Friday, June 24, 2022

Bugging and Musseling

 Today I stayed fairly local, visiting familiar haunts.  I started the day by doing some more bird atlassing north of here and walking at W. Darcy McKeough CA.  Then looking for insects and mussels!

Mosquitoes are finally getting annoying.  I did one interior point count and it was difficult to concentrate on the birds!

I checked on the situation at Reid CA and the Oak Hairtreaks are doing well.  Upon arrival I found eight.  With the hot temps, earlier in the day is better, as I found out when I went back mid-day there were few to be seen.


Some Banded Hairstreaks were seen as well.

One may have been a Hickory, but it was one of those "tweeners" that I did not get a good look at.

Next week I will be looking for Dukes' Skippers!

I then went up to Moore WMA for the first time this summer.  The Ragweed is doing well again!  Among some butterflies I saw the first Appalachian Brown of the year.

I went to the river's edge to look for mussels.  Blue-tipped Dancers are common here.

A Stream Bluet was in its usual pose.

There were not many mussels, as the river was still a bit high, but the first one was a nice Pink Heelspitter.

A few Maple Leaf and Deertoe were at the crossing, among Fragile Papershell.



I checked for hairstreaks, and the only one I saw was a Northern Oak!

I went back to Reid on the way home, and found the first Royal River Cruiser (my favourite) of the year.

Only two or three Oak Hairstreaks were seen in the afternoon heat.

Not too many odes today.

Pronghorn Clubtail

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Odes, and More Odes!

 Today was all about odonates.  A survey of odes was planned at Sydenham River Nature Reserve which straddles Lambton and Middlesex Counties.  It was the second year in a row, and will likely be an annual event!

We did not start until 10:00 (no need to start earlier for insects!), so I took my time travelling to the place by doing some point counts for the atlas, and walking in one spot.  I also spent about 40 minutes at the bridge crossing the Sydenham near the reserve.

A few odes were seen there, including American Rubyspot on the river, and other things.

Blue-tipped Dancer

Midland Clubtail

A good variety of birds was there as well.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The reserve was divided up amongst several counters.  I did the two upper fields with help from Anne Goulden.  I found it a bit on the quiet side and we did not find two key species, namely Arrowhead Spiketail and Rusty Snaketail.

Most common dragonfly was Common Whitetail, closely followed by Twelve-spotted Skimmer.

female Twelve-spotted

Blue-fronted Dancers were present by the dozens, plus some Eastern and Fragile Forktails, a few Familiar Bluets and an Azure Bluet.  Slender Spreadwing was added as well.

Familiar Bluet

We did get two Swift River Cruisers, nice large dragon.

After finishing up, we walked back the laneway and stopped to talk to other counters.  James Holdsworth spotted a dragonfly go to perch right beside us.  Turned out to be a Mocha Emerald!  Possibly new for the site.

It was the most drab one I have ever seen, so probably was teneral (just emerged).  We had difficulty identifying it at first.

Afterwards, I traveled south to Mosside Line with Pete C, Paul C. and Scott C. where we found some Great Blue Skimmers.  This impressive dragonfly was one I was looking for yesterday, but the crappy weather (cool and very windy) had some bearing on me coming up empty.

It is a rare species, but sometimes regular in Ontario.  I have only seen two others previously.

We then went down to Wardsville Woods in hopes of finding the Cobra Clubtail.  There is no doubt that is what I found yesterday, but some seem to be hesitant in confirming my ID!

We did not find a Cobra, but did find two separate Arrowhead Spiketails!  A nice way to cap off the day.

I do not have the results of the other parties yet, but it will be interesting to see what was turned up today.

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Outings, Odes, Odds 'n Ends

 This is one of my favourite times of year with long days and lots to see, especially with insects.

Seeing the spiketails last Saturday was certainly a highlight, and I seemed to have visited on the right day!  I went there today, and there was not much to see, but there were a couple of good sightings.  Apparently both the Arrowhead and Twin-spotted Spiketails were first records for Middlesex County!

Last Sunday I went to Point Pelee for whatever reason.  I just took a chance, since I have had some good gulls there at the Tip this time of year.  Nothing unusual though!  As expected, some pelicans were at the Tip.

I took my time heading up west beach trail, but yet again, very few insects.


I have spent quite a bit of time at Reid CA lately, but then I alway do this time of year.  Tuesday, I came across a Pronghorn Clubtail.  I think the first one for there, but I get lots up the road at McKeough.

Widow Skimmers have come out in numbers lately.

And, still quite a few Racket-tailed Emeralds kicking around.

I have been looking for Dickcissels in my area, but have come up empty.  Yesterday morning I went down to Fletcher just to see one and get my fix!

Yesterday I spent lots of time at Reid, looking for birds, but as usual, the place is not crawling with them.  

In the "big" tree section, I admired a very large Chinquapin Oak.

The dbh is probably 4'.

After birding, I looked for Oak Hairstreak.....and....found one!  The first for this year, but a well-known person saw one two days previous.  I did not know till later.

I also saw one Banded Hairstreak.

McKeough had a few Pronghorn Clubtails.

Today, I thought I would go back to Skunk's Misery.  However, it was one of those "off" days.  Perhaps the cool temps and strong wind had something to do with it, as it was "off" every place I went.

I first walked Sitler Woods again.

American Chestnut

Then checked other areas, including my favourite trail off Sassafras.  Saw a fledgling Chestnut-sided Warbler, but could not get a photo.  An adult was nearby singing.

Will have to check this spot next weekend, as there could be Oak Hairstreak here! (one was found last year).

Of course, I had to go to Wardsville Woods.  I was disappointed as there was not much to see in the way of odes and unfortunately no sign of any spiketails.

However, there were a few Swamp Darners at the back.

One spot had some clubtails that may be Cobra.  Nobody seems brave enough to tell me otherwise on iNaturalist, so I will have to leave it at that.

The Cobra is rare in Ontario..that is all I know.  They are very similar to Midland (which is common), but I looked at the photos at home.  I am not familiar with Cobra of course, so I may be wrong.

The club is shaped like a cobra head.

Saw the first couple of frits today.

Afterwards, I headed west and briefly stopped at Tecumseh Monument along the Thames to check out the riverbank.  Some American Rubyspots were flying.

Before getting home, I swung around to Reid CA and observed one Oak, and one Banded Hairstreak.  Too windy to get decent photos!

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Things With Wings and Ode to Joy

We have had some good weather recently, despite some heavy rains.  I thought it was finally going to be a drier year, but NOT!  Boots have been a necessity for walks in the woods this week.

It has been an intersting spring.  I have found that there are fewer birds in most locations than in the past.  Butterflies have been scarce as well, perhaps due to the cold spring.  Odonates have done well though!

Late Thursday, I went for a walk at Reid CA.  Still lots of dragonflies, and as I mentioned before, Racket-tailed Emeralds and Four-spotted Skimmers are in big numbers this year.

Friday, I decided to do some bird records for the atlas.  I did not find anything spectacular, but a Mourning Warbler at Port Lambton was a decent find for the area.

Late morning I got the urge to go to Mitchell's Bay south shore nature trail. Surprises can be had there on occasion!  Nothing unusual, but some turtles were putting themselves on the map.  

Map Turtles

There were oodles of them!

A nice Black-crowned Night-Heron was in the same ditch.

Halloween Pennant

The afternoon was so nice, I could not pass up a long walk at Reid CA.  The woods were rather quiet (again!).  
Still lots of Racket-tailed Emeralds and Four-spotted Skimmers.  I have never seen so many as in this year.  

A couple of Juvenal's Duskywings were still hanging around.

A Grey Comma was nearby.

On the road I found a Fox Snake. Not often I seen them anymore.  This is one I remember when I was kid, where we found lots of them.  Unfortunately, many of them were roadkill.

Today, I thought it was a nice time to go to Skunk's Misery.  I first walked Sitler Woods, a Thames Talbot Land Trust property recently acquired. 

Acadian Flycatchers have alway been at this location, and today was no exception.  They remained unseen though!

I toured the rest of the Misery for the next two hours.  Hooded Warblers do not seem to be as numerous as in the past.  I did find two or three Cerulean Warblers singing away.

An American Woodcock got in my way at one point.

Some odes along the way:

female Twelve-spotted Skimmer


Leps were few and far between.

Eight-spotted Forester moth

Not far away, Wardsville Woods was my next stop.  I have always liked this place.  It can be good for leps and odes.  Again, not many butterfllies, but some odes were flying.

A year ago, I had a large dragonfly go past me that I was certain a Twin-spotted Spiketail.  It got away and I never saw it again.  Today, I went to the spot, and immediately saw a suspicious ode perched.  I knew it had to be what I was looking for, and as I got closer, there was my target!  Just like it was waiting for me!

Twin-spotted Spiketails are certainly rare in the area, but I do not know the status of them in Middlesex.  It was a first for me!

During my stay, I saw a couple others flying around.  One for sure was a Twin-spotted, but the last one I took a photo. It was a side view, and not thinking, I assumed it was a Twin-spotted.

I got home and brought it up on the computer screen, and duh!, it looked like an Arrowhead Spiketail.  This is even rarer!
This species is uncommon to rare in Ontario, and to see one this far south in Ontario is unique.  I have seen the Arrowhead at Sydenham River Nature Reserve the last couple of years where they are known.
It was not even on my radar today, but certainly an excellent find for Middlesex.

Perhaps next weekend I will seen some Arrowhead Spiketails at SRNR when we do an ode survey......