Thursday, August 25, 2016

Snowy Egrets at Big Creek in Amherstburg







I went birding this afternoon at Ojibway Park and met up with Kit. We walked the tallgrass prairie area but other than a brief pocket of warblers it was pretty quiet. I did get really good looks at a Southbound Canada Warbler which was nice. I think it might be my first southbound Canada Warbler at Ojibway. Canada Warblers are my favorite Warbler Species! Common Nighthawks were noted flying overhead at Ojibway.

After our walk, Kit asked if I had seen the Snowy Egrets in Amherstburg. We headed out and sure enough we saw our target birds - two Snowy Egrets! We were hoping to pick out a Little Blue Heron but no, none were seen. Kit mentioned he still hasn't seen a Horned Lark, and along concession 7, just outside of Holiday Beach, I found some in a recently ploughed farmers' field.


Canada Warbler at Ojibway Park


False Smooth Foxglove at Ojibway Park




Good birding!
Dwayne

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Olive Sided Flycatcher & Ojibway Park's Slender Bush-Clover


A recent WEPBird posting mentioned an Olive sided Flycatcher along with some other warblers at Point Pelee so I made an effort to go out. I carpooled with Kit - who is a new and enthusiastic birder from Windsor. We walked Woodland Nature Trail at Pelee and Redbud trail then went to Sparrow Field. Lots of birds to sort through but some highlights included Red breasted Nuthatch - which is rare in my opinion - and an Olive sided Flycatcher. In Sparrow Field we had a Carolina  Wren singing as we sorted through flycatchers, warblers and vireos. Its been said by many experienced birders that Pelee is a better migration trap in the fall than in the Spring! In Sparrow Field, I had also noted a fresh hairstreak butterfly on Goldenrod, but as I switched my camera lens, it flushed not to be refound. I'm 95% sure it was a Grey Hairstreak.








Back at Ojibway, I was walking along a path recently and noted an interpretive sign mentioning that a small meadow had Slender Bush-Clover! I had read about this plant as being very rare in Ontario and Canada. Its so rare, that Ojibway Park is the only place in Canada for this plant! Its rated S1 according to this COSEWIC report[link]. I looked around the meadow, being ultra careful of where I was stepping and I immediately found my target plant. Slender Bush-Clover looks a little like Showy tick Trefoil as well as Round-headed Bush-Clover (they are all in the pea family). Its smaller than the previous two plants, and is like a narrow stem shooting upwards with 3-part leaves and little flower clusters along the stem. Its not a stunning plant by any means, 999/1000 people would walk by it and not even notice it. I was  interested in seeing this plant as its on the rarity list on the Ojibway Website and I want to appreciate Ojibway Park by viewing its botanical, lep, herp, avian and habitat diversity.

Round-Headed Bush Clover (Lespedeza capitata) at Ojibway Park in Windsor


Slender Bush Clover  (Lespedeza virginica) at Ojibway Park


Its difficult to photograph plants. One would think its way easier to photograph a plant than a bird - but somehow I think I struggle more to photograph plants than birds. Its hard to capture the "essence" of this plant and it seems that its flowering period is very short - blink and you miss the flowering stage till next year...


Good Birding, Lepping, Botanizing, Herping, Gardening and anything else related to nature!
Dwayne

Friday, August 12, 2016

Pelee Marsh Shorebirding & Ojibway Butterflies


Scene from an Ojibway Tallgrass Prairie... Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on Dense Blazingstar
I've spent the last month working on home improvement type tasks such as: building a fence, and "finishing" my basement which has consisted of framing walls, drywalling, mudding, painting, flooring, plumbing, electical yada yada. At one point last week, I cut a hole in my basement's concrete floor to move a future shower drain about one foot to the left. If you can move a drain in a concrete floor --- you can do anything!! I've also installed two underground sprinkler systems.

If you can do this .... you can do anything
But life can't all be about work right? I have done some occasional walks at Ojibway Park --- mainly botanizing (well --- trying to :-) ) and butterfly watching.  During one recent walk at Ojibway I found two rare butterflies...  a Common Ringlet (rare in Essex) and a Variegated Fritillary!






Other great butteflies include the regulars such as Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Eastern tailed Blue, American Copper, Common Checkered Skipper as well as Hummingbird Moths! Photographing the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on fresh Dense Blazingstar was awesome. This is what makes Ojibway Park such a special place... but so few people realize this.







I also did a little botanizing. I have been trying to find the real rare botanical jems at Ojibway. One recent one that I found is Round headed Bush Clover. I wanted to find this plant and photograph it while it was flowering. Pretty cool! Mountain Mint is a new plant that I've acknowledged this week. Its alot like Wild Bergamot --- its part of the mint family.





I've met a new nature enthusiast at Ojibway a few times and we realized that we would like to go out to the Point Pelee Marsh. We met up last week and carpooled to Pelee with the intention of canoeing the pelee marsh in search of shorebirds. The day we went was like over 100 degrees F. Shorebirds seen include the expected: Short billed Dowitcher, SP Plovers/Sandpipers, Least and Spotted Sandpipers. A Wilson's Snipe was nice to see. We also had a Black bellied Plover with an injured leg. It seems it might have a fish hook stuck in its leg joint. --- I wish there was something I could do to help it but I'm afraid nature will take its course on this beautiful bird.





Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers. The Least has yellow legs. 




The fellow I was with probably had 7 lifers that afternoon, including this Yellow bellied Flycatcher that was flycatching (low) along the wet areas at Delaurier Trail. I love this flycatcher!

Yellow Bellied Flycatcher? I think so!


Good Birding, botanizing, Lepping and anything else related to nature!
Dwayne



Friday, July 29, 2016

Dorcas Copper Butterfly & Bruce Peninsula Roadtrip

Dorcas Copper Butterfly - Singing Sands Fen  Bruce Peninsula


Over the last few days, I spent some time in Owen Sound with my in-laws. The trip was not nature focused as there were 5 children ranging from ages 1-9. There were still a few nature highlights /  observations from the Bruce Peninsula area worth sharing.

1. Sauble Beach -
2. Waterfall Viewing -
3. Bruce Peninsula National Park (Boat Tour) -
4. Bruce Peninsula National Park (Singing Sands Fen) -
5. Macgregor Point Provincial Park - A brief visit on the way home.

1. Sauble Beach - Is a beautiful beach on Lake Huron just south of the Bruce Peninsula. We stopped here for a few hours as a main activity.  I actually went swimming in Lake Huron - which was surprisingly warm and comfortable.  I looked at the north end of the beach for the Piping Plover habitat and sadly, I was informed that the adults left early as the fledglings were all predated (eaten) by gulls and crows. From a botany perspective, I noticed Big Bluestem and Little Bluestem grasses as part of the dune plant makeup.





2. Waterfall Viewing -
Owen Sound has an abundance of Waterfalls to visit, but I tried to visit two: Jones Falls and Indian Falls. Both falls were "dry" leaving my relatives a little disapointed. I will post two photos here that are both disappointing but will leave this link to a photos of  JonesIndian Falls by Harold Stiver.



3. Bruce Peninsula National Park (Boat Tour) -

The clear waters of Lake Huron and specifically the Georgian Bay are amazing to see. Photos can't do justice but I share a few for fun. Of course, Flowerpot Island with its two "flower pot" shaped rocks were pretty cool to see.

Flowerpot Island "Flower pot" rock formations. 



4. Bruce Peninsula National Park (Singing Sands Fen) -

I really wish I had more time to visit the Singing Sands Beach area. Blake and many other nature enthusiasts have really endorsed this location and it was my first time there, but sadly, I had about 20 minutes to explore it. I stayed on the Fen Boardwalk just at the west end of the parking lot. Amazingly, I found a life butterfly that was well reputed for being here: the Dorcas Copper butterfly. This butterfly lifer was exciting because I didn't think I would see it but ... it turned out that they were abundant. I must have seen 20 of them on the first 20 meters of the Fen Boardwalk. Late July is right in the middle of their flight time in Ontario according to the ROM butterfly field guide. I think I obtained really nice ventral photos of this beautiful butterfly, but my dorsal photos were lacking. Occasionally, I did get to see an amazing colour sheen on the (dorsal) male Dorcas Copper - its hard to describe but you could get a range of Blue - Purple - Pink in certain sunlight angles - amazing. Pitcher Plants were abundant here as well and are a lifer plant.








Dorcas Copper Butterfly - Singing Sands Fen  Bruce Peninsula


5. Macgregor Point Provincial Park - A brief visit on the way home.

Another park that I've never been to but is really well reputed is Macgregor Point Provincial Park on the shore of Lake Huron, just south of Port Elgin. I only spent an hour here on my way back to Windsor and I figured I would to to the visitor center, the beach, and the Huron Fringe Boardwalk. I wish I had more time to explore the park but even in my short visit, I see how so many other Ontario bloggers love this place. On the way out of the park, I noticed an orange butterfly that hinted at being a Fritillary species but I was unable to stop for it...




In conclusion, I had a pretty good trip with my family. I would have liked to have more time to explore some of the natural history aspects of the Bruce - but all things considered, I had some good sightings. One thing is for certain - with its crystal clear waters, 40+ orchid species, waterfalls and and mixture of forest, alvar and wetland habitat - the Bruce Peninsula is a special place!

Good Nature Viewing!
Dwayne

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