The seeds of the Creeping Thistle are about to get airborne. All it will take now is the slightest of wind puffs and they are on their way. This inflorescence almost looks like it has a bad hair day. But it will not last. Soon the seeds will be gone with the wind. Each Creeping Thistle plant can produce thousands of seeds at the end of the summer. In addition to reproducing using wind-dispersed seeds, the Creeping Thistle also reproduced vegetatively by creeping roots (rhizomes). These two reproductive methods result in the plant being a formidable weed that, once established, is virtually impossible to eliminate. It often invades crop fields and grasslands where it lowers crop yields and forage productivity.
It was a late sunny afternoon down at the Whitemud park and I noticed that a lot of crows were flying around, all seemingly heading in the same direction.It turns out that these were crows on a mission. The were all heading to a grove of dead trees for their night roost. A crow night roost is basically a corvid slumber party. The crows were pretty mellow with only the occasional squawk and scuffle disturbing the peace. I can see that there could be numerous benefits to such a corvid sleeping party. Perhaps one of the more obvious benefit is safety in numbers. There are more eyeballs to keep watch for predators at night of the crows roos together. It would be interesting the come back to this location to see if they use the same roost location every day (I suspect that might) or come back in early in the morning to see if they are still there.
Looks like the warm and sunny weather that did not arrive this summer has arrived in the eleventh hour of the summer. The beautiful weather was simply impossible to resist and we decide to go for a family walk in Whitemud park tonight. It was a sunny afternoon, the hot air balloons were out and the fitness buffs were out burning far too many calories far to fast. We did not see much in terms of birds other than around 50 crows gathering for the night. We came across a gentleman with a large bucket harvesting Chokeberries along the trail. The rainy summer has resulted in a bumper crop of all manners of berries, including the Chokeberries. The Chokeberry bushes were heavy of large, plump and ripe fruit. This is my first encounter with a plant that is native to North America but has been introduced in Europe. Usually the situation seems to be the other way around. Chokeberries can be processed into jam, syrup, tea and wine, but can also be eaten raw off the bush. We tried some fresh berries. The flavour was quite tart and made the mouth feel dry. Apparently the technical term for this sensation is astringency. It also turns out the fleshy part of the berry is pretty much the only part of the plant that is non-toxic. The rest of the plant, including the leaves, twigs, bark and the pit in the fruit are toxic and can cause cyanide poisoning in humans and livestock. As I was sampling the berry I recall being surprised at the size of the pit and I am happy that I decided to spit it our rather than consume it.