Galwegians- October 2023

As scheduled, MVW has begun the kitchen renovation work at the Galway Hall. The Galway Hall’s kitchen committee has been actively involved in the planning process of this project. This renovation of the Galway Hall is not just centred on its kitchen and bar area. The main hall is also having the carpet and the tiles surrounding the wooden floor removed and replaced with laminate flooring.

As mentioned in earlier Galwegians articles, there are no bookings being taken for the remainder of 2023 that require the main hall or the kitchen/bar. However, bookings for the meeting room are still being received. For example, Tai Chi continues to gather every Monday and Thursday, starting at 10 am. The GHHS (Greater Harvey Historical Society) is having its Annual General Meeting on Thursday, October 5th, starting at 1:30 pm. The Galway Hall Board had a meeting on Monday, September 25th.

On behalf of all Galwegians, I would like to send out a huge “THANK-YOU” and “BEST WISHES” to Dr. Mihu. Elena has officially retired after almost 25 years as a family physician at the Kinmount Medical Centre. Her work ethic, her attention to details, her caring and her compassion every day at the clinic were very much appreciated by everyone that had Elena as their doctor Enjoy every moment of retirement, Dr Mihu!

It is currently mid-September at the writing of this latest effort for the Kinmount Gazette and its deadline. That means that there is just one week left of summer. That also means that fall is fast approaching as the nights get cooler, the hours of daylight get shorter, and nature begins to change gears. The leaves of some of the deciduous trees are showing hints of colours to come. Honking Canada geese and other waterfowl are showing up as they follow their migratory paths.

Our birdfeeders were filled and put up in mid-August in hopes of attracting feathered friends as they passed through on their way to warmer climes. Alas, there was no success so far at our feeders. However, while visiting with a lake friend, on her deck, on her island, we had a brief and rare sighting (for us) of an American Redstart. This male redstart was apparently just passing through. A redstart is categorized as a songbird and part of the warbler family. Curiously, the dominate colours of the male American Redstart are coal black on their backs with bright orange on their wings and tail.

Speaking of orange, despite the seemingly abundance of milkweed plants this summer, there have not been too many sightings of monarch butterflies so far. One orange flower that was plentiful and had a long season was the Orange Lilly. One orange flower that did not seem to flourish this season was a weed that my Grandma White used to call “The Devil’s Paintbrush”.

Another wild plant that did well in 2023 was the White Baneberry, sometimes called “Doll’s Eyes”. The white berries of this plant are on bright red stems and each white berry has a black ‘scar’ on its end. This gives it the appearance of an eyeball. Both the berries and the entire White Baneberry plant are considered poisonous to humans. In fact, the berries contain cardiogenic toxins. This makes the berries the most poisonous part of the plant. Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death.

To date, there seems to be an abundance of acorns falling from the oak trees. However, have you ever heard of oak “apples”? There has also been an abundance of these curious formations this year as well. Oak apples or oak galls are caused by chemicals injected by the larva of certain kinds of gall wasps. The adult female lays single eggs in developing leaf buds. The wasp larva feeds on the gall tissue resulting from their secretions which modify the oak bud into the gall. This gall provides a structure that protects the developing larvae until they undergo metamorphosis into adults.

Here is the latest update of the loons on Crystal Lake. It is a good news/sad news story. The immature loons on Clear Bay continue to grow and grow and have begun to try out their wings. Of course, time is ticking for both of them as one of the adults (probably the male) has left the lake, headed for the sunny south, soon to be followed by the female. Both immature loons on Clear Bay will have a steep learning curve to master before freeze-up comes.

The sad news came from the loon family on Upper Black Bay. The autopsy results from the adult loon found dead determined that it had been struck by some sort of water craft. This left one adult loon to care for two very young loons. This did not go well as only one little loon was then seen. An intruder loon was observed in Upper Black Bay and, in a short time frame, the other little loon was not seen. The final saga of this sad story came when the other adult loon was found along the shore by cottagers. This loon was taken to the Woodlands Wildlife Sanctuary. Alas, it too died. The cause of death was determined to be lead poisoning.

Note: The Common Loon is a prehistoric bird that has survived for millions of years. However, a recent study from the University of Wisconsin found that the survival rates for baby loons from hatchlings to juveniles that can fly is only 1 in 4.

Have you ever encountered something that you have witnessed in nature and think to yourself that it was just too weird? Here was my experience in late August. I not only saw a chipmunk carrying a dead frog in its mouth, I watched it nibble away at it for awhile. It turns out that chipmunks are omnivores and that they do occasionally eat frogs. Well, so much for my images of these little critters filling their pouches with seeds and nuts all day long.

Looking upwards into the night skies of October, the Draconids Meteor shower is a minor one and is best on October 8th. This meteor show is unusual from most because it happens in the early evening, not the early morning. The Annular Solar Eclipse takes place on October 14th. This type of eclipse occurs when the moon is too far away from earth to completely cover the sun. Another meteor shower, the Orionids Meteor shower happens on the night of October 20th and the early morning of October 21st. The meteors will radiate from the constellation Orion. On October 23rd, Venus reaches its greatest elongation, making it the best time to view it. The Full Moon occurs on October 28th. This moon is called the Hunter’s Moon but it is also known as the Travel Moon and Blood Moon.

Looking ahead, the night skies in November will have Jupiter on the 3rd, the Taurids Meteor Shower on the 4th and 5th, Uranus on the 13th, the Leonids Meteor Shower on the 17th and 18th and the Full Moon on the 27th.

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