20180610-12 Birdies, bugs and blooms

Spring is here!  Lots of new things to see.  Some familiar sights too — like this Mallard cruising through the duckweed on a pond along Hwy 522…


Yellow pond lily with visitor, possibly attracted by the alcoholic scent of the blossom:

Orange hawkweed up close.  Click on the picture to get even closer…

Fern frond enjoying a few minutes in the sunshine….

When I first saw this, I thought that it was an Eastern Phoebe.

Then it flew away …. not an Eastern Phoebe.  But what is it??   Rictal bristles indicate an insectivore.   Some sort of fly-catcher??

Nice picture of buttercup.  Usually difficult to photograph because of its shiny surface.

The purple pitcher plants are continuing to grown along Highway 529 …


Another buttercup…

Pollen floating on a little pond (or is it floating in the sky?)

Solomon’s plume

Ox Eye Daisy visited by a nectaring Flower Fly.  (aka Hover Fly, Syrphid Fly)

A little skipper on the sphagnum moss …

Another skipper (duskywing?) nectaring on cow vetch …

Common Yarrow is attracting lots of pollinators …

I heard this Merlin near the end of Riverside Drive.  Click on the “Listen” button in the link to hear what I heard.   I think that it might have a nest in the area.

An iridescent European Starling posing for the photog….

Wild roses are adding their beauty and fragrance along the roadsides…

I have no idea what this birdie is.  Finch?

As usual, I am learning that there is lots to learn in nature!

A good place to learn:




20180607-09 Swallowtail, Song Sparrow, Grouse, Tree Swallow, Brown Thrasher, Forest Tent, Crab Spider, Wasp

We are seeing more and more springtime flora and fauna out and about nowadays.  Some samples:

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail butterflies are still nectaring on a variety of blossoms including black cherries and lilacs.  Soon we may see its caterpillars on some of the black cherry leaves.  Something to watch for.

Canada Anemone in full bloom.  The greenish pistils are surrounded by yellow-orange male stamens/anthers.

Red Osier Dogwoods are blooming, occasionally visited by pollinators, usually native  bees and flies.

In almost every thicket, Song Sparrows serenade passers-by.

This Ruffed Grouse paused on the side of the road, permitting this portrait.  Click on the image to get closer.

This unknown plant has been blooming along damp roadsides for about 2 weeks. It is about 15 cm high and each cluster is about 3 cm in diameter, each containing several flowerlets about 0.5 cm in diameter…..

A nice Northern Starflower (Trientalis borealis) in sphagnum moss….

This  Great Lakes Sandcherry, Prunus pumila, might be of the susquehanae  variety.  It is seen near the end of Riverside Road, growing as a shrub about 60 cm high.

Pale Corydalis are still blooming in their natural rockeries.  I have yet to see Yellow Corydalis or Golden Corydalis.

This Tree Swallow is near its swallow bird box on Riverside Road.

This Brown Thrasher (or its relatives) has been seen in the same area (say 100 m X 50 m) for the last several years.

An infestation of Forest Tent Caterpillars on an Aspen along Riverside Road.  3 adjacent Aspens were infested.  They were treated with the soapy water solution and expired.

This bumblebee is nectaring on this raspberry blossom.  Notice the pollen baskets on the rear legs.

Uh!  Oh!  Look at what is hiding behind these raspberry flowers!  A flower (crab) spider ….

A wasp gathering a few rays of sunshine on a warm rock….

There is some research which indicates why this sort of image helps to relax people…



Click on the following to enlarge it.  If possible go full screen on your monitor to enjoy it.  Nice?

Mary Holland reports that the Pearl Crescent butterflies are emerging in New England.  I think that I’ve seen some Northern Crescents around here.

20180606 Late spring flowers, rock pigeon, eastern kingbird, pearl crescent, skipper, merlin

We stopped several times along Hwy 526 to enjoy some blossoms, butterflies and birdies…

This is the most uncommon cherry in our neigbourhood — Great Lakes Sandcherry

It grows up to about 75 cm.

This shrub is also low, but is usually seen in tamarack and/or spruce bogs — Labrador Tea.

Along the rocky roadside of Hwy 529 is this clump of Purple Pitcher Plants….

Sparse blooms on this Canada Mayflower….

Aha!  Two parents now.  One chick.

Wild roses are just starting their long blooming period…

This rock pigeon was pecking at insects along the roadside…

This pair of Eastern Kingbirds with their white-tipped tails were hawking insects from Dave and Irene’s pagewire fence…

As Rick Cavasin says at his website, “The Pearl and Northern Crescents were declared separate species relatively recently, and there is still some question as to whether there are additional species in this complex.  In any case, distinguishing them is problematic, as everyone seems to use slightly different criteria to tell them apart.  As such, my identifications here should be taken with a grain of salt.”    Here is more information on the Northern Crescent.

This little critter looks like a Hobomok Skipper

Here is a Syrphid (Hover or Flower) Fly nectaring on a early Oxeye Daisy …

Nice rock reflection seen from Skerryvore Community Road, off of Shebeshekong Road.

A good crop of Cottongrass looking west from Shebeshekong Road in the Shawanaga Reserve.

A nice example of Iris versicolor (Blue Flag Iris)

First showing of the much-maligned Orange Hawkweed (also called the Devil’s Paintbrush by some folks in BC.)

The spring sun backlights this Cow Vetch , another plant considered as invasive by some folks.

This Merlin surveyed the photographer ….

… before flying off into the Wild Blue Yonder ….

Some beautiful photography and text here:  https://dragonfliessmile.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/mushrooms/

Here too:  https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2018/06/13/bunchberry-flowering/


20180602 Canada Anemone, Tiger swallowtails, dragonflies

Sunny warm weather brought the flowers ahead quickly but the most impressive sights were the swarms of Canadian Tiger Swallowtail nectaring on the Choke and Black Cherries.   I can’t tell the difference between the Canadian Tiger and the Eastern Tiger but since these are north of the Bruce Peninsula I assume that they are Canadian Tigers.

Click on these pictures to see the details of these Papilio canadensis 





Bees were busy too ….



I didn’t see the bluet until I had the lens focused on the dragonfly…

Very stubby dragonfly.  I see that I’m going to have to work at educating my eyes to be able to ID these Odonates.   I have the very authoritative Field Guide to the Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Park and the Surrounding Area, but I haven’t yet taken the time to study it properly ….

I am still seeing these yet-to-be-identified moths deep in the grass, sedges and equisetum.

Here and there we are seeing Northern White Violets in full bloom…

I don’t know why there is a bluish tinge to the “petals” of this Cornus canadensis (Canadian dwarf cornel, Canadian bunchberry, quatre-temps, crackerberry, creeping dogwood) .  Those “petals” are actually bracts which start out to be very green when the flower (inflorescence) is immature.

A couple of nice pictures of Canada anemone ….


Catching the light is an important part of making nice pictures.


Interesting information about White Tailed Deer here:


20180601 Clearwing Moths, Dragonflies, Blooms, Nuthatch and Fox Snake

June brought in a nice variety of sights in the Britt neighbourhood.

Here is a Songsparrow on a dead cedar tree in my field.   I usually hear them first thing in the morning …

Common Cinquefoil in all of its glory blooming on the shoulders of Riverside Drive…

Hummingbird (or Snowberry) Clearwing Moth nectaring on dandelions at Steve and Barb’s turnaround.

The pale legs indicate that it is a Hemaris thysbe

Its proboscis is starting to unfurl as it approached the dandelion blossom…

I am beginning to think that this unknown dragonfly might be a white faced meadowhawk(?).   Who knows?

Here are two views of a Dreamy Duskywing(?), I think….

Click on the images to get a bit closer ….

A little patch of Solomon’s Seal near the end of Riverside Drive …

The bold black eye stripe and white eyebrow identifies this nuthatch as a Red-breasted Nuthatch.   It is nesting in a dead Jackpine tree over a clump of junipers that protects the Solomon Seal above…..

This is what a small silvery blue butterfly looks like through a zoom lens set at 200 mm Effective Focal Length.

And this is what it looks like when the lens is zoomed to 800 mm EFL:

This is a crop of the above from 4608 x 3456 pixels to 2341 x 1756 pixels:

And this is what the butterfly looks like at 8oo mm EFL cropped down to 1150 x 863  pixels:

This side view of the undersides (ventral) of the wings helps to identify this active little butterfly as a Silvery Blue.

Flitting around nearby was this female Silvery Blue

A nice little clump of starflowers

Chalk-fronted Corporal resting on the roadside …

This Eastern Fox Snake was crossing the road, heading for the shrubbery along the shoreline, probably in pursuit of birds eggs in the nests there.

Different colour, head shape and no rattles make this easy to differentiate from the Massasauga Rattlesnake.

The Ontario (Carolinian and Georgian Bay) populations of Fox Snakes is under stress so every effort should be made to protect them and their habitat.

A week of pleasant weather is forecast.  Maybe I’ll get Floatboat II (my trusty pontoon boat) organized for some tripping out on Georgian Bay!

20180531 Cross country trip of flower spider on a windy day

In the early afternoon I noticed a white “blob” swaying in the wind on a blade of grass.  Upon closer inspection with the telephoto lens it appeared to be a flower (crab) spider, Misumena vatia.

Over the next 45 minutes I watched that spider travel about 3 metres downwind into a bunch of emerging Canada Anemones.   Most of the time I was looking through the Electronic View Finder of the camera, trying to follow and keep focus on that little piece of white bobbing in the strong gusty wind.   I managed to get a few pictures.

In all cases below, the wind is blowing from left to right.   The wind drifts the spun silk downwind towards other blades of grass and seed heads.  Usually there are several filaments blowing it the wind at one time.  They appear to be at least a metre long.  Click on photos to get close-ups.

Then, after a filament connects to something downwind, the spider climbs along it to a new position.

Resting on a seed head …

It went down that blade of grass to hide in ambush on the dandelion flower.   The approaching Syrphid fly didn’t land on the flower — a wise move!!!

Then the spider went up the stem to the seed head and began to splay our filaments of silk….

It then tightened the silk, pulling the seed head towards its destination …

and then it arrived at the next seed head….

There are several filaments connecting this seed head with the target downwind …

This is the only image that I managed to get of the spider “enroute” to the next seed head.

This is where the spider was headed, one of several Canada Anemones about to bloom…

Here it is ready to release some more filaments downwind to tangle in the blades and seedheads of the grasses.

I have to conclude that these spiders only travel downwind this way.  This indicates that the architecture of cobwebs is affected by the wind at the time of construction.

Lots to learn out there.

This is what is happening at high elevations in New Hampshire these days:


20180530-31 End of May flowers and insects

The occasional wild calla lily is blooming in the ditches along Hwy 529.

Interrupted ferns are now full size, illustrating how the fertile segments (pinnae) “interrupts” the fronds of the fern…

Every springtime I am reassured to see this nice patch of Pink Ladyslippers on the property I had on Riverside Road.  22 years ago there were about half a dozen blooms — so they are doing well ….

Sometimes I see these reddish leaf remnants on Black Cherries (P serotina), never on Choke Cherries (P virginiana).   Another identifier when looking at small trees?

We have a small number of Blueberry blossoms this year.  I fear that the absence of pollinators will result in a small crop for 2018.

Starflowers are in their diminutive glory ….

And soon the wild ( Virginia) strawberries will be ripe for little (and bigger) critters to snack on…

I am still trying to identify this small flower.  The stalks are about 15 cm high and grows along wet mossy roadsides, often along with wild lily of the valley…..

Eastern tent caterpillar on a Chokecherry shrub. Eastern tents attack cherries predominantly.

The other common tent caterpillar, the Forest Tent Caterpillar  is at a population maximum in Northeastern Ontario this spring and is causing defoliation of Sugar Maple and Poplar trees.  If it is just a one-year attack the trees will probably recover with no ill effects.  Attacks for several years in a row can cause damage or even death to the affected trees.

This Native Elm tree died about 5 or 6 years ago.  Now it provides a home for a food source for Pileated Woodpeckers, the architects of this structure:

This Yellow Warbler seems to be having a conversation with the birdie (below) on the same tree.

This Eastern Phoebe was flitting its tail and talking back to the warbler with its characteristic “feeee beeee” sounds…..

This might be a meadowhawk.  Hopefully I’ll see more examples as the season progresses.  In the meantime I’ll peruse a new (to me) website:  http://www.pbase.com/tmurray74/bugs

As Andy Fyon says, “Fanleaf Hawthorn or Fireberry hawthorn; shrub or small tree; also known as New England hawthorn.

The last of the Trilliums ….

This might be a Dreamy Duskywing …..


Latest from Mary Holland:  https://naturallycuriouswithmaryholland.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/newly-emerged-dragonflies-vulnerable/

20180529 Squirrel, Flycatcher, Otter, Dragonflies and Spring flora

We saw this American Red Squirrel feasting on Staghorn Sumac fruits, a change from its usual diet of seeds from conifer cones.

This Great Crested Flycatcher surveyed the photographer from its perch on this dead limb…

… and then went back to surveying the area for prey …

I  saw this beastie scurrying through the junipers near Community Road in Britt.  I tried to get to the clearing in time to “capture” it.  Alas!  Too late!  All I got was its characteristic hump at 1/200 sec.   It’s the first time I’ve seen an otter in such terrain so I’m including it here.


Interrupted ferns are reaching their interrupted phase nowadays….

The tightly closed flowerheads of the Purple Pitcher Plants along Hwy 529 are about 15 cm above the base now.

Another unknown Dragonfly:

Aha! This one is easy to ID as a male Chalk-fronted Corporal

A nice example of a Blue-eyed Grass, of which we have three:  Common Blue-eyed Grass, Slender Blue-eyed Grass and Stout Blue-eyed Grass.  All are members of the Iris family of flowers.

A  Bunch:

Another unidentified beastie … this time a little (~1 cm wingspan) tan moth(?), well camouflaged.

Another tiny beastie, about 1 cm bow to stern, Skipper-sized, but I cannot ID it.

This one hung around long enough to get a defining picture:   A Northern Wild Raisin in bud:

Mother Goose still on her nest …

Solomon’s Plume (AKA False Solomon’s Seal is about to blossom while it hosts a visiting hoverfly:

The last of the spring ephemerals are fading quickly….


This is what Allen Norcross posted earlier today:


…. a good indicator what we’ll be seeing next week!

20180526-28 Blooms, birdies, bugs

Spring ephemerals are in full or fading bloom as the canopy is often leafing out.  The migrants have either passed through or are establishing families.   The pollinators are on the flowers and the predatory insects are filling up on blackflies.  Remember to click on the images once or twice to zoom in for a proper look.

The Great White Trilliums are fading from white to pink:

The last of the Trout Lilies are blooming in the deep woods.  Like many spring ephemerals, Trout lilies reproduce asexually, producing corms to develop colonies.  That is a good strategy to counter cold late springs when the strength of pollinators is limited.

The early summer flowers are emerging such as this Canadian Columbine.  Its brilliant fire red colour and nectar attracts Ruby Throated hummingbirds, Bumble and other native bees, and Butterflies.  They are easy to propagate from seeds and are good candidates for self-seeding wildflower gardens :

Pin cherries are the first of our four wild cherries to bloom.

This female American Redstart is gleaning the Tag Alders at Big (Gereaux) Lake.  She is probably building a nest in the mixed Alder, Poplar, Cherry, Ash scrub near the lake.

And this gal was eyeing the photographer from a high perch on a late Ash tree near my house.  I hope that she decides to stay.

The yellow streak in front of and above the eye helps to ID this Savannah Sparrow.

This pair of Common Grackles are probably nesting along Riverside Road east of Wright’s Marina.  Grackles belong to an interesting family of birdies, the Icterids.

Icterids make up a family (Icteridae) of small- to medium-sized, often colorful, New-World passerine birds. Most species have black as a predominant plumage color, often enlivened by yellow, orange or red. The species in the family vary widely in size, shape, behavior and coloration. The name, meaning “jaundiced ones” (from the prominent yellow feathers of many species) comes from the Ancient Greek ikteros via the Latin ictericus. This group includes the New World blackbirds, New World orioles, the bobolink, meadowlarks, grackles, cowbirds, oropendolas and caciques.

This American Bittern has been serenading Dave and Irene, morning and evening, for about a week.  Listen to its unique sound, either on the “overview” webpage, or at this link.

The American Bittern above was about 100 metres away, stretching my eyes and the 100-400 lens to its maximum reach.

Closer in, this Eastern Kingbird entertained me with its skillful hawking of insects from its perches on a page-wire fence.

At times I felt that the photographer was entertaining this birdie!


This Dragonfly was moving around on the gravel of a driveway.   I cannot ID it using the Guide at OnNatureMagazine.  Help!

And, finally, here is a Blanding’s Turtle showing its bright yellow/orange throat while crossing Hwy 529.

Here are some threads that I am following:






Lots of interesting text and photography in the above.


20180525 Trip to Loring, Trilliums, Blue Coshosh, Jack in Pulpit and birds


Reflections of trilliums in a vernal pool

We made a day trip to Port Loring to see the trilliums in all of their glory.

Here they are as seen through an Ultra Wide Angle 14mm EFL lens:  (Click on the images to zoom in.)

Sharp-eyed viewers will notice the pink trillium 1/3 from the left in the 14mm EFL shot above and the stinking Benjamin 1/3 from the left in the 14mm EFL image below…

Similar area, this time with a “normal” 70 mm EFL lens:

Compare the above wide angle images with this telescopic image below — made with the 800mm EFL lens.  I wanted to show the texture of the petals as a result of light rain…


All of the rest of the pictures in this post were made with my 200-800 mm EFL lens.  

I find the fractal textures in the image below to be appealing.

This group of Turkey vultures formed this classic image out of old western movies but on the Old Still River Road….


The light rain gave some texture to these Amelanchier canadensis (?).  Unfortunately they all suffer from some sort of blight and I’ve not seen any ripen to maturity in the Britt area.   Too bad as their berries make a very nice pie.

Blue Cohosh on Old Still River Road, nearing the end of its bloom.

Young Jack-in-the-pulpit behind Dore’s Camp at Key River …

Peek-a-boo on Hwy five two two!

All of the following pictures were made on Balsam Creek Road, a little loop off of Hwy 522 east of Ess Narrows. I usual make the detour as the flora in that rich forest is very interesting … and pleasant………..

First time seen this year.  First time ever seen on a trillium.  I normally start to see them in early June when the lilacs are in bloom.  Hemaris diffinis or Hemaris thysbe

Two nice photographs of stinking Ben…

The first of the viburnums are in bloom with their characteristics infertile blossoms attracting pollinators to the fertile inner blossoms.  The simple but heavily veined leaf identifies it as a Hobble bush.

Clintonia borealis is also known as blue-bead lily or Clintonia, also Clinton’s lily, corn Lily, cow tongue, yellow beadlily, yellow bluebeadlily, snakeberry, dogberry, and straw lily and will be blooming in rich hardwood forests over the next few weeks… usually signalling the start of our purple ladyslippers…

These Carolina Spring Beauties are continuing to bloom.  Illinois wildflowers describes the closely-related Claytonia virginica.

Walter Muma  compares the two species:

Carolina spring beauty.

Narrow-leaved spring beauty.

Books about photography say that real photographers should make pictures of an odd number of blossoms.  The one above breaks the rules.

So I had to include this one:

And this is an odd number of stinkin’ Bens:

This Red-eyed Vireo was busy gleaning the new maple leaves at the west end of Balsam Creek Road.

Mary Holland has some interesting comments about Male American Redstarts

Rich has published his Memorial Day weekend forecast for the Mid Atlantic States — a good indicator of things to come up here in the sticks.