mushroom just above the pond. When fresh, it is a beautiful blueish-green (as the common name suggests).