20170726-27 Trip to Manitoulin Part 1 of 2

We visited kin at Bass Creek Resort.  Here are some scenes we saw on a very rainy July 26 and a sunshiny July 27:

I suspect that this Pine Tree on Quartzite above the road to Willisville has been photographed many times.

Quaint Cafe in Whitefish Falls ….

Quaint signage in Whitefish Falls …

Strawberry Island as seen from Hwy 6, NE of Goat Island.

Stormy Day at 10 Mile Point with little Loon Island in middle ground.

5:11 AM  the next morning.  That is Venus, upper right.

5:55 AM:

Above: How did that bush in the foreground move?


Bush is back in normal location at 6:05 AM….

Roll of low cloud accents this cabin on Green Bay Road…

Backlit Elm on Green Bay Road…

The above, Part 1 of 2, was photographed with the FZ1000 Fixed Lens Panasonic Camera.    Part 2 will have photos taken with the 100-400 telephoto lens on the GH4 Interchangeable Lens Panasonic Camera.




20170723-24 Hwy 529: Pollinators and Prey

Above Photo:  Steeple bush

Quick trips down Hwy 529 yielded these scenes:

A Crab Spider has captured a bumblebee for lunch …

Pickerel Weed blooming in the rain …

Soaked Bumble Bee clings to Golden Rod to dry out.  It seems obvious why these critters do not fly in the rain!

The next day the Crab Spider is back in ambush mode …

This Great Blue Heron fishes in the distance …

Pair of Great Spangled Fritillaries lunching together …

A well worn Skipper resting with an  Orange belted Bumblebee.

This fickle Fritillary is lunching with a skipper …

Two different Skippers, lunching.

This one might be a Dion Skipper.

Have a look at https://thelensandi.wordpress.com/2017/07/13/of-ladybugs-and-horse-tales/     for some extraordinary photography and elegant text.

And how about this one:   https://thelensandi.wordpress.com/2017/07/25/insight/    ?


Well worth following!


20170722 Hwy 529 More butterflies and Clearwing Moths on Milkweeds

Above Photo: Pickerel Weed blooming on Big Lake

We saw some action at the milkweed patches on Hwy 529 on Saturday.

The big question is:  Are these Hemaris thysbe or  are they Hemaris diffinis?  Or a combination of both?

First set on Common Milkweed:  These look like diffinis to me… black line on thorax and black legs.




Second set on Joe Pye Weed:  This one seems to have paler legs, maybe a thysbe?





Third one, on Common Milkweed.  If you enlarge this one you’ll see very strange “growths” on the face of this ( diffinis?) Clearwing:


Back to the butterflies ….

American Lady on Milkweed…

Great Spangled Fritillary on Milkweed…

Coral Hairstreak on Goldenrod….

Unidentified Wasp(?) on Milkweed…

Unidentified (Wasp)…

Meadowsweet  is starting to bloom profusely  along the streams and ditches.  This wild spirea is also a good nectar source for pollinators.


It seems that folks with full screen computers or Ipads prefer large photos.   Folks who check out this blog with phones seem to prefer smaller ones, as above, as they are used to expanding them with the finger maneuver.    I think that I’ll go back to the larger images to make the viewing experience better.   I have also learned that captioning in WordPress can be problematical with complex workarounds.   No more captioning.


20170721-22 Burwash, Still River, Hwy 529: Blackbirds, Jewelwings,Eastern Kingbird, Song Sparrow, Butterflies, Bees

Above Photo:  White Pine on Hwy 529

We made a short trip to Burwash after lunch with friends at the French River Inn.  This is what we saw there, on the way back via Still River Road  and on Saturday part of a trip to Twin River Bridge on Hwy 529.

We’ve  also experimented again.   The captions were intended to appear immediately below each photo.  Didn’t work.

Are the medium sized photos better for your device?

The heavy streaking and orange-tan chin identifies this bird..

Two males are hovering while two females are depositing eggs.

This Loon was relaxing at Neilly Lake at Burwash:

Resting after taking insects out of the air:

A temporary silence from this songbird

This fellow is also singing…

Apparently there is debate about the proper ID of this Butterfly:

I think that the little dot is significant but I cannot positively ID this skipper.

Unidentified grasshopper…


Stocking up with more fuel for this male:

These Bumble Bees are out in great numbers these day.

Another generation of Monarchs are eating the Milkweeds..

Do you see them?

This is the ambusher after it moved to a more obvious location….

All of the Cow Parsnip are setting seed now.  Amazing to realize that each and every seed seen here is separately pollenized by those busy pollinators.

Edit:  It seems that the captions got lost in the publishing process.  More investigation is needed, I guess.


20170720 Hwy 529: Searching the Milkweeds for Skippers, Monarchs and other butterflies.

Above Photo:   Fragrant White Water Lily in the Big Pond near Big Lake

Note:   I posted these photos at a smaller (240 x 300 px) medium size than the previous  (645 x 806 px) large size to save download delays and data costs.  This means that you need to enlarge photos of interest to see the details.  Click and enlarge a few photos below to see the difference.

We cruised the Common Milkweed patches on our way to and from Parry Sound on a warm summer day.  This is what we found:

A partially hidden Blanding’s Turtle in the Big Pond across the road from Big Lake….

This 5 petal, small (<1 cm) blossom on stems with alternate needle-like leaves has me stumped.  Found along 529, on a wet roadside near the road to Naiscoot Lodge…

EDIT:   Marsh Bellflower.

The seed head of the Pitcher Plants haven’t changed much, except where this Shield Beetle appears to be chewing….

This little beetle looks warily up at the spider.  Has the spider molted or has it just preyed on one of its brethern?

Yellow Goatsbeard (Salsify) ready to disperse its seeds via parachute … (a good one to expand fully)

I am often seeing Monarch Caterpillars at the blossoms.  Is that where they molt?

This is probably a second generation Red Admiral.

A pair of American Ladies have lunch at the Common Milkweed Cafe.

See the little white spots and the eyespots?

Only the shadow knows what kind of skipper this is!

Speaking of Skippers, here are three different Grass Skippers:



And 3:

About 30 Grass Skippers are found in Ontario.  You really have to look carefully to ID the species reliably.  The above 3 are a good challenge using Rick Cavasin’s Butterflies of Ontario.   …. or the nice-to-use  iNaturalist.org site.

Maybe a Dot Tailed Whiteface  …

Pickerel Weed in bloom…

Aha!  A (poorly photographed) Clearwing Moth!   Snowberry (H diffinis) or Hummingbird (H thysbe)?  It is quite difficult to tell the difference.  In this case the near (port) legs appear to be quite pale.  The far (starboard) legs appear black (in shadow?).  I’ll go with the legs being pale  and ID this one as being a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.  So I am still on the trail of its cousin.

I think that Hwy 529 is as good a place as any to monitor the changes happening to our flora and fauna this summer so its time for another trip.

What do you think of the reduced format?  Does it speed up your download of the blog?  Good, bad, pita?  Please let me know.  Many thanks.  brtthome@gmail.com









20170718-19 Hwy 529 and Forest Access Road

Above Photo:  Fragrant White Water Lily and its Reflection

Hwy 529:

Double Crested Cormorant preening in the sun…


I think that this moth is a Delicate Cycnia  or Dogbane Cycnia or Cycnia tenera.  Its wings were very delicate, fluttering in a very light breeze.

I couldn’t see what this crab spider is preying on.  If you enlarge the photo and look closely, you’ll see little critters along the main vein of the milkweed leaf…


Lots of European Skippers were out and about …


This looks to be one of the Whitefaces …

Male Monarch launching…

I thought that this might be a bluet.  Now I don’t think so.  A mystery.


Forest Access Road:

If we could see the front of this Dragonfly we’d tempted to ID it as a Chalk Fronted Corporal…

Eastern Kingbird perched on a bridge reflector…


A big Red Tailed Hawk eyeing the photographer.  Check the ninth photo at the Audubon site.

(It cannot be a Rough-legged Hawk because they are up in the Arctic this time of year.)

Here is an amazing Red Tailed Hawk story sent to me by a school classmate out in BC.   Thanks Ray!




20170717 Hwy 529: Patches of Common Milkweed and photographing a Great Blue Heron

Above Photo:  Big Lake

We went in search of a Snowberry Clearwing Moth in the milkweed patches along Hwy 529.   This is what we saw …

Hundreds of bees of all sorts were buzzing around the fragrant milkweeds.  Here are three species of Ontario Bumble Bees.



More about Bumble Bees.


This looks like a cache of eggs.  Possibly one hatched larvae on the right.   Possible food for ants and other carnivores…

This  Monarch caterpillar is probably in its last instar, and will soon metamorphose into its adult butterfly form.  I will start looking for Monarch chrysalises.  I will also keep and eye on  Joe Pye Weed and on Viburnums.

In the big swamp east of the highway at Big Lake I saw this wary Great Blue Heron eyeing me suspiciously.

When I was satisfied that I had a reasonable photo, with the 100-400 mm lens fully extended and set at f/8, 1/1000 second …

… I backed the lens back to 264 mm to give me a wider field of view (in the event that the bird took off), to get this photo…

… and this one.  In the one above I blurred the beaver lodge  behind the bird.  The one below is out of the camera.

After thinking about it I’ll follow the same practice but with some additional quick changes:

Use optimal settings for the still bird.   When satisfied do this to (possibly) get the bird in flight:

  • Shorten the focal length — to get wider field of view for better tracking.
  • But a shorter focal length gives increased depth of field leading to background clutter.
  • So open up the lens wide to decrease depth of field and to shorten the exposure interval thereby reducing wing motion blur.
  • Has to be done quickly with camera at the eye.  Twist lens and rotate thumbwheel.  Maybe snap to Manual Focus to hold the focal plane?

I’ll need to practice, but I think the results will be worth it.  In the case with these photos it would increase shutter speed by 50% and reduce DOF by around 5 metres. at that distance (~100m)

In addition to bees and butterflies, we saw this moth nectaring on Spreading Dogbane, a relative of Common Milkweed.

See the translucent, curled proboscis?


Here is a Striped Hairstreak at lunch… Note that each wing has two tails — a short one and a long one.  Note also the orange patch inboard of the pattern of dots.

Three insects having lunch together.  “Lets do lunch at Mary’s Common Milkweed Cafeteria.”

Unknown beetle and Striped Hairstreak showing their bellies…

Here are some more visitors to patches of Milkweeds:

Little brown beetle …

Long thin grey beetle …

Colourful tachinid fly

Perhaps another tachinid?….

Little brown dragonfly (female Ruby Meadowhawk?) looking for lunch at Mary’s Common Milkweed Cafeteria …


What is inside of these rolled-up Staghorn Sumac leaves?  (See Faunal Associations.)  I’ll keep an eye on them.

So far, no Snowberry Clearwing Moths have been spotted.







20170715 Part 2 of 2: Outing with Ray and Ivo – Burwash

Above photo:  Some of the original residents of the town of Burwash

On Sunday Sudbury photographers Ray Thoms and Ivo Lacle came down to check out butterflies etc in the Britt neighbourhood.  (Click on their links to see some excellent camera and processing work.  You also might want to check out “Making Pictures” up there in the header block.)

Part 1 shows what was seen along Hwy 529, this Part 2 shows what was seen at the former Burwash Industrial Farm.

Near the entrance these Ebony Jewelwings were seen mating in the little creek that runs though a road culvert:

Three females are depositing eggs in underwater vegetation while two males hover overhead:


At Neilly Lake, Ivo used his computer to send Loon calls from a bird app.  This Common Loon was attracted and seemed curious about the source of the calls.

It even put on its territorial display for our cameras.

After 10 minutes or so, they lost interest and paddled away to resume their fishing activities…

The European Skippers were skipping about in the abandoned Timothy hayfields (see Remarks here ) and nectaring on a variety of flowers, including this Ox Eye Daisy:

Perhaps a Shield beetle?

This dragonfly hanging onto a grass stem along the shore of Neilly Lake looks like a Black Meadowhawk ….

Honeysuckle berries are ripening.  Since these are cultivars, they may be edible, but I’m not going to try them! …

The lack of a second chestnut coloured band across it breast indicates that this is a male Belted Kingfisher posing for the camera — a very rare event with these skittish birds.

Lots of European Skippers were nectaring on Dianthus, ( AKA Pink, Sweet William)

Lots of Day Lilies remain at the former townsite …

This male Bobolink is resting (I would want to rest also after flying up from Central South America.  See Cool Facts in the link)  on a fence post in the open area …

This Savannah Sparrow doesn’t need as much rest.  It just came up from the Southern States to spend the summer with us.

I cannot ID this slender birdie.   Can you?

EDIT:   Mystery solved.  Click on the second image in the Photo Gallery at this Audubon Site.  Scroll down that page to see the effects of Climate Change on the migration of these Threatened Species.

In 2013 the Ontario Government published a Recovery Strategy for Bobolink and Eastern Meadowlarks.  It is worthwhile sifting through it for gems of information about these two Species At Risk.

This youthful American Kestrel was guarding the entrance to the site.  It might have hatched in the Kestrel box on a telephone pole near the former townsite.

This is a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth … much bigger than the Snowberry Clearwing Moth.  Its forelegs are also pale coloured compared with the Snowberry’s black forelegs.

Spotted Knapweed, an attractive but nasty invasive species….

Pearly Everlasting are starting to bloom…. beauties!  And useful:

“The American Lady Butterfly uses pearly everlasting as a host plant for its young. In general, the damage is minimal and the plant fully recovers, although there are exceptions. The flowers are magnets for pollinators such as butterflies and bees, while the plant is said to repel some insects that gardeners may consider bothersome.”

A good time was had by all.   We’ll be looking forward to Ray’s and Ivo’s posts of their photos at their 500px websites:




20170715 Part 1 of 2: Outing with Ray and Ivo – Hwy 529

Above photo:  Morning Silhouettes from Old Still River Road

On Sunday Sudbury photographers Ray Thoms and Ivo Lacle came down to check out butterflies etc in the Britt neighbourhood.  (Click on their links to see some excellent camera and processing work.  You also might want to check out “Making Pictures” up there in the header block.)

Before their arrival I warmed up the camera by visiting some nice spots as the sun was rising through the morning fog.  Here is the Still River at St Amants Corner at 6:02 am:

CPR main line from Old Still River Road …

Still River from Farm Lane Road …

Much later, 9:30 the droplets of “fog” are slowly evaporating as the air warms up…

These two are worth expanding to full size, especially the upper one.

Droplets are slowly evaporating from the overnight blooms of this Evening Primrose…

Morning light is a good time to enjoy the colours reflected by  new leaves (that do not yet have fully developed red absorbing chlorophyll).


Great Spangled Fritillaries were abundant on the milkweeds.

I often use the rear underwing to get a good identification, so both of these photographs are useful for ID purposes.

This ragged but beautiful American Lady was flitting about on thistles …

The  common use of ‘American Painted Lady’ and the similarity of V. virginiensis with V. cardui makes this useful link an important aid in identifying these two species of beautiful butterflies. (That little white dot on each wing never fails.)

Enlarge this one to see a rascally American Lady sticking her tongue (proboscis) out:

I think that this (Second Generation since hibernation in Mexico) female Monarch has just deposited an egg behind her right foot.   The eggs deposited in mid-July will metamorphose into 3rd generation adults  around mid-August.  That generation will probably produce one more generation, the 4th, which will enter reproductive diapause so that their energy will be used for the long trip south.  The reproductive effort is strongest in second and third generations.  The first and last generations use substantial energy travelling.

Stocking up on nectar to mate and produce progeny.

This Orange Sulphur butterfly is probably first generation. It is nectaring to store energy for a second generation that may move somewhat south for overwintering in chrysalis form.

Part 2 of 2 will follow this Part 1 chronologically, but will appear above this on in the blog sequence.  Complicated, eh?


20170714 Hwy 529 in light rain showers

Photo above:  Raindrops are falling on Big Lake

We went for a drive along Hwy 529 during light rain showers to see the effects of rain on some scenes…

Here are a few examples of raindrops gathering on lily pads with “rebound drops” bouncing upwards after an impact with the water surface:

Next to a Fragrant White Water Lily…

Good example of surface tension …

Raindrops gathering on leaves and flowers …

Spreading Dogbane leaves always seem to avoid being “wetted”:

…  which  is quite different than the blooms of Wild Spirea

Mullein appears to be quite hydrophobic

This thistle not so hydrophobic…

Grass seed head seems to soak it up.  Not the Yellow Goatsbeard….

Inverted Coreopsis provides shelter for this tenant…

“Dropscapes” can be quite abstract at times…



Rebound drop up close…

I can remember, as a student, being amazed by Professor Harold Edgerton’s Milk Coronets in the early 1960s.

Nowadays it is a common art form with some advanced studio photographers.  Nice stuff.