Tuesday, July 16, 2024

The Last Few Days Amid Rainstorms

 Been quite hot and humid lately, and WET!  Needless to say, the torrential rains continue.  Last night probably record rainfall fell north of here and eastward.  (Toronto was hammered early this morning!). I was at Sarnia this morning and some area roads were flooded and fields turned into lakes.  Indeed lots of crop loss this summer, and I heard a friend of mine could not even get a crop in this year.

Not much to report, as things have been slow or just the same old same old.


Saturday I stopped by Reid CA for a long walk.  Dukes' Skippers are never a problem as they pop up along the trail.


Broad-winged Skippers were in the usual habitat.


Dun Skippers have certainly seen a bumper crop this year.  The Skunk's Misery count had a huge number, and I have been seeing lots elsewhere.


The Rondeau butterfly count was Sunday and it was a complete bust.  I did my usual area in the park of south point trail east and the south end of Harrison.  At least the weather was decent, despite the forecast which did not look good.  If I had known there would be so few butterflies, I would not have bothered showing up!  I ended up with a paltry nine species in three hours.  There was no point in staying any longer.  Summer Azures were in good number, but nothing else.  I never saw a single skipper!

Here is a Slender Spreadwing I photographed along the way.


I went home via Blenheim and stopped by the lagoons.  A number of shorebirds were in, especially in the sprinkler cells.  Nothing out of the ordinary though.

Monday was quite boring as it rained all morning.    After supper I went for a walk at Peers wetland. I came across a Common Buckeye.  They have been scarce so far this year.  It was only my second.


Today, I wanted to walk a portion of the Howard Watson trail at Sarnia.  A good section is between Modeland Road and Blackwell Sideroad.  I did not see as much as I had hoped, but maybe any things drowned overnight with the torrential rains (!).

I walked past what was once the site of the Blackwell station.


Butterflies included a few Wild Indigo Duskywings.


I saw this insect early on, that looked interesting.  The iNaturalist was way off in its initial ID!

Saranca elegans

Grasshoppers were quite active later on.


Some things got away.  At one point, I watched a Royal River Cruiser, but it never landed.  At another spot, I watched a Broad-winged Skipper, but it too never landed.

I did walk about a half km past Blackwell, then back and went west to the viewing stand at Logan's Pond.  I was hoping to see Comet Darner, but no luck.  This was the first place I saw Comet Darner about ten years ago.

Other things were flying including this Slaty Skimmer.


In the pond some turtles were floating around.  I immediately recognized one as an alien, called Red-eared Slider (or Pond Slider).


Also, a black mass was moving around.  It was a bunch of catfish (or bullhead)!


The Howard Watson Trail was once a rail right-of-way as most of you know.  The Grand Trunk Railway opened in 1859 from St. Mary's to Point Edward.  (I remember the rails under the Bluewater Bridge!). In 1882, the Great Western Railway was absorbed by the Grand Trunk, then a spur was built curving through what is now the western edge of Blackwell Trails Park down to what is now the mainline CN (which was the Great Western at the time).




Friday, July 12, 2024

More Insects, Things and Even A Mocha

 Tuesday was another humid day as I visited Reid and McKeough.  Highlight at Reid CA was another sedge skipper for the list there.......a Mulberry Wing!  I spent quite a bit of time in the "low spot" along the laneway.  That spot never disappoints.


I was fairly certain that I saw a Mulberry Wing here last year, but never could prove it with a photo.  

Other sedge skippers also observed were Dukes' and Broad-winged here on this visit.  But they are getting so regular, I did not bother to take photos of them!  Needless to say, it has been a good year for the sedge-type skippers.

While walking back, I caught sight of a Striped Hairstreak.  Any hairstreak this year is good!


Hairstreaks took a beating last year, and I think it will be a few years before they recover to decent numbers around here.

I was at McKeough previously, and did not find much at all.  Here are a few things.

Eastern Forktail duo


American Lady


Wednesday was a rain day as the remnants of hurricane Beryl passed through.  And yes, it was excessive....again!  We were just getting dried out around here, but once again everything is flooded even more than before.  Certainly a lot of crop losses with the flooded fields.

I did head down Rondeau way and the rain stopped for a while to get some walks in at Erieau and the lagoons.  Nothing of note.

Thursday, I headed down to Clear Creek to check out the old quarry.  Things were slow at first, but eventually picked up with lots of odonates.

There was at least one Comet Darner flying the pond.  It was very active, so I did not get decent photos this time.


Lots of bluets were around, but most were not close.  Highlight was Westfall's Slender Bluet, which I saw here last year.



There were skimming bluets and azure bluets as well.  But a new one for me here was Double-striped Bluet.  There were quite a few actually.


 Lots of Calico Pennants were flying, as were Black Saddlebags.  Even Slaty Skimmer.

I then headed up to Wardsville Woods which was rather disappointing for odes.  It is always hit and miss.  However, some Double-striped Bluets were here as well.


Violet Dancer appears here in small numbers.


At one point I caught sight of a Fawn Darner, but it bolted before I could get a photo.  I seem to see at least one here every summer.

Very few butterflies.

Northern Pearly-Eye

Today, I had the notion to head up to Strathroy.  I wanted to walk the conservation area in town, but not surprisingly it was closed due the high water from the excessive rain recently.  There is always lots to see there, so that was a disappointment.

So, I spent quite a bit of time at the lagoons.  There is a bit of mud for shorebirds, but no much due to the high water.  This place is always good for shorebirds this time of year.  However, there are lots of flooded fields around for shorebirds to choose from.

This place is certainly a duck factory with many broods of Wood Ducks and others.  Even Common Gallinules and American Coots breed here.

There were hundreds of Familiar Bluets, but I could not pick out any others.  A few years ago, Northern Bluet was seen here though.


Eastern Forktails were numerous as well.  I found this one which was having breakfast.  Looks like it was eating another!


A few butterflies were around, including this Wild Indigo Duskywing.


I noticed this spider at one point.

Phylloneta pictipes


Highlight was a singing Swainson's Thrush that remained unseen in the woods.  Not sure what to make of it, but I guess an early fall migrant.

I headed back west and ended up at Skunk's Misery.  I took a look for the Dukes' Skipper again.  It took a while, but I found one!



This garter snake was curled up nearby.  I hope they do not eat Dukes's Skippers!


With my keen eye, I noticed a Great Blue Skimmer flying around.  However, it bolted deep into the woods!  Obviously a few must be around right now.

I then walked my regular trail off Sassafras Road.  Highlight here was a Mocha Emerald!






I saw one here a few years ago, but never got a photo to confirm. So, yet another spot for the Mocha.

Here are a couple more garden insects from today.  I think these two are new for the yard list.

Argus Tortoise Beetle


Skimming Bluet

Seen before in the past, is the Transverse-banded Flower Fly.


 

Monday, July 8, 2024

Sifting Through The Sedges and Skunk's Butterflies

 Lately I have been seeing various sedge skippers, among other things.  It has been a good year for them it seems.  Perhaps the very wet weather in recent weeks helped them along.

A couple of days ago, I visited private property near Brigden in Lambton County. Dukes' Skippers reside here, as we have seen in previous years.  There was no problem seeing some.



The main reason I went was to look at Mulberry Wing, another sedge-type skipper.  Not often seen, or all that common, the Mulberry is a neat little skipper to see.  No problem in seeing a couple on this visit.




Broad-winged Skipper is yet another sedge skipper which is fairly common.  They have been at this location as well, but we did not see any yet this year.

There were other things to look for on the property too.  In the odonate department, we found a couple of Slender Spreadwings.


I have seen Royal River Cruisers here, but no on this visit.

This Delaware Skipper was in a bit of a worn state.


After finishing up near Brigden, I stopped by Reid CA where the other known Lambton County population of Dukes' Skippers resides (just to get my fill of them for the day!).



I did see Broad-winged Skippers here as well, so that rounded out the sedge skipper search.

Yesterday, was the annual Skunk's Misery butterfly count.  Unlike last year when it was cancelled due to rain, it was a fine sunny day and not too hot.

In the morning, I did my usual route from the west end of Centreville Drive to Dogwood Road.  It was very sparse for butterflies, which all parties duly noted throughout the day.  Normally, this is one of the "bigger" counts with no shortage of butterflies.  Likely a combination of things such as the heat spell in June and perhaps the fact that we were in between broods contributed to the low numbers.

Here are a couple of the common ones I saw along Centreville.

Monarch on Buttonbush

Tawny Emperor on gravel

Northern Broken-Dash on Buttonbush

The lack of butterflies was trumped by a find I made in a sedge patch.  Lo and behold I found a Dukes' Skipper!  Needless to say, it is new for the count history.  With my experience on this species, I had no problem calling it as such.




It was a first for the count, and perhaps Middlesex County (I have to check).

In the afternoon I wandered around the the NW portion of the count circle as usual.  There was a complete lack of butterflies!

There were lots of flooded areas in fields due to the excessive rain in recent weeks.  One held some shorebirds along Mosside Line.  Three Solitary Sandpipers and Lesser Yellowlegs stopped here on their southbound journey.



I stopped by the boat launch out Mosside Line where there used to be an old bridge.  In the past it was one of the better spots for butterflies, but try and find one this day (!).

It is a good spot to look at the river for odonates.  There were no "big" ones flying which I found odd.  Flag-tailed Spinyleg has been seen here among other things.

However, there were bluets and dancers to sort through.  The uncommon Blue-ringed Dancer is here! (but I already knew that)


Others included lots of Blue-tipped, Violet, and of course Blue-fronted.  Needless to mention, Stream Bluets are here as expected.

Blue-tipped

Violet duo

The end-of-day tally was held at the Prieksaitis home south of Rodney.  Tentative species tally for the count was at 49 when I left.  Other parties were still to report in, so that will likely change.

Today, I went for a long walk at Reid CA.  I met up with a couple from Sarnia and we spent some time together.

Dukes' Skipper were no problem as they popped up along the trail as we were walking.


I think all this very wet weather was a bonus for the sedge skippers.

At the "low spot", we had lots to see.  We thought there was a Mulberry Wing here, but maybe not.  Would not surprise me though.  I think I saw one last year here but was unable to get a photo.

Several Broad-winged Skippers were flying among the mosquitoes.


One Dukes' Skipper seemed to be quite sociable!  



It was on her had for a long time also!

It probably would have been happy to go to Sarnia, but she had to leave it there.

I then walked around the back field.  A few Royal River Cruisers were flying as expected.


I encountered my first-of-year Common Checkered-Skipper (overdue!).


Getting back to the "low spot" on the trail, I noticed a large dragonfly.  Turned out to be a Great Blue Skimmer, another rarity for southern Ontario.


I had a couple at this exact-same spot two years ago during an influx.

That was all for today, as it was terribly hot and humid by this time.