Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Good Nature Guides Needed

With my parents visiting from Mexico, I have taken a few days off work to be with them. They have become unaccustomed to cold Canadian weather and are being "treated" to a return of winter. Snow is forecasted for the next several days, the sky is grey and the wind, damp and cold. This morning I knew there were just a few hours before it would start snowing, so I took a 4 km hike on my own for some exercise and to see what I could see. I have seen some birds for the first time this week including Tree Swallows, Cowbirds, Goldfinches, a Kildeer, an American Kestrel and a Bufflehead duck. I was hoping to identify some sparrows other than the house sparrows that are always in my yard.

I think I saw a Song Sparrow. Am I right? The sky is so overcast that it is hard to get a decent picture. And the wind was so strong that the branches were moving wildly. I have never identified a Song Sparrow before, even though I hear them frequently.
There were a number of hawks about and I watched a Red Tail pursue and catch a small bird.

This hawk flew close to me and I am not sure if it is Cooper's or a Sharp Shinned Hawk. Again, a little more light would have been helpful.

I finally found a skunk cabbage growing in a swampy area, but I don't know what left these dry and delicate cases along the river bank. Jennifer has ID'd them as wild cucumber and Africakid calls them wild cucumber skeletons.

It is time to visit the library again for some good guides. Bev, from Burning Silo has posted some links to online guides. I would love to participate in the Blogger Bioblitz, but would have a lot of homework to do.
Even if winter is returning for a short while, I have seen that spring has really arrived.


  1. Weather shock for your parents! Do they miss snow?
    I am no help on the birds, but do enjoy the photos.

  2. Anonymous9:20 pm GMT-4

    I believe the mini loofahs are the remains from Wild Cucumber. Here's my photo from last winter:

  3. KGMom- My mom really feels the cold now. I must say that I have been very cold in Mexico when I visited in December, altitude 6000' and no central heat. We have snow on the ground tonight, and I don't hear any oohs and ahs!

    Jennifer- Thanks for your comment and ID. These were all over the ground, not attached to any vines.
    (your link didn't paste properly, so I am adding it again)
    You have inspired me to look closely at little things. I have been looking for the skunk cabbage since I saw yours on Flickr.

  4. Anonymous9:39 pm GMT-4

    Hello, Ruth
    That is a Song sparrow. Next one is a Cooper's Hawk.

  5. Ruth, you see more in one day than I've seen in a week! Susan Gets Native can help you with the raptor but I think that is really a song sparrow. But sparrow IDs are hard for everyone.

    Your parents must be in shock. You are having snow - and our temps are dropping from 80 to 20 in 36 hours. Strange in April.

    Enjoy your parents and maybe they will love seeing snow?

  6. Cool links to on-line guides! Hope you have a wonderful time visiting with your family Ruth.

  7. The wild cucumber skeletons are quite lacy and intricate -- Nice shot of the skunk cabbage too! (I used to be a biology major & still appreciate nature).

  8. Mary- I am not at work this week and have more time to wander about looking for things. Looks like the cold weather hit you as well. My dad was out taking pictures of all our new snow.

    Jayne- Thanks. My parents haven't been here for 2 years. I am enjoying their visit.

    Africakid- I know a lot about human biology, but my botany knowledge is limited. Thanks for the term "wild cucumber skeleton". I didn't know there was such a plant and will have to look for a vine this summer.

  9. Hope you're enjoying your visiting time! Must be quite a change for your folks.

    Glad Samuel helped with the accipiter ID.


  10. _It's definitely tougher to i.d. birds in poor lighting.-I just had a St. Patrick's day meal a while ago.-How would skunk cabbage go with corned beef?-Probably not so good-


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