Kate's Blog

Jan 1

Winter months of respite and contemplation

Winter solstice was more than a week ago and already the early mornings are brightening. But during the day, the sun still sits low on the horizon and the shadows from trees and fences stretch long over the snow. The sun is welcome, having been a rare visitor - we’ve had a gloomy winter - but today is bright and windless, which makes it pleasant outside despite the cold (minus 11 Celsius this morning rising to minus 5).

The redpolls bicker on and around the feeder – they look like drab birds at first glance, but watch for the moment when the light catches the festive dab of red on top of their heads. Then you notice the soft white breast, lightly streaked in grey and splashed with red. These are little charmers, in residence this winter, but not necessarily every year. When they’re not around, there's a flock of goldfinches who stay year-round and really should have squatters' rights. But the redpolls are a little bigger, and scrappier than the goldfinches. I don’t know where the goldfinches go when the redpolls push them out, but I hope someone else has a well-filled feeder for them. There’s one pair of goldfinches that didn’t move on. These two, truly drab in their olive winter attire, are part of the our winter redpoll flock and appear to suffer no discrimination.Read more
Dec 16

Speaking ‘bird’: get your child started early

In a world divorced from nature, we are privileged that birds let us into their lives in a way no other wild creature permits. It’s because they can so easily escape us by soaring above our heads. And it’s their good fortune that we’re generally well-disposed towards them because of their beauty. 

A beauty that’s wonderfully illustrated in a new book, The Birds of Georgian Bay by Bob Whittam. The pictures alone offer rewarding insight into the relationships birds have with each other and their environment.

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Nov 1

End of season: late-bloomers, musical chairs and bulbs

Late-bloomers are precious, a final fling before the protective mantle of winter descends to slow the rhythm of our landscape. 

Cimicifuga americana, with long racemes of creamy white flowers, is the late-season winner for me this year. I found a monarch butterfly at the plant on October 24 – that was my last sighting of a monarch - and as of two days ago, there were still a few bees and other insects on the wing enjoying the nectar. The constant rain has put a bit of a damper on that parade, but the Cimicifuga still looks fresh and inviting. 

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