20171007 McDougall Township loop showing autumn colours

We left Bowes St, Parry Sound, went east along McDougall Road, then North through Hurdville, to Waubamik, up The Bunny Trail to Boundary Lake and back along Hwy 124 to return along Hwy 69 with a stop at Site Nine.

McDougall Township was named after William McDougall, one of the “Fathers of Confederation” and is one of the three (Seguin, McDougall, Carling) large rural townships bordering on Parry Sound.

Here are some of the fall scenes visible from the car:

Haines Lake from McDougall Road …

Looking north from McDougall Road, west of Deer Run Golf Course….

McDougall Road, east of Deer Run Golf Course.

Further West on McDougall Road … before the Hurdville Turn-Off.

Road off of the Lorimer Lake Road …

Looking West from Bunny Trail…

Looking northerly at the CNR level crossing of the Bunny Trail

Looking westerly near the boundary with Whitestone Township, south of Stibler’s Road…

On the way back, looking easterly …

Looking east from  Lorimer Lake Road…

Looking northerly from the Site Nine Road off of Hwy 69…

The intermittent showers gave us some damp leaves, making them a bit more “showy” than dry leaves.

Good information on colour formation in leaves.

20171004-05 Trip to Powassan

We made a presentation to nature photographers in Powassan and met some new friends.   Click on “20171004 Powassan, End of Summer Sights” under “Presentations” on the right hand side of the above Brtthome’s Blog title block.  Here are some of the sights we saw on the way there and on the way back.

Balsam Creek Rd, eastbound…

Shed roof architecture …. exposing solar panels to the south, where Sun is behind those clouds …

Alsace Rd on the way to Commanda …

Commanda Heritage Centre,  at the corner of The Old Nipissing Road and Hwy 522.

You can see a bit of roof behind the right hand second floor balcony.   This is what it looks like up close…

Near Bear Valley …

Looking south between Ess Narrows and Hwy 69.

Near Pakesley

  We enjoyed a very nice time in Powassan!

20170924-30 End of September sights

Here are a few photos of what was seen over the last few days …

Milkweed pods are ripening to reveal and to disperse seeds attached to filmy “parachutes”.

Some pods still have Large Milkweed Bug nymphs (and an adult) feeding on the (immature) seeds contained inside the pods…

This year a few Common Yarrows are found very late in the year.

Many leaves are changing colour as the green-light-reflecting-chlorophyll is being modified by the plant as it maximizes its energy reserves (remobilization) for approaching winter.

Raspberry leaves …

Leaf from Large Leaved Aster

Traces of yellow and green remain along the inner veins as this process proceeds on this Red Osier Dogwood leaf…

I am beginning to realize that grasses and sedges also go through similar processes to recover as much nutrient as possible each autumn.  This mixture of grass, rush, sedge  and leatherleaf is much yellower than it was last month:

Good article:   The Science of Color in Autumn Leaves

According to Mary Holland spiders are now preparing for winter in New England.

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“.