20150530 A foggy rainy day in Britt: Part Two

Good news!   CZ and KB have identified the unknown bird as a House Finch…. without breast streaking.  Juvenile Female?

More photos taken yesterday:

Rocks in front of DW’s house, wild rose.  (No political affiliation with those folks in AB)


Pansies on his lawn.  No comment.


Structural coloration on this Common Grackle on Hwy 529.


One of my favourite, but heavily abused tree.


Wooly aphids being tended by their farmers.


These yellow lilies follow the last of the Trilliums and bloom at the same time as purple ladyslippers



These are also known as blue-beads because of the brilliant blue seed berries they produce.


Hard to resist photographing these Aquilegia, eh?


Last few days of the T. grandiflorums.


First 4-petal flower seen this spring….indicating a dogwood.  Apparently the berries, “bunchberries” are edible, apple flavoured.  Maybe I try some this summer.


(Did you continue reading the above link to  “Release of Pollen”?  Amazing speed and acceleration!


When we visited Burwash I photographed on of my favourite members of the Iris Family.   Here it is:



Lots of  magic out there, eh?








20150530 A foggy rainy day in Britt: Part One

Today was a good day to see plants in the morning fog and later rain showers.

We also saw some birdies.  This was the second one photographed.   I cannot ID it.  Has many characteristics of a seed-eating Finch.  But it doesn’t seem to be on this list:  http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/browse_tax/27/

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Can anyone help to ID this birdie?  It hopped around low down in a pin cherry thicket then flew off.  Didn’t sing.

This fellow’s face mask, silky appearance and yellow-tipped tail made it easy to ID.



The brood is intact and growing quickly.


This is one of the patch that I photo’d on Thursday.  19 years ago, when I came to Britt, there were two blooming Ladyslipper orchids on that spot.  Today, about 30+ to form a very nice colony.  Although they are visible from the road,  one has to look for them …. and getting to their location is not at all obvious.   They  now belong to the P family.

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It is probably worth while clicking on the above two images to see the detail close up.   Click on the back button in your browser to come back.

These two lichens were on a little Jackpine over the ‘slippers.

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And this blade of grass with little magnifying glasses was adjacent.


Another Viburnum, close relative of Highbush Cranberry,  good for grouse and other sweet seed eating birdies.


Young maple shooting up.



I photo’d some other interesting stuff and will process and post samples a little later … in Part Two.



20150529 Britt Birdies, Blossoms and Beasties

We had a beautiful day yesterday, a good one to stay close to home to get caught up on things.

This American Yellow Warbler was alternating between singing and snatching insects out of the air about a meter or two from its perch.  It obviously had keen eyesight and high maneuverability.  My reaction time wasn’t fast enough to catch it in the air so I took over 100 photographs, some in burst mode, hoping to get lucky with an “in flight” photo.



And every once in a while it would check the guy with the camera sitting in a portable blind, a truck.




A very pleasant sight and experience.

Then a pair of fishers came by and ended up snagging bass that were starting to protect their redds.  Bass season in Zone 14 starts June 27, four weeks from now.


Mother or Father Goose was leading the brood to water


All under the watchful eye of J.L. Seagull


First sign of these this spring.  Here are some good recipes.


Pleurotus ostreatus is prolific around here, usually growing on a standing aspen trunk that has been dead for a couple of years.  I think that the mycelium grows for a few years then fruits right after a spring or summer rain.  I always find the tell-tale beetle and use it to confirm the ID.

I have a special location on Riverside Rd where I check on the progress of Ladyslippers from the road.  This is not the greatest photo in the world but it records them in bloom at the end of May.


On the way home I found this monster crossing the road at the creek between Wrights Marina and Steve/Trudy’s places.  I waited until it had finished it’s excursion.   I was  looking to the East where the setting sun was illuminating a big Cumulonimbus calvus cloud.  I wanted to make a photo of it as a background to the blossoms of my Crab Apple tree.


Alas, other cloud obscured the thunderhead.  But I was able to get this nice picture anyway.


It rained overnight so there might be some interesting flower blossom pix out there today.


20150528 Burwash Industrial Farm — Addendum

Folks have asked me where I was on that farm.  So here is a little map:

4-laned Hwy 69 is at upper right corner.  Sudbury is about 40 km north of that spot.   You get onto the Burwash Farm Rd (the old Hwy 69) at the turn off ramp to Killarney, about 5 km south of that spot.  You enter the farm, no gate, at the top right corner and can go to the little red circle that is just east of the curve on the railway track.  The “end of the road” photo in the previous blog was taken from that spot.  I had just turned the truck around  there to see/photograph the CPR train coming around the curve.


Most of the images were taken on the stretch of road north of Neilly Lake (the bigger one, NE of Cemetery Lake.)  Camp Bison is accessible by bush bikes or canoe down the Wanapitei River.



20150528 Burwash Industrial Farm

Today on my way home from Sudbury I spent a couple of hours touring the remnants of the Burwash Industial Farm.  I first visited that farm in the early 1970’s when the Ontario Governments was planning to close it and “give” it to the local College of Applied Arts and Technology.  We, Cambrian College, decided NOT to accept it.  It  is now National Defense property.


This birdie was buzzing the fields then settled on the fence … until an approaching MNR truck scared it off.  I had to hurry to get my one photo of the amazing Bobolink.


Lucky to get this birdie checking out the painted turtles.   See the red shoulder of this RW Blackbird?  The spread tail is NOT a good indicator of Blackbirds as the bigger Common Grackle seems to do the same thing.



Basking in the warm sun.



This is Neilly Lake,  East of Cemetery Lake.



Lots of remnants of human inhabitation, including this pretty honeysuckle cultivar.


Little wasps were busy pollinating the Mountain Ash (Rowan).  This bird attractor was introduced to North America, probably from northern Europe where it is common.



Pretty paired samaras of the Manitoba Maple or Box Elder, one of the “gifts” from out west that found it way into landscape plantings all over Ontario.  Too bad.


For a minute I though I would have to shield my eyes…. but the silvery blue on the right did a pirouette and took off.


Leaving this one to pose for the photographer.


This is obviously the end of the road for me.  Camp Bison (and the Wanapitei River) is about 4 km SW of this point.


Southbound CPR train on the CNR trackage.   Those communications towers are probably near McVitties Power Dam.




(Canadian or Eastern)  Tiger Swallowtail getting nectar from a clump of Black Cherry blossoms:



Ontario Dragonfly

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One of Rebecca’s Bees!



Some kind of Apple cultivar:


another one of Rebecca bees.


I was reminded of Rebecca, the bee expert when I took these pix, especially since  CBC’s “As It Happens” was interviewing an “environmentalist” about neonicotinoids affecting bees at the time.

It is too bad that the CBC didn’t get a real scientist to discuss the topic.  (Is the CanGov is prohibiting the CBC from interviewing real scientists?)  Neonicotinoids are modern synthetic substitutes for nicotine sulphate which was used historically as an organic pesticide on garden/orchard produce.

But there are problems associated with the use of these neonicotinoids.  The Canadian Senate successfully kicked the can down the road a couple of days ago.

Small minds?  “About one-third of the human diet comes from pollinated plants, the senators said.”


On the way out of Burwash I saw this dead spruce mimicking a fall tamarack in the late afternoon sunshine.


On Hwy 69 I noticed this interesting sight on one of the trees, 1/3 of the way in from the right hand edge:



Uncommon solitary Great Blue Heron, who usually nest in colonies, (heronries).


(Thanks Ray, for the “heads up” on that one.)

I’ll go back to Burwash again.  Interesting spot.



20150527 Warm and windy around Britt.

We let the warblers and the upper blossoms blow around in high wind today.  But we did get a few interesting pictures.

Nice colour combination of Brassica and Aquilegia, both good butterfly/moth attractors:



Nice field!!


Monarchs and Viceroys are starting to show here although their favorite nectar-rich milkweeds are only up about 15 cm.  These two exhibit mimicry:



HELP!  What is it?


White faced meadowhawk? along the stream flowing though Bill P.’s field.


Beaver is checking out the truck with a camera sticking out….


Time to make a quiet exit …



… only to reappear with a morsel clasped in its paw.


Another example of structural coloration in the neck feathers.


Common Grackle flies into setting sun right after jumping off of a power cable.  The spread tail while flying seems to be quite common with these Grackles.

Up to Sudbury on Thursday.  Not much time to take pix.  But one never knows!




20150526 Spring is changing into summer

May 26 was hot and humid, bringing out the blackflies and perspiration, and accelerating nature’s rush to get a new generation going before summer solstice.  (Northern Europeans had some going with their celebrations, eh?)

Many T. grandiflorum were changing colour from white to a delicate pink.  This is NOT an example of T. grandiflorum f. roseum  :


From the above link:

“One form of the plant, T. grandiflorum f. roseum, opens with light pink petals instead of the common white. It is generally found very rarely throughout the range, but in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is can be found somewhat frequently in mixed or sometimes pure colonies.[5] It should be noted that the white flowers of the common pure white variety of T. grandiflorum turn a very distinctive pink and remain so for several days just prior to the wilting of the flowers. Plants bearing these pink flowers are often mistaken for a “pink variety” of trillium.[8]”

This spectacular birdie arrived at the same tree, same branch as my previous sighting in 2014.


The Indigo Bunting (along with many butterflies, Peacocks, several ducks) displays its colours using Structural Colour instead of Pigment Colour, making it a challenge to photograph.   The above is my best, shot at long range with my 100-300 mm (200-600 mm equivalent) lens, not the sharpest in the world.  Like last year the birdie didn’t hang around for long. As soon as I shut the truck engine off, the bird jumped off of the branch, folded its wings and plunged into a leafy thicket.  Bye bye birdie!

Last year, 2014, July 24, I got this unspectacular photo of an Indigo Bunting:

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Perhaps there is a nesting pair around.  That would be very nice.

These fellows are flitting around in the tag alders and other thickets, singing their hearts out:


The streaky breast distinguishes it from the Chipping Sparrow and American Tree Sparrow.

Every rockery in the Britt area has this member of the Allium genus.   Goes nicely with the sour cream on your baked potatoes.


Obligatory photo of Aquilegia.



I broke out the 45mm (90mm equivalent focal length) Macro lens on the GH2 to try to get up close and personal to these British folks with their red hats.  Marginally better than my FZ1000 at minimum focus distance.


While I was looking for last year’s Indigo Bunting photo, I came across this photo, one of my favorites:

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Title:  Frog Contemplating Yellow   ?

And speaking of favourites, many thanks to those of you who responded to yesterday’s email regarding the three options (A, B or C.).   All “A” so far.  Somehow I suspect that I’ll only get A’s and some default C’s.

Eventually I will respond to your emails.  Two stick in my mind:

One friend said that he preferred images with “information content”  … ie images that have a story, not just photos that are nice to look at.  The “textual context” (!) seems to be important contributor to the story.

Another friend said that he had enough challenge editing his own photos and that editing was NOT a “democratic” process but was an opportunity for the photographer to be a “dictator”.  He advised me to discharge my responsibility and to “surprise and enlighten”.

Of course that reminded me of R. Browning’s oft quoted piece, Andrea del Sarto.  This part:

I, painting from myself and to myself,
Know what I do, am unmoved by men’s blame
Or their praise either. Somebody remarks
Morello’s outline there is wrongly traced,
His hue mistaken; what of that? or else,
Rightly traced and well ordered; what of that?
Speak as they please, what does the mountain care?
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for?

Something for photographer-wanna-bees to think about.  : )


PS  Diligent observers will note that I found a way to shorten that annoying non-scrolling strip at the top of this blog.  One of these fine days I will learn enough about WordPress to make this blog a little easier to use.  In the meantime, thanks for your feedback, either here or via email.  And remember to use your browser’s back button after you examine the pix up close.

PPS  Some folks have asked me what camera(s) I use.  Here is a list.



20150525 Rainy Day trip to Parry Sound

To view the images full size, click on them.  Then use your browser button to return to the blog.

Yesterday we  poked around in the rain and went to Parry Sound via the (in)famous Skerryvore Community Road.

This Ring-billed Gull was very interested in the portable blind and came through the heavy rain for an inspection.




Raindrop on White Spruce tip in my driveway:


Yes, an instant later it did fall.  That drop looks like it was stretching before releasing. It would be neat to capture the separation in slow  motion.  (A challenge?)

I have photographed this triangle many times, every time different.  But composed the same every time.  Can you suggest a different composition?


I didn’t  risk a soaker in a wet peat bog to get this flower up close.  Notice the laurel leaves and very pretty 5-sepal blossom with those spots.  Very poisonous to livestock so it was first called Lambkill, Sheepkill, Pigkill etc.   Sheep Laurel.


Always on the trail of warbler, this American Redstart was a long ways away on this black ash tree, singing and gleaning insects.


After the American Restart left, this American Yellow Warbler started doing the same thing.  First time I’ve seen a Yellow in an ash tree as they usually frequent willows and poplars.


And finally a couple of scenic shots as the rain lightened up.   Big (Gereaux) Lake and Twin Rivers:





Nice countryside, even in the rain!



PS  I am going to continue to change the way I share these images with you.  Please check my emails to you for further information.



20150525 Some flying critters

Yesterday we spent some time amoung the black flies watching flying beasties…

A yellow rumped warbler was singing in the tag alders near Wrights Marina.



So was this Gray Catbird:



The red at the back of the crown identifies this as a Hairy Woodpecker. (Compare with Downy and Yellow Bellied Sapsucker)


This Red Admiral was flitting about:


This fellow was right out of Hitchcock’s  “Birds” as he made a low recce pass:


And there were many of these Chalk-fronted Corporals ( neat to see where that Wikipedia image was shot, eh?) on the Forest Access Road:


Rain is forecast here all day, so it will be interesting to see its effect on the birdies and insects.

Have a good week!




20150524 Local Butterfly, flowers and birdies

To view these images full size, click on them and use your Browser’s back button to return to the blog.

Yesterday we had breakfast at French River with ex-airforce buddy Kip.  Good reminiscences.

On the way back we detoured via Key River and the Forest Access Road to see some sights.

An uncommon, for me, Silvery Blue butterfly:


Jack-in-the-pulpit, behind Camp Dore:


Interesting reflection of Marsh Marigolds along Hwy 522:


The Canada Columbines are nearing their peak of blooming.  The link shows the relationship between Columbines and migrating hummingbirds and hawkmoths. I know of a good bunch across the highway and will spend some time there today looking for hummingbirds.  It would be nice to photo a ruby throat near these beautiful flowers.  Forecast high is 24ºC with no wind so I might get lucky!   : )


On my way to supper at the D. & M., with daughter J., I saw this American Yellow Warbler flitting around in a willow:

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J was very helpful in sharing her experience as a book author, publisher, educator and blogger.   Now all I have to do is implement her advice.  Easier said than done as I struggled with changing the theme of this blog.  Having difficulty learning the interface.  I need practice but more importantly I need a better understanding of the structure  of this blogging system.  Experimentation seems to be the secret!

At this stage, this blog is almost as quick as dashing off an email with attachments.   The advantage for you is that you can get  much better quality images (if you chose to click on them) and you don’t have your email clogging up!

Lots to learn, eh, Jessica?