20170821-23 Eclipse, Hwy 522 sights, water lilies and insects

We went to Lon and Ann’s to view the Solar Eclipse using Lon’s automatic arc welding helmet.  It has a sensor which “instantaneously” (1/2000 second) darkened the lens when facing the sun.  It worked very nicely and enabled us to watch the progress of the partial solar eclipse in Britt.

On eclipse day our Star is shining through early morning haze.

During partial eclipse our Star shines through two layers of high cloud.   The higher thin cirrus causes the slight halo and the lower cumuloform cirrus adds some detail to this photo made about 6 hours later than the upper photo.

In the upper photo where is the moon?  ie How far away to the right is the moon?  How many sun diameters?
*See answer below….

Since the camera is pointed Southward,  it is obvious that we are well North of the path of totality.  Think about going South to get “under the moon”, deeper into its shadow.

Meanwhile, back on Earth:

The blackberries are continuing to ripen.  A good crop this (wet) year….

A hoverfly is visiting a white fall aster …

Chokecherries are ripening.  There is some evidence of bears foraging but most are deeper in the bush feasting on a good crop of berries…

Orange-belted bumblebee visiting Goldenrod …

The long antennae indicate that this is a bee, probably one of The Solitary Bees.

A male  Twelve – spotted Skimmer perched on a dogbane bush. See  Libellula

Short antennae indicates a hoverfly.  I have seen this one quite often, judging by its unique eye colouration:

Highbush cranberries are ready to be picked and processed into jelly.   That recipe writer refers to the wet running shoe stink of these cranberries.  It will linger in the kitchen for a while.

White-faced Meadowhawks are abundant these days.  These members of the Skimmer Family will be around for another month, depending on temperature.

This “wheel position” is why Sympetrum obtrusum will be around for a while ….

Here are a variety of views of Fragrant White Water Lilies ….

It seems that this might be an ambush spider of some sort on the fall aster.  It must be hunting for very small prey.

Pearly Everlasting are ready to be used as dried flowers for the winter ….

These Tamarack cones are all brown now, maturing by opening up their cones to release their seeds  over the next month or so.

Brilliant Orange Hawkweed is still blooming ….

This White Admiral is in pristine shape, possibly a second generation?

Andrew passed on this Eclipse Megamovie … a timelapse of still shots made along the path of totality … mainly the sun’s corona but some showing Baily’s Beads and the Diamond Ring

*  Here is a very approximate estimate of the position of moon when the early sun photo was made.  Both the sun and moon are moving with respect to the observer.  Their changing positions are affected equally by the spin of the earth.
If Earth stood still, Moon would appear to be moving around Earth at 360º/month or 360º/30 days or 12º/day or 3º/6 hr  (Actually the Sidereal Month is  a bit shorter than 30 days (~27.3 days) so Moon will be moving a  little faster than 3º/6 hr.
So in that early morning photo Moon is about 3º or about 6 Sun diameters to the right of Sun  — about half ways to the right hand edge of the photo.   Right, Andrew?


Actually Moon was about 6 Sun diameters up about 45º to the right (or more precisely at our co-latitude ( ~44.2º) with respect to the horizontal) when the early morning Sun was photographed through the haze.  Both Moon and Sun follow a path across the sky which is inclined depending on our Latitude.  If we were at the equator the sun would rise vertically in the east and set vertically in the west giving short lasting sunrises and sunsets.  For observers at the poles the sun makes a circle around the pole parallel to the horizon —- when the sun is visible.


Andrew sent along this image which shows the position of Moon at the time that the first image of Sun was made.  He used “Starry Night Pro” to make the image.

moon position




20170817 A trip to Yesterday’s Resort

After lunch at the French River Inn we took Hwy 607A to Yesterday’s Resort, built in 1923 as a CPR executive retreat.  It was opened to the public as a fishing and “recovery” resort.  It has hosted King George VI and Queen Elizabeth and many other celebrities including Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable.  Up to 150 guests can be accommodated in a variety of buildings, mainly 2 bedroom cottages.   No, this is not a marketing blurb since it appears to be unused.  Most of the buildings are in disrepair with trees growing through the tennis court.  I decided not to make any photographs there since I didn’t want to record such an apparent loss.

Instead here are some flora and little critters we saw along the roadway …

A fly mimicking a bee on Tansy …

Roadside Fragrant White Water Lily …

One of the many Fall Asters in full bloom …

This Orange-belted Bumble Bee is foraging for nectar and pollen.  (Pollen sac on leg.)

This insect is nectaring on a White Spirea:

Drop of water on leaf of a Spotted Touch-me-not.

A lot of White Admirals are around these days.   Although this on is quite worn, perhaps a second brood has metamorphosed.

It spent several minutes collecting nectar from a fresh Joe Pye Weed blossom.

Syrphid fly on Evening Primrose …

A nice picture of a Queen Anne’s Lace.  Click on the image to get an enlarged version.

Staghorn Sumac fruit … also worth enlarging…

Syrphid on Goldenrod …

This long legged spider was moving around in a bunch of Goldenrods …

Another wasp, I think.   Look at that strange antenna!   (Up close)

This Red Osier Dogwood has blue berries instead of the typical white —— perhaps indicating a cultivar?

Look at the eyes of this spectacular Hover Fly (I think!).

Syrphid approaching a Fall Aster…

Another bumble bee foraging on a thistle … pollen sac on rear leg.

We are experiencing some high cloud a couple of hours before the eclipse on August 21.

So our eclipse might be photograph-able later today.   We’ll see.

20170815 Skerryvore Community Road scenes

On the way back from Parry Sound we stopped at Norse Brewery at Wood’s Road.   A good excuse to detour to Skerryvore Road for some scenes.  Here is some of what we saw…

Looking into the sun…

Looking down-sun:

This looks like a Soldier Beetle on a Boneset flower.   Common Boneset, judging by the leaves clasping the main stem.

Soldier Beetles mating.   These look like Goldenrod Soldier Beetles, who are also known as Pennsylvania Leather Beetles.

Milkweed pods are almost full size … ready to finish the maturing process.


Terrestial Swamp Smartweed:

Bombus ternarius nectaring on Common Boneset …

The Cornell Lab has reviewed a new report describing the challenges facing migratory forest birds.  Check out the review here:




20170815 Dragonflies, Berries, Blooms and a Hawk

After a short visit to Grundy Lake Provincial Park we saw these scenes on Hwy 522…

A White-faced Meadowhawk resting on a fern frond…

Pearly Everlasting are ready be picked for winter dried flower arrangements.

The long contact between the eyes indicates that this is a Darner.    The question is: which one?  This interesting website gets into that detail… at  “A Useful Field Mark For Darners: The Dorsal Stripe On Abdominal Segment 2”.  Neat stuff.

Close up of contact between the eyes and the nature of the pattern on the abdomen just aft of the thorax…

Close -up of abdomen, including clasper….

Close-up of wing venation

So I think that the above Dragonfly is a Variable Darner.


Blackberries are ripening.   A good crop this year.

This hawk flew up from the roadside and played “peek-a-boo” with the photographer.

Careful maneuvering of the “mobile blind” led to these shots.  Click on the images to get closer…

A final profile portrait ..   Click and expand the photo to get a clear picture of the reflections in that sharp eye….

Broad-winged HawkAudubon B-w H.

It could be a Coopers Hawk, or even a Red Tail.

Lots to learn, eh?




20170814 Reposting of 20150814 Trip to Moose Lake via Hwy 529 …. some bugs and blossoms

This post was entered as a “Page” in error back in August 2015!   Now, in August 2017 I am moving it back into the blog two years after it was photographed and written.

That will leave “Pages” ( Home, About, Gallery, Making Pictures, & others to come later) up in the title block as ongoing references.

Here is the original August 2015 posting.  Not much has changed.  Moose Lake still serves very good ice-cream.

We saw a lot of late summer activity.  Here are the highlights.

This grasshopper’s flight resembles a high speed butterfly.  Study grasshoppers.


Keeping track of the photographer…


Last of the milkweed blossoms attracting bees and butterflies in need of nectar …


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Pods are forming quickly ..


Yet another nectar source for the last of the Monarchs.

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Jewelweed is a well known soother for poison ivy.


Joe Pye Weed flower head is an uncommon place for a grasshopper.


Joe Pye Weed just starting to bloom….


On of my favorite summer (and winter indoor) flowers …  Pearly everlasting.

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A source of nectar for this butterfly (duskywing skipper?)

EDIT:   Nope!   Try American Lady.


Stowing proboscis prior to flight ….


Bumble bee visiting purple loosestrife


This shows why purple loosestrife is considered to be an invasive specie in our wetlands:


After stopping for a “moose tracks” ice cream cone at Moose Lake Trading Post, I headed back to Britt and saw some towering clouds on the northern horizon…..  the subject of yet another post to this blog.

You’ll have to go back to the 2015 Archives if you’d like to see the posts either before or after the original post.

20170811-13 Local Great Blue Heron, bugs, berries and blooms

This Great Blue Heron was seen on the bank of the stream that crosses the intersection of Hwy 529 and Hwy 645.   It was very skittish and took off while I was adjusting my camera to capture its take-off.   Next time ……

The Highbush Cranberries are ripening, soon to be raided by many birds and mammals…

Very dense seedhead of Sow Thistle

Ripening Chokecherries …

A White Admiral and a Viceroy are gathering some moisture from a driveway on Old Still River Road….

Male Whitefaced Meadowhawk

Female contemplating approach of a meal …

Another male…

Yet to be  identified pretty little flower …

Although I read that some longhorn beetles consume nectar I couldn’t see any evidence that this one was getting any.

Syrphid fly on a blossom of a Black Eyed Susan ..

Very strange but colourful changes  in the chlorophyll of these emergent Red Maple shoot…

Yum Yum: Prunus Virginiana

This shows why the specie name of this Viburnum is trilobum

Another Viburnum with a very different leaf.

Late season Leonard’s Skipper nectaring on Joe Pye Weed…

A pair of Bluets mating …

This might be a female immature bobolink on the railway track ballast …

Mary Holland tells about your competition when harvesting beaked hazelnuts.

20170807-09 Local Ducks, bugs and blossoms

We enjoyed a few days of warm sunshine, which brought out some pleasant summer activity.

Mom and ducklings enjoy some rays …

Nectaring at a Boneset blossom…

Boreal Bluet pausing …

White Wild Spirea in mid bloom …

Twelve Spotted Skimmer poised on a stick …

Pickerel Weed nearing the end of its bloom period.

Nice Fragrant White Water Lilies  c/w their reflections …

This chlorophyll has not yet changed to the version that absorbs red  colours.

Spotted Jewelweed or Spotted Touch-me-not is at its peak bloom now ..

Complicated tubular blossom …

Tamarack cones have changed colour and are letting their seeds mature.

The white berries of Red Osier Dogwood are ripening …  Mcphail Woods:

“Berries are a preferred food of ruffed grouse, northern flicker, downy woodpecker, eastern kingbird, common crow, gray catbird, American robin, Swainson’s thrush, evening grosbeak, cedar waxwing and purple finch. They are well utilised by dozens of other species of songbirds, particularly during fall migration. The branches and foliage form dense summer cover, offering protection and nesting sites for species such as the American goldfinch. Flowers are an important source of pollen for honey bees. Red squirrels, chipmunks and raccoons include red osier dogwood in their diets, while snowshoe hare and beaver browse the twigs in winter.”

Unfortunately we are now experiencing very overcast skies.   So we can’t get in on this fake new story!!

Too bad!

20170806 Local pollinators, Virgin’s Bower, Cherries, Charles Robertson

All of these pictures, except for the birdie, were made along the Old Still River Road, a stone’s throw from home.  The birdie was nibbling on some roadside sand (or salt) along Hwy 607.  It was a warm windless day, nice for picture-making of wee critters at lunch …

The oval eye suggests that this is a solitary bee of some sort.  The big load of pollen indicates that it might be a female preparing its “nest” to lay its eggs.  I have corresponded with Brits who are now providing nesting tubes for many of these native bees.  This is a good article about solitary bees.

Here are various hoverflies nectaring off of hawkweeds along Old Still River Road …


Two hoverflies…

Another hoverfly.

A sharp-eyed observer will notice that the three above photos are at the same flowerhead.

Pretty but fiercely invasive Purple Loosestrife has been gradually spreading northward over the last 20 years.

I have a very fuzzy photograph that plainly shows the black legs and black thorax streak which identifies this Clearwing as a Snowberry Clearwing Moth nectaring in a patch of Heal-all.

White-faced Meadowhawk on a Spreading Dogbane leaf…

Syrphid approaching Chicory blossom for some nectar …

After much humming and hawing I’ve concluded that this must be a Brown-headed Cowbird.

“Cowbirds are smaller and shorter-tailed than other members of the blackbird family, with a shorter, thicker bill. The brown head of male Brown-headed Cowbirds can be difficult to see in poor light, so body shape and bill shape are the best clues.”

Clematis virginiana (also known as devil’s darning needles, devil’s hair, love vine, traveller’s joy, virgin’s bower, Virginia virgin’s bower, wild hops, and woodbine) is blooming up on tree trunks, on tag alders and prone, along the ground:

Red Osier Dogwood fruit is ripening …

Prunus serotina, commonly called black cherry, wild black cherry, rum cherry, or mountain black cherry, is ripening.   The little clasps where the stem attached to the fruit distinguishes this specie of Prunus from the shrub-like Prunus virginiana, commonly called bitter-berry, chokecherry,Virginia bird cherry and western chokecherry.  Chokecherries have similar blossoms to black cherries and similar fruit.  Black cherries are nicer to eat and make a nice wine.  This clump of black cherries has a visitor ….

Choke cherries …

Black cherries with a little green visitor

Yesterday I had a very good discussion with a very knowledgeable and forthright Chief Naturalist at Grundy Lake Provincial Park.  I hope that she will help me learn about the flora and fauna in this neck of the woods.  I am especially interested in the effects of a changing climate on the relationships among various flora and fauna especially during the spring.  This primer on the subject was written 10 years ago when climate change was more of a scientific debate than a political debate.  It appears that the answer to Will Plants and (their) Pollinators Get Out of Sync?  is, unfortunately, becoming YES.

It is not surprising that Illinois Wildflowers ,  a wonderful website that relates plants with their fauna associations (See this example.), is authored in the same State where John Robertson did his landmark work over a century ago.  His Flowers and insects; lists of visitors of four hundred and fifty-three flowers    is now a foundation to the study of plant/insect relationships.  What a wonderful little site that last link takes us to!

I just HAD to take screenshots of the entry for one of my favorite spring ephemerals: Spring Beauty … the specie that is prevalent up here is Carolina Spring Beauty … Claytonia caroliniana

Can you imagine the patience and knowledge required to observe and record all of these visits?!

Can you imagine what Robertson would have done with a modern digital camera?   Born a century too soon!

One of these days, I might go back through my photographs and see if the blooming times for Spring Beauties is changing.

20170804-5 Burwash and Hwy 529

Quick trip to Burwash to visit with the Burwashians who had their annual reunion on the long weekend.  Nice re-visits.

On the way in we saw this American Kestrel looking for prey from the top of a fence post…

On the way back we saw this Eastern Kingbird from the Old Still River Road …

Then down to Hwy 529 to get this pair of Spiraea spp side by side  …. tomentosa and alba ….

Yellow Goatsbeard plume is always interesting to photograph.

Changing chlorophyll …

Queen Anne’s Lace seen from a different point of view …

Common milkweed pods are forming quickly …

I made the above picture because I was wondering about the pollination processes of the Common Milkweed.

In my research I came across The Nature Institute (  “The question is not what you look at — but how you look and whether you see.” – Thoreau )     Craig Holdrege is its Director and has written this fascinating Story of an Organism: Common Milkweed.   It is downloadable and is becoming a valuable reference for me.   He begins and ends his Story with this quotation from Aldo Leopold:

All I am saying is that there is also drama in every bush, if you can see it. When enough men know this, we need fear no indifference to the welfare of bushes, or birds, or soil, or trees. We shall then have no need of the word “conservation,” for we shall have the thing itself. Aldo Leopold (1999, p. 172)
I am beginning to realized that the Common Milkweed is much more instructive than only being a bountiful source of nectar for a legion of pollinators and the host of Monarch Butterfly Larvae.

20170801 Camp Eley Telephotos

We used the Panasonic-Leica 100-400 mm (200-800 mm EFL for 35mm format) on the GH4 to compose scenes in front of (North Channel) and behind the residence at Camp Eley.   Here are some images of what we saw …

North Channel looking southerly towards the north shore of the west end of Manitoulin Island.

Gulls coming and going …

Paul’s Inuksuk..

30+ footer sailing eastward in North Channel.

Graceful lines of a Tern, probably a Common Tern ,  as it cruises the shoreline for minnows.

Dax ID’d this is an Osprey.  An alternative is an immature American Bald Eagle…

Canada Goose inspects Paul’s Way Marker ….

Mink scrambling along the slippery rock …


Stormy weather to the East …

In the “back yard” we saw lots of critters, including this Ctenucha virginica , with coiled proboscis, having lunch with a hoverfly or a wasp.

Yum, Yum.  Feasting time….

Perfect location for this Killdeer …

Hoverfly on mustard …

Mustard at a perfect stage for steaming  .. like Rapini.

A first for me….Blackburnian Warbler.  It showed for a very brief visit so I didn’t hear its voice.

This Song Sparrow was silent, no songs….

Mustard Blossom is home for many little critters.

Bumble Bee loading up on nectar while carrying a big load of pollen on its legs …

This Hoverfly is also positioning for some nectar from the tubular Mint blossoms …

Northern Flicker is visited by a friend …

Looks like my friend isn’t stopping to say hello!….

Cornus canadensis (Canadian dwarf cornel, Canadian bunchberry, quatre-temps, crackerberry, creeping dogwood) are forming ripe fruit with seeds within.   Said to be edible, with an apple-like flavour.   I haven’t tried them.

Little Wood Satyr on a spruce twig …

Impatiens capensis, the orange jewelweed, common jewelweed, spotted jewelweed, spotted touch-me-not, or orange balsam is blooming, identifying the plant as one of the useful ones for treating poison ivy.

Ripening Wild Hazelnut on the Camp Eley Road north of the Railway Crossing.

We had a great time at Camp Eley and hope to get back this fall to see the fall migration and the Bald Eagles fishing for salmon spawning in nearby streams.  Great hosts make it a very pleasant spot.