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Aug 28, 2007

Oak Ridges Trail at Marylake

Linda invited our new friends, Roch and Daphne, to walk on the Oak Ridges Trail this past weekend. We walked the Marylake portion of the trail, just north of King City. We began at the Marylake Shrine (pictured at right), walked around the east side of the lake, then headed north through the hardwood forest and over the Oak Ridges Moraine height of land. Oldtimers, like me, still call this high spot 'the King Ridge' or just 'the ridge'. Early french explorers called these hills, mountains. We ended up at the Pine Farms Orchard store and cafe (see picture below), where we enjoyed tea and juice. I explained to Roch and Daphne that the site on which the Marylake Shrine sits was formerly the site of the hunting lodge of Sir Henry Pellatt (of Casa Loma fame) in the 1920s. 70 years before that, Linda's great-great-grandparents, William and Elizabeth Scott, lived for five years in a rented farmhouse, on the same site. It was a beautiful day and I can't recommend this section of the Oak Ridges Trail enough. BtheB

Aug 12, 2007

Just when I thought I'd seen it all...

Daughter No.2, Auralee, told me earlier this week that she had seen a baby Ruby-throated Hummingbird sipping nectar from phlox flowers in her garden. She said it was twice the size of a bumblebee and she could almost reach out and touch it. It sounded odd because a young hummingbird, if it's out flying around and gathering nectar, is almost the same size as an adult 'hummer'. I took her word for it, however, and didn't think much more about it.
Today, I was out in my garden, standing near some tall Obedient Plants, when I suddenly saw, on the flowers, something I'd never seen before. It was a large, green-backed flying insect, with rapidly beating wings, which was flitting from flower to flower, just like a humming bird, gathering nectar. I called Linda to come and see my discovery. We stood bewildered. We able to get to very close to it even though it was constantly on the move. It was smaller than a hummingbird - but not by much.
I had told Linda about Auralee's sighting earlier in the week and now concluded that we were seeing the same amazing creature. After a minute or so, it flew off leaving us very puzzled. I told Linda I would try to find something about it on the Internet. I typed in "Hummingbird Insect". Shazam!!! There it was: Hummingbird Clearwing Moth. Who knew? Well, lots of people, it seems. The Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hermaris thysbe) is fairly common in eastern Canada and the U.S.A., during the summer months. It is a day-flying, nectar-sipping moth with a 2" wingspan, a green furry back, and burgundy wing scales, suggesting a Ruby-throated Hummingbird. It has two antennae plus a long curling probocis to suck nectar. This moth is frequently mistaken for 'baby' or 'little' hummingbirds. If you see one, and if you're like me, for a moment you'll hardly believe your eyes. I just love moments like this, when my aged, tired, skeptical self is treated to a hitherto undiscovered wonder of nature.
Back at the start of May, I wrote a blog about the first hummingbird of the year and included a picture, which my sister-in-law, Nancy, had sent me of five hummingbirds feeding at a small red dish resting in the palm of a hand. Just last week I ran across the larger version of the same shot (with the whole person) and have included it below. Lucky lady!
Please comment if you wish.
(Photo of Hummingbird Clearwing Moth by Don Marlin)

Aug 8, 2007

Hot weather haikus

So hot and humid
Even the cats are panting
Bird bath is busy
Hot as hell today
Whining cicadas put in
Eleven hour shifts
Got dehydrated
Drank beer instead of water
My head is pounding