20160614 Bugs, including a White Crab Spider ambush.

After launching Floatboat II, we checked out the Solomon’s Plume for the White Crab Spider  —  this one, with a little web, posted in a previous post:


It was too windy to find the spider, so we went to the end of Riverside Drive looking at what we could see.  And we had some pleasant visits with folks who gave me some good information about what had been seen in their neighbourhood.

This  is what we photographed:

See the little greenish seed pod in the uppermost blossom?  That blossom has been pollinated and the pod is emerging.  In a few days the remainder of the bloom will disappear leaving the naked pod to mature and to release it’s “peas” to the environment.


Beetle (I think)  sucking up nectar from the Ox-eye Daisy.


Green grasshopper resting after springing from a blade of grass where it had been chomping on the unfurling part of the stalk.


One of  Laurie’s favorites, chewing its latest meal of insects caught on the wing.


I noticed that there were a lot of these Skippers flitting about on the vetch and occasionally on the Ox-eye Daisies near the “turn-around”:


Here is the story behind the photo below:

With naked eyes I saw this skipper on the Daisy (across from “George’s Last Resort”).

When I stopped to photograph it I noticed its curled proboscis — very strange.  [Normally the proboscis is curled like that as the butterfly approaches the nectar source prior to extension as seen in the above photo (taken 13 minutes earlier).  After extension it it re-coiled and retracted as the butterfly flies to the next blossom.  I’d never seen the situation below where the butterfly is on the flower with coiled proboscis.]

Then I noticed the White Crab Spider in the viewfinder.

Then I noticed  the death grip that the spider had imposed on the skipper.


I spent a long time on the internet to learn more about this “Ambush Spider” which lies in wait for its prey.

This is one of the better photographs (of the spider in attack position) of Thomisidae:  Misumena vatia   , apparently a common spider in our environment.   In its white form it often ambushes from the Common Yarrow, which I often photograph for the fun of it.


From now on, I will look a lot more closely at Common Yarrow and at Goldenrods when they appear in a few weeks.  Who knows?  I might see another Goldenrod Spider !

“Goldenrod Spiders eat insects, either by hunting on the ground, or by ambushing from a flower. They especially attack bees, butterflies, and flies which visit flowers for nectar. Grasshoppers and other plant-eating insects are also frequent prey.  Goldenrod Spiders have small jaws which contain venom. This venom allows them to take on animals much larger than them.  Usually, the Goldenrod Spider grabs its prey with its front legs and injects the venom. It then sucks all the body fluids from its prey.”

That site also helps to explain why this spider is so difficult to research … It’s ability to change colour enables it to pose as a White Crab Spider or as a Goldenrod Spider.  Hence the change in common name and consequent difficulty in getting a good handle on its behaviour.

If you scroll back up to the photo of the fatal attack, click on the image to get a close up view of the effects of the ambush and the position of the spider’s mouth on its prey.

Interesting stories when learning about our everyday natural environment, eh?



20160614 Changes to Brtthome’s Blog

After putting about 3 GB of imagery on 185 posts on this blog over the last year, I’ve reached the end of the freebies.  So I upgraded my account — not only to keep it going but to have a bit more fun playing on my computer.

The new website is https://brtthome.com/   but everything at the original brtthome.wordpress.com website will be redirected to the new site.

No need to change bookmarks or notes.

If you Google brtthome (Britthome without the eye) you’ll end up at this new site.

I think that everything else stays the same —- except that I might start playing around a bit more with the design of the blog.

I’ve enjoyed wonderful feedback from many viewers and thank you for that.

A lot of folks seem to go to the site on a regular basis for some “refreshment” with images of our natural world … a break from the high speed  blur of our busy-ness.  I try to keep that in mind when I select the images that I post.

I now make the time to carefully see my surrounding and  use the camera to share those glimpses with you.

As I notice more, I get interested in what I’m looking at.  So I consult with my growing library of field books and favorite internet links to try learn more about our flora, fauna, phenomena and (sometimes) our regional history.  When I have the time and energy I try to share my gleanings with you via the blog.  By no means am I a naturalist and I don’t aspire to that title.  I’m just curious about the things and processes around me.  So please bear with me when I struggle to ID a new grasshopper or bee or birdie or wildflower.  And if you can, please help us all with suggestions.

If you have suggestions to improve this project, I’d very much like to hear them.

Either comment here or at  brtthome(at)gmail.com

Fun, eh?



20160613 Ray’s visit to Britt

Sudbury photographer Ray came down for some sights, including the Pink Ladyslippers (that I posted here a couple of times recently).  He brought his CamRanger  along which allows him to use his iPad to remotely control his (tripod mounted) camera.  CamRanger can also provide a motorized tripod head to remotely pan and tilt his camera.  Very handy for exposure bracketing, focus stacking and situations where having two eyes on the subject is important.

Unfortunately the day was overcast, cold (12ºC), with a gusty light wind blowing.  The wind made flower pix difficult as we need to close the lens down more than usual (to increase Depth of Field)  and shoot faster than normal (to minimize motion blur).   In addition there are the obvious challenges of composing a moving bloom and getting a good focus on it.  Good  practice, though.

The chill in the air kept the pollinating insects (butterflies, hoverflies, miniatures, etc) in cover.  That meant that their predators, (dragonflies, birdies, etc) were also at rest, conserving energy.  The warblers were silent and swallows were not seen.

As the day progressed we got a little sunshine, which brought out the food chain, enabling the keen photographers to exercise their shutters.  When it finally warmed up in late afternoon Ray had to depart for the drive home.

Here are some of the pics taken in the few hours that he was here:

This High Bush Cranberry uses the same strategy as the Hobblebush (posted a month ago) by rimming its fertile blossom with showy infertile perimeter flowers to attract pollinators.  Those inner blossoms will open up in warm sunshine….


Lupins that I seeded at my old place 20 years ago.  Every year the roads maintenance folks mow them down so I got these two pix before their cropping by clever humans:



The wild irises are unfurling amoung the heaths in the little swamp near the end of Riverside Drive.


This is a very small potentilla, about the size of a small fingernail.  There are many species of  Potentilla (Cinquefoils) growing around here, all with the characteristic, yellow, rose-like, 5-petalled bloom with 5-pointed leaves.


The Pale Corydalis has a very long blooming period with many plants spent after opening their seed pods.


Another “flower fly” visiting a Canada Anemone.


Looks like a Fiery Skipper to me.


A grasshopper (Cricket?) that I’ve not seen before and can’t identify …


Unknown beetle checking out an Ox-eye Daisy.


Clubtails came out for a while during some warm sunshine….


All of the above pix were taken with my 100-400 mm (200-800 mm EFL) lens from the vehicle.  The one below was taken with my Olympus 60 mm f/2.8 Macro from a Unipod in gusty wind.  This was the third day that the white spider was in that plant (Solomon’s Plume).  I hope that it will stay there until I can get a better photograph on a calm day  It might be a White Crab Spider.


I am hoping for some warm, calm weather to work both of these lenses to their limits.



20160612 Blossoms, bees and hoverflies

Windy, overcast and cool so the bugs were not abundant, but we did see some pollinators flitting and buzzing around the roadside flowers.

A few more oyster mushrooms have fruited after the last rain.  All quite high up on the tree, 3 or 4 metres.


Remember that Solomon’s Plume from the last post?  Here is that same white spider which I tried to photo in the breeze with this result.   Good camouflage, eh?


A flower fly of some specie.


Bee collecting nectar…


Blueberries ripening …


Northern Wild Raisin flowering.


Another flower fly or hover fly.  Gardeners love these insects.


Runner and flower of a cinquefoil ..


Busy times in the bush, these days.



20160611 Blossoms, some with visitors

In the warm sun the blossoms were out, some having visitors.  Some visitors were obvious some not so obvious.

Orange hawkweed:


Bunchberry, Creeping Dogwood, Ground Dogwood:


Yellow Hawkweed:



Silvery Blue butterfly

“This is another butterfly species that will often mud puddle (drink up minerals from damp ground). Larva in the last two instars (stages) are attended to by ants, which protect them from flies and wasps. The larva secretes a drop of liquid high in sugars and amino acids. Where ants don’t attend larva, fewer survive from the absence of protection, however those that do survive tend to be bigger thanks to the energy saved from not sharing the droplets with ants. This type of relationship with ants is found with several other species of butterflies.”


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Canada Mayflower or Wild Lily of the Valley:


Solomon’s Plume or False Solomon’s Seal:


Pink Lady Slipper, one of the myriad of Orchids that bloom in Ontario’s wilds.



Temagami’s Northland Paradise  has an outstanding illustrated write-up about the Orchids seen in Northern Ontario.

They also show a huge collection of mushrooms of Northern Ontario, including edible ones, by season.

Did you see the green bug on the Mayflower and the white spider on the Solomon’s plume?  If you click on the photos, they are very obvious in the enlargement.

20160609-10 Bugs and Blossoms

Here are some photos of Skippers, Brushfoots, Dragonflies and other beasties  on a variety of blooms, (along with Pleurotus)  taken on Thursday and Friday:

These two skippers(?) were feeding on Common Vetch



As was this bee …


These dragonflies were patrolling the roadsides for insects in flight.  Click on the photos for some interesting close-up views.  Use your browser back button to come back to this blog.






This fellow was busy collecting nectar and pollen, caught in flight with this lucky photo:




These choice Oyster Mushrooms were a little easier to photograph, but were too high to harvest.

See the little black beetle?  It is a good indicator of this species.


Mandatory artsy photo taken in the late afternoon last Thursday.


Here are some of Friday’s images:

Ox-eye Daisy providing nourishment for an iridescent little fly …


Bee feeding on Bird’s-foot trefoil:


Nice grouping of starflowers.


Potter Wasp(?)  inspecting Ox-eye daisy…


Brushfoot visiting unknown blossoms.


Coming in for a landing on Canada Anemone…


Some kind of miniscule roadside flower, < 0.5 cm in diameter …


I am getting behind on my plant and bug ID.  Thanks for HELP with any of the above!  (Comments or email, please)

We had rain overnight so the woods will be fresh for photography today.   A good excuse to get out for a visit!




20160608 Some flowers including Bladder Campion

Short evening tip up to Hwy 522 to see what was blooming on the south facing rocks.

Here are the results …

Red Maple:


Canada Anemone:


Ox-eye Daisy:


And lots of Bladder Campions:  (One of these days I should sample them!)






On the way back this beauty was fruiting (NO, not an oyster mushroom, gills are wrong.)


I just got a note saying that an (internet) acquaintance has won challenge first with this image of NYC on a snowy night.   Nice work, eh?   Brrrrrr.

Dawn is breaking into a clear cool (7ºC) day with light wind.  Time to see if the Warblers are up and about.


20160607 Geese, Blandings, Macro Link

We went for a short drive yesterday evening (Hwy 529) to check on the Canada Goose family, and turtles.

The Canada Goose family were in the same pond as the previous day.  Alas, one gosling is missing:



We found numerous “scratchings” along the highway … in the sandy portions on the shoulders, on the east (afternoon sunlit) side of the road.  I suspect that the warm sand is attractive to turtles as nesting sites.  Here is a Blanding’s near sunset south of Twin River Bridge.


The hole in the highway is repaired.

On the way back we checked the growth of milkweeds near Twin River and expect them to be blooming in a week if we get some warm weather.


This is the first time that I isolated a bunch, (gaggle?) of geese snoozing.  Click on the photo so see something quite surprising (to me at least).



I occasionally post stuff up at the Digital Photography Review Forum as GeorgianBay1939   to get some critical feedback.  There I learned of Australian  Mark Berkery, a wonderful macro photographer.

Have a look at Nature’s Place — Macro Illustrated for a real treat.  The photography is breathtaking.  And if you make the time to read his text you will be quite inspired by his depth.

20160606 Parry Sound Trip blossoms, bugs, Blanding’s, Geese, Highway safety.

We detoured via Hwy 529 and Shebeshekong Rd on the way to and from Parry Sound on Monday to see the sights.


The Cranesbills are just starting to blossom out now.  As the link indicates, the flowers that gardeners call “Geraniums”  aren’t.

(And if you look carefully you’ll see why real geraniums are called cranesbills!)


Turtles are moving now,  often crossing roads to find suitable nesting spots.  This  Snapping Turtle walked about 20 metres along the shoulder of this road before heading off into the grass when I stopped for a look.


Distant Fritillary Butterfly on Labrador Tea blossoms.

If you Google “Fritillary” you will see some beautiful plants and learn the origin of the name “Fritillary”.

Harvest the fresh leaves of Labrador Tea in the fall, the leaf with a fuzzy orange underside, for tea in a pinch. 3 or 4 leaves in a litre of boiling water is sufficient.  It has toxins so I do not recommend it.

I prefer Earl Grey flavoured Monarda (Bee Balm, Bergamot) but don’t drink it any more as I don’t have ailments (that I talk about, publicly).  Although commercial Earl Grey tea is made from Bergamot orange the leaves of Monarda taste and smell the same.  Monarda fistulosa grows wild around here and will start blooming in July.


Another pollinator, Orange belted Bumblebee.    Those are last year’s leaves on the stem and are NOT what you use for tea this fall.  Use the fresh leaves emerging in the above photo.


The Fragrant White Water Lilies are starting to blossom now:


The warmer ponds are producing nice fields of Fleurs, like this one blooming in a roadside ditch:


Escaped Day Lilies will bloom in profusion over the next month or so:

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Cornus canadensis (Canadian dwarf cornel, Canadian bunchberry, quatre-temps, crackerberry, creeping dogwood) has a neat trick, a challenge for high speed photographers.


Here is the Species At Risk (S.A.R)  Blanding’s Turtle, used as a political football by folks who substitute politics for science.  It certainly is at risk, but not because of windmills.  Many (along with Spotted Turtles) are removed from Northern Ontario for sale as pets in other jurisdictions.

This female is prepping a nest South of the Twin Rivers Bridge, just outside the S.A.R. Study Area that the Magnetawan IR is sponsoring with the “Snake and Turtle Lady”  (Cory K.) leading it this year.   If you see a Blanding’s or a Spotted in the area, I’m sure that the Mag Band Office (705-383-2477) would like to hear about it .   Eastern Hog-nosed snakes too!

Magnetawan  protects species at risk.

Youth helps species at risk.



In an earlier post I showed the nesting area of this family, then a picture of them scrambling over a rock face.

When I stopped to watch them the adults started their neck actions indicating alarm.


They swam to the rock face were a parent led the goslings up the hill.


The lead parent used its wings to hop up the big (.5 m) step, leaving the goslings stranded.  Meanwhile a turkey buzzard took a couple of extra turns on its orbit overhead.  Then it left.

So did I, as I finally realized that I was not helping the situation at all, but was a source of stress.


Mandatory artsy photograph:   I quite like the view along the bog with cotton grass adding bits of depth, under an interesting sky.


Northbound on Hwy 529 I came upon this strange marker while approaching a slight vertical and horizontal curve.


No other warnings (pylons, construction boards, etc)  around, just this.  Maybe these hazard warnings are used by DBIservices in other jurisdictions.  (Alabama? Ozarks? Southern Ontario?)


Interesting world that we share with other fauna.

I just came across this wonderful document.  It is downloadable for easy reference and study.


20160605 Wet blossoms (and goslings)

We awoke to a steady rain which lasted a few hours.  Initially it was calm, giving good photo opportunities in spite of swarming mosquitoes.  A couple of hours later the breeze made photography difficult in the dim light so I visited with the new cook at the local beanery.  Born of Italian/Anishinabe parents he self-describes himself a Wopaho.  He prepares Italian food by culture and French cuisine by training (Champagne region of France).  So I had to evaluate his work:  Michelin ****.

Here are some of the photos taken in the rain:  (Many of these are quite neat when enlarged (by clicking on the image.)



Common vetch


Aquilegia canadensis


Yellow Goat’s Beard or Salsify, which will change into giant seedball similar to a dandelion.  Watch one change over the next week or so.  Magic!


Goat’s Beard posing in profile …


Ox Eye Daisy, much hated flower by gardeners, lawnkeepers, farmers etc.   Insightful analysis here:  http://www.wildflowers-and-weeds.com/weedsinfo/Chrysanthemum_leucanthemum.htm


Nope, not a single family!!!  I saw this bunch of goslings and their parents foraging on the beach.  After stopping to take some pix, the goslings slowly followed ONE parent to the water, and entered it in a tidy line, followed by another of the parents.  The other pairs of parents (about half a dozen pairs) then flew off to enjoy a community luncheon while this pair took the combined families well out on the water to be baby-sat while the parents had a break.  I’d not seen that before.


Another flower hated by cow farmers:  Common Buttercup


Mullein again.  This time the water droplets are larger than the one I showed you a couple of weeks ago.


More buttercups …


Another weed put in the same category as dandelions by lawnkeepers:

If you are interested in how to rid our environment of this weed (and most other stuff in our environment), have a  look at this advice by our elected government:  http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/pub75/pub75ch18.pdf

Also called the Devil’s Paintbrush …



Anemone canadensis


Vaccinium spp  (There is more to life than “highbush” and “lowbush”, eh?


Flower gardeners, naturalists and mountain hikers will recognize this leaf!

Garden variety of this:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lupinus


20 years ago, when I moved to Britt, I had 3 stalks of this plant on my property.   Yesterday, when I went to check on them, this is what I saw:


There is an equal number of plants to the right of the above photo.

A cluster:



In the wet (in a cloud of mosquitoes)…


Shield Lichen responding to the wet …


Last of the Pale Corydalis.   When they dry out those seed pods will probably pop open throwing the seeds a few feet away.  Similar to Spotted-Touch-Me-Nots (Jewelweed).


It is not raining today, but it is cold and windy so the pollinators (and their predators) will be quiet.  A good day to do chores.

Mary Holland post today:


Reminds me to report that I no longer hear the cheep cheep coming from the Hairy Woodpeckers’ nest.  So they have fledged!!

If interested you can determine the length of time for incubation and the time taken to fledge from this blog.  If you do please comment as I suspect that others would be interested.