19 October 2010

Bulberries Ripen

IIII ) lllllll Bulberries Ripen (16Oct10)

1708 Sspopiikimi - had our first real cold shot of the season last night, producing ice on shallow waters and frost on everything else. Out this evening to survey the pond and learn whether there have been any related changes

1711 The first thing we notice, walking in, is the absence of grigs. We heard one clickhopper move away in the grass as we passed. But probably the majority of the hoppers suffered and perhaps died in the freeze

1714 Walking the west length, we pass the lone coot of midpond once again. I suspect it is one who was born here this summer, but who hadn't become prepared to fly yet by the time his parents were ready to depart. In the water, we can see large algae bubbles, some more than two meters wide. And crossing the shale trail is a harvestman spider

1717 The ksisskstakioyis and beaver food cache continue to grow. There seems to be considerable work being done to build upon the north side of the lodge. Looking across at the forest main, at least half of the cottonwoods have dropped their leaves at this point. Yet there are still many with canopies of yellow, and even a few that remain green

1725 There are not as many mi'ksikatsi in the wide south pool as during our last visit. We're counting twelve males and three females today, which also a reversal of the gender ratio we observed previously

1750 Walking down toward the peninsula, we stop to check on the status of the mi'ksinitsiim (bulberries) and finally they are ready. In about fifteen minutes we're able to collect about half a grocery bag full, but our drop cloth isn't quite big enough, so we'll leave them for now and return in a day or two for a more thorough harvesting session

1830 With our bag of bulberries, we make our way around the south marsh and stop off briefly at the river bench. When we then start toward the forest main, there's someone waving at us from the levee. Turns out it's Cynthia Chambers and her sister, back to the pond for a first visit since her heart surgery a couple months ago. We stop and visit, but it's starting to get dark

1844 Letting Cynthia continue her round so she doesn't get too cold, Mahoney and I move down through the forest to the blind. The geese are starting to come in. A flock of six make a couple passes over the south pool, but they spot us and decide instead to relocate somewhere upriver. Then moving back through the forest and up on the levee again, Mahoney spots the first of the large, fuzzy brown caterpillars that always move around this time of year, eventually finding places to hibernate under old logs, bark and such. We still do not know what kind of moth begins it's life in this form

1854 Back to the truck now, with nothing really significant to note after the caterpillar. Beavers are out, collecting reeds from north-pond. Other than that, it's pretty dark and we're going to head out

IIII ) llllllll Last Kingfisher (17Oct10)

1142 Sspopiikimi - after finding last night that the frost had finally loosed the bulberries, we're out today to harvest

1146 We start off in the opposite direction as yesterday, moving sunwise around north-pond toward the forest main. Along the route, our foot-steps scare up several red-winged clickhoppers and other small grigs. Not nearly as many as there were last week, but that's to be expected with the cold

1147 On the north cutbank, we scare up a group of six grey partridge who were hidden in a patch of tall grass. Their sudden burst into the air startles us at least as much as we've scared them

1157 Oddly enough, there's still a kingfisher here. As we climb the levee at north-pond, it flies chattily overhead, and I think it's landed somewhere in the forest main

1203 We ourselves drop down off the levee into the north end of the forest main, where there's a good patch of young, female bulberry bushes, all laden with fruit. We'll get a start on our harvest here

1205 POD - nitaisoi'stsipikiaaksspinnaan (we are harvesting berries by knocking them to the ground)

1250 Going good so far. We've collected our first half-bag of berries. Knocking on the stems to shake the bulberries down, we also notice on our drop-cloth a large, reddish-brown assassin bug

1329 Having filled one grocery bag now, we're leaving this patch. There are still a lot of berries in the deeper, harder to reach areas. Presently, we're making our way south through the forest

1401 About half-way through the forest main, we come across a lone bulberry bush that is just absolutely burdened with fruit. The berries are so heavy, in fact, that one of the trunks that comes out of the lowest fork has broken completely off, leaving half the bush in the ground. We work this section and in no time at all get another full bag to carry

1416 When we work the fallen bush, a lot of small twigs covered in berries fall onto our drop-cloth. This gives us a good excuse to find a log, sit down for a break, and clean some of the wood out of our bag. When we get home, we'll throw everything into a tub of water, and in this manner clean our harvest of the leaves and other debris that shakes loose with the fruit

1427 Eventually we arrive at the blind overlooking south-pond. There are a handful of mallards dabbling on the surface. Also, we can see two lesser yellowlegs hunting the shore of a small island beneath us. Last year, when the waters were much lower, there were lots of shorebirds, but these are the first we've seen this go'round

1450 Climbing back up on the levee, having left the blind, we see several cherry-faced meadowhawks, a pink-edged sulphur, and some grigs. We were thinking that, with all the warmth, there might be some garter snakes basking near their hibernaculum. When we go to investigate though, there's nobody. The wandering garters are the last reptiles to emerge in summer, and the first to keep underground as we move into the winter

1500 As we round the south marsh, listening to magpie chatter from the cottonwoods on the golf course, I realize that our bags are so heavy that the fruit on the bottom is getting squished by the weight of what's above, ultimately leaking berry juice all down the side of my pants

1513 Hiking the west length on our way back to the truck, we see a lone mallard drake near the beaver lodge. Then, not too much further along, we spot the lone coot of mid-pond, still lingering yet. Other than that, the west length offers nothing save for some of the same insects (mostly grigs) that we've seen on the shale path elsewhere today