Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"He wasn't there this morning..."

Roadtrips are one of my family's favourite pasttimes and even with the high prices of gasoline, we still indulge every few weeks. My camera is always handy because I KNOW there are real gems to be seen along the road. Last weekend was no different.

On the way back from Wings of Paradise Monarch tagging we drove by a farm tucked away between copses of woods. Had I not looked over and, by habit, checked for equines in the field, I would have missed this little guy. As I busily snapped photos, the farmer came out to look at the little foal hiding behind his mom. I commented on the cuteness factor and he smiled and answered, "He wasn't here this morning..." So, it was a double surprise.

I have very few opportunities to see donkeys not to mention their newborn offspring so it was a wonderful opportunity to gather lots of reference photos as well as just simply enjoy looking at his cute face, long ears and soft body with zebra stripes on his legs, just above the tiny hooves. He will definitely end up as a subject!

Speaking of butterfly tagging - what an interesting concept. Monarch butterflies migrate to Mexico in the fall arriving around November. It is only their second or third generation offspring that comes back to Ontario in the spring. And how exactly would you "tag" a tiny, delicate butterfly?

We went to see this done to answer that question. it is done with a tiny sticker! The information on the sticker contains a serial number, telephone number, website and e-mail address to contact should someone find the butterfly.

After tagging the butterflies are put into tiny triangular boxes in the shape of half a sandwich made of hard paper and kept there until release time. Most of the visitors (all of the kids) got one "butterfly sandwich" and got to release them all at once. It was quite a sight! I did take a picture but it didn't turn out very well. The dark specks you see are the butterflies but there were many more.

There was one more thing we found on that road trip: signs of Fall. It was a chilly day making me think of November but cool days are not unusual in early September. Here and there a tree in full autum splendor popped out and the fields and pastures were full of goldenrod and wild asters. Time to pull heavy sweaters and coats out of storage and stock up on hot chocolate!