Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sunday Nature Treasures

Today was a beautiful fall day. Cool and sunny - perfect sweater weather. Jeremie and I decided that today would be a great day to go for a walk, so we piled into the car and drove to Sir Wilfred Laurier Park, or better known as the "dog park."
It is an off-leash dog park and on a beautiful Sunday like today, it was packed full of people with their dogs. I felt a tad out of place not having a dog following our heels, but the park is so beautiful by itself and has so many nature trails that all we had to do was break off on one of the trails and we wouldn't see a soul for a good 10 minutes or so.

Jeremie loves nature, absolutely adores it. He's very knowledgeable and found me quite a few treasures today!

On one of the secluded paths, we saw an older gentleman with a small bucket collecting these bright berries. We talked only briefly as English was not his first language, but he did tell us that these berries lowered his wife's blood pressure. Huh. I took him at his word, but would never eat the things. I had always been told that berries that look like this tend to be poisonous. Possibly they are - but I brought a little bunch home to look up and find out exactly what type of berry they are. (the reference librarian in me is dying to know.)

Jeremie also found me this birds-nest. I have no idea what type it is, only that it's probably a small bird, like a chickadee or a finch. I was hoping to find some broken shells, but they had all been cleared away.

Jeremie has a particular fondness for wasps and hornets, so when he found a giant nest (about the size of his head) in great condition, he was eager to show/tell me all about it. This photo is of a hornet's nest, it had layers upon layers of that paper type weaving (pictured behind) and it felt like the most delicate rice-paper. It is, I learned, bark fibers and hornet spit. (great)
Deep inside the nest is the comb, much like a bee's nest, but instead of honey, it's more like bedrooms for little larvae to grow. Jeremie pointed out the white 'cap' on certain parts of the comb. He told me that, that's how you could tell if a larvae had hatched from it. If there was no cap - no new hornets.

Here is a tiny little nest we found, probably belonging to Wasps'. When I asked why it was so small, Jeremie told me that either one of two scenario's probably happened:
1) The Queen died no new eggs were laid, leaving the other wasps to die out.
Or 2) The original nest was damaged. If this happens the hive will move to a new location.
Jeremie told me that he would think latter happened. This new small hive was misshaped and hastily "slapped together." He said that when they first start to build they will take more time to secure the nest and make it 'pretty.
We walked for a good hour and a bit. It was so much fun having Jeremie there to tell me new things and watch him forage through the dense trees and undergrowth just to get me a birds nest. What a sweetie!
It got fairly cool as soon as the sun started to set - my hands were freezing and Jeremie was staring to get cold as well, it was time to pack it in, take our little treasures home and show them to you!
But tomorrow is back to work and back to packing!
Cold but happy,
- Jenny


Niki RuralWritings said...

You have a wonderful and knowledgeable husband! Very interesting photos
Love u

Lady of the Manor said...

Hi Jenny, Those berries look like High Bush Cranberries to me. I wouldn't know for sure unless I saw the bush/tree. But they do look like the ones I have here at the farm. We use ours all the time and have for years, we make our own cranberry sauce from them or I use them with apple sauce to make a apple/cranberry sauce. Nice to get and walk isn't it, I love doing that too. Margaret

Irene said...

Just think in a short time you and hubby will be strolling on the Main's farm collecting neat stuff there. Exciting times for you guys.

Love Aunt Irene

Sarah said...

Lowering high blood pressure is usually the domain of the hawthorn tree. You can make medicines from the flowers, leaves and berries. The berries you show on the photo don't look like UK haws, but you may have a Canadian variety. As well as all the hawthorn tinctures I've made this year, I've also made a hawthorn berry spiced liqueur, hawthorn vinegar and a hawthorn spiced cordial. They all taste really good! When you get back to Ontario, or even before, get someone who knows their hawthorn trees to identify them for you.