20160629 Burwash, lilies, sparrow, raptor

We had lunch at French River with Grace & Bob and continued on to Burwash.  On the way to French River we detoured to the ponds on Highway 607 where we saw some nice water lilies:

Simple images …


And more complex ones …


On the way into Burwash the yellow lores indicated…


… a White-throated Sparrow. Which was confirmed by this portrait:


Near the former village of Burwash a big birdhouse was on a former power pole.   Although I couldn’t hear anything and there was no adult activity I finally got a shot of this nestling …


And then this triplet of wary eyes.


It looked like the well-weathered nest box had been there for a long time.  I will keep an eye on it and its contents.

I had a good chat with Bob W, who grew up in the village of Burwash and is now retired after a career with the Toronto PD.  He  had just pulled his small boat out of Neilly Lake with a nice mess of  Pike.

Bob told me that the Chukars that I had seen earlier and photographed last year are introduced annually for a weekend of sport with dog trials.

Next year Ring Necked Pheasants will be introduced.  He was unaware of the Prairie Chickens that I had photographed last summer.  So the Burwash site seems to fly under the public “radar”.



20160628 Hwy 522 turtles, blooms, bees, dragonflies,

The roadsides on Hwy 522 were still pristine (not mowed) so we went for a short drive, via Old Still River Road, where we saw this Painted Turtle on the “basking log”:


This bumblebee is taking advantage of the new blossoms on this Common/Great Mullein.


This is the first time I’ve noticed the blossoms on these plants.  The leaves are about 3/4″  by 1 1/2″ making the flowers about 1/4″ in diameter.   Worth looking at …  from a canoe/kayak.


When I researched this plant I found that it only bloomed for a couple of days during the year:

Brasenia exhibits wind pollination. The flowers have a two-day blooming period. On the first day, the functionally female, or pistillate flower, extends above the surface of the water and exposes the receptive stigmas. The flower then recedes below the water surface and on the following day emerges as a functionally male, or staminate flower. It is elevated higher than on the previous day and the anther-bearing filaments are extended beyond the female carpels.[9] The anthers dehisce, releasing the pollen, and the flower is then withdrawn below the water where the fruit develops.


Amazing!   I’d never heard of that behaviour before!

The above are often in association with White Water Lilies


And Yellow ones too!


This Frosted Whiteface   ( Leucorrhina proxima)  was hunting flies along the shore …


Meadow Rue, Thalictrum, is starting to bloom now.


This Salsify parachute paused for a few seconds to pose for the camera.


The last of the Pale Corydalis,  a long lived bloomer.


Evening Primroses are starting to bloom.  So here is an arty version of this oft-photographed flower.


I think that I prefer the “naturalness” of this Orange Hawkweed:


I hope to get out on the water in Floatboat II soon. [I am awaiting a part  to fix the electric tiller on the electric trolling motor … my back-up in case the big motor fails.]   I think that the long lens will be a great asset while cruising along the shorelines of the Islands of Georgian Bay.



20160627 Last Drive-By Shooting on Riverside and Ambush!!!

Here are some samples on the last “drive-by photography” on Riverside Drive for a while.

Song Sparrow in some tag alders that are “drowning” due to the return of Lake Huron water levels to “normal”.


Youngest batch of Canada Geese …


Earlier batch with proud  parents.  A few weeks makes a big difference.


Eastern Phoebe pauses from its flycatching to view photographer’s camera.


Roadside Viper’s Bugloss in its typical habitat …


Hummingbird Clearwing Moth is difficult to photograph because it hovers to collect nectar.  I have not seen it alight.



This is possibly one of the Emerald Dragonflies:


Northern Bush Honeysuckle, a good source of nectar,  is starting to bloom.


This might be a female Common Whitetail Dragonfly …



A Bluet damselflyP1360878-1

Lying in wait, waiting for dinner …


White Admiral



Look carefully at the next 5 images.  (Enlarge by clicking on the photos if necessary).  Do you see what is happening here?

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The first two images show the white (now yellow coloured … Goldenrod) Crab Spider capturing the hoverfly with it outer “claws” and manipulating it for its inner claws and jaws.

The third image shows the release of the outer “claws” as the inner “claws” hold it for the jaws to inject paralyzing toxins.

The last two images show the hoverfly firmly in the grasp of inner “claws” as it sucks the body fluids out of the prey.

The white crab spider will be changing colour to yellow as it will be inhabiting yellow coloured flowers, Goldenrods in particular, for the rest of the summer.


In this case the spider is on Common Yarrow Achillea millefolium blossoms.

Roadside mowing:

I won’t be spending any time cruising the roadside of Riverside Drive for a few weeks.  (Hurrah!  Some might say.)

The mower went by soon after making the above photos and cleaned out all those “weeds”.  It also managed to clean out cultivated flowers that have been planted along the sides of the road.  Very sad.

The mower operator made a special effort to take out the milkweeds by backing up to get those between the reflecting markers for the snowplow.  Very conscientious.

The mowing program has strengthened the growth of poison ivy growing along our roadsides by removing the reproduction of competing annuals.  Very ignorant.

When I chat with the POI (Persons of Influence) about this, they will probably say, “But we have always done that.  People expect it.  And it will encourage people to walk along the roadsides since any snakes will be easier to see.  And kill.”  Very common.

While it is appreciated to maintain good visibility for local and visiting drivers on our local roads, the current broadbrush treatment seems clumsy.  Would it not be possible to give the mower some instruction then some discretion about his/her work?   Too optimistic?

End of rant.

Something to watch for over the next few weeks:



20160626 Evening wildlife along Riverside Drive

Here is some interesting wildlife that we found in a 40-minute after-supper drive.

First, a 2016 hatched female Mallard taking some sun:


And, a few metres away, her brother:


Short Winged Green grasshopper was also enjoying the sun …


As was this hoverfly flitting from Daisy to Daisy:

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One of the several Bluets that we are seeing nowadays:


Another white crab spider, moving to the other side of the flower when it detected my presence:


Did you click on any of the above to see the intricacies of feathers and insect structure?  During that 40 minute drive I also saw a clearwing hummingbird moth and either a Viceroy or Monarch and lots of buzzing around the roadside blooms.

When walking or driving very slowly with lots of stops I am now seeing a lot of activity associated with flowers and shorelines.  Using the car as a blind seems to get me a little closer to the wildlife, a plus for making photos.



20160623,24,25 Riverside Drive roadsides

Here are some samples of what was seen over a few days along Riverside Drive, Britt:

This “combined” flock of growing goslings is obediently following their parents away from photographer:


Heal-all is appearing in lawns and along roadsides …

“Heal-all is edible, and can be used in salads, soups, stews, and boiled as a pot herb. The Cherokee cooked and ate the young leaves. The Nlaka’pamux drank a cold infusion of the whole plant as a common beverage. The plant contains vitamins A, C, and K, as well as flavonoids and rutin.”


And the Vipers Bugloss or blueweed is blooming in the roadside gravel….


The dragonflies are harvesting mosquitoes and flies…

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Pearl Crescent on Dogbane…


Heriades ??  (Click on the pop-up boxes.  I need to get a photo of the abdomen.)


Here is a sequence of that oft-seen, pollen-covered flying beetle(?) on a blackberry:

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Diana has a nice showing of cultivars in spite of the construction going on in her front yard.


Mallows …


Coreopsis ( tickseed) in front of the former Little Britt Inn.  A lot may be seen along both sides of Hwy 69, just north of Nobel where the highway is still two-laned.


Another hoverfly (with its wings folded).


One of the bumblebees foraging for nectar on a Common Vetch …


My first Clearwing Hummingbird Moth photographed with a mechanical instead of electronic shutter.  A bit clunky but the wings aren’t warped this way.


Viper’s Bugloss in its usual habitat:


A kingfisher with a fish of some sort in its bill … a long ways away!


I am seeing a lot of these hoverflies(?) on the milkweeds now.  One monarch/viceroy  flitted by but did not land.


Another white crap spider, lying in wait!


Lots of action!  I had to post this collection to explain to locals why I am often parked on the wrong side of the road peering at “the weeds”.

Summer is here, both astronomically and meteorologically, so lots is happening.



20160622 Burwash: European Skippers, Painted, Whitetail

On the way back from Sudbury we made a quick detour into the former Burwash Prison Farm and were amazed to see thousands of European Skippers feeding on their favorite blossoms:

Common vetch seemed to be a common meeting place:



Also Dogbane, a member of the milkweed family …


and Birdsfoot Trefoil:


And Yellow Hawkweed:


And Orange Hawkweed (aka Devil’s Paintbrush maybe since it tend to bloom in places like wild lawns and roadsides. )


Even Salsify:

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And this escaped cultivar, Dianthus:


Ox-Eye Daisy seems to be a popular source of nectar also,

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in spite of this threat of ambush:


The above white crab spider was in the same bunch of Daisies as when we visited the previous week.  This time it looked as if some Skipper left some scales behind as the spider disposed of its remains.

There were several gravelly spots where a predator (often a fox) had removed turtle eggs from their nest:


This Painted Turtle revealed its past by leaving a light trail on this gravel road.   I suspect that the turtle supports enough weight on its legs to drag its bottom carapace along the ground.


While leaving the site we saw this nice buck eating cattails at the side of a pond.


When I stopped the car he leisurely “hid” in the cattails, playing peek-a-boo with the photographer.


It almost seemed that he knew I had a long lens on because he then came out to pose in the standard deer portrait that photographers seem to like.   I didn’t want to disappoint him, so here he is in all of his glory:


If you click on the first deer photo you’ll see that the fuzz is not yet developed on this buck’s antlers in the “velvet” stage.  This indicates that these are very “fresh” and “new”.  Buck antlers in this stage grow very quickly, up to 1/4″ per day.  These antler buds are only a couple of weeks old and are pre-velvet, consisting mainly of blood with some dissolved minerals precipitating along a central core, thicker at its base.


The Burwash site is a great place for a  variety of wildlife.  Hopefully the Provincial Government will make it a game preserve and discourage hunting at the former Camp Bison.




20160621 Riverside Rd bugs & blooms. A clearwing

We went for a short drive to check out the milkweeds and saw some new blooms and their visitors:

Daisy Fleabane:


Tragopogon dubius as seen from an unfamiliar angle …


A variety of flies are visiting the blossoms ..

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… including this moth drinking milkweed nectar:


… which it shared with this Silvery Checkerspot:

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While the Hobomok Skipper supped on vetch nectar.  (I am finding that getting a correlation of butterfly and its preferred nectar to be an aid to identification.)


Here is that unidentified flying beetle again.  This time deep in the Northern Raisin flower cluster.


This Sheep Laurel is two weeks behind the Sheep Laurel in the open bogs.  It is located on Riverside Rd,  in a very small fen on the north side of the road across from Barb and Steve’s big rock outcrop.


The blueberry crop is coming along fine this year.  Hopefully we’ll  soon get some rain so that the Teddy Bears can have their July picnics.


See the black eye streak and black bill?  A giveaway.


The warm weather has really moved things along.  I cannot keep up so I’ll do a bit more editing over the next few weeks as we get into summer.


20160620 Shebeshekong Rd and Hwy 529

After Brandy’s check up at her Vet’s we detoured back home via Shebeshekong and the “Old Highway” stopping for a wild cherry yogurt and tea at Moose Lake Trading Post.

Along the way we watched the Skippers filling up with nectar on the common vetches planted along the roads.  I am still working on my IDs of the myriad of Skippers that inhabit this part of Ontario.


And I’m also still working on identifying the various Odonata in our area.


I often pause from my ‘ogys  every once in a while just to enjoy the sights…


… along Skerryvore Community Drive.


Back to the ‘ogys, entomology in this case, with its huge taxonomic classifications.

Some of my Science North friends will recall some of my harangues about the importance of paying attention to the observing before getting heavily into the “Oh? Gee! Why?”s.   A lesson that I should remind myself of more often!

Here are some interesting remarks about this increasingly common Skipper.


This Chipping Sparrow is easily distinguished by the black eye stripe and the black bill.    The American Tree Sparrow has a rust coloured eye stripe and a bicoloured bill.


I am seeing a lot of these flying beetles, often with lots of pollen clinging to their bodies.


Another Skipper, perhaps another Long Dash Skipper, Polites mystic.


I wonder how that mess of pollen ends up on that spot?


The photo is spoiled by a branch waving in the breeze, but the story is good — as the bumble bee comes up the clover blossom to disturb the butterfly … who takes off, curing its proboscis along the way.  Bees seem to boss butterflies.


Another one!  In a more relaxed state than normal.


After it saw me I went to the back of it to get this photo.


Blackberries are in full bloom now.


Timothy too.


Female Blue Dasher?


Landscape with the long lens, at Equivalent Focal Length of 200 mm, shortest zoom.


Roadside Vipers Bugloss are starting to bloom…


Lone Sandhill Crane along Hwy 529…


What is this fellow?


Yes.  The threatened/endangered Massasauga Rattlesnake.

no one has died from a Massasauga bite in Ontario in more than 50 years, and only two deaths resulting from a Massasauga bite have ever been reported in the province

P1340840-1 The above fellow was reported to the Species at Risk office at the Magnetawan First Nation.

Lots going on, out there.



20160616,17, 18 Local bugs, butterflies and blossoms

These photos were taken on Riverside Rd & Boucher’s Quarry Rd. over the last couple of days.

Long Dash Skipper  common small, nectaring close to ground usually on vetch.  I often see it competing with European Skippers for vetch nectar.

All of the skippers (that I am starting to learn about) are small, flit quickly and nectar for about 20 seconds max.  So I have to be quick with the camera to photograph them.  A good challenge.


The hoverfly on the Daisy is about to have a visitor.


“I’ll nectar this side.  You can have the bottom half, since I am bigger than you.”


Another hoverfly from the poster at the above link.  This time on Canada Anemone:


Yet another kind, this time on a Common Yarrow.


A month  ago (May 20th) I photographed some blossoms on a scrubby little tree on Boucher’s Quarry Rd.  I thought that it was a hawthorn.  Wrong.  I then corrected and suspected some wild apple.  Wrong again.  It is now obviously a wild Prunus Prunus spp.  of some sort.  I hope that I can beat the birdies, bears, and others to taste these when they ripen a bit more.  Now about the size of a small prune.


And here is one of my favourite plants, a good insect attractor and later a fruit that makes a great jelly.  Just don’t plan in staying in your kitchen after making the jelly.  It will stink of rotting hockey socks!!!

Notice the signalling blooms on the perimeter …



And the tri-lobed leaves, very different from another viburnum, the Northern Wild Raisin leaf, eh?  Viburnum trilobum.

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Finally, another butterfly, this time a migrant.  Vanessa virginiensis  or American Painted Lady.   Those two heavily mascara’d eyes are a dead give away.


I got a bit behind with  this blog.  I was busy trying to ID various critters.  That takes a lot of time when one is very non-expert.  Although I  remember some of my high school Biology with Mr Marshall, I am very lacking in the systematics.   So you might want to scroll down to see if you’ve missed any jewels of photography / prattle below.

Mary Holland sent emails about the Northern Pitcher Plant … probably soon to bloom around here.  I remember seeing some about a mile into the bush where I used to live.  I’ll have to see if I can find someone to wander there with me.


20160615 Burwash, bugs, butterflies, spiders and hawk

We detoured on our way to Burwash last Wednesday to visit the pond on Hwy 522 between Grundy Lake PP and Pakesley Siding.  This is what we saw there:


Northern Crescent butterfly, one of three (Pearl, Northern, Tawny) Ontario Crescents that are difficult to ID.


Versacolor iris with visitor … in front of a mottled bunch of small waterlilies.


The pondbank was buzzing with these dragonflies:


Frosted whiteface, solo and “going forth to multiply”.



I checked out many internet possibilities to ID this one, all to no avail.  Help, please.  Very small, about 1/2″ wingspan.


Dot-tailed Whiteface, a widespread dragonfly….


At the entrance to the abandoned former Burwash Industrial Farm (Provincial Prison) we saw this Red Tailed Hawk on a telephone wire above a small pond.


It turned to inspect the photographer before taking off.  But its feathers confirmed that it had been hunting protein in the water.


Across from the DND maintenance shack this Common Grackle posed ….


while this cousin was saying, “Magic mirror, on the wall – who is the fairest one of all?”


Sandhill Crane increasing its distance from the road.


I’ve never seen this before. Little Painted Turtle sharing a log with a big Snapping Turtle.  Immediately after the shutter released the lil turtle decided that discretion was the better part of valour and slid off of the log.


I am going to start to pay more attention to these to see what magical beasties emerge from inside:


In the former residential area there are some cultivars including a nice patch of Dianthus, which attracted quite a few skippers.

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In this case the attractor is Birdsfoot Trefoil:


AHA!  Look what we found!!

The white crab spider poised in ambush position.


I moved around it in the car to get some long distance shots.


When I moved to the other side it scuttled to the underside of the flower.  Maybe it suspected that I was some large bird of prey.  (I’m large but not a bird of prey.)


I left it alone and went further into the site, visiting with some MNR firefighters, including one who just came back from working the Fort Mc wildfire.  I had a glimpse of a Chukar Partridge that I’d photographed last June 26 and posted on June 28th.  It is in this archive.

In the meantime I became impressed with the amount of insect traps in the fields.


On the way back I saw the ambush spider lying in wait on the daisy bobbing in the breeze …

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On my return to the entrance the Red Tail paused in its inspection of the pond before taking off for less traveled spots:


This Blandings Turtle showed its bright underchin to me while it slowly meandered across the old Hwy 69, while I protected this threatened specie by  parking on the open road with my flashers on.  It slowly moved onto the shoulder and then scampered into the grass.


Seeing another white crab spider was quite special, prompting me to examine roadside Ox-eye Daisies more carefully.

We are having a spell of hot weather.  That will speed everything up, leading to the possibility of  Monarchs and Clearwings visiting the newly opening milkweeds in the neighbourhood.