20150627 Some sights around Britt

Here are some increasingly common sights around Britt:

Mama Mallard hovering over her brood as they dab for muddy stuff.


Crow supervising the beach area:


Some more fun with the Clearwing Hummingbird Moths at my favorite milkweed patch.  No Monarchs yet.

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Did you notice the extended and then coiled proboscis in the above two images?  Neat, eh?

A nice patch of low blackberry for the squirrels and birdies


Dogbane (or Indian Hemp), with the same poisonous latex sap as its cousin, the milkweed.


This butterfly rested on the dogbane briefly before heading off for another blossom.


We’ve notices that the Meadow Rue has a myriad variety of blossom stages.

I think that there are two different species here:

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I think that the meadow rue is worthy of further study.

So it this wasp imitator.  I know very few diptera, another order of insect worth studying.


In today’s travels I saw NO HONEYBEES.  Some bumble bees and lots of Diptera but no Apis .   The European Union has taken some action but the Canadian Government has not, claiming that “the Science isn’t there”.  It seems that science might be important after all.

20150626 Burwash, trying the new Red Dot Sight and finding a rare bird.

I stopped for an hour or so at the Burwash Industrial Farm on my way home from Henry’s in Sudbury where I picked up my Olympus Red Dot Sight.  Last year Doug and I made camera RDSs from those used on handguns by modifying the mount.  Recently Olympus announced their RDS which would fit into any camera hotshoe.

The Olympus gadget is nicely designed:

Low profile; red dot axis is close to camera lens axis reducing parallax error; red dot intensity can be varied; Elevation and Azimuth adjustment are simple; unit shuts off when sight is collapsed.  And, most importantly, the unit can be locked in the hotshoe, preventing any movement and readjustment of azimuth and elevation.

My intent was to zero the unit in at Burwash, which took about 3 minutes.  I left it mounted on the camera and when going by Neilly Lake saw a Great Blue Heron flying.  I took the camera out of its bag; turned it on; clicked to “C2”; raised the RDS and took this first photograph with the Oly RDS:


(“C2” is one of the Custom Settings that I can access quickly by rotating the PASM… dial.  I have it preset to: S(hutter) Priority, Shutter 1/1000 sec, Autofocus medium square, Auto bracket (-2/3,0,+2/3 EV), Auto ISO (ISO 800 limit), 400mm EFL, giving a f/4 and an ISO of 400)

Later I came across this very curious bird pecking in the gravel alongside the lake.  I photographed it conventionally since it was patient and not moving quickly. Halfway in size between a dove and a grouse.


Then a hatch of these fellows.


Then hundreds and hundreds of these little skippers.


Not only were they feeding on the Vetch above, they also sipped nectar from Oxeye Daisies.


On the way back this strange birdie reappeared, quite calmly, like a ruffed grouse.  Click on it for detail.


I looked it up when I got home …  At first I thought it might be a Gray (Hungarian) Partridge… but then I realized that it was a CHUKAR PARTRIDGE, a rare find.   I suspect that it was introduced to the prison as an experiment, many years ago, when it was probably legal to do so.  I any event who would tell?

I went to the 2014 Ontario Hunting Regulations and found this:

Game Birds
You may hunt and possess the following game birds: wild
turkey, pheasant, ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, spruce
grouse, ptarmigan and gray (Hungarian) partridge. You
require a special licence to hunt wild turkey in addition to
a small game licence (see pages 31-33). Check the tables on
page 80 for bag and possession limits. Chukar is not included
in the tables but may be hunted in some circumstances. Call
your local MNR office for more information.
In addition, Ontario residents and non-residents may hunt
American crow, brown-headed cowbird, red-winged black-
bird, common grackle, starling and house sparrow.

I think that it would be illegal to hunt on the Burwash  property so this is a good place for this species to reproduce.

Along the way I came across this piece in the November 22, 1937, Edition of the Ottawa Citizen.  Reminds me of the manhunt taking place nowadays in upstate New York.

Good for Google to tag all of that information.

20150624-25 Milkweeds and Monsters

Common Milkweeds are starting to bloom.  My favorite patch is on a sandy south-facing shoulder of Riverside Drive where is it safe to park (on the “wrong” side of the road), allowing easy observation and photography.

Here are a few pix showing the nature of the blossom.




Notice how the 5 sepals fold back to reveal a very complex structure.

Click on this link for a very interesting and well illustrated study of this plant:

It seems that I am in the same position as Craig Holdrege was nine years ago.
“I had casually observed common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca, Asclepiadaceae) but never paid too much attention to it. True, I was fascinated by its big globes of flowers and, in the fall, by its beautiful seeds that floated through the air on their tufts of white silk. I also knew that common milkweed is the main food plant for monarch butterfly larvae. But it was only when I was preparing for the 2006 summer course at The Nature Institute and when I noticed the flowers of common milkweed beginning to open, that I looked closely at them for the first time. I realized that the plant has a highly complex flower structure and, in addition, observed how the flowers were being visited by many different insects.”
I took the above images yesterday, Wednesday, June 24th.  This morning, the 25th,  more blossoms had opened and the characteristic perfume of milkweed blossoms permeated the calm air.
I stopped, hoping to see a Monarch or perhaps some bumble bees.
Imagine my surprise to see this Monster pausing to suck nectar from an almost “full” globe of flowers.

It only visited the one globe and took off, for what I don’t know.

A little while later this Bumblebee came to refuel:


A nice morning adventure!

(As usual, click on the images to get a close-up and on the red links to get more information.)

20150624 Britt Beasties and Blossoms


Northern Water Snake on the gravel shoulder along Riverside Drive near Captain K’s place.

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The Mallows on Riverside Drive are starting to bloom


Viper’s Bugloss is blooming on the shoulders of all of the roads in the area.


Heal All is poking through the grass on many lawns.


Another “weed”, a pretty type of field bindweed  is blooming near the end of Riverside Dr.  This blossom is a couple of days old, hence the pink colour.


I saw one patch of these blue flowers.  I’ve not seen them around here before.  Cultivar?  Baby Blue Eyes?


D’s Dahlias:


Some more beasties:

J. L. Seagull on patrol:


Prey hiding in the grass:


This fellow has spots on the inside of its eye bumps.  Confusion factor, similar to the false (painted) cockpits on the underside of Canadian CF-18s?


Speaking of eyes!!!1


I am starting to suspect that these dragonflies only rest to chew their food.


This birdie is surveying the photographer from the safety of the bush … before sneaking off.


Blanding’s turtles are still moving about, perhaps nesting?


The milkweeds are starting to bloom.  That will generate a lot of activity with bees and other insects.


20150624 Goat’s Beard

I came across this lone seed capsule attached to its parachute.


It had come from the fluffy, but intricate, seed ball of the Yellow Goat’s Beard or Yellow Salsify.  The intricate detail can be seen in a close-up by clicking on the image below:


Yellow Goat’s Beard follows the same pattern as the dandelion following pollination of its flower.

Here is the flower:


After pollination the flower folds up again, to look like this, while the seeds  (and parachutes) mature:


The above reminds me of working with architects, some of whom are inspired by nature such as David Pearson and Eric Corey Freed:

“Using Nature as our basis for design, a building or design must grow, as Nature grows, from the inside out. Most architects design their buildings as a shell and force their way inside. Nature grows from the idea of a seed and reaches out to its surroundings. A building thus, is akin to an organism and mirrors the beauty and complexity of Nature.”[3]

Obviously some early Eastern temple architects were inspired by the above seed head.

Then the head re-opens to construct the ball of parachutes…




The reopening of the head and formation of the seed ball seems to take a few hours, usually in the early part of the day.

It is kind of magical and worth observing.  The process would make a good subject for a time lapse … another skill yet to be learned.

Neat, eh?

20150623 Britt’s bugs and blossoms

More local sights in and around Britt

A’s flower garden features interplanting of lots of showy perennials such as these Yellow Loosestrife and Lilies.


All being guarded by Capt Highliner, J’s brother:


The first hatches of Mayflies are starting to appear.  A little late this year, (possibly due to the lower than normal water temp in the Bay?)  Many, many years ago, the first appearance of Mayflies used to send this Okanagan boy to his fly-tying vice to make  imitation dry and wet flies to get some Brookies.


Some sort of diptera visiting the Cow Parsnips.


I noticed traces of a recent deer passage next to this Cow Parsnip.  Since it is a member of the wild carrot family, I  suspect that this vegetation would be quite spicy.


This White Admiral was feeding voraciously on the first blossoms of Dogbane that I’ve seen this year.


Monet has been here again.


Great showing of Lupins on the P homestead on old Station Lane.


Meadow Rue is starting to bloom in profusion.


Ahhh… a late summer afternoon.  Nice!


20150622 Blooms (mainly)

D’s garden is always worth stopping for:

Dahlias and Yellow Loosestrife

Dahlias and Yellow Loosestrife

But there are also lots of other inflorescences out in the wild:

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Some were adored by Monet:

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And some, like this Coreoplis, (where there is now a HUGE display on the start/end of the 2-lane just north of Nobel) have visitors.  Andy Fyon also shows them at Manitoulin’s Misery Bay’s Alvar Pavement.  Very drought resistant, good for xeriscaping.   Rescue them from North of Nobel before the 4-laning takes them out.


On the way home it threatened rain, so I took some pix of the clouds:

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Foggy and wet this morning.   Different opportunities.

PS   For the record I should add this very long shot of a Juvenile American Kestrel taken early in the morning from the road across from my place.  First sighting of a Kestrel over there!


20150621 Summer is here!

Diana’s garden is resplendent with lilies bursting forth ….


I saw a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth doing a recce for half a minute but it didn’t land.

Mom, Dad and Uncle shepherding their little flock on the Still River:



Cow Parsnips (Not to be confused with the very dangerous GIANT HOGWEED) seem to attract large numbers of a variety of pollinators.



This wild pea grows in association with Tufted Loosestrife and Blue Flags in wet areas along Hwy 529.



These  Harris’s Checkspots spent many minutes doing what came naturally.   I didn’t see any flat topped white asters around but will look for them now.


The white water lilies are rising!




On the way home I saw this Heron sneaking out of a swamp.  Amazing camera, to get that bird in autofocus with a telephoto lens set at 400 mm Effective Focal Length.  I was lucky to get it.

Then, a little further on, as I turned the corner ….



… it JUMPED OUT OF THE WATER, just as I got the camera on it.




20150619 Venus, Jupiter & Moon

We were lucky to have a clear sky on Friday night so I went to Big (Gereaux) Lake to view the conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Moon after sunset.  Here is a record of the apparition:

Actually, before the apparition.  As I was parking the truck this flock few by:


A while later I could just see Jupiter, 10 O’clock to Venus which is 12 O’clock to the sliver of the moon.  You can see the reflection of Venus right at the bottom of the frame the bottom of the frame, below Venus:


Here are the three and reflections of two:


I was shooting hand held as the mosquitos were fierce!  This is at the limits of what I can do, propped against the windowframe of the truck. 1/6 sec, f/3.3,  ISO 400


Click on the bottom  two images to see reflected sunlight from Earth reflected back to us from Moon. Tricky exposure.

Earthshine in a conjunction is a beautiful sight, eh?

Although the conjunction will be even more impressive  tonight, the forecast is for cloud to cover our neck of the woods this evening.   Too bad.

20150617 Great Blue Heron Aerodynamics

Last Wednesday, on the Old Still River Road, I saw a GBH coming in for a landing.  So I stopped the truck, grabbed the camera and let the Autofocus on the FZ1000 work its magic to get this sequence …

Flaring just before landing.  Feathers on top of wing are (F)luffing indicating a full aerodynamic stall


The high drag of the stall and loss of lift enables a good landing for the big birdie.


Landing gear fully extended for a gentle landing.



Down on terra firma.


After take-off:

Wings are starting down stroke.   Not nice smooth surface of upper wind indicating nice laminar flow giving lots of lift and low drag.



Middle of the downstroke:


End of downstroke, beginning of lifting of “elbows”:


Amazing bird!