20170510-11 Leatherleaf, Red Admiral, Native Bee Pollinators, Wildflowers, Beaver, Birdies, Horsetails

We have been trying to keep up with all the changes taking place outside.  Here are some examples…

A nice patch of leatherleaf in an open bog along Hwy 529.  There is a lot of it on that Highway, in the open, and under mixtures of Tamaracks and Spruce.   It is often in association there with Labrador Tea and Bog Rosemary.

Up close …

Red Admiral:


Several solitary native bees ..

Pair of Green Sweat Bees… Agapostemon  probably.


Unidentified fly.  (I think).

Solitary Bee …

Bee fly coming in to visit a solitary bee…

Oops, another solitary bee  …

One of the solitary bees takes off.

Pretty wildflowers ….


Castor canadensis checking out the photographer in the pond near Big  Lake…

This Blue Jay is hoping that its Namesakes will soon make their way out of the AL East  Cellar.

See it?

That sure looks like a Chipping Sparrow.  Photo made on May 11.  eBird sightings indicate that they arrived during the first week of May.

Equisetum, a living fossil…


Mary Holland gives a good illustrated article showing the difference between squirrel corn and dutchman’s breeches:


Mary Ann Borge discusses the amazing Plantain-leaved Pussytoes here:


Our local Field Pussytoes ( Antennaria neglecta) apparently have the same methods of reproduction and similar relationships with pollinators, including the caterpillar of the beautiful American Painted Lady, which we’ll see in another month or so.   I will pay a lot more attention to the flowers (which are budding now) in a week or two.

The above two timely blogs are very helpful in give us Northerners a “heads-up” a week or so in advance of events as the spring/summer develops.





20170507-09 Spring sights

A variety of scenes here:

Tightly furled leaf buds on a willow…

This year’s buds on Tag Alders ….

Female flowers of Acer rubrum…

Fly on sun-warmed rock …

Wildflower garden is developing ….

Good example of male (pollen) and female (purple cone) flowers …

on a Larix laricina tree …

Pollen in background, previous year’s cone and current year’s cone:

Nice turbulence in Pickerel River at Bailey Bridge  on Jamot  Lumber Road …

Friend on Boucher’s Road …

Unknown butterfly …

Fern Fronds Beside the Water I …

Carpet of Carolina Spring Beauties …

Fully blossomed Bloodroot …

Fern Fronds Beside the Water II  …

Who ARE these guys??

Here we are!!

Andy Fyon has a good Facebook showing and telling about spring in the Ottawa Area.  A good supplement to  Andy’s Northern Ontario Wildflowers.

20170505-06 Wet Blossoms, Sandhill Cranes and “Woodpecked” trees

Rain, lots of it, made photography from the car mandatory so we went for a few drives to see how spring was progressing.

White birch leaves are emerging…along with the female catkin.  Soon the drooping male catkin will release it pollen to wind pollinate the female catkins.

Early Saxifrage

Trout lilies close up overnight and in the rain to protect pollen and delicate structures.

Wake Robin about to unfurl … after the rain stops.

Early stage of Acer rubrum blossoming, showing the male pollen-carrying Anthers.:

Unknown roadside flower along Old Still River Road.  I will have to check it out when it blooms.

Marsh Marigold in stream on the road to Boucher’s Pit.

Sandhill Cranes on the same road …

Their feathers are wet, which is surprising to me.  Maybe their feathers are quite different from other waterfowl.

Recipe for Sandhill Crane Nuggets, if you are so inclined.

Female willow catkins …

First wild strawberry blossom …

Flower buds of a wild plum… or a cultivar escapee.

Slowly unfurling …

Woody woodpecker has been at work along Old Still River Road, where these Elm trees died about 5 years ago.

And along Smith Bay Road: More Pileated pecking:

although this looks like the work of a different woodpecker:

Last weekend I went to presentations by the GBBR, Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve.  Worth exploring.

20170504 Honeysuckle, Carolina Spring Beauty, Trout Lily, Trillium, Catkins, Mosses & Lichens, Red Maple, Blue Cohosh

A nice few hours up on Hwy 522 to see spring flowers, some emerging and some at their best  …

Lonicera canadensis, Fly Honeysuckle are blooming on a shrub about a metre or so tall.

Carolina Spring Beauty in normal habitate.

And a trout lily in typical habitat…

A clump of Trillium grandiflorum, Ontario’s flower, with its petals still furled.

Willow, Salix, showing the difference between this male catkin …

… and this female catkin on an adjoining plant:

A collection of moss-lichens showing the great diversity of their symbiotic relationships:





Clear example of clusters of female Acer rubrum flowers:

Blue Coshosh bloom very quickly.  One week, even in this cold weather is about the length of the bloom.  A day or so, for each individual floret.

Although I’ve seen one moose this spring, very few deer and no bears have been seen yet.  Perhaps the rainy/snowy cold weather has been a factor.


20170503 Maples, cherries, willows, Carolina Spring Beauties and Bee Flies on Trout Lily and on Coltsfoot

We went for a drive along Harris Lake Road on a warm day to see the progress of the Coltsfoot near the Lake.  Along the way we made a few other photos:

Red Maple is  in an advanced stage of blossoming.   The female flowers are in the stage of pollination here:

Typical grey branch of most native Maples …

This is either a Choke Cherry or  a Black Cherry.   The cluster of blossoms is beginning to show.

Each little bump in the cluster will  become a  cherry blossom, and perhaps, later, a cherry.

Obviously these are male catkins, producing pollen on their anthers.  Several leaf buds are further up this willow branch.

A few feet away  on another willow these female catkins show their pistils, which are easily seen if you click on the photo:


Carolina Spring Beauty at its prime …

Nice Trout Lily …

This Trout Lily has a visitor.   See the interesting markings on it single pair of wings…. a fly NOT a bee.

If you click on this photo you can see the fly  looking up along its proboscis towards the base of the lily, where the nectar is.

What follows is a lot of images of  “Large Bee Flies” on the very early blooming Coltsfoot.  You’ll get some detail if you click on the images to enlarge them.

This is a typical cluster of Coltsfoot on disturbed land in a heavily wooded area.  No leaves yet.  They’ll come later, at the base of the plant,  shaped like the print of a colt’s foot.

There is that two winged (single pair) beastie again, nectaring with its long proboscis.

Head on view, with it prominent eyes just ahead of its dark spot.  Its eyes have a spherical shape, very different from the shape of bees eyes.

I stayed about 10 minutes and saw  many flies.  They all stood on the flower when sucking nectar.  None took the nourishment while they were aflight.

There is another unidentified blurry beast coming in from the left side of the photo …

It buzzes the Bee Fly and …

… continues its flight up to the right …

This fly has just removed its proboscis ….

… and flies away.   Leaving it legs dangling is common with these flies apparently.

Here are two flies nectaring on adjacent flower heads.


In deep, searching for nectar …

A different insect, not yet identified… (Help!) feasts…

Another one, leaving….


Such a nice little flower, I had to include this photo…

More action…

Putting on a show for the photographer …

It doesn’t retract its landing gear …


This Large Bee-Fly,  Bombylius major has some interesting behaviour some  of which is shown in a video and an animation at this well-written, well illustrated article.  I was lucky to make its acquaintance!



20170502 Rainy: Maple blossoms, Song Sparrow, Early Saxifrage, Viburnum, Sambucus, Moss, Trillium

Another rainy day yielded these photos taken locally.

A red maple: I think displaying flowering buds, at various stages:

These certainly look like female Acer rubrum flowers.

This appears to be an earlier version of the above, with stamens also attached:

Advanced leaf in a microclimate next to a south-facing rock…

Female house sparrow, I think….

Early Saxifrage peeking over the rock ..

Terminal flower bud of one of the Viburnums:  Probably nudum var. cassinoides .  I think that it is a Northern Wild Raisin because this is within an area where they are plentiful.

Elderberry … Sambucus:

In spite of reading this very technical, well illustrated article I still cannot determine what these structures are:

Above and below: Very different sporangia!

First glimpse of Ontario’s Flower:

I am using a bit of a different publishing method this time.  We’ll see how it works out.



20170430 Early Saxifrage, Dutchman’s Breeches, Blue Cohosh, Hairy Woodpecker, Pale Corydalis, Marsh Marigold, Bryophytes

April ended on a wet day.  Here are some local scenes that we saw from the window of the car.

The Micranthes virginiensis are progressing rapidly, in spite of the cold wet weather.   Here are a few along Boucher Pit Road:


Aka Early Saxifrage.  It has a huge range:  North America from the Gulf of Mexico Northern Coast (30ºN) to the northern tip of Ellesmere Island (83º N, about 800 km from the North Pole).  It would be interesting to study the changes in this plant depending on its Latitude.  I know of no other plant that has such a wide range of Latitude.

Choke cherry, Prunus virginiana with its clusters of  blossoms starting to emerge …

A maple which I am not sure of.  I will keep track of it across from Dave and Jenny’s.   Beautiful little flowerets.

Dennis and Anja’s daffodils have suddenly emerged…

I wonder what those rust coloured “blossoms” are  below the spore capsules of this moss….

Dutchman’s Breeches can be distinguished from “Squirrel Corn” by the yellow “waist” of the breeches.


These are always found in very rich soil, usually under deciduous trees,  in this case at Key River.

Violets running wild in the forest floor.  Escapees?


Also found in very rich soil, with Breeches, Wild Leeks (Ramp), Ostrich fern, Jack-in-the-Pulpit is this uncommon Blue Cohosh:

Not easy to see against the leaf litter …

Hairy woodpecker having a good feed on the critters sheltering under the bark of this Aspen.


Ah Ha!  First seen blooming Pale Corydalis this year:

As an aid to Identification here is some information about  MOSSES

 NON-VASCULAR plant gardens showing some variety in the nature of the spore capsules (sporangia):

Complex relationships between very primitive plants:  Bryophytes

Two clusters of very different sporangia:

The Caltha palustris near Grundy Lake Provincial Park are ready to bloom in the rain.

“In the UK, Caltha palustris is known by a variety of vernacular names, varying by geographical region. These include in addition to the most common two, marsh marigold and kingcup, also brave bassinets, crazy Beth, horse blob, May blob, mare blob, boots, water boots, meadow-bright, bullflower, meadow buttercup, water buttercup, soldier’s buttons, meadow cowslip, water cowslip, publican’s cloak, crowfoot, water dragon, drunkards, water goggles, meadow gowan, water gowan, yellow gowan, goldes, golds, goldings, gools, cow lily, marybuds, and publicans-and-sinners.  The common name “marigold” refers to its use in medieval churches at Easter as a tribute to the Virgin Mary, as in “Mary gold”. In North America Caltha palustris is sometimes known as cowslip. However, cowslip more often refers to Primula veris, the original plant to go by that name.  Both are herbaceous plants with yellow flowers, but Primula veris is much smaller.”

A good reason to learn the botanical name — if you want to talk about them with your neighbour from a different county.

The day is starting clear and cold, with a week of abnormally cold weather forecast.  That might slow the advance of blossoms and insects, possibly delaying the arrival of  Little Brown Jobs.





20170420-30 Wintergreen, catkins, Red Admiral, Equisetum, fiddleheads, hawk, vernal pools

Some variety to mark the last week of April, 2017:

These Gaultheria procumbens berries are a nice mouth freshener when tramping through the woods.

Nice photo of shelf fungus of some sort…

Red Maple blossoms that we’ll follow:

Male willow catkin, clearly showing the Anthers.

Recyling bark from Alces alces

This Vanessa atalanta was seen moving among the dry leaves in a forest opening near Pakesley on a warm April 26.  It is the first time that I’ve seen one so early in the year.  After flitting around a bit another Red Admiral came by and the two disappeared into the forest.

Acer rubrum  compared to  Acer saccharum:

Pileated Woodpecker action on Harris Lake Road:


Equisetum arvense prior to the spore cone opening…

Photographed the same day as above but in a warmer spot, as the spore cone starts to open….

Interrupted ferns huddled in a family meeting….  These are NOT the “fiddleheads” that we eat.  Edible fiddleheads are the Ostrich Fern.  Make sure you know what you’re collecting.  Bracken ferns can be dangerous.

Wild cherry twig, before the emergence of the blossom head…

Female catkin and “cone” of willow.  Note the shape of the pistils in the catkin.


This hazelnut flower has been fertilized, the stigmata have gone and the male catkin has dropped its load of pollen.  A cluster of nuts will probably form there and be ready for harvesting in 100 days.

I am having some difficulty ID ing this hawk.   If you know it please leave a comment or email me with a link.  brtthome at gmail.com  Many thanks.

Vernal pool.  Source of lots of spring activity.

See https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/vernal-pool-obligate-species/

We are having an abnormal amount of rain now.  The peeping froggies will be serenading us over the next few weeks.



20170429 “A Short History of Porch Bingo”

This morning I got a notification that Jessica Outram had added “A Short History of Porch Bingo at our Annual Girls Week at the Cottage”  to her wonderful Blog, Sunshine in a Jar.

Over the past few years I’ve been privileged to meet Jessica and her wonderful family.  During the summer her parents, Dave and Maureen, stay at the family cottage on the Britt side of  Byng Inlet, in the family compound just downstream from the last range markers before entering the narrow part of the Inlet.

As you read “A Short History of Porch Bingo” you will see some of Jessica’s talent which she shares with the world as a school principal, a songstress, a photographer, a playwright, and as a good person.  Her staff and students are fortunate to have her running the show.  So are the rest of us who read her works, listen to her music and view her photography.

In my summer photography trips I often meet Dave, usually on my return trip from the end of Riverside Drive.  He often has a treat fresh from Maureen’s bake oven for me.  We exchange pleasantries and opinions on the state of the Universe.  Always an uplifting experience.

I have attended two “Summit Meetings” with Jessica and her cousin, the high-impact Chantelle Tunney.   Chantelle’s mother is Maureen’s sister, Pat Skene, who entertains and stimulates us with her blogs, especially with her storytelling.

A Short History…  captures some of the entertainment in our hamlet of Britt, where Bingos, Bazaars, Ball Tournaments, and (Seniors’) Breakfasts are Big Deals.

And it captures Jessica’s love for her Aunt Estelle who passed on  Sunday, April 23.

This  photo of  The Beach was taken two days before her passing.  Perhaps a sad portent.  But look how peaceful it is.

My condolences to the family.

Tom Semadeni