Thursday, February 23, 2012

Black Spruce Of The Vermilon River. A Post To SWF

Weatherwise, we're in the spring struggle with winter. These photos were the start of a second bright day, but the temperature was low around -18C until the sun warmed the air. Photo two shows the sun higher seemingly setting the trees on fire. I'd suggest you click on the pictures to enlarge and watch the slide show after reading the copy.


 And this photo shows the reflection on the snow.
But this post isn't really about a beautiful sunrise, it's about the trees outlined by the sun, the Black Spruce, a quintessential Boreal forest tree. And one which is at risk with the stress placed by global warming on the Boreal forest; the additional stress of the tar sands and the daming of rivers for hydro-electric purposes in Eastern Canada.  They're a slow growth spruce that is attracted to inhospitable land, such as wetlands, or the rock of the Canadian shield. They grow to about 20 metres, say sixty plus feet, and have a shallow root ball. They generate pollen cones which are dark red, and small seed cones which are purplish in colour. 

That fact, i.e. they generate male and female cones, probably accounts for their proliferation. Boom and I automatically head for any stand of black spruce as they harbour all forms of wildlife. They provide shelter in their thick branches seen opposite. They provide seeds in the winter, and harbour insects in the summer for birds, which is why we see so many species who frequent the area as their breeding grounds. Similarly, they provide seeds to the Red Squirrels, who chew off the end buds trimming the branches, and extend the habitate of the tree by storing seeds in buried middens, which they then forget about. They in turn provide food for the foxes. The high birth rate of the squirrels, twice a year, ensures their survival, and attracts even larger predators. In fact, spot a Black Spruce and you've located an eco-system that even fosters the larger creatures such as wolves or moose.

Black Spruce are the first tree in after a wild fire as fireweed is the first plant; initiating the regeneration. Then a die off comes by fire or naturally and they're supplemented by aspen and paper birch, creating an even richer food source.

The centre tree in this group is likely dying off. If you look closely you can see the cones in most of the branch pictures. I don't normally use the Latin names, because it seems pretentious for an amateur to use them, but it is Picea Mariana. Mariana means of Maryland, A U.S. state where Black Spruce does not exist. Isn't there some thing pathic about that?

On your right on the rock outcropping, which is the west bank of the River, is a Black Spruce. Now is that an inhospitable site for a tree?

This is the abandoned railway track on the west side of the River. It is a stand of Black Spruce, which you can see in the distance as the trail turns. On your right, and left are aspen. In front of the aspen on the left side you can see the birch. The River bank which is low and marshy is to your left. This stretch is loaded with wildlife, because it provides food, water and shelter. And a food chain of critters large and small.

The Black Spruce is not as susceptible to spruce budworm as the White Spruce, but repeated infestation will kill it. The Evening Grosbeaks shown here are natural predators in the summer of the worm. That's a male opposite. Most of the birds and all of the squirrels were shot in this stand of Black Spruce. The tree is harvested for pulp and paper and framing material for houses. The lesson is: if you're in the Boreal head for the Black Spruce trees taking your camera with you.. 

Female Evening Grosbeak

Common Redpoll-Female

Male Pine Grosbeak.

Male Redpoll

Mourning Doves

Red Squirrel, Friend of the Black Spruce

Female Pine Grosbeak

Black-capped Chickadee Sitting on a Dead Spruce Branch.

Male Pine Grosbeak

Male Redpoll


Mourning Doves.

Red Squirrel

Female Pine Grosbeak

Female Pine Grosbeak

Common Redpoll

Female Pine Grosbeak

Our two Mourning Doves again, who I think were just preening each other earlier. After all this is a family blog. A Post to SWF @ http://skyley.blogspot.com/ Camera Critters @ http://camera-critters.blogspot.com/ Scenic Sunday @ http://scenicsunday.blogspot.com/ All of the material is from Wikipedia or eHow.com. Just goggle Black Spruce. And Glen Blouin, An Eclectic Guide To Trees: east of the rockies, The Boston Mills Press. 2001. 

52 comments:

  1. Beautiful forests, smashing animals and brilliant birds.

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  2. I assume many birds come closer now with the snow. Great pictures.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. No, not with the snow, but yes in the stand of trees which is thick and you blend in. I have some equirrel shots where I was going to have to move back to get more range..

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  3. a very pretty cast of characters in your spruce groves. :)

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  4. Beautiful captures as always, Gary, and as always, I love your birds and the squirrel! A lovely cast of characters indeed! Enjoy your weekend1

    Sylvia

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  5. Very pretty photos!I like the little squirrel!Thank you for sharing and have a nice weekend!

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  6. all great shots. i like the abandoned railway shot, quite mysterious and of course i adore your bird shots.

    My sky is here

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  7. Your skies your trees and birds are all beautifully captured

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  8. Wow Gary your photos are stunning.

    SWF

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  9. There's a whole other world in that black spruce forest! Or more accurately, I guess, a vital part of ours! You make learning fun -- great post, wonderful photos.

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  10. Wonderful skies, I love that landscape with a delicious evening. Very beautiful photos, I love. Greetings.

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  11. The yellow sky is so beautiful. Lovely sequence of shots of the sky, trees and wildlife. Interesting narrative about the trees. The love doves at the end are so endearing. Great post!

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  12. Wonderful series, the sky is beautiful and I always enjoy your birds.

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  13. Lovely sunrise!! I always like it when the sun sets the snow to glowing like that!
    I love that capture of the female pine grosbeak, where she is looking straight at the camera!!

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  14. Great pictures. I like the way you have drawn our attention to details.

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  15. Lovely shots and wonderful skies, Gary.
    However, my vote goes to the squirrels today! :-)

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  16. Nice pictures of the birds. I especially like the grosbeaks (all of them, but especially the male evening grosbeaks!).

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  17. I enjoyed this post. Now I know the "secret" to your proliferation of bird species in your photos. Great job of photos.

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  18. Thanks for stopping by last week. I'm a little late....I love your shots of the birds! Wow! What a variety you've got there. You have some beautiful scenery to enjoy too! Happy skywatching!

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  19. love the sky and the trees. Trees are very important.

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  20. Seems still to be a very nice habitat, part of the natural earth-cycle! I guess birds can use anything as long as there is food in there. Striking pictures of the brids once again Gary, and I really love those evening grosbeak!

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  21. what a wonderful serie of photos! i love the kissing morning doves :)

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  22. Oh my gosh, I am so jealous of all this beauty you have seen in just one walk- so gorgeous! My favorites are the redpolls. Thanks for sharing!

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  23. To me a wood is a wood, composed of several trees, ignorant as I am. But I love the little feather balls and the squirrel is so cute !

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  24. Your photos of birds are great.

    Regards and best wishes

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  25. Wonderful series, love your shots!

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  26. How beautiful pictures this was :0)

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  27. The trees truly are as lovely as the sky, Gary. And your bird photos, too!

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  28. a wonderful collection of photographs once again Gary; loving the grosbeaks. With the red/purple cones and the pollens - do they release while the snow is happening? Can you visually see the pollens laying on the snow then?

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  29. The pollen cones are lower in the tree, and the wind blows the pollen to the seed cones which are higher, which close once the pollen is received, and then the seed matures, and opens. Distribution of the active seed is by the wind ensuring a wide area of active growth.So no pollen would not be visible on the snow. Wow, that's a hard question. Boom & Gary.

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    1. And in fact the seed is distributed during dry weather, so none on the snow.

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  30. This is so interesting to read about the trees and I learn a lot here...we have a pine beetle infestation killing our pine trees in the interior ...then your post is always sprinkled with delightful birds....the Grosbeak is so pretty.

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    1. Yes, not the same as the spruce budworm, but again the result of global warming, as cold winters would kill off the pine beatle. Canada's use of oil has not risen much and we could force a decline with carbon taxes. The major offender is the US, who is now dependent on the tar sands, as a junkie is on opium. The exported oil, which is sulfur rich; hence dirty, is mainly for fuel, which tells the whole story. Do you need that boat, car, RV etc. Extremely high carbon taxes on exported oil would accomplish much. I'm not of a mind to subsidize the US, or Norway, or other countries with the destruction of Canada.

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  31. I love all the birds and wildlife that you saw! I love the shot through the tree branches of the black spruce. I did enlarge the photos. they were wonderful to see so big. It has been a very long time since I have seen an evening grosbeak!

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  32. Hi there - interesting post. The whole boreal forests seem to be ignored by many people - they just don’t get the same press as Rain Forests.

    I won’t answer the obvious question - but if you tell me what it is I'll make doubly sure I don’t!

    Cheers - Stewart M

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    1. The verb "Do" begs a completion, so Do what?

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  33. Great post balacing up the story of nature and how we are connected. Too funny when the names of things don't match up with what they are about. Thanks for sharing with SWF.

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  34. Oh, WOWOWOWOW. What a marvelous post! Great critters, too!

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  35. The golden light of the sunrise is gorgeous!
    As always wonderful captures of the birds. I'm especially liking the doves - sweet shot.

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  36. Great informative post with wonderful wildlife shots!

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  37. Sorry, I haven't been here in awhile and had a lot of posts and pictures to catch up on.
    Your photos are always inspiring.

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  38. This is a very informative post..people need to know what is happening to that special habitat and I think you illustrated it so well...love the wildlife...Michelle

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  39. Fabulous captures all, Gary. Those squirrels sure are cute and I like the quizzical expression on the grosbeak. Thanks for sharing your talents with us. Happy weekend.

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  40. I love visiting you. Wonderful information and photos. I took your suggestion and viewed this as a slide show after I'd read it. Really dazzling shots.

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  41. You have so many visitors, and rightly so! Lovely photos and blog. I love learning about nature.
    Cheers from Cottage Country!

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  42. as always your bird photos are wonderful. love the evening grosbeaks

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  43. Outstanding, to be sure! Your photos are wonderful. Thanks!

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  44. Gorgeous sky and beautiful birds.

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  45. Really enjoying your shots!

    www.1sthappyfamily.com

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  46. Thanks everyone for your visits. Re: the questions. I'm an amateur, so they're the best according to the knowledge that I have available.Boom & Gary.

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