Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More Scenes From the Bruce

That dragonfly I was unsure about is a Black Meadowhawk.  It is common farther north, but rare in the south. It was certainly not one I expected and one I have not knowingly seen before.  I saw the insect and snapped a quick photo to check on later.  I often do that and sometimes it pays off!  Thanks to Bruce Ripley for suggesting the ID and Bill Lamond for confirming.

Black Meadowhawk (young male)!

The Bruce Peninsula provides endless opportunities for the naturalist.  Not only are there many spots for birding, but the botanist can have a field day (or week).  The Bruce is one of the best places in Ontario to find rare plants and orchids.  I recall in my earlier days that Dennis Rupert would talk about spending much of his time up there.  Often, he and Ross Brown would go there to observe orchids.  Ross lives in Tupperville just east of Wallaceburg and is still doing well.  He has made some significant discoveries in his lifetime with regards to orchids. Some plants are associated with his name and are mentioned in a handy identification guide that I picked up recently.

There is a series of books put out by the Owen Sound Field Naturalists that are useful.

The alvar habitats create a unique ecosystem where one can find some of these plants.

At Dorcas Bay
The Dorcas Bay was formerly owned by the Federation of Ontario Naturalists and a favourite place of mine.

One of the most accessible spots is Petrel Point Nature Reserve owned by Ontario Nature.  It is located near Red Bay off Huron Road.  As a member of Ontario Nature (formerly Federation of Ontario Naturalists) I knew about this fen a long time ago.  I joined the FON in 1987 and have stopped there many times since the early 1990's.

I am not adept at identifying rare plants, so I will stick to birds and butterflies!  I photographed a few plants along my way.

Rose Pogonia

Grass Pink Orchid

Horned Bladderwort

Tall White Bog Orchid with Pitcher Plants

No Idea!

Here are some more insects.

Variable Dancers
Although I can find these damsels north of Wallaceburg along the Sydenham, I saw a bunch at a pond in MacGregor Point P. P.

Appalachian Brown out of focus

Gray Comma

Aphrodite Fritillary on Spotted Knapweed

Saw lots of those fritillaries plus some Great Spangled (and mangled!) and possibly Atlantis.

Monday eve I played with settings on the camera at sunset.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Plovers, Dragons, Leps on the Bruce

The last couple of days I spent in Bruce County.  I year ago I did a similar trip and it was time to take a couple of days off again after a couple of big jobs got completed at work last week.
Sunday morning I headed straight to Port Elgin where Piping Plovers nested on the beach.  It has been a long time since I have seen a Piping Plover.
This is a new location for them!  They are easily seen at the pier area where you can park for free.  The adult bird was accompanying four young birds.

It was neat to see them scurry around the fenced area and hearing the occasional piping sound.

I camped at MacGregor Point P. P. where I usually do.  The rest of Sunday afternoon was spent in the park looking for whatever was to be found.  The sun did not come out until around lunch time so butterflies were not moving much.
I walked around the Tower Trail first.

Chalk-fronted Corporal
Frosted Whiteface

Next was the 4 km long Lake Ridge Trail.  One area of this trail can produce a variety of butterflies.  An old field area had lots of Common Milkweed were I found several Acadian and Coral Hairstreaks among Peck's and other skippers.  I was getting worried this year not having seen an Acadian yet, but here I found some beauties.  I think the Acadian is the prettiest hairstreak!

Lots of Peck's Skippers were on this trail.

My next walk was the visitor centre area and along the lake. A boggy area near the VC can be interesting and I found some emerald dragonflies. They did not sit still for any length of time, but with the shape of the abdomen, I knew they had to be Racket-tailed Emeralds.  I had never taken note of them before.

There is a little peninsula north of the VC that has a nice edge to look for butterflies.  Here I found some Aphrodite Fritillaries, Tawny-edged Skippers and others.

Just by sheer luck, I spotted some movement on distant Swamp Milkweed.  I could not get close due to the high water this year, but it was obviously a Dorcas Copper.  Turns out that was the only one I saw this trip! Last year I got them at Petrel Point nature reserve.

highly cropped!

Coral Hairstreaks were along here too.

What a Beauty!

I saw various other dragonflies including this one which I am not sure to species.

may be another emerald?

Also this one which is probably teneral.


Monday was spent on the peninsula.  I drove The Bury Road which has some nice pastures and grasslands. Lots of Eastern Meadowlarks and Grasshopper Sparrows were there but no rarities.  Always the potential though......
I drove down Dyer's Bay Road just for fun.  Would have been nice to get back out to the Cabot Head Lighthouse, but that was just too far for this trip.  I some Sandhill Cranes here.

Dorcas Bay was on the agenda next. Obviously very heavy rain fell over the weekend as the trails were flooded!  I managed to get around though.  Butterflies were few, but one area had lots of Tawny-edged.
I spotted a Long Dash in the same spot as last year!

Dragonflies were around including this Four-spotted Skimmer.

At the fen, a couple of interesting dragonflies were flying about.  They looked like emeralds, and it took a long time for one to perch.

Oscellated Emerald

Had to look this one up, but obviously an Oscellated Emerald.  Another one I had not taken note of before!

After lunch in busy Tobermory, I worked my way back stopping at various places.  One spot was Petrel Point nature reserve which I have been visiting for over 20 years.  Just a neat spot to observe rare plants/orchids and see some insects as well.  More on the plants later.  I did see Dusky Clubtail dragonfly once again this year, but butterflies were very scarce.  An Eyed Brown was very co-operative at the trail start.

On the way home today, I stopped at Inverhuron P. P. for a walk along the rocky lakeshore.

Before lunch, I stopped at Pinery P. P.  It was obvious to me that the butterfly count last month was too early for hairstreaks this year.  First hairstreak I saw was a Striped.

I saw several Coral there today especially on Butterfly Milkweed. That milkweed is very prolific this year everywhere.  Most I have ever seen!

The only duskywing of the trip was this Wild Indigo at Pinery.

Just for curiosity, I also walked Karner Blue property.  There were several Coral there as well!

Edwards' Hairstreaks were plentiful too.  A couple of Banded were around also.

One of the nicest Edwards' I have seen!

Just for the heck of it, I stopped at Moore WMA just before getting home.  I had some Striped Hairstreaks and one Hickory.  So, this trip I managed to see all the usual hairstreaks!

Sunset MacGregor Point 21 July 2014

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Butterflies Today...NOT!!

I had plans today to check Point Pelee for butterflies.  All week the weather forecast looked really good, but....late Thursday "they" decided it was going to rain on Saturday.  Worst possible day for rain as the Sarnia boat show was on as well.  Second year in a row!  Hopeless....

I went to Pelee anyway.  As I drove by Hillman, the Dickcissel was singing away on the wire.  I first saw it July 5 and had not heard anything about it since.
This time of year I like walking out Shuster Trail and heading down the east beach and back up west beach.
There was not much in the way of precipitation as I headed down the trail, but then it really did rain as I got to the sand.  I kept going and just south of the pilings I kept watch on the lake under a tree.
Of note, one adult Little Gull flew south with a few bonies.
After it let up a bit (not really enough) I started walking again.  A large mass of gulls got up from the Tip area as some tourists spooked them.  Some landed beside Sparrow Field.  I picked out 3 Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  One was a first summer and the other two were second cycle birds I think.  I did not look too hard in the drizzly weather!

The Tip was virtually tipless today, so I walked back west beach trail getting thoroughly soaked.  I had already written off butterflies for the day, but amazingly I saw some.  First was an American Lady.

I got up to six Summer Azures, and off Black Willow was a Red Admiral.  I was trying to look at gulls there as there were hundreds.  About 7 or 8 Black Terns were out over the lake at that location.

At Northwest Beach I checked off a Monarch, and that was it for leps today.
It might have been a good day for butterflies if the sun was out!

Working my way home, I stopped at Wheatley Harbour in hopes that a Brown Pelican was on the rocks. No such thing there.

Might as well listen for the Dickcissels east of Wheatley too.  They were there as usual.

I got a tip from the Nethercots that some shorebirds were in at Stewart Wetland near Wallaceburg.  Before going home I went straight there.
FOY Stilt Sandpiper, two Solitary Sandpipers, two Lesser Yellowlegs, three Least Sandpipers and a Short-billed Dowitcher were the notables.

Solitary Sandpiper #1

Killdeer, Least, Solitary, Stilt

lone dowitcher

On to better things tomorrow....

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dukes' at Reid CA

I got off work early this afternoon and took some time at one of my favourite (and closest!) places, Reid CA.  A number of Dukes' Skippers were flying around.  I found some were away from the shaded sedges, as I often do, and one was quite some distance from where I usually see them.  In fact it was where the Broad-winged Skippers reside. Could not get a good photo of it though, even though it was virtually at my feet!

I did see up to three Broad-winged but could not get on them with the camera.

Mosquitoes were not too bad today as I got myself into the sedges to look for Broad-winged.  These skippers seem scarce so far.

The Dukes' Skippers are quite dark and look somewhat like Dion which has a more orange upperside and a less distinct 'ray' on the underside.

The Dukes' I confirmed at Reid back in 2008.  Elsewhere in Lambton County, Dukes' Skipper has been recorded on Walpole Island.
It is found in several locations in Essex County.
In Chatham-Kent it has been found in Wheatley P. P. and according to the butterfly atlas a location east of Tilbury, a long time ago.  Apparently one was found last Sunday (Brenda Kulon) in the Rondeau P. P. marsh as I mentioned previously.

Could not get a good look at this one...
???? !
According to what I read in the Ontario Butterfly Atlas (1991)  Dukes' Skipper was first discovered in Ontario by A. M. Holmes 11 July 1968.

I looked for hairstreaks as well, finding many Banded and a few Edwards'.

Edwards' Hairstreak

Appalachian Brown