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Mushrooms at Andrea’s cottage

31 Aug

In a moist, loamy corner of New Brunswick, Andrea and Ugo’s cottage is perched on stilts, overlooking a stony, sandy beach. On a misty afternoon, Andrea and I took “the pack” on an adventure walk through the forest surrounding the cottage. As we walked on the soft bedding of the regenerating decay of the forest floor, I noticed a wide range of mushrooms. Here is a small sampling…actually it is as many as I have been able to identify to date. I am probably wrong on my identification of a few…more to come.

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Cloudy clitocybe

 

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False chanterelle

 

 

 

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Violet branched coral mushroom

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Crown tipped coral mushroom

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Emetic russula

 

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Variegated mop

ABOUT LOGGING

20 Jul

I told you in an earlier post that I would follow up on issues about having a logger come in and thin out the pine plantation. Without much thought, I figured it would go like this … look up a guy under “loggers” in the yellow pages, call him up, tell him to take out every second row, and he pays for the privilege. Easy-peasy.

Not so fast, little lady!
We need to find a logger who will use careful logging practices (CLP), including a range of techniques and practices to minimize damage to the forest, soil, wildlife habitat and water. Examples of CLPs include directional felling of trees, erosion control measures on skid trails, tree protection for wildlife and the establishment of buffers near water. if we are not careful and don’t get the right company and provide oversight, we could end up with a mess.

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The following are excerpts from http://basineducation.uwex.edu/woodland/contract.htm regarding the need for a strong contract and oversight when hiring a logger.
“While it is essentially impossible to harvest trees without some level of damage to some of the remaining trees, it is important to minimize damage, both to the number of trees damaged and the extent of damage to any individual tree. Some strategies for controlling damage involve a fee schedule that fines a contractor for each tree damaged. Typically these fee systems are graduated based on the economic potential of the damaged tree. Another common strategy is to set a threshold for an acceptable number of damaged trees and any damage in excess of that threshold would cause a contract to default. For both of these systems, it may be important to define exactly what damage is in the contract. Under any circumstances, working closely with the logging contractor and clear communication of your concern regarding damage will help minimize logging damage to your woodland.”

“A common mechanism for minimizing compaction is to restrict the abundance of skid trails across a site. Skid trails are the travel routes that logging equipment use to move around a stand. Some specifications on skid trail layout can be outlined in a logging contract, but, at the very least, a logging contract should specify a maximum skid trail width and a minimum distance between skid trails.”

All we want to do is break even and have an area left behind that is healthier than before it was logged. So perhaps the question we need to ask the forestry consultant is:
We would only be thinning out the pine plantation for the health of the trees. Will the logging operation accomplish that?

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If you are interested in more info on this subject, there is a very good booklet called the landowners guide to careful logging that can be found here. It is over 80 pages long, that might give you a hint that there is a bit more to our little timber harvest than meets the eye.

ACTIVITIES AND ACTIONS

20 Jul

This post is the content of an email I just sent off to our forestry consultant to provide him with some information about the kinds of activities we plan to do to maintain the property over the next 10 years. This is required as part of our submission to the Ministry and it will also give Frank some idea of what priorities we have. I have added photos to the post that I did not send to Frank.

Hi Frank,
The following is information you will need for the plan. Below I have listed some of our priorities and the activities we plan to undertake to meet with our 10 year objectives. I have also included a few notes for your information.

Controlling invasive species.
There are 2 invaders that I know of on the property. The first is eurasian milfoil in the lake. We have already teamed up with other lakefront property owners and contributed to a project to try to deal with this.
The second is garlic mustard. I believe that we have a nasty patch of it close to the driveway, in the area colored yellow. This is a high priority as the area is one of the most sensitive on the property. Advice here would be appreciated (I’m hoping you’ll say it isn’t garlic mustard after all).
Here is what garlic mustard looks like…seem familiar?
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Note : although not really considered an invasive species, we have a good deal of poison ivy on the property which we work to keep in check.

Developing trails and pathways
for recreation, nature appreciation and access to areas for management of natural area. We do not snowmobile or hunt on the property and do not ever plan to.

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Creating snags and brush piles
to provide resting/escape cover and den sites for wildlife. We already have numerous natural snags and brush piles on the property but we will monitor them and create new ones in selected areas.

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Develop or encourage selected native species,
especially wildflowers and native orchids – specifics here would depend on if seeds or seedlings of true native plants can be obtained.

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Selective tree cutting and planting
To maintain a healthy forest ecosystem based on the recommendations of a forest consultant.

Identification and encouragement of threatened or endangered species.
Identification efforts have begun.

I have a particular interest in the area colored yellow on the map. This area nurtures an abundance of birches, aspens, ferns, frogs, mosses and lichen. Trillium used to be plentiful here as well. Well off the driveway are two “ponds” which I believe could be categorized as either bog or fen. They are underwater or waterlogged for much of the year, filled with peat and mermaid weed. I hope to maintain and develop the special nature of this area. Any advice you can provide would be useful.

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I hope this information will help prepare you for your site visit on July 25th. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

COMPARTMENTS REDUX

19 Jul

This is a re-issue of a post from last September. Since we are in the home stretch of getting a plan together and we’ve hired a forestry consultant, I thought it might be of interest to those of you who are following the property forest and wildlife management efforts.

One of the requirements of the Managed Forest Plan (MFP) is to divide the map of the property into separate COMPARTMENTS. For the purposes of nature and wildlife management, areas on the property that have different characteristics should be treated separately. An individual compartment should have similar vegetation, soil and topography and be uniform in species composition, condition and age so they can be distinguished from adjacent compartments.

Our property seems to have every possible type of cover. My initial stab at dividing the property is on this map (crude, but remember, I’m at the cottage without any major tech tools)

MAP sept 14 COMPARTMENTS

This isn’t written in stone – I have one more day here and may change some boundaries.

CONIFEROUS FOREST – this could also be considered a plantation.

P1030417 DECIDUOUS FOREST

P1030625

OPEN FIELD AND SCRUB

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MIXED FOREST

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MARSH – this is the beaver pond area

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BOG OR FEN? This is the area some call the turtle pond

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We’ve got everything!

September 18 – Cutting a swath

2 Oct

Awake to a foggy, foggy but sunny morning.  Chilly too, so I built a robust fire with a few of the logs we cut yesterday.  A little later, I joined Tim and Mum for a steaming cup of earl grey supreme and a thick slice of toasted bakery bread with golden clover honey.

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Having decided that creating some strategically place paths will be one of the activities for the MFP, Mum, Tim and I head off toward the beaver pond.  Tim and I were armed with clippers and snippers to start work on access to the farther reaches of the pond.

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Tim and I snipped and chopped our way through sharp-needled junipers, grasping blackberry bushes, many-branched maples and plenty of bushy bushes.  What was Mum doing as we sweated and whacked and snipped our way through the underbrush?  Well she was happily ensconced on a rock, yelling things like “it’s lovely here, why don’t you hurry up?” or, apparently thinking we were too doltish to find our way, she’d say  “you just go around the juniper and over the rock and …”.  When we finally cut the path right up to the beaver dam, there she was, just enjoying the view…P1030940

To give Mum credit, she was pretty impressed at our work when we returned along the path we had just cut.

So finally, I actually reached the beaver dam! 

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Looks like Monet could have painted here…P1030932

After the sweat-making path work, we had to go back and rest.

After a nap, we tucked in to a clear-the-cupboard dinner of tuna hash, pasta and great lashings of wine – I’m going to have to stop hanging around these two – I go home half sloshed every night!

September 16 – The Mighty Naturalist ain’t so smart

29 Sep

Being an armchair naturalist actually takes some work and study – the more you learn, the more need to learn.  I am now in the position of knowing how much I don’t know.  I assumed that since they were all so distinctive, mosses, mushrooms , lichens and fungus would be easy-peasy to identify.  Ho-ho-ho – apparently nothing is easy in the world of identification.  After a session with mum and I both looking through a foot-high stack of nature guides on plants, mushrooms, wetland plants, amphibians and others, we managed to identify the grey frog and brown cockroach (see previous post) as well as the following;

cortinarius cinnamomeus for blog 

polyporus versacolor for blogfalse pixie cup for blog

I really love the false pixie cup – here is a closer look at some.  It is a bit dryer that the selection above so it looks slightly different – fascinating though…no?

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Not much identified – at this rate I’ll have to work all winter on this!

Compartments

27 Sep

One of the requirements of the Managed Forest Plan (MFP) is to divide the map of the property into separate COMPARTMENTS. For the purposes of nature and wildlife management, areas on the property that have different characteristics should be treated separately. An individual compartment should have similar vegetation, soil and topography and be uniform in species composition, condition and age so they can be distinguished from adjacent compartments.

Our property seems to have every possible type of cover. My initial stab at dividing the property is on this map (crude, but remember, I’m at the cottage without any major tech tools)

MAP sept 14 COMPARTMENTS

This isn’t written in stone – I have one more day here and may change some boundaries.

CONIFEROUS FOREST – this could also be considered a plantation.

P1030417 DECIDUOUS FOREST

P1030625

OPEN FIELD AND SCRUB

P1030728 MIXED FOREST

P1030579

MARSH – this is the beaver pond area

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We’ve got everything!

Swamp, marsh, bog, or fen

24 Sep

Did you know … that lichens are the dominant vegetation over 8% of the earth’s land surface

This morning is a bit overcast, sun and clouds – cool but not cold.  Took a short trek in search for mosses, lichens and fungus.  Found lots.

Then, I headed off in the direction of a pond that Dad shows on his hand-drawn, half-burnt map.  I had never wandered over that way.

Could this be it?  This pond-like area is nestled between a rock wall and hidden behind the glade.P1030498 There appears to be 3 kinds of vegetation that completely dominate the pond – here they are;turtle pond veg1 Mermaid weed?

turtle pond veg 4  P1030500

Any guesses on what these are?  Finding out will tell us if the Turtle pond is a SWAMP, a MARSH, a BOG or a FEN.

SWAMPS – are the most diverse type of wetland in Ontario; wooded wetlands, often flooded in spring and without surface water later in summer; dominated by trees and shrubs, coniferous trees (white cedar, tamarack, black spruce), deciduous trees (silver maple, red maple, black ash) and tall shrubs (willow, dogwood, alder). Water flows through swamps, although the movement can sometimes be imperceptible.

MARSHES - common throughout southern Ontario; periodically or permanently flooded with water; vegetation is mostly emergent non-woody plants (cattails, rushes, reeds, grasses, sedges); in open water, floating-leafed plants (water lilies) and submerged plants (coontail, pondweeds) are common; in drier areas, low shrubs (sweetgale, red osier dogwood, winterberry) may occur. They are a relatively productive wetland.

FEN – are rare in southern Ontario, common in Northern Ontario; peatlands located in areas where groundwater discharges to surface; vegetation mostly sedges and/or mosses, some grasses, reeds and low shrubs; less acidic than bogs; if trees present, they are usually stunted, scattered tamarack or white cedar; more plant species than in bogs.

BOG – are very rare in southern Ontario, common in Northern Ontario; peat-filled depressions; main source of water is rainfall, little surface runoff or groundwater from surrounding soils, strongly acidic; usually covered with a carpet of sphagnum mosses, some sedges, low shrubs of heath family (cranberries, blueberries); if trees present, usually black spruce and some tamarack.

Bogs may be very rare in Southern Ontario – but I think the Turtle Pond is a BOG!

The Enchanted Glade to the Turtle Pond

24 Sep

If you follow the driveway from the cottage down to the first big dip or change in elevation, on your left will be a lovely low area filled with birch and poplars.P1030794a 

Most of the live trees in this area are tall and healthy and create a thick green canopy above , but  enough light filters through to the forest floor to encourage a profusion of ferns and some of the more exotic native wildflowers like trillium and jack-in-the-pulpit.  Mum tells me that in the spring, the entire right slope is filled with trilliums. 

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I call this area “The Glade” because if you see it in the morning with the sunlight dappling the many shades of  green beneath your feet – the whole area seems to have a magical glow, just like an enchanted glade from a childhood storybook.   Step off the drive and into the glade for about 50 feet and you’ll find that the “walls” of the glade are made of solid rock, gently softened by layers of cushiony moss.

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In this area you’ll find old trees, long since fallen to the forest floor, being reclaimed by mushrooms and mosses and fungus of all colors and sizes. 

View fungus

Even though the trees have fallen, their shape and snarls still put on a good show, as well as providing shelter to small birds and mammals.

 P1030534 Travel a little farther and you come upon “The Turtle Pond”.

P1030502  This is as far as I got into the pond, because I had Sydney with me.  Is it still a pond in the spring?  What species does it support?  are there any turtles here? I’ll go back and do some serious investigating soon.

September 13 – beaver pond

22 Sep

I tried a couple of different paths in from the road in an attempt to get close to the beaver pond.  All are difficult to get through the dense underbrush (possibly riddled with poison ivy too).  Most have rocks with hidden fissures that an unsuspecting brown dog could drop into and break her dainty legs.  So I didn’t get too close.

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What this tells me is that part of our plan for the property should be the development and maintenance of a network of paths through the property – so it can be studied and appreciated … and so you won’t get lost and rained on while you wander around in circles like a dazed donkey.

The beaver pond is a large and important part of the property’s ecology and in order to study it and make recommendations to improve it, we must be able to get to it.  Some time during this visit, I’ll work on determining where the Beaver Pond Path should be.

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Did you know  … that the average area covered by a beaver pond is 10 acres (4 hectares) and the area of aspen forest needed to support a beaver family for 1-2 years is 4 acres (1.5 hectares)

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