20170923-24 Foggy mornings in Britt and on the Forest Access Road

Combinations of clear nights, very light winds, and a humid stable air mass give (fall, winter and spring) conditions which lead to the formation of overnight radiation fog.

As the earth’s surface cools due to nighttime radiation, the humid air in contact with the surface cools below its dew point.  The water vapour in the air then condenses to form fog.  The fog usually dissipates when morning sunshine warms the air from above.

Here are some photos of morning radiation fog:

Westbound Canadian National freight reflected in the Still River across from Gerry’s place on Riverside Drive (Hwy 526).

Still River from Riverside Road near Jane Street.

Still River from Old Legion Road…

The fog was being “burned off”, evaporated into water vapour, by the morning sun as we looked out over Byng Inlet from in front of Keith’s place on Riverside Road…

At a gentle anchor on a still morning …

St Amants new docks are brilliant in the morning sun….

On the following morning, under similar weather conditions, we drove along the Forest Access Road, encountering these scenes of the morning sun illuminating radiation fog.

The fog persisted in low areas as it evaporated on higher ground…

When side-lit the fog occasionally showed ground level crepuscular rays

Even in bright morning sunshine haze remained over swamps and valleys.

Finally the fog cleared, leaving dew-moistened autumn leaves for the photographer to enjoy and share.

There is a lot of free advice on the internet about autumn photography.  These suggestions seem helpful for enthusiasts.

The frontal passage on the last weekend in September will encourage migrants to get on with their journey.   Mary Holland reports the unusual numbers of Painted Ladies travelling through New England this year.

EDIT:  See Correction to Painted Lady Identification.


20170921 Dabbling Mallards,Tussock Moths, Paper Wasp, Winterberries, Northern Black Wasp, Milkweed Bugs, Sandcherries

Warm dry weather stimulated a lot of animal activity in our neighbourhood.  Some examples:

Mallards are dabbling in the mud for fresh greens as they gradually make their way south.

Milkweed Tussock Moth caterpillars are eating some milkweed leaves prior to overwintering in a grey fuzzy cocoon.

Paper wasp nectaring on the last of the goldenrods…

Hoverfly on fall aster …

Whiteface Meadowhawk is resting on a winterberry leaf….

This Ilex verticillata shows its brilliant fruit amoung the rocks at the eastern shore of Riverside Drive.

Northern Black Wasp (AKA Great Black Wasp ,with very interesting characteristics ) on goldenrod …

A bunch of Milkweed Bug Nymphs on Milkweed seed pods:


    “The large milkweed bug feeds on the seeds of milkweed plants. In the process, this bug sequesters toxic cardiac glycosides from its hostplant. The bright reddish-orange and black color patterns of the nymphs and adults are aposematic colors advertising toxicity.  The milkweed bug is a member of the order Hemiptera (true bugs), family Lygaeidae (seed bugs).  The development of the milkweed bug from egg to adult is an example of Hemimetabolous development (incomplete metamorphosis).  The young nympths closely resemble the adults, but do not have wings or reproductive organs.
“In the field the female milkweed bug lays her eggs in crevices between milkweed pods.  A female lays about 30 eggs a day and 2000 during her lifetime.  Egg-laying begins 1 to 15 days after mating and peaks at about 20 days.
“At  84 degrees F the egg stage lasts four days.  The color of the egg gradually changes from yellow to deep orange as it nears hatching.  The newly emerged nymph is about the size of a pinhead and is bright orange.  The nymph grows by a series of molts.  The stages between molts are called instars.  There are five nymphal instars, each lasting about six days at 84 degrees F.  The adult lives for about one month.”

Probably a white faced meadowhawk or kin ….

Monarchs are still heading south and getting energy from fall asters ….

This is the Great Lakes Sand Cherry often harvested, along with Choke Cherries and especially Black Cherries, to make wine or jelly.

Warning: The seeds of all Prunus species found inside the fruits contain poisonous substances and should never be eaten. Sensitivity to a toxin varies with a person’s age weight physical condition and individual susceptibility. Children are most vulnerable because of their curiosity and small size. (www.wildflower.org) Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where most, if not all members of the genus produce hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavour. This toxin is found mainly in the leaves and seed and is readily detected by its bitter taste. It is usually present in too small a quantity to do any harm but any very bitter seed or fruit should not be eaten. In small quantities, hydrogen cyanide has been shown to stimulate respiration and improve digestion, it is also claimed to be of benefit in the treatment of cancer. In excess, however, it can cause respiratory failure and even death.

Some Fragrant White Water Lilies are late blooming:

A busy time of year before a more restful winter.

20170917 Half an hour with a Great Blue Heron

We watched a Great Blue Heron from the car as it moved along the weeds and docks along Riverside Road near Mill Island.  The car proved to be an effective “blind” as the bird preened and hunted for frogs.

This is what we saw:   (Click on any photo to enlarge it.  Click on your Browser’s back button to return here.)




During the photo below the GBH held its head perfectly motionless while it moved its neck slowly from side to side, about the thickness of the neck either way.  I don’t think that it was gular fluttering.  It seemed more like a pre-strike or perhaps a threatening activity.



Up, up and away …




Local residents say that this is the second summer that this GBH has patrolled that particular location.







20170915-17 Local and Burwash Kestrels, Syrphids, Polistes, Fall Colours

It has been hot and dry over the last while, muting fall colours but stimulating insect activity, especially on fall asters.

Here are some examples:

This Red Maple, Acer rubrum,  in front of a slowly turning Sugar Maple, Acer  saccharum, is caught in some back-lighting which  enhances its colouration.

The colouration of “turning leaves” is caused by the plant’s ability to withdraw precious leaf nutrients back into the branch, buds and roots, during abscission, prior to leaf fall .  When the nutrients are withdrawn the nature of the leaf’s chlorophylls change  to reflect the red, yellow and purple parts of the visible sunlight spectrum.

The timing, length, intensity of the fall colours are affected by a variety of plant stressors such as extreme temperatures, soil moisture, wind and rain, and disease.

This is gives a good layman’s explanation, clarifying much of the mythology surrounding “fall colors”:  http://www.usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/FallFoliage/ScienceFallColor.html

This American Kestrel  was seen perched high up in a Jackpine tree along Hwy 529.  The smallest of falcons, it is abundant in North America where it is used in Micro-falconry.

This unidentified hawk was hidden a long ways away off of Hwy 529.

The quirkly named Spiranthes romanzoffiana, Hooded Ladies Tresses,  little orchids, are abundant in roadside ditches …

Most of the wild cherries have disappeared, eaten by a variety of foragers.

Syrphid flies, aka Hoverflies and Flower flies, are very active, collecting pollen and nectar from fall Asters.

One could spend a long time learning to identify all of them:



Northern paper wasps, Polistes fuscatus, seem to be looking for places to construct new nests…

A little visitor on this white Amanita muscaria, under the pine trees at the Moose Lake Trading Post.

The weak colours of this Sugar Maple at Burwash are enhanced a bit by a breeze and cross-lighting from the left:

American Kestrel at Burwash, probably fledged from the nesting box on a power pole in the old townsite…

Sunlight through the morning fog on Hwy 529 illuminates the needles of this well-flagged White Pine:

Just below and to the right of the above pine, these dew-wet Staghorn Sumac leaves are back – lit by a weak sun to reveal their colours.

It seems that the best time to capture fall colours is early morning, when the leaves are wet with dew and the sun is low.  Back-lighting and side-lighting seem to bring out the colours optimally.

Shooting down-sun at midday seems to sub-optimal when the colours are bland to begin with.   We’ll have to check this theory out during some future autumns.

We have lots to learn as we adapt to a changing climate.  Even a painter on the Faroe Islands is subject to the “vagaries of nature“.

20170913 Up close to blooms, bugs, berries and a Great Blue Heron

Morning fog brought another opportunity to roam with camera in hand.

Here are some scenes, many of which are worth clicking on to enlarge (Use your browser “back” button to return to this URL) :

Seeds are developing on this Virgin’s Bower vine …

Bumble bee and hoverfly visiting the last of the Goldenrods for nectar …

This looks like a hoverfly, resting on a leaf …

Birds, and others, have stripped all of the berries from this Black Elderberry bush …

but foragers have just started on this bush…

Some of the Elderberry shrubs have produced a very late flowerhead …

A few highbush cranberries on this twig …

Lots more here:

A good crop of Northern Wild Raisins this year ….

Mature berries providing energy for flying insects …

A (shield?) beetle is visiting the remaining berries on this Bristly Sarsaparilla ..

Several generations  of Cabbage White butterflies have been seen this year.  The latest generation will overwinter in their chrysalis to emerge as butterflies next spring —— to terrorize cabbage family farmers.

This unidentified moth is visiting a fall Aster …

This ambush spider is lying in wait for a visiting meal…

This long-legged spider may be  awaiting a meal or maybe starting a web …

Their fellow arachnids spin webs to entangle their prey …

This is on some asparagus plumes that I planted about 20 years ago …

We are still seeing Monarch caterpillars.   If these make it to the butterfly stage they will enter diapause for the long trip to Mexico.  It is difficult to understand how this individual’s progeny will arrive in the Britt area 3 or 4 generations later.

Some reindeer lichen on shield lichen on a Jack Pine twig …

Dew on Butter and Eggs

Hooded Ladies Tresses are blooming in the wet roadside ditches.  This little orchid was beaten  by the Bunchberry in the Competition for Canada’s National Flower on July 1, 2017.

It has been reported that this GBH has been returning to the Britt area for several years …




The abnormally dry hot fall weather is affecting a lot of the local flora and fauna.  An interesting topic to ponder and study.



20170911-13 Fog on Manitoulin and near Britt

A high pressure dome gave us clear cold nights, causing condensation of humid air resulting in morning fogs.   Some examples …

Looking East before sunrise at 10 Mile Point.  Venus is in the blue about 1/3 in from the right.

I fell asleep in the car and missed sunrise.

On the way back to Bass Creek Resort I saw these scenes to the East …

Back in Britt, this was seen from Riverside Drive near the St Amants family home….


Still River from Old Legion Lane …

Relaxed anchor rode on this morning….

Does the dock lead you to a horizon?

Looking across Byng Inlet to the hamlet of Byng Inlet from Riverside Drive in Britt.

Fog has lifted to reveal turning leaves….


This short video arrived this morning:   A Grateful Day.



20170903-04 Remnants of Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey became a Post Tropical Cyclone  which died out as a Remnant Low over our area over the Labour Day Weekend.  Here are some of the effects that Harvey had on our neck of the woods:

Highway 529 was flooded for a couple of days ….

Threatening skies between rainshowers …

Low clouds, reflected, after a rainshower in calm conditions …

White Water Lilies had their leaf and flower stems stretched as the water levels rose.

Lots of drops ….

Fruits are wet …

Hydrangea in subdued back-light.

Hollyhocks collecting raindrops …

Great Blue Heron is grabbing a meal between showers ….

Got it!

“When will it ever dry out?”

“This rain never seems to stop.”

A good time to do some preening for the photographer.

Meanwhile life goes on as this unidentified chrysalis matures.

This Goldenrod Crab Spider has lost its camouflage on this Brown Eyed Susan

Water doesn’t seem to bother this Paper Wasps’ domicile….

A moment of dry sunshine brings out the pollinators …

A final reminder that Harvey has visited North America.

This Tuesday, Sept 4th, Pointe au Baril price is about 25 cents/liter higher than normal.  Possibly a combination of Labour Day Weekend  and Post Harvey pricing strategy.

As (Climate Scientist (?)), Bob Dylan said, “The Times They Are A-changin‘”

Come gather ’round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You’ll be drenched to the bone
If your time to you is worth savin’
Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin’