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Nature Nuts at Crescent Park (March 20, 2015)

sweet edible Maple blossoms  (samaras) Indian Plum out on February 12 2015 04-DSC_6280 03-P1030577bufflehead[1]                      Definite visible signs of Spring in the last day of Winter!!

We enjoyed a great walk along the outer trails of the park and cut across through the open soccer field towards the pond below. Everywhere were Indian plum in bloom and greening up with bright leaves. Their small blue oval berries are edible but have 3 big seeds and do not leave much room for fruit pulp.

We were excited to see the first signs of the salmonberry bushes producing vivid single petal, pink flowers at the top of the shrubs, luring the bees to pollinate. The understory in the shadier areas of the park were covered in small leaves of false Lily of the Valley, not yet flowering. Native Indians used to eat their small berries, but due their slight bitter taste, they usually mixed them with other more palatable berries like salal berries.  A recent wind blew down the newly blossoming flowers of the big leaf maples (samaras) which are edible and sweet and can be added to salads!

Not much excitement at the pond that day, we did not spot the resident turtles, no signs of frogs, it is possible that the infamous and invasive bullfrogs may have eaten all other kinds of frogs in the last years at this pond, but perhaps towards the evening this pond may have become more lively with amphibians, it was rather cool and damp that day. Instead of the usual mallard ducks that reside here, we spotted a pair of what I thought was a pair of buffleheads, diving birds   They winter in protected coastal boreal forests in North America and depend on our inland forests for breeding and use the tree cavities in aspen or poplar, holed out by the red shafted flicker, a woodpecker their “metabiotic” host. They have evolved their small size in order to fit in these cavities. They mainly eat aquatic plants , snails and  insects.  The bufflehead is known as the spirit duck and was added to the coat of arms in the town of  Sydney BC.  Raccoons predate on them and people used to hunt this small duck in the 1950s , the duck populations have since increased an are stable to date.

Next time join us on one of our Free Nature walks, you never know what we discover!!!

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