nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘wild life

swallowtails and Alexanders

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Last week we did the first of our forays to get material for a new set of poems I am working on. Our drive took us to the area north of Stanley, and some two-track roads where settlements and home-sites have been abandoned.

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the road to Mavis Mills, an abandoned community

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The main road was busy with butterflies: Papilio canadensis, Canadian tiger swallowtail.  These are familiar butterflies, very similar to the eastern swallowtail, and once considered the same species. The males are yellow with black-rimmed wings (with a dotted yellow stripe in the margin) and four black tiger-stripes on the upper part of each fore-wing.

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The butterflies were congregating on the road near water puddles. They were interested in the muddy areas rather than the water. This behavior is called “puddling” and is a way for the butterfly to get sodium ions and amino acids.

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We took an old, two-track road to the abandoned hamlet of Mavis Mills and found the old settlement house sites. The once-cleared areas were populated by a pretty yellow composite flower, a member of the parsley family: Zizia aurea, golden Alexanders. These plants are usually under 30 inches high, with three serrated leaves (or three leaflets divided further into three’s) and a flat umbel of yellow flowers. The stems are red and the whole plant appears red in the fall. It is a host plant for the caterpillars of species of swallowtail butterflies. The plants grow in wet meadows and abandoned fields.

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field of golden Alexanders in an abandoned settlement

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We had an enjoyable drive, looking at abandoned homesteads and settlements. Since I am a botanist, I am interested in what has happened to the plants that once grew in the gardens of these homes. Some of the plants have vanished, but a few persist at the home-site and a few escape to cover ditches and countryside in bloom.

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an old lilac bush continuing to thrive near an abandoned house

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All my best!

Jane

 

 

Written by jane tims

June 25, 2018 at 2:59 pm

Waiting for wild life to pass by

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Back in our Grey Woods is a tiny ‘park’. Just an area I try to keep clean of dead-falls. Years ago, my Mom loved this little area. She found ‘ghost pipe’, also called ‘Indian pipe’ (Monotropa uniflora), growing there. These are parasitic plants without chlorophyll. They are small, less than 20 cm high. The ‘pipe’ is an excellent descriptor since a plant consists of a nodding head on a slender stem.

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My Mom tried to protect these uncommon plants from trampling by putting shingles in the ground to mark the location.

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The ghost pipes no longer grow there. The shingles have rotted and disappeared. Change is inevitable and in this little park, change is likely related to nutrient conditions. My Mom is also gone but I keep the little park to remember the day she tried to save the ghost pipe.

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One addition I made to the area is a small bird feeder. I installed the feeder on an old red maple tree. The feeder is painted iron, moulded in the form of Saint Francis of Assisi. Saint Francis lived in Italy at the turn of the thirteenth century and is known for his love of animals and the natural environment. He believed nature was the mirror of God and the animals were his brothers and sisters. He even preached to the birds (Source: Wikipedia).

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ghost pipe

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in grey woods

Saint Francis

cast in iron

watches wild

life pass by

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red squirrel

ceaseless motion

white-tailed deer

pauses, listens

a chipmunk

runs the log

fallen tree

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time also

passes by

Aralia

and bracken

replace white

ghost pipe, once

grew here, all

nature a mirror

of our lives

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All my best,

Jane

Written by jane tims

June 13, 2018 at 7:00 am

robin in the rafters and in rain

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If you are a bird, this is the time of year for nest building! An American robin has built a nest in the support beams of our deck. Years ago we had fun watching a robin build a nest and raise a brood in the rafters of our cabin.

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This year’s nest builder thinks the deck is his alone. Going in and out by way of the deck gets us a scolding. The robin puffs out its chest and tries to lure the marauders away. I am afraid to go near to get a photo since I might disturb eggs or chicks, so a photo of a robin’s nest in winter will have to do!

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Sudden Storm

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dusk

half darkness

the moon rises

a sliver from full

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spaces yawn

liquid robin song

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aspen, motionless

poplar tremble

a nuthatch rustles in the leaves

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wind chime plays a scale

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cloud stretched across the moon

a hand pressed to the treetops

leaves turn to the silver underside

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warm splashes

polka-dot the patio

puny dust storms on the step

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streamers stripe the glass

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curtains of rain

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Copyright Jane Tims 2017  

Written by jane tims

June 5, 2017 at 7:00 am

in the shelter of the covered bridge – Stonefly nymphs

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These days, I am having a great time visiting some of the covered bridges in New Brunswick. I have visited many of the bridges before, but mostly to learn about their history.  Now I am planning a project to look at the plants and animals living in or around covered bridges, so I am trying to get a feel for the subject to see what species I am likely to meet.

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Benton Covered Bridge (Eel River #3)

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This weekend, we visited the Benton Covered Bridge (Eel River #3) in west-central New Brunswick.  Benton is a small community on the Eel River.  The bridge, 31.9 meters long, was built in 1927.

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Benton Bridge on Eel River showing part of the community park on one side

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The Eel River is a pleasant shallow river.  When we were there, people were fishing with rod and reel.  We noticed a digger log had been installed in the river, often done as a way of encouraging the river to dig deeper pools and improve fish habitat.

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Eel River – a digger log has been installed in the river, the long line of flowing water above the center of the photo, running from 8:00 to 2:00 – the log causes the water downstream to dig a deeper pool and simulates the action of fallen trees in a natural river

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My search for wild life in and around the bridge was rewarded by the discovery of Stonefly nymphs clinging to the wooden walls of the bridge.

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Two Stonefly nymphs on the wall at the end of the bridge – the cerci are hard to see – they are a pair of extensions at the end of the abdomen, pointing upward in the photo, between the hind pair of legs – the cerci are almost as long as the insect itself

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Not particularly beautiful to me, the nymph is a life-stage on the way to the adult form.  Stoneflies (Order Plecoptera) are identified by their narrow bodies and the long pair of cerci at the end of the abdomen (cerci are long appendages on the rear abdomen of many insects).  I was never any good at insect identification when I worked in the field of water quality, so I am not certain which Family of the Order Plecoptera they belong to.

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There were Stonefly nymphs all over the bridge walls, inside and out.  I was happy to see these insects because they are an indicator of good to excellent water quality.  Anglers love to see these insects in a stream or river because it usually means good fishing.

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inside the Benton Bridge

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I nudged one of the nymphs with a pen and he did not budge a millimeter.  In spite of his inaction, I am certain he will be the hero of a future poem about life in the shelter of the covered bridge!

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Copyright  2015  Jane Tims   

 

Written by jane tims

June 8, 2015 at 7:23 am

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