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.


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









20170614 Hwy 529, Cow Parsnip, Ox Eye Daisy, Brewer’s Blackbird, Painted Lady, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, Monarch, Blanding’s Turtle


Hwy 529, Cow Parsnip, Ox Eye Daisy, Brewer’s Blackbird, Painted Lady, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Clearwing Hummingbird Moth, Monarch, Blanding’s Turtle

At 20170613  there is a photo of Cow Parsnip with this advice:

Near the Twin Rivers Bridge, at the confluence of Harris Creek and Naiscoot River, there are many Cow Parsnip plants growing along the roadside.  Although they are somewhat phototoxic they are not as deadly as their look-alike close cousin, Giant Hogweed.

A nice little explanation showing the difference is at this link.   It makes sense to avoid both plants.

This photo shows a slightly later stage of development, as the sheath unfolds to show the flower head emerging to eventually form an umbel, the characteristic inflorescence of the carrot family.

Roadside Ox Eye Daisies are in full bloom now, attracting and feeding many pollinators … and enhancing the roadside.


When I first saw this bird I thought that it was a Red Winged Blackbird.   But NO RED.   And it certainly wasn’t a female.  Too small for a Common Grackle.  I eventually decided that it was a Brewer’s Blackbird, an uncommon sight for me.  Here is some interesting background on that bird in this neck of the woods.

Note size, yellow eyes and iridescence as this birdie takes a load of protein to its nest….

Painted Lady on a yellow hawkweed.   Good news for Albertans this year!


Eastern Tiger Swallowtails are also feasting on newly flowering yellow hawkweed.

  This was a surprise.  My first sighting of a Clearwing Hummingbird Moth on orange hawkweed.  The flowers had just opened today.

Proboscis is starting to uncoil for arrival at the next feeding station.

First one of the season!  This year’s migration map indicates that they’ve been here for about a week.  This is a great site.

I had seen some Viceroy Butterflies earlier but couldn’t get a photo.  Here is a great exercise for telling the difference between Monarch, Viceroy and Queen Butterflies.

A large Blanding’s Turtle is checking the photog out from a safe distance.  It slipped into the water afterwards.

Here’s an interesting news report about new crops for BC agriculture.

20170609 Grackle, Chalk Fronted Dragonfly, Cinnamon Fern, Tamarck, Wild Calla, Common Yarrow, Pitcher Plant, Blanding’s Turtle, Tachinid fly.

Grackle, Chalk Fronted Dragonfly, Cinnamon Fern, Tamarck, Wild Calla, Common Yarrow, Pitcher Plant, Blanding’s Turtle, Tachinid fly.

Common Grackle preening …

Yellow Pond Lily with visitor …

Male Chalk Fronted Corporal

Unknown Odanate

Fern ID exercise

Hmmmm.  Nice little flower about a 2 cm in diameter, occurring in some damp roadside ditches ….

Three unknown Lepidoptera ….  If you can ID any of these unknowns please give us your thoughts by commenting.   Thanks.

EDIT:   I think that the above is not a butterfly but the Common Gray Moth aka Anavitrinella pampinaria.  (I’m still working on the two below!)

Tamarack cones are maturing …

Cinnamon fern

Calla palustris (bog arum, marsh calla, wild calla, and water-arum)

Common Yarrow are starting to blossom, providing nectar for visiting pollinators …

We went back to the site of the Pitcher Plants on Hwy 529 to find some visible “pitchers”.   All were hidden by dense tangles of grass, sedges, and various leaves.  I decided not to disturb any as they provided places for insects to drop into the “pitchers” thereby feeding the plants.   At this time of flowering they need all the nutrient they can get.

Species at Risk:  Blanding’s turtle.

Tachinid fly on first day of a blooming Ox Eye Daisy.

20150608-09 Local birdies and turtles are active

On Monday we trekked in on the Forest Access Road and saw a flitting Yellow Warbler.


The Highbush Cranberries are starting to bloom with the typical (Viburnum) sterile attractor blossoms surrounding the smallish fertile blossoms.


The goslings are growing very quickly.


All turtles,( Spotted, Blanding’s, Painted and Snappers) are nesting nowadays, often on the shoulders of roads.  Lady Snapper :



Tuesday was a  calm clear day, very nice for getting out in the blackflies!

I saw and photographed my very first Blackburnian Warbler.  It was very elusive, flitting from branch to branch



A skipper(?) on a blue flag:


Blanding’s turtle



.. shares a pond with a Painted…




Culvert is  getting clogged.  Roadway will flood in a couple of days unless the backhoe comes along to unplug it.  Beavers doing their thing!



Long shot of very very wary Great Blue Heron.



These guys are also singing.  Proper little divas!



Wood Duck on the Old Still River Road creek.


I think I saw about two dozen turtles the last few days.  A MNR biologist stopped and queried me about what I was seeing.  Apparently the Species at Risk group have blown my cover!    He also noted the intense nesting season this year.



Experiment:   Extremely bright reflection of direct sun off of lily pads.  At the limits of the lens/camera:  f/8 (f/22 equivalent for full frame cameras in terms of DoF and Diffraction) and 1/16,000 second (shortest shutter interval for this camera.)   Worth clicking on to see the specular reflections.  Converted to B&W.


Nice back-lit sprig of Wild Rose.



Jonathan Livingston patrolling Marlene’s Chip Stand.


“PLEASE, give me a french fry!”


Up to Sudbury tomorrow for a change of scenery.  I might detour to Burwash on the way home, if time and weather permits.