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.

P1330884-1 border

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.

P1330184-1-2 P1330190-1

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 …

P1330394-1 P1330400-1

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.


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.