20170420-29 Trailing Arbutus, Early Saxifrage, Bloodroot, Trout Lily, Carolina Spring Beauties

Spring ephemerals started to blossom in the third week of April, a few days later than their bloom start last year.  Andy Fyon has put together a very well illustrated brochure of Spring Flowers in the Sudbury-Killarney area.

The following photos are in chronological order but some plants are more advanced than others because of their location.  The micro-climate of the plants is significant.

I love the Botanical name for this elusive flower … Epigaea repens  (epi = upon; gaea = Mother earth; repens= creeping, crawling)  It appears as soon as the snow melts and usually flowers  within a few days of being exposed to sunlight.  That gaea (gaia) is the same spirit used in the Gaia Hypothesis.

Emergent blossoms

Bloodroot, with their leaves still furled around the flower.

furled flower:

Early Saxifrage about to blossom…

Trailing Arbutus mixed in with sphagnum moss and wintergreen (with the dark shiny leaf)

Typical habitat  … and friends.

Bloodroot a couple days later than the photo above.

Marsh Marigold just after emerging in this little stream.

Dutchman’s breeches.

This Blue Cohosh is adjacent to a clump of Ramp, Dutchman’s Breeches, Wake Robin, and Jack in a Pulpit underneath a grove of old Sugar Maples in deep soil.  It is not common around here.

More Trailing Arbutus in it usual setting …

First Trout Lilies along Jamot Lumber Road …

Carolina Spring Beauties ….

Note the wide leaves:

Bloodroot a few days later …

Pollinators doing their thing …

Another pollinator on the approach path.

More bloodroot maturing each day…

In a few days this Coltsfoot cluster on Harris Lake Road will be  in full flower…

…. as  will the blossoms on this  Fly Honeysuckle

And in a week or two we’ll be busy keeping up with other spring wildflowers.  An exciting time as the insectivores will also  begin arriving in large numbers to glean the deciduous trees of their critters that emerge as the leaves open from their buds.


20170421-22 Buds again, wet this time

A couple of calm days with misty soft rain, as a warm front slowly passed through, providing great opportunities to capture some usually unseen sights.   Here are a few:









First web of the season …


Candelaria concolor?

Capnoides youngster…

Descendant of immigrants that came to North America 300 years ago…

Cladonia asahinae fruiting?

And finally, one of my favorites taken with the Olympus 60mm Macro lens on the Panasonic GX7:

I gently pulled the branch into the car as I had to get very close for this, about 10″ away:

Left hand holding the branch, with the right holding the camera as I bobbed my head forward and back in Manual Focus to get a sharp one.

I really like shooting in the rain as the colours emerge, just like they used to when, as kids, we would lick rocks to bring out their colours.

When I compare April 2017, with April 2016, it seems that we are a bit behind this year.  But it seems quite variable for some unknown reason.



20170427 Severe Storm at Burwash

I thought that I’d interrupt my recent thematic approach (eg birdies — bugs —-buds — blossoms— wildlife ,etc over a week or so) to this blog to show a dozen photos of my experience at Burwash this afternoon.

I went up to Burwash to see if last night’s and today’s warm southerly winds would bring some new migrants to the abandoned Prison Farm.

Just before 4:00 PM I can across these (16) Painted Turtles sunning themselves under a clear sky.

The sky was clouding up to the NW so I went up to the hill on which the old main prison was located and took this photo of the sky towards the West at 4:17:29 PM EDT……..


Looking NW  at 4:19:09 ……..

Looking SW at 4:21:24……….  a roll cloud ahead of precipitation …




Strong gusty wind was buffeting the car,  lightning was striking close by and heavy rain started so I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and moved the car off of the hill towards the lee side where I could face the camera downwind, to the East.



As the rain let up a bit I decided leave before being flooded out but got caught up in this hailstorm a few hundred feet away…


Which became a rainstorm again by 4:29:05 ….

The photo sequence above took about 12 minutes with the extreme precipitation taking about 5 minutes.

This is a nice peaceful scene taken on the way out at 4:30:52….

And, finally, this scene was photographed at 4:49:36 on the Burwash Road before getting to the Killarney Highway.

This is what Britt Radar showed at 4:40.  Burwash is just to the West of Hwy 69, about 25 SSE of Sudbury.

A  long string of heavy precipitation usually indicates a significant cold front where the cold air drives under the warm wet air causing heavy precip and donner and blitzen.

This is the weather map showing conditions about 2 1/2 hours after my event.

The cold front has rotated counter clockwise about the low centered up by Timmins.  So we’ll have cooler temperatures tonight and for the next few days as we’ll be in a much cooler air mass.

The warmth was nice while it lasted.

The Midwestern Regional Climate Center had a very good page on Thunderstorms   which has this diagram showing the formation of the roll cloud shown in the first few photographs above:


20170418-26 Birdies are getting active

The local birdies are busy searching for mates and the migrants are passing through on their way north …  (  I hope that they are all legal and have their papers in order!)


This group of Common Grackles were talking and ruffling their feathers at each other.

This lone Mallard played peek-a-boo with me …

Wary Bufflehead a long ways away.


A huge ( >50 birds) flock of these migrants were chattering away in the tops of the Tamarack trees in a swamp along Hwy 529.


They were constantly chattering and moving.

This is what they sounded like: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Cedar_Waxwing/sounds

This old guy was watching me from above a deer carcass.

This  Northern Flicker was searching for grubs at the very elegant Moose Lake Trading Post, just north of Pte au Baril.

So was this Robin…

This lone Sandhill Crane was in Dave and Irene’s hayfield, turning over the remnants of cut hay.

A lone Killdeer in the distance:

Ruffed Grouse is filling its crop with poplar buds:

OK, which sparrow has the bi-colored beak?   Yes!  This one.

An example of our smallest falcon, this female migrant just penetrated our southern border seeking to find a mate in Canada.

Obviously coy, she shows me both profiles and a full frontal.

On the same day I saw these two drakes avoiding me at the Naiscoot River landing.

And finally, yesterday, I saw this Northern Flicker pulling grubs out of the Jamot Lumber Road.

Yesterday I saw this event for the first time this year.  First pollinator on first Trout Lily:

That means that the warblers and other insectivores will soon be here.

In the meantime with a lot of practice and perseverance I would like to be able to do this sort of work.

20170414-24 Swelling buds

It seems that the 100-400 lens is encouraging me to look at spring buds more than usual.  I thought that I knew what a bud is, but there is more to it than I thought.  So I am seeing more each time I look through the lens.  Learning more too.

In many of the following it is usually worthwhile to click on the image, sometimes twice, to see more detail.  Return to this blog by clicking on the back button of your browser.

It wasn’t until I looked at the detail on this “opposite arrangement” of flowering buds on this Red Maple that I saw the start of a spider’s web on April 14, a  good clue that flying insects were in the air.

There is a nice explanation of the “pussy willow” here:


Female and male on the same twig on the same plant.

What are those little dark spots that are emerging below?   Anthers?

Early stage of male catkins on Trembling Aspen …

Elderberries are very early bloomers!  There are many recipes for their fragrant flowers and for their sweet fruit.

Those little female catkins above the long male catkins will eventually form the cones that you see on the right.

Looks like a good crop this year:

Male catkins on the aspen are lengthening and opening up….

Close-ups ….

Click on this one to see  some pollen starting to accumulate on those sticky stigmata:

Earlier stage of Elderberry  … in the shade.


In the sun…

Now whole stamens are visible in the pussywillows ….

This Acer rubrum is blooming early because it is tight against a south facing rock.    PlantWatch has  links to some very nice photos of the progression of Red  Maple blossoms.

Spring is advancing quickly.   Time to get outside to enjoy it.


20170412-18 Spring microgardens: mosses and lichens

Every spring I enjoy cruising past rock outcrops to see the mosses and lichens flourishing in the rain and sun after resting under the snow all winter.  There is a huge variety of shapes, colours, forms and stages.  I wish that I had noticed these little gems earlier in my life … and to have learned more about them.   Here are some examples….







This is something different, an early spring flower seen on rocky outcrops, Pale Corydalis:

Back to the mosses, some with bursting spore capsules…




The water droplet always seems to cling to the bottom of the capsule.  I wonder if there is some sort of special anatomy there to exploit that phenomenon?


An overwintering fern recharging with chlorophyll to start producing sugars again:

The chlorophyll is changing form in this Wintergreen leaf also …


Up really close to a British Soldier with my treasured Olympus 60 mm Macro lens:

Instead of labelling the above with IDs I thought I’d lead you to some internet references that I am  using to learn more about mosses and lichens:

The first is the classic  MOSSES AND LICHENS  a popular guide to the identification and  study of our commoner mosses and lichens, their uses, and method of preservation by Nina L Marshall  1919

You can download this book in pdf if you have high speed internet, a reasonably fast computer and some patience.  The file size is 27.2 MB.


It is worth doing as it will become a source of rich enjoyment, living as it does, up to the hope expressed in the Preface:
has been written with the hope that it may meet a need often expressed, for a book with pictures which will help to identify some of the many beautiful growths which, winter and summer lin wood and open, excite the admiration and arouse the curiosity of all nature lovers.
Here are some more helpful links:
Andy Fyon’s very useful focus on N. Ontario: http://www.ontariowildflower.com/moss.htm
Good if you have an idea of what you are looking at: http://www.borealforest.org/lichens.htm

Or simply google: “Lichen (or moss) identification Ontario (or wherever)”

Have fun!




20170408-15 Birds, bugs and a turtle

The warmer weather livened up the neighbourhood with critters moving about.

I have been invaded by a flock of pidgeons.   Too much feed at  my birdfeeder?

This one checks me out from the  telephone cable running through the yard…

gives me a wink…

… then the hard look …

While this pair cruise in the Still River

This Pileated Woodpecker checks out another new Hydro Pole:

First one way ….


Then the other  ..

In the distance two male Bufflehead Ducks escorting a lady Bufflehead.

First Mourning Cloak of the year, on Tramway Rd, Byng Inlet.  Judging by its good shape, I suspect that it has just emerged from its winter cryo-preservation.


Eastern Phoebe in the tag alders looking for flying insects to catch.

Ring-necked Duck, which does have a very faint ring around its neck.

Unknown fly in the sun near Alban.

Painted Turtle catching some rays in the Old Still River Road stream.

Oft-photographed spot on the Skerryvore Community Road, which I often visit on my way back from Parry Sound.

Good News:  https://www.ontarionature.org/connect/blog/stratfords-ethan-elliott-brings-bee-city-home/

Why bother?


20170407-10 Melting snow is revealing micro gardens


Many species of lichens are reviving in the comparative warmth (0ºC):

and spore capsules:

Amazing how they poke up through the snow …

This is worth clicking on for enlargement…


glacial moss?

Example of symbiosis?

Ferns are emerging too …

Stream in spring freshet…

Heavy rain at St Amants:

Several of the above, including the rainstorm above, are worth clicking on to see the detail.

Soon we’ll be seeing spring ephemerals attracting insects.


20170404-10 Early April buds are swelling

The buds on trees and shrubs are changing dramatically this month.  Click on (some of) the bud photos to see better detail.

These MALE catkins on Betula papyrifera are beginning to lengthen —- from the ends of twigs.

We’ll keep an eye on the above male catkins for the Paper Birch.  In a few weeks they’ll expand and release pollen for the female catkins, which will emerge as the leaf buds emerge.

Below are buds from either a Black Cherry or a Choke Cherry.  We’ll monitor their development.


Not a bud!  But an interesting view of the Parry Sound CPR Train Trestle over the Seguin River under a stormy sky:

Here are some nice photographs of emerging buds on a rainy day: 3 pussywillows and a Tag (Speckled) Alder

Both catkins, female and male, of  Alnus incana   (subsp: rugosa) are shown in the photo below.  The male catkins are starting to puff out in preparation for their release of pollen to wind pollinate the upper female catkins.

Aha!  First flower of spring!  On a shrub.  As the male catkin matures it opens up to release pollen which are captured by the sticky pistils of the female flower.

Speckled alder again, showing an even more expanded male catkin.

Tag Alder again, with a good view of the upper female catkins.

Completely different shrub….. Elderberry

Not buds, but berries that have over-wintered.  Please click on this for your own safety.  I shared Easter lunch with a lady who had a bad encounter with this plant … and was suffering.

Here is my favorite again this year ….

It looks like a start to a good crop this year.

Mary Anne Borge has a wonderful entry in her Blog here:




20170401 First April Birds and a Wasp

Canada Geese and Ring billed Gulls arrived as the ice was going out.


Ice inspectors doing their jobs …..

Uh Oh!  Cover the lens!


This is MY post …



Pileated Woodpecker inspecting its new cavity…

Up very close …

And from afar …

And the first wasp of the season …

Over the past couple of days (mid April)  I have been photographing wild hazelnut blossoms.  In my research I came across a wonderful blog:


It is very well organized and very authoritative.   Worth following!