Sunday, August 7, 2016

Muskoka Trip: Browning Island

I spent the last three days in Muskoka visiting friends and exploring nature.  One of the highlights was getting to the interior of Browning Island, Lake Muskoka's largest island.  Although it was not the best time of year and my time was quite limited, it was interesting.
I was lucky enough to stay at Shirley McIntyre's--a very good friend of ours.  She has a cottage at the north end of the island, originally built by her parents back in 1941.  I have been there a few times before, but never ventured to the interior of the island which is uninhabited.

Browning Island has a long history with occupation going back to perhaps the 1870's.  The Archer family set up a large farm on the interior in the early days, and remnants of the fields are evident today with large open areas of the interior.  However, they have been growing in due to natural succession.

Shirley arranged for me to meet Kathy Ristic, who's family has a cottage on the west side of the island. Kathy has been heavily-involved with the Muskoka Conservancy.

The conservancy has acquired land for nature reserves throughout Muskoka including a large portion of the interior of Browning Island.  The reserve on the island has come about over several years, starting in 2004 with the co-operation of various landowners on the island.  The reserve currently occupies about 338 acres which includes upland forest, small wetlands, streams, and some of the former farm fields.

On Saturday morning, Kathy met me at Shirley's property and we ventured up the slope to the interior of the island.  Some of the high points of the island show bare rock.

There have been surveys done to see what wildlife and plants species are present, but it is certainly far from complete.
There has been a list of plants and mammals done, as well as insects, but is far from complete.

Needless to say, I  would think there is more out there to be found.

Kathy and I walked for over 3 hours going through a variety of habitats.  Some of it was along the power line corridor, which circles the island to feed the cottages.  Hydro came to Browning Island in the mid 1940's, so these corridors have been around since then.  I found the most variety of insects along these.

However, during the course of the walk, the only lep I saw was a single Cabbage White!  Obviously it was not the best time of year, and surprisingly the open areas had no butterflies, despite ample nectaring sources.

Dragonflies were most common along the corridors.  This one was the most common, which may be a Black-shouldered Spinyleg.  I hate trying to ID dragons, and with no net, it was tough. LOL!

A few White-faced Meadowhawks were around.

This one was a bit different in the clubtail family near the end of the walk. Dragonhunter?  Dragonhunters are found on the island in any case.

There were lots of these darners, probably Lance-tipped.

Back in July 2012, while visiting his friend Linda Hughes, Bob Curry checked out the island and made quite a list of leps and odes.  He wrote an article in a September 2012 issue of The Muskokan.  I do have a copy of that article.

The old field areas were getting quite overgrown, and it wore me out trying to get through!  Red dogwood was quite thick.
Most of the birds I saw were around the edge of the old field.  Nothing unusual.
Here is an eBird list:

Our morning walk was enough for one day.  Perhaps something in the nature of a bioblitz would increase the list of species within the nature reserve an give us a good idea what is present.

Koilos (900 kg statue near Browning Island!)

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