Category Archives: nature fix

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Nesting

I was delighted to see the friendly neighbourhood magpie couple decided to build this year’s nest in the rowan  tree outside my front window – prime armchair viewing location. I suspect this is the pair that has nested for the past two summers in our neighbour’s backyard spruce.

This year they salvaged twigs from a nest several years old in another trunk of the same rowan, as well as hunted for any other available loose branches. It was interesting to see the struggle it is to manoeuvre long twigs through tree branches, using only a beak. Forward, left twist, back… got it!

One tended to be the collector who brought the hard-won goods to the other at the nest, who took each and tucked it away in just the right spot – the master builder. It was like watching new parents-to-be assemble their Ikea crib, “ok, now hand me part n… there should be four of them…”

Over three weeks the new nest transformed from a thin collection of sticks to a respectable plump, round bundle in the crook about two-thirds up the tree.

It has been completed for a few weeks now. Earlier today I saw both sitting together, and now I see only one, sitting across from the nest in the “next door” tree, facing attentively toward his new nursery. I wonder if it holds its treasures yet…

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Friendly neighbourhood magpies

A pair of magpies frequent the rowan tree outside my window.

One morning this winter they were huddled together on a branch, their white breasts gleaming together in the sunlight.

magpies

I often see one silhouetted atop a spruce in the distance – a striking tree-topper.

Last month I saw one of them struggling to remove a branch from the abandoned magpie nest in the rowan, and fly with it across the street to a tree in the alley – an early sign of spring!

Three weeks ago this pair were chasing a harassed little red squirrel through the rowan tree (all our squirrels are little and red).

Today a blue jay alighted in the tree with what appeared to be a peanut shell in its mouth. Before long this pair arrived on the scene and chased the jay around the yard and out of sight.

Spring cleaning

The sun is especially warm today and the backyard filled with spring-like sounds of dripping water and bird song. A dozen chickadees twitter and flit from a large puddle in the icy garden to the oak branches above, busily grooming.

Nature’s New Year

Midway between equinox and solstice, the dark time of the year begins. And right on cue, the first snowflakes fall from the sky, beautifully drifting down at a meditative pace.  The leaves have dropped from most trees, leaving behind decorative bright red berries or helicopter seed pods. In nature lore the sacred Crone mourns the death of her spouse for the next six weeks, until the solar babe is born and the light begins its annual growth. A time of peaceful reflection, rest, and waiting.

 

March – Advent of Spring

A week of spring advent – newly growing buds on tree branches spreading over deep snow banks; magpies carrying nesting material…

Followed by two weeks of melting snow, puddles, ice, and soft, warm air on faces! Hares embarrassed by white coats on brown earth…

Spring equinox is a freshly snow-covered world, beautiful and shining! Hares sigh with relief…

Roly poly sighting

Ambling along the sidewalk by the river valley, hidden from view by the snowbanks lining the walk, my dog and I came upon a short-legged, shaggy animal with a big round body, somewhat larger than a large domestic cat.

It seemed to be a uniform dark colour. Its tail was flat and angled down toward the ground from its body. The tail was about half to two-thirds the length a cat’s would be, relative to the body size.

Although it rolled from side to side in quick, waddling steps, it progressed slowly down the path – clearly not an animal that relies on speed.

Skunk tracks had criss-crossed the neighbourhood last week, so that was my first thought, but its tail and markings were different from a skunk’s. The tail wasn’t fluffy and there were no tell-tale white markings on its back or tail.

I think it was a porcupine, or possibly a woodchuck, newly emerged from hibernation. Maybe a young one, given its size.

I kept our distance, since my dog was along, so we didn’t get close enough to confirm.