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22 May

April 28 to May 4, 2015

It was dog days at the cottage with 4 dog cousins and their humans. Piper, Tilly, Lucy and Bella brought Jennifer, Leigh, Andrea and Ugo together for a wild play and romp. This was the first meeting of the cousins and it went splendidly. They all got along beautifully – and they all got more exercise than they have had in awhile.

IMG_0025 IMG_0027 IMG_0030 IMG_0038 IMG_0062Just before leaving for the cottage, Piper was diagnosed with Lyme Disease – most likely from a tick she picked up at the cottage on a previous visit last spring or fall. The ticks are REALLY on the rise! After each walk with the dogs, we would give them the once-over looking for the little beasts. We always found several. I have removed 3 off myself, so humans are not immune. Tick season is spring and fall so summer visitors may not be afflicted too badly, but I’d suggest that all dogs get good tick repellant and humans do regular checking. Andrea is now a tick removing expert.

tic1 tic2 tic3 tic4

All in all, except for the tick bonanza, the dog party was a barking success!


Good night to all good dogs.



September 16 – Toads and cockroaches

29 Sep

Sydney woke me up with her shaking and shivering and chattering of teeth several times during the night.  Not a good sleep for me, worse for her I suppose. I wonder if she is not only suffering from some neurological disturbance but also a little night time anxiety.

Here is a photo of Sydney the Wonder Dog as a young girl standing down by the lake after a refreshing dip.

syd on rocks

Syd and I trotted over to Mum’s cabin this morning and as I opened the screen door, I felt something drop on to my arm then fall to the ground.  Here’s what fell, a lovely little toad.  I call it a toad because of the warty looking skin and when I used the amphibians of North America book to identify it, the closest match was the Grey Toad.

But I suspect it is actually the  Tetraploid Gray Treefrog, a species more common to Ontario.P1030793

Tetraploid Gray Treefrog (Hyla versicolor)

  • has the ability to change colour, from greenish-gray to gray-black
  • the skin appears mottled, bumpy and toad-like. It is often referred to as a tree toad
  • each toe has a toe disc, which aids in climbing
  • has 48 chromosomes which is twice that of other North American species of Hyla
  • inhabits trees and shrubs close to temporary or permanent bodies of water
  • after breeding in the spring they move away from the wetlands and into the forest


Big controversy here – a few roach, beetle looking things have been seen in both cottages.  This isn’t a great picture, because this poor specimen has been squashed by my foot before having its portrait taken.  David at the Bakery was insistent that they were wood beetles – but, after a careful review of the insect guide, it looks like they are indeed cockroaches!  The brown cockroach, to be exact.


  There was a huge issue because several groups insisted they were cockroaches and that if we didn’t kill them all, we’d be overrun and never get rid of them.  I’ve been reading up on them and it looks like they need heat and humidity to survive.  Since the uninsulated, unheated cottage will be spending many months suffering through an intensely cold winter, I suspect we’ll be OK by spring.  If not, I’ll get the exterminator in.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

29 Aug

I found a beautiful swallowtail butterfly in the yard – dead, but perfect. I looked it up on the iPhone and think it might be the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. These pictures were taken with the phone and this post is being done entirely with the iphone. Yes I am a tech geek!

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) is a species of swallowtail butterfly native to North America. It is one of the most familiar butterflies in the eastern United States.

The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail was once considered to be a single species, but is now divided into three species; the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio canadensis), the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and the Appalachian Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio appalachiensis). These three species are very similar to one another, and can be hard to tell apart. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail has a wingspan of 7.9 to 14 centimeters (3 to 5.5 inches). The adult male is yellow, with black “tiger stripes”. There are two morphs of adult females, a yellow one and a dark one. The yellow one is similar to the male, except there is a patch of blue on the hind wing. In the dark morph, the yellow areas are replaced by dark gray or black.


28 Aug

Not exactly pretty, but kind of exotic..


The common porcupine can be found in most of Canada, the western United States and as far south as Mexico. It makes its den in caves, decaying logs and hollow trees. The porcupine doesn’t hibernate, but it may stay in its den during bad weather. Some things I didn’t realize are that the porcupine is a good swimmer, its hollow quills help keep it afloat. It is also an excellent tree-climber and spends much of its time in trees.  Have you ever seen one sitting in a tree?  I haven’t. 
We know that we have quite a population of them at the cottage from the clues they leave behind … Was it Spruce who managed to get a snout-ful?    Here’s a picture of our more recent porcupine damage – they had a little chew-fest on the small dock last winter.
The small dock this spring – porcupine food

Most porcupine damage occurs during the winter when woody plants become a staple diet. Extensive gnawing of branches, twigs and bark is evidence of porcupine attack. Susceptible trees include pine, spruce, poplar, elm, fruit-bearing trees and numerous shrub species. Girdling of the tree bark, if severe, will kill the plant. In summer, porcupines will eat fruits, vegetables and succulent plants. Occasionally, porcupines find buildings, open air sheds and other wooden structures including boat houses and piers where they can seriously damage beams and other support structures with their gnawing.   


Porcupines have soft hair, but on their back, sides, and tail it is usually mixed with sharp quills. These quills typically lie flat until a porcupine is threatened, then leap to attention as a persuasive deterrent. Porcupines cannot shoot them at predators as once thought, but the quills do detach easily when touched. 

Want to look for evidence of porcupines? (besides chewed-up docks)  Here are porky’s tracks and trail pattern. 


On the rocks

19 Aug

On a grey day this spring.    Sydney loves to wander all over the property, just quietly sniffing…

Food for wildlife

12 Aug
One of the objectives of our cottage property is to enhance wildlife habitat. One thing we can do that is to provide the birds and animals with food and shelter. We may want to consider planting some (or some more) of the plants and trees below to help our place better support the wildlife. 


  White-tailed Deer Ruffed Grouse Duck (general) Wild Turkey Moose Snowshoe Hare
Dogwood *** ***   *** *** ***
Maple ***     *** ***
White Cedar ***
Poplar *** ***
Aspen ***
Hemlock ***
Birch *** *** ***
Oak *** *** ***
Grape *** ***
Sumac *** *** *** ***
Corn *** ***
Apple *** ***
Mountain Ash ***

I don’t know about the corn…but we can’t forget the milkweed for the monarchs – spread those seed pods around!  

The endangered list

8 Aug

Here is the list of all the threatened and endangered species that may have a range that intersects with the property.   I’ve cross-checked against several lists on the net and pulled out only those species that may conceivably be in our area.  We should get all cottage goers interested in looking for signs of anything on the list.  I’ll be posting fact sheets for each of these here over the next few weeks.  I’m also making up a book of pictures and fact sheets to leave at the cottage for any other armchair naturalists – to see if they can find any of the species listed.

Taxonomy   Common Name   Scientific Name ▲ OMNR Status  
Fish American Eel Anguilla rostrata END
Birds Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus SC
Birds Whip-poor-will [PDF fact sheet] Caprimlugus vociferus THR
Reptiles Snapping turtle [PDF fact sheet] Chelydra serpentina SC
Birds Black Tern Chlidonias niger SC
Birds Common nighthawk [PDF fact sheet] Chordeiles minor SC
Reptiles Spotted Turtle Clemmys guttata END
Plants Small White Lady’s-slipper Cypripedium candidum END
Insects Monarch Danaus plexippus SC
Birds Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea SC
Reptiles Blanding’s Turtle Emydoidea blandingii THR
Fish Grass Pickerel Esox americanus vermiculatus SC
Reptiles Wood Turtle [PDF fact sheet] Glyptemys insculpta END
  Northern Map Turtle    
Reptiles Eastern Hog-nosed Snake Heterodon platirhinos THR
Plants Swamp Rose-mallow Hibiscus moscheutos SC
Plants Goldenseal Hydrastis canadensis THR
Birds Least Bittern Ixobrychus exilis THR
Reptiles Milksnake Lampropeltis triangulum SC
Birds Red-headed Woodpecker Melanerpes erythrocephalus SC
Plants American Ginseng Panax quinquefolius END
Reptiles Gray Ratsnake (Frontenac axis population) Pantherophis spiloides THR
Fish Channel Darter Percina copelandi THR
Plants Broad Beech Fern Phegopteris hexagonoptera SC
Plants Ogden’s Pondweed Potamogeton ogdenii END
Birds Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea END
Birds King Rail Rallus elegans END
Plants Toothcup Rotala ramosior END
Birds Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla SC
Reptiles Eastern Musk Turtle Sternotherus odoratus THR
Reptiles Eastern Ribbon snake   THR
Birds Barn Owl [PDF fact sheet] Tyto alba END
Mammals Grey Fox Urocyon cinereoargenteus THR
Birds Golden-winged Warbler Vermivora chrysoptera SC
Molluscs Rainbow Mussel Villosa iris THR
Birds Canada warbler [PDF fact sheet] Wilsonia canadensis SC
Birds Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina  
Plants Blunt-lobed Woodsia Woodsia obtusa END
Reptiles Common Five-lined Skink (Southern Shield population) Plestiodon fasciatus SC