Friday, June 30, 2017

Eastern Fringed Prairie Orchid at Ojibway Park + Butler's Garter Snake and Other Stuff

Things have been busy but even still, I've attempted to go for a short hike after work at various areas of the Ojibway Complex almost daily over the last few weeks. Summer is so short that one needs to make serious efforts to get out in nature to witness it. Highlites over the last week or two include a few species FOY Hairstreaks, and some cool video footage of a Butler's Gartersnake!

My best sighting was a from a hike I took this afternoon. I found two Eastern fringed Prairie Orchids at Ojibway! I must have walked 10 km over the years to see these but finally found some habitat at Ojibway that has a few. Sadly, just like the last time, they are a little past their peak freshness but still I was pretty excited to see these. These photos were just taken with my cell phone so exposure and quality are a little lower than what might be expected with the old' DSLR. (*Update: A blogger from Ohio wrote a wonderful writeup on the Eastern Fringed Prairie Orchid here: a great read!)

Edwards Hairstreak and Coral Hairstreaks are pretty easily found in the Springarden area.

This Butler's Gartersnake was on a path that my mother-in-law and I were walking on near South Cameron Woodlot. It stopped just at the edge of the path and allowed me just enough time to record it with my cell phone! Check out the video below. Josh V informed me recently that the Butler's Gartersnake is not a subspecies of the Eastern Gartersnake but rather, its own distinct species. The redish brown colour along the sides is one of the fieldmarks for the Butler's. This species is at risk or even endangered in Ontario. Its range in Ontario is restricted to the Southwestern Ontario. Read more at these two links:

I had a brief look at a Baltimore Checkerspot nectaring on Purple Milkweed at Ojibway Park. This was seen in the Provincial Tallgrass Prairie Reserve. 

I think this heart-shaped leaf and vine is from Wild Yam. This is pretty easily seen at Ojibway.

I read recently that just one small section of Ojibway Park - the city owned tallgrass prairie heritage park has 540 plant species. Amazingly, about 20% of those are endangered, and I wanted to make a better effort to document those plants.  My goal is to identify 250 plants at Ojibway this summer! This is going to force me to pay more attention to things that I would have simply ignored or walked by... Such as this Spotted St John's Wort. Common, but never acknowledged until now!

Spreading Dogbane - again - the first time I've acknowledged it on this 7-year old blog. I need to pay more attention!

Good birding, lepping, mothing, herping, and botanizing!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Northern Oak Hairstreak at Reid CA in Wallaceburg ON + ... wait for it... FOY Dickcissel in Lambton!

Northern Oak Hairstreak at Reid CA

Those that read my end of year summary (published back in Jan) might recall that one of my nature viewing goals this year was to finally catch up with the Northern Oak Hairstreak.  I must admit that I have tried at least once or twice for this butterfly in the past with and dipped. So this year, I made an honest effort to go see this butterfly in the middle of its flight time (June 20?). Kit and  I left Windsor at an ambitious time of 7AM and arrived (still early) at Reid Conservation Area, on the shores of the Syndenham River just a little ways north of Wallaceburg. It was still quite brisk and perhaps the butterflies were still warming up as we arrived. After searching for over an hour, I started heading out to the road. But, as luck would have it, an older couple arrived, and I figured I would see if they could have better luck finding this nickel sized fluttery beast. Also, a text message from Blake suggested to "be patient".  So... after about ten minutes with the older couple, I found a hairstreak walking along a stem several inches below the flowers of an Indian Hemp plant. This is my fourth buttefly lifer species this year, and I think I am at about 120 species photographed.

Northern Oak Hairstreak

An interesting thing about the Northern Oak Hairstreak is that there are two major types within the species. The primary type was called a Southern Oak Hairstreak, and when the northern species was added, they thought of calling the northern one a "Northern Southern Oak Hairstreak" and the southern version a "Southern Southern Oak Hairstreak". Now, they just call it an Oak Hairstreak and locals can add Southern or Northern as they like. 

Another interesting thing about this butterfly is that (as far as I know) there is only one population known in all of Canada - north of Wallaceburg, and it was Blake Mann who discovered it. Imagine looking at the field marks of a hairstreak butterfly (with its large white "M") and saying: "what is this? this isn't in any field guides!". So a special shout out to Blake for his keen observation and his leperodoptic contributions to Ontario and Canada butterfly watching.

Reid Conservation Area

*(note: as I write this posting tonight, I am listening to an Indigo Bunting singing in my back yard, with distant Wood Thrushes, Song Sparrows, Red bellied Woodpecker, House Wren and occasionally a Great crested Flycatcher! (ebird checklist)  Also, there are House Sparrows chirping... this is Windsor after all...)

Other butterflies seen include about 3 banded hairstreaks, lots of Common Wood Nymphs, Eastern tailed Blue, 1 Question Mark, 4 Eastern Comma, lots of small European Skippers, 1 Red Admiral and of course, 1 Oak Hairstreak. 

European Skipper on Indian Hemp

After seeing the hairstreak butterfly, Kit and I met up with Lambton birder Sean J who was checking out a hay field not far from Reid CA. Upon getting out of our car, we heard the songs of Dickcissel (FOY!) , Bobolink, Savanah  Sparrow, Eastern Meadowlark and more.

From this point, we had a decision to make - go to Strathroy for more grassland birds (Upland Sandpiper) or perhaps head back towards Windsor and stop by Rondeau and perhaps try for an Acadian Flycatcher (both of these would be lifers for Kit). We ended up going to Rondeau to try for the Flycatcher.

Good Birding & Lepping!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

IO Moth & Giant Leopard Moth at Brunet Park in LaSalle

About three years ago, Steve Pike introduced me to a local moth expert - Moe Botus who I have had the chance to go mothing with at least once per season during the last few summers [link]. I've been bugging (no pun intended) Moe to invite me out when IO Moths were flying... As I had seen a picture of one posted a few years ago during an Ojibway Park BioBlitz.  Another moth that I really wanted to see was a Giant Leopard Moth... and amazingly, I was able to see both of these target moths tonight!

Another cool moth was this Small eyed sphinx moth shown below.

Just a closing note: Moe is doing a moth event at Point Pelee on July 7th, and Balsam Lake (Provincial Park) on July 28th.  Try to attend those events if you want to do a little mothing with an expert! If you go, tell him Dwayne sent you ;-p

Good Birding, Botanizing, Leping, Herping ... and Mothing!

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Early June Butterfly Watching and Birding at the Pinery

Wanting to get away from the house, I packed up the van and brought the family out to Pinery Provincial Park along the beautiful shores of Lake Huron. The weather today was gorgeous - just a perfect sunny day. One of my goals from this trip - (I figured it would be a long-shot ) - was to see an Eastern Pine Elfin. This is one of those species I assumed I would probably never see. I had understood that their flight window was basically during the month of May - and that they were just too rare and too distant for me to come across one. But sure enough, I had brief looks at this fluttery beauty along one of the beach dunes that one must cross from the Pinery Beach parking lots to the beach itself.

Amazingly, I did not expect to discover three new butterfly species today - but indeed, that is what happened. I was able to see: Eastern Pine Elfin, Hoary Elfin and a Dusted Skipper (thanks to Blake for some ID help)! I initially thought the Dusted Skipper has a "Pocahontas" version of the Hobomok Skipper but Blake was able to recognize the "white eyebrow" field mark of the Dusted Skipper.

Some other great highlights today was seeing a Red-headed Woodpecker at the Riverside Trail. I was blown away to hear, then see a few Prairie Warblers at some of the open juniper - dune habitat. Pine Warblers, Ovenbirds among other more common birds were heard today as well.

Dusted Skipper on Yellow Pucoon

I think this plant below is New Jersey Tea - the host plant of the Mottled Duskywing. The Pinery is such a beautiful park.... I wish it was not so far away from Windsor.

Good birding, herping and Leping!


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