Friday, July 22, 2016

Wheatley Sedge Skippers and Grassland birds




One of my butterfly watching goals this summer was to see a Dion Skipper - a sedge skipper that looks like a Dukes Skipper but with only one, not two "rays" on its lower hindwing. Alan Wormington suggested that I visit some good sedge habitat - and informed me of this small area on the north end of Wheatley Provincial Park. I arrived at the prescribed location, an unassuming country road in Wheatley, the road dipped downward as the land had a little valley where a small river was passing under the road. I pulled over and found this scene above, beautiful in itself. Chickory and Red Clover along with Common Milkweed were found along the roadside. Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Willow Flycatcher and Accipiter raptors were noted.  Its hard to tell, but at the back of the Sedge floodplain, a small waterway meanders by. To the left of this photo, a large swath of Phragmites is choking out the vegetation and the view. One has to wonder if this sedge floodplain will be consumed by Phragmites in the next few years?

After walking around for a few minutes, I did note skippers flying above the sedges but too distant for photos. I took some photos of the sedge habitat with my cell phone with "HDR" (High Dynamic Resolution) enabled --- with some cool results.

Sure enough, I found some sedge skippers around a nice roadside patch of Common Milkweed. I don't think I found a Dion Skipper (Or Mulberry Winged) - but Dukes Skippers were pretty common. I took some photos of the Dukes Skipper tapping into some Common Milkweed.





Being in Wheatley, I stopped by the Campers Cove area - a birder is obliged to visit here when passing through Wheatley.




At campers cover area, I almost immediately heard a Grasshopper Sparrow, (perhaps two) singing.  Some other expected birds present were Dickcissels, Bobolinks, Indigo Buntings, Song Sparrow, Northern Flicker, not to mention other common birds.  Some nice grassland / old field habitat here includes lots of Dark eyed Susans, Showy Tick Trefoil along with other weeds such as Milkweeds and Goldenrods which havent yet flowered. 




Good Birding and Naturalizing!
Dwayne

PS: Some local media has been talking about the increased traffic that the new "Mini Mall" plaza will bring to Ojibway Park. Talk of Closing the main bisecting road (Matchette Road), roadkill, natual corridors and Fragmentation are being thrown around, which is nice to see.  The artist for the paper Mike Graston made this cartoon recently which I couldn't help but share. An opinion piece was written in support of Ojibway and in closing Matchette --- which I will give a link to and  paste below.

Image Source: http://windsorstar.com/gallery/mike-grastons-editorial-cartoons-for-july-2016

The Windsor Star Editorial can be found here: http://windsorstar.com/opinion/columnists/jarvis-windsor-can-cut-the-death-toll-at-ojibway-and-make-it-truly-great  or (Evernote Backup)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Mid-July Moth Watching at Ojibway Park


The Windsor Essex Field Naturalists had a Moth -Watching event this past Friday, and I made it out for the last hour between 11pm and Midnight. Local moth expert Maurice Bottos hosted two "light traps" at Ojibway - one near the visitor center and another in the Tallgrass Prairie across the road. 

I will just post the photos and hold back on commentary - although I should just mention that you are getting two posts in one here --- The second half of this posting was an old, unpublished posting from mid-July in 2014. 












My friends who visited Friday night declined on moth-watching but sent me this photo Saturday morning.  They requested an ID. I think its a Pandora Sphinx Moth.





(Older Post from 2014 --- Never published till now --- Originally titled: Mothing Debut)






Moth watching is a natural progression for birders, butterfly watchers and naturalists... The beauty and biodiversity of moths is incredible for those who make the effort to see them. Blog readers might remember my first chance sightings of Clearwing & Sphinx Moths last summer. This along with my growing interest in butterfly watching and other bloggers who described moth watching  ignited my interest.

Local birder Steve Pike recently invited me to join him to tag along with a moth-researching biologist who often sets up sheets at night around the Ojibway area to census the moths in this area.

Some moth species that I took note of were:

Virginia Creeper Spinx Moth
Saltmarsh Tiger Moth
Leconte's haploa moth


Ilia Underwing
Ultronia Underwing




I was hoping to see an IO moth or a Giant Leopard Moth but I did get to see some beautiful species on my first mothing outing. I will try to join these moth outings as the summer progresses and hopefully I can document more interesting species.

Good Mothing!
Dwaynejava

Friday, July 8, 2016

Southern Ohio Roadtrip


This past weekend, my family and I went on a whirlwind Ohio roadtrip. The trip was initiated by my desire to go see a swamp metalmark at a natural area called Cedar Bog. Our trip would continue with  a stop in Columbus and another stop at Shawnee State Park. Sadly, this particular trip was a little bit of a dud - it rained almost constantly while we were at Shawnee.


Cedar Bog (its actually a Fen) was really nice. Just the plants in the parking lot alone were so beautiful, it almost justified the duration of the drive to get there. There was a small visitor center, and after paying a modest fee to go in, I noticed on the photocopied map that there was an X and some directions written in handwriting to the location of a Purple Fringed Orchid. Grass pink Orchids were still blooming in the Fen area which was really nice to see as well.













Cedar Bog was good for birding as well, but the most noteworthy bird was a Carolina Wren, which was singing its distinct four-part "Fee-Bay-Fee-Bee" song. You might be wondering --- did I find my target butterfly species - the Swamp Metalmark? No. I met up with a local lepidopterist as I was leaving and he hinted that my target butterfly has sadly been extirpated for the last 7-8 years. 

At Shawnee State Park, it rained for two straight days. Shawnee is a huge forest, 60,000 -70,000 acres of protected area. Just like my first trip there two years ago, it was almost pointless to see butterflies. Oddly though, there were a few nice nature sightings. While driving around, I heard Prairie Warblers singing near a recently clear cut area. A Louisiana Waterthrush was a cool find, as it was on the road (perhaps picking worms out of the puddles) as I was driving at one point. Other breeding warblers at Shawnee include Kentucky, Chats, Worm eating, Cerulean, Yellow throated and more.  Yellow fringed Orchid is reputed to be in some of the powerline clearings of the park but... did I mention the rain?




On our last morning of our trip, an employee at the Shawnee Nature Center suggested that I check out the Edge of Appalachia nature reserve, and specifically the- Lynx Prairie. This 18,000 acre natural area is almost adjacent to Shawnee and is privately owned by the Nature Conservancy. Of course , on the day that we were leaving, the sun broke out a little and we enjoyed a nice hike through a forest and prairie habitat. Upon arrival, just the parking lot alone revealed some nice butterflies - Several Pipevine Swallowtails and several Variegated Fritillaries among others. The prairie areas were a little quiet with a single worn Zebra Swallowtail, a single Banded Haistreak and two Juniper Hairstreaks. Whorled Milkweed and what I think is Scaly Blazingstar are two new botanical lifers. 



Seeing this in the Lynx Prairie might have been the nature viewing highlight of my trip. 






Its good to be back home though. I have been buried in home renovation projects and they have kept me from birding an botanizing as much as I would have liked to. Still, I've made some noteworthy sightings in my limited walks and I will leave that for the topic of my next posting.

Good Birding!
Dwayne

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Purple Twayblade Orchid @ Ojibway Park

Purple Twayblade Orchid - Ojibway Park Windsor

People that read Nerdy for Birdy might have noticed that while birding is my main focus, butterfly watching and even more recently, botany have caught my attention. With so many beautiful things to witness in nature, how could a nature enthusiast just limit themselves to just one area?

Another motivation for my interest in botany is the fact that I live right next to Ojibway Park - its literally two or three minutes from my home in Windsor. I swear - very few people in Windsor understand just how special this place is. Ojibway just keeps revealing -year after year - its precious inventory of nature.  Sadly, as I write this blog posting, huge areas of the Ojibway Prairie complex are being 'developed' into shopping plazas, creating light, air and noise pollution to this special area in Windsor. The new bridge crossing in Windsor has and will continue to have negative repercussions on the north end of the Ojibway Complex. These developments are going to further fragment the little that remains of southwestern Ontario's natural heritage.

I have to admit that I was lucky in being able to see this stunning flower today - not because I was able to find it myself, but rather, a serendipitous blogosphere connection I had made through Allen Woodliffe's blog got us in contact. Allen happened to be in the area today and invited me to join him on a walk at Ojibway Park. As you might already know Allen has a lifetime of experience in the natural history of Southwestern Ontario. He is very knowledgeable in the Ojibway Tallgrass Prairie ecosystem as well as Rondeau and pretty much anywhere else in Southwestern Ontario.



The Purple Twayblade is an endangered orchid - that just so happens to be present - in small numbers- in a few of the fragmented natural areas in West Windsor (Ojibway Park) and a few other scattered natural areas in Essex County.


This plant is stunning to look at. Its hard to describe its appearance. It has a central stem and flowers radiate outward. The purple flower seems to be sitting on two pronged projections that are holding it up. It has two hairlike projections hanging from the back of the flower petal.





While looking for this flower this week, I found a related orchid - a "Fen Twayblade" at a natural area just south of the Ojibway Tallgrass Prairie. Unlike the Purple Twayblade, the Fen Twayblade is not endangered, and its not as big or showy as the Purple Twayblade. But it was still a breath taking find and a stunning flower.







So in closing - its been a great week for me in the botanizing category. Two lifer orchid species - just minutes from my home in Windsor. Its uncanny - Ojibway Park just keeps revealing more and more of its natural riches to me. I am honoured to witness it. Thanks to Allen for allowing me to join him and for sharing his insights and stories with me.

Good Birding, Leping, Herping and Botanizing 
Dwayne

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