Male crab spider, possibly Bassaniana sp.)
While cutting back DSV, I was keeping an eye out for insects. Many small spiders, for example, jumping spiders, seem to like sitting on DSV, and others make little silken cases on them. I found this very small crab spider, but haven't identified it other than probably a crab spider in the genus Bassaniana, but it is certainly a male, as you can see from the clubbed palps.
Clearing the DSV
Tuesday mornings at the garden are for clearing invasive species. Under the auspices of Barry, a new group has been formed to try and control invasive species, particularly DSV (dog-strangling vine). It was a hot and humid day, but nonetheless, five people turned out to spend the morning working. This large patch of DSV was cleared by Barry, using a scythe.
Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)
I was very happy to discover that the mayapple flowers were at their peak. Usually I miss them. I see them when still in bud, or I find them when they've shed their petals. For once, I hit it right! They are not immediately obvious as you have to bend down and look under the huge green leaves to find them. They are a native plant, though usually found just a bit further south of us, and they prefer shady conditions. Another name for it is "mandrake" as the roots resemble those of the mandrake plant (Mandragora officinarum). I can't help thinking of John Donne's lines: "Go and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root"!
I saw only one species of dragonfly, and only one individual, this baskettail. However, I couldn't see the back of this odonate and am not sure which Baskettail species it is.
Tree swallow in nest box
Many birds are nesting now. Tree swallows have chosen their nest boxes, as have some chickadees. Song sparrows and yellow warblers are also nesting or building nests at present, so... caution, please!
Red-winged blackbird nest
Although you cannot see her, there is a female in the nest, busy building. It was quite something to watch her weave the long fibres into the walls of the nest. Every so often she'd settle into the nest and wiggle back and forth, shaping the nest to her body. Then back up and pulling and placing strands of grass and other fibres. This nest was unusual in that it had quite a lot of some sort of "fluff" in it. I shot a short video of her working, and it is better than this photo but still from a distance as I didn't want to disturb her by getting closer.
Sadly, the nest that was shown earlier in this blog, a strong and intricately constructed one, has completely vanished. I have no idea where it has gone, but the dried cattails that held it are also gone. The nest was close to shore and VERY visible from above. I don't know if someone removed it, or whether the muskrat ate the cattail roots, thus causing the stems and the nest to fall into the water. Very sad, however. There are two nests at present in the pond, this one in the photo, and another. Our pond, I am very sorry to say, is in a dismal state. There are so few cattails that any nest the birds make is going to be unprotected. Furthermore, there is little shade on the water, almost no protective cover for frogs and herons and other birds, and no mats of dried cattails for turtles to sit on.
Snapping turtle contending with baseball
It was, as you can see, very difficult to get a clear photo of this large snapping turtle in the pond. He had partially surfaced near a baseball, one of several in the pond (we should try to get them out, along with the big plastic bag that is in there). So now we know that at least the large snapper survived the winter in our pond, as did one of the painted turtles, which I also saw today.
Tulip tree leaf (Liriodendron tulipifera)
The very distinctive leaf of the tulip tree, a Carolinian species that shouldn't really grow around Ottawa. However, there is a large one in the Arboretum (there used to be two), and last fall I found this little sapling at the FWG. How it got there is a mystery, but that it survived the winter is encouraging. Though, if we get a long cold winter, it may not make it.
Dog-strangling Vine/Pale Swallowwort
This is one of the worst invasives at the FWG, or anywhere in our area. Not in the same league as the Kudzu Vine, but in the opinion of many, close! It is just starting to flower, which means soon the seed pods will follow. There is now a Tuesday morning group at FWG, under the guidance of Barry, working exclusively on invasive species, which include this one of course, but also the next one, Garlic Mustard.
Garlic mustard (Alliaria officinalis)
This is another serious invasive, usually found in wooded areas, having a significant impact on the ability of tree seedlings to establish and grow, as well as crowding out native understorey plants. These seedlings are growing in an area which I cleared entirely of large plants a week ago. I saw that there were hundreds of seedlings in that area, and today I checked on their growth. And yes, they are growing! In another week or two they'll be big enough for pulling without leaving the root in the ground.
Green frog (Rana clamitans) in BYG poond
There were two green frogs, one on a stone looking at this one in the water, sitting by a fallen marsh marigold flower.
This heron has been around for about 10 days at least, seen occasionally in the pond, but is easily spooked because of lack of protective cover.