In this photo by Barry, the 'cheeky chipmunk' has cheek pouches stuffed to bursting, as he ferries food to his den. Chipmunks are clever little animals, and in their winter den they maintain not only sleeping quarters, but a larder in which they store food to see them through the winter. This is because they are not true hibernators like groundhogs who sleep the winter away. Chipmunks awake periodically and head over to their larder to have a bite to eat.
The next photo shows a huge cache of food, and I am guessing that this squirrel, photographed by Barry, is looking a tad anxious, wondering if Barry might be about to nosh on his carefully stored food!
Red squirrel cone cache
This is a familiar sight at FWG, in particular around the old woods and the wooded boundary of the old field. Red squirrels create huge caches of cones, of walnuts, and sometimes other bits of foraged food can be found amongst them. Usually, however, the caches are of a single food type. Each of our squirrel species stores food in a different way. The reds create these large caches, grey squirrels scatter hoard, and chipmunks stock their underground larder. Groundhogs don't store anything, they just beef up (like bears do) before hibernating for the winter.
Downy woodpecker, male
These small woodpeckers become far more noticeable as winter approaches, attracted to the feeders at the garden.
Unusual for a conifer, tamaracks shed their needles in autumn, but before they do, they turn this gorgeous golden colour, which Barry caught in this photo of the row of tamaracks near the old woods.
Robins are still present in large flocks, not only at the FWG and Arboretum, but throughout the area. Barry photographed this robin in the old woods. THere was a time when robins rarely overwintered here, but in the last decade or more, they have become an increasingly familiar sight all winter long, often in flocks, very occasionally alone.
Barry, who photographed this nuthatch, said it made many forays from the feeder in the Backyard Garden to this shrub. Nuthatches often store seeds, as well as flying off to crack them open away from the feeder.
We are lucky that cardinals have adapted to our climate and are now a familar sight around Ottawa. Their vivid colour is particularly welcome during the long winter months.
Western conifer seed bug (Leptoglossus occidentalis)
This is a quite large member of the Leaf-footed bug family (Coreidae), although not nearly as big as the truly gigantic (for a Coreidae) Acanthocephala, which we haven't recorded yet from FWG I think. That must be an oversight, for they are very common. This Coreidae, in Barry's photo, has a rather confusing common name, making one think they are in the seed bug family. And yet, the name is also apt, for they do feed on seeds and 'seedy' fruit. The western conifer seed bug is most often found in late summer through autumn, and often on the sides of buildings as they soak up the sun's rays, or look for a crevice in which to spend the winter.
Autumn meadowhawk (Sympetrum vicinum)
Autumn meadowhawks are another insect that can be found until quite late in the season. November reports for this species are not uncommon. This was photographed by Barry on the 'insect hotel' south of the old woods.
Split gill mushrooms (Schizophyllum commune)
These small mushrooms shrivel up to a hard little kernel on dead trees, but after some rain they rehydrate and a close inspection reveals a very attractive colour and pattern. To see what they look like when plumped up by rain: http://www.pbase.com/fwg/image/158018062
Blue-green stropharia (Stropharia aeruginosa)
These are one of the prettiest mushrooms around, I think. We see them in small numbers at FWG, but not every year. Barry found this one recently and got a good photo of it, showing its size, shape and pale colouration.