Year 2013 in Review

As the seasons progress the weather changes in predictable patterns.  The normal temperatures observed every year for the time of year tend to average about the same this year.. Although many natural facets seem to cycle, specific aspects change every year as well.

Year 2013 brought many small but noticeable changes.

First, the Woodlot 1475 received another rotation of logging.  Large logging equipment started moving into the area through the access at the end of Aulds Road approximately at the end of January. Trees were felled in two small blocks of about 7 hectares each. Since it is so close to us I was worried about the changes it would cause.  The areas were basically clearcut, although a number of the mature trees were left standing. Soon the falling was finished, the slash was burned and the area was replanted before summer.  The loggers even cleaned up the garbage other people dumped in the paintball area, and at the end of the road. The loggers left the area looking clean.  I have not heard any negative comments about the logging, and certainly the area receives even more use by the hikers, dog walkers, and bike riders.

Spring brought a surprise in the form of the Eurasian collared dove, who serenaded all and sundry with its constant daytime cooing.  The doves disappeared suddenly about the end of August. Where did they go? Where did they come from?  Did they have a successful nesting?  Will we see them again next year?  How did they manage to elude the hawks and other raptors? A number of years ago we raised doves in our barns and let them fly free.  Unfortunately the hawks really targeted them and we had to keep them penned up. We still see the Cooper’s hawks around so somehow these new doves managed to avoid them.

Another newcomer was some black squirrels.  I know they have been so numerous in Victoria that they are a nuisance.  And I had heard news of them in Nanaimo. They really target the hazelnut and walnut trees.  Also other fruit. Now they have moved to Lantzville. So far the native red squirrels are still around.

There are still many bullfrogs in Galloway Marsh. But far from overrunning the Marsh their numbers appear to have declined. During some August rains and again in September, there were some migrations of immature bullfrogs away from the marsh.  In some cases they got squished on the roads. Although the bullfrogs have visited our pond in past years, and even briefly visited this past year, they have not stayed.  Speculation is that some mink have moved in because we see them harassing our ducks.

The major continuing saga is the proliferation of rabbits throughout our area.  We routinely see 6 or 7 in our yard, some looking like the Eastern cottontail, and domestic varieties mainly colored either orangey tan, black, or black and white. A couple of years ago I wrote about a tan rabbit with one droopy ear that was hanging around. (I called him “Floppy”.) I was amazed at how it managed to survive in spite of hanging around areas frequented by dogs.  I haven’t seen that rabbit for a long time, but we regularly see its offspring.  I think I have seen at least 5 tan rabbits of the same coloration and size.  I know the rabbit population is getting some natural predation: I saw an eagle holding a black rabbit. Also, on an early walk last fall, I found the remains of a rabbit on the road that obviously had been eaten by a raptor (not a dog). There were bits of hair and meat on the road that had not been found by ravens yet. We also have found a couple of dead rabbits that did not show any sign of predation or injury.  Caution suggests we should keep our dogs from eating such carcasses. 

We should all count our blessings for our beautiful area, and the mild weather we enjoy here. Far better than weather east of the Rockies this winter of 2013-2014.  But we must not be complacent, and must remain vigilant to continue efforts to keep it beautiful.

 

Posted in A View from the Outside, Columns, February 2014

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