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Friday 29 September 2017

Fox Run and Ravine

On our recent trip to the Bonshaw Trails, my husband and I hiked the  Fox Run and Ravine branches from the upper portion of the main trail. We planned to focus on the trees this time. 

The leaves have begun to change colour but few have fallen to the ground. Your eyes are drawn upwards to the canopy, where the upper story is changing first.

 The dark green of aged leaves still creates a green glow at lower levels.

The trunks of many of the trees were unusual.

They provide homes for a variety of creatures 

and are a curiosity to hikers. 

The golden grand-dog, who accompanies us on these hikes, enjoyed time off-lead as we were the only people on the trail.

There were several other items which attracted our attention. On the Ravine Trail, there was an animal skull atop a stump. From on-line research, we determined it was a bovine rather than an equine skull. 

We always look for interesting shadows on the trails. This one looks staged.

At the beginning and end of the hike, we walked through a meadow of goldenrod, 

gone to seed now. 

This caterpillar of an American dagger moth walked across that path. It was our favourite photo of the day.


Wednesday 27 September 2017

The cormorant tree

We hear the swoosh of wing and air as they fly over the house in v formation on their way to and from the harbour. We see them in the distance, sat on the breakwater and the lighthouse, as we walk on the boardwalk by the bay in Summerside.

We see them flapping their wings to dry them as they rest along an inlet. 

However, we have never seen them this way.

Double crested cormorants are fishers with webbed feet. Our experiences with them have always been by the sea, so it was unusual to see them in a tree, 

with the webbed feet draped down over the branches.

This spruce tree was by the side of Stewart’s Pond on the Westmoreland River. It is part of a new nature park on the river which is in the Westmoreland Watershed. People and cormorants fish in the pond for rainbow and brook trout. 

My husband and I watched these pre-historic looking birds for a long time as they preened themselves on their lofty perches. 

The yellow-orange at the base off the beak is the only colour on these birds, whose necks and breasts are tinged with white. There is a natural fish hook at the end of the beak.

While we explored the park, the cormorants swooped into the water. We saw them through the trees, disappearing into the water to fish, surfacing a distance away. 

No catch and release for these fishers!

Monday 25 September 2017

The lowest low

Tide that is! We had never seen the tide so low in the harbour in Summerside.

Sand bars galore were exposed as the sun heated us and the cool breeze made it bearable.

Two great blue herons waded in the water, fishing for brunch. 

As my husband and I watched, the birds dipped their heads into the water to snatch their food.

The rose hips are brilliant red and huge compared to those we’ve seen before.

A friend who makes rose hip wine would love these.

The geese are back now from their adventures further north.


On September first every year they are overhead, honking as they go. They must mark the calendar with the departure date from their northern summer homes.

Gulls shared the beach with the geese. We watched as this young herring gull picked up mussel or clam shells from the sand and dropped them from a height.

Then it flew to the area and ate the contents. Isn't that a clever bird?

Further along the beach, the range light has a new paint job and looks well maintained before the stormy weather to come. 

We also met an Irish wolfhound named, Balan, and his owner. Balan is five years old and is waist high. His owner said, "He backs onto the couch where he planks his derriere while his four feet rest on the floor." 

Balan also sleeps on the bed with his owners. It must be king size!

It was another great day on the boardwalk!

Friday 22 September 2017

Painted ladies

You see them along the shoreline of the island now, butterflies preparing to migrate. This year we’ve see lots of whites but painted ladies are in abundance. Islanders are surprised with the numbers of the lovely creatures.

My husband and I didn’t set out to find butterflies. Our success with photographs of the small winged creatures this year has not been the greatest. This day, we merely wanted to walk a longer section of the trail than we usually do. Cameras at the ready, we always see something different, especially if we haven’t been in an area for a time. We weren’t disappointed.

The border between the boardwalk and the beach is full of wildflowers, some of which are past their summer glory. 

However, there were enough blooms to attract butterflies, especially the painted ladies. A few even stopped feeding long enough to allow for photos. We are happy with the results.

The underside of these beauties is as intricate in design as the top.

The head and antennae are wonders in themselves but the straw-like probosis, which unfurls to suck up the nectar, is visible too. Nature never fails to amaze if we but stop and stare.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

The clinging vine

Late summer every year, we watch the progress of wild cucumber plants in specific areas, such as along the Confederation Trail and the Baywalk. The vines, annuals by nature, appear in August and quickly wend their way upward through branches of the affected trees.

They are pretty, with their feathery blooms and the tendrils 

which latch on to everything. Their blooms stand out against the branches of their hosts. The leaves remind me of maple leaves.

The inedible seed pods are prickly spheres 

full of seeds which eventually fall to the ground where they remain dormant until conditions are optimal for their germination. All seeds don't germinate every year and with the number of seeds in each pod, no wonder this plant is prolific.

To rid an area of the plants, one has to pull out the vines before they go to seed. Even then, it can take years to be rid of them, as seeds from previous years would continue to germinate. 

Wild cucumber is invasive and detrimental to native species. They can cover trees, shading them from light, effectively killing them.

A recent article on the local CBC news, tells the story of one yard on Prince Edward Island which has been overrun by the clinging vine. 

The photos tell the story.

Is his house next?


Monday 18 September 2017


Zucchini, peppers, onions, cauliflower, chop, chop, chop, chop.

Peppers, onions, tomatoes, chop, chop, chop.

Those vegetables don't include the chopping for the spaghetti, pizza and marinara sauces.  I am a chopping machine these days. Preserves fly out of the kitchen as I label bottles of zucchini mustard pickles, salsa and the rest to store for the coming year. 

I love this time of year and this activity. It harkens back to my youth, when Nan and Mom and all the women of the neighbourhood made preserves. It started in August as berries ripened and berry picking expeditions headed out to areas known for various kinds of berries. I always loved berry picking and when I was old enough, I worked at the preserving as well. 

Wild raspberry, blueberry, strawberry and partridgeberry, also know as lingonberry, patches yielded buckets of delicious fruit, made into pies, puddings, cakes and jams. Much of a woman’s work this time of year was preparing for the winter and preserves were a key component of that preparation.

Pickles were a common preserve as well. Mom always made green tomato pickles or pickled beets. We usually had enough until the next preserving season. 

These days, my husband and I are not jam lovers, so my focus is on pickles, plus salsa, pizza and other sauces, made from my garden tomatoes. Marinara sauce is next!

P.S. While I was chopping tomatoes for a recent recipe, my husband asked, "What are you making this time?"

"Salsa," I replied. 

Seconds later, salsa music filled the air. Chopping to the music made the time fly. Too bad I threw out my back.

Sunday 17 September 2017

Friday 15 September 2017

Favourites from the trails

The names are Witch’s Way, Canopy, Sawmill and Prince’s Loop. They conjure up images of their own but the Bonshaw Hills Trails are a delight in more than names. These are our favourite images from a recent exploration of these trails: 

was a giant woodpecker at work here?

Is this a scene from a science fiction movie, the tendrils of an alien hand creeping over the earth? 

Old man's beard covered several trees in one area. 

Dog berries are plentiful but are they a harbinger of a bad winter? 

The hobbit wasn't home on this day.

Mini maples or Canada trees, as our four year old granddaughter calls them, have taken over this forest floor. 

Goldenrod was more than two meters tall in places. 

A rock you say? A rarity on this island!

Remnants of an old sawmill cause us to pause and consider how the forest has grown around the remains. 

Artifacts from an old homestead are exhibited on one trail.

Colour, light and texture are key elements on these trails.

The golden grand-dog insists on waiting if I fall too far behind. She barks, "Are you finished with that camera yet?" Georgie is accustomed to the wait.