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 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Ticked Off- Black legged Tick and Fen Twayblade

I experienced an "unwanted lifer" back in May this year. As a nature lover - I appreciate getting lifers - the first time I see a bird, butterfly, plants and perhaps new insects. But after spending the day at Point Pelee in May, on a whim, I had checked my pants and was amazed to see an insect that I've never seen in person up until that moment. I noticed a tiny insect, then a tick, whoa.... a tick with a contrasting red/black body and black legs. I removed the tick and quickly placed it on my shoe oddly enough. I wanted a photo of it. This particular species is reputed to carry Lyme Disease. Very scary.

Recently on, just by chance they had this video by David Suzuki (The Nature of Things) where it features Ticks and how they are spreading across Canada. I think any nature enthusiast should watch this and get in the habit of doing tick checks after being out in natural areas. 

Allen Woodliffe has some great articles on his personal experience with ticks [here].

Bonus Botany :  FEN TWAYBLADE

On a lighter note, I have been wanting to canvas a few local natural areas to look for a target botany plant: Purple Twayblade Orchid. I have read that they should be blooming now, and also that there are about three good areas to find them all within a few minutes drive of west Windsor.  One natural area in Lasalle that I've never been to seemed to be a good place to look --- but I find looking for plants an almost impossible task. Tonight, I actually found six orchid plants at this one location --- but amazingly, they were not Purple Twayblades --- they seem to be Fen Twayblades (Liparis loeselii)!  I honestly did not think I would find any rare plants. Again, it just seems so daunting. Its like trying to find a penny in the sand at a large beach.

Even though I did not yet find my target botanical species, finding this today was an exciting lifer.

Fen Twayblade

Good birding!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Whimbrel & Godwits in Flight - Shorebirding at Wheatley Harbour

After hearing about a Ruff at the Hillman Shorebirding cell, I headed out the the Hillman shorebird cell after work to see if could partake in some good shorebirding. Upon arriving at the site, I walked briskly to the shorebird cell because I had limited time on my hands. Just as I arrived, hundreds, if not thousands of birds took to the air ... and left! The shorebird cell was birdless! All that remained was a Peregrine falcon. One lady suggested checking out Wheatley Harbour - the Whimbrel might have stopped by there... And so I went. Sure enough, this flock of about 13 Whimbrel, and one Marbled Godwit circled around the harbour several times. It seems like they were trying to land on the beach where are large group of gulls were sitting, but they would abort their landing attempt and recircle the harbour again and again. Eventually, they seemed to head back toward Hillman.

Going back to last Saturday, I walked around at Point Pelee with hopes of finding a Worm Eating Warbler and Perhaps a Prothonotary Warbler.  I missed out on both of those target birds but instead saw Canada Warbler, and finally caught up with the long staying female Praire Warbler. I think I've only seen Prairie Warblers on three other occasions - and all three of those were male so it was nice to see a female. 

Good Birding!

Bonus Botany - Sharp Blue eyed Grass at Ojibway - This particular species graces the cover of the Audubon field guide for (Eastern) North American Flowers

Thursday, May 12, 2016

May 11 & 12th Highlights - Kirtlands, Cerulean, Golden winged and More

On Wed May 11th, I went to Point Pelee after work as the daily report hinted that it was an excellent day to be at Pelee. Some birders hinted that it could have been the best day in ten years. It was good but I don't know if it was any better than a good day from last year. On Wed, I caught up with a Cerulean that was report at the Northwest Beach parking lot. Later, I went to the West beach footpath and had really close views of a Kirtland's Warbler! The Kirtlands was skulking around in some low lying dwarf juniper plants. Occasionally it would pop into view -at point blank range - then go into skulking mode again.

I took the day off on today, May 12th and had a pretty good day. I stopped off at Hillman first - and there was not much around in terms of shorebirds. So I went to Pelee. I had to park at Delaurier - and walk the anders footpath to tilden. Today was excellent for birding but of course, yesterdays volumes of birds were not present.

I saw this Northern Parula at eye level near Cactus Field. It was singing its heart out in the early morning light. Its so small, it took me a few moments just to find it.

I then took the tram to the tip - in hopes of finding a Cerulean and Yellow billed Cuckoo. The Cerulean was amazingly close to the trail, and singing its heart out. I took boat loads of photos but they were poor as the lighting was terrible.

Next- I ended up trying to go to "Dunes" which had a recent sighting of Golden Winged Warbler! I took the tram back to the VC and walked---- 2km??? Birding is great exercise isn't it? I was able to find the Golden Winged and later I ran into J.B. and Jeremy Bensette who were looking at YB Chat!

I birded with Jeremy and Tim(?) for the remainder of the afternoon. We attempted to see the Kirtlands again this afternoon but couldn't find it. Along west beach footpath, our consolation birds were: Wilson's, Cape May, Scarlet Tanager, and Morning Warbler!

Good birding!


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