Sunday, July 23, 2017

Essex and Elgin and Middlesex Too

Saturday I decided to head down to Wheatley and Point Pelee.  Dickcissels were seen or heard in the usual locations along the way.

There was not much of note in Point Pelee, but the light rain at the Tip did not help matters.  I was hoping to spend some time looking for butterflies, but the usual weekend weather put a damper on things.  American Snouts seem to be plentiful this year, but none stopped for any length of time.

Azure was the most common butterfly.  They were everywhere by the hundreds and in bunches.

De Laurier Trail seemed to have the most where one could find clusters of them mainly on bird droppings.

On the way back, I stopped by Hillman marsh and walked around the shorebird cell.  By this time, the sun had come out (temporarily). Of note, I checked out the spot where I find Broad-winged Skippers.  I found about ten, but not a single one stopped flying!
This is in an area of phragmites.  Broad-winged Skippers do use this invasive plant as a host, so I guess there is one use for it.

Around the shorebird cell I found a few Common Checkered-Skippers (FOY).

Since it is shorebird time, I headed east to Blenheim to check out the lagoons.  A number of shorebirds were in plus some ducks.

Included were many Least and Semipalmated Sandpipers, a Baird's, at least 5 Solitary Sandpipers, a few Lesser Yellowlegs, one Greater Yellowlegs, a few Pectoral Sandpipers, and a single Short-billed Dowitcher.  They were very skittish so I could not get anywhere near them.

Ducks included a summering Ring-necked.

I had hoped to see checkered-skippers while there, but none showed.  The excessive cutting along the ponds did not help matters.

Sunday I had the urge to go into Elgin County.  I usually check out some spots around the end of July each year.  First stop was Port Stanley lagoons.  Like many places, water was high and little edge for shorebirds was available.  The only migrant shorebird was a single Least Sandpiper!
Lots of ducks were present though, including dozens of Wood Ducks.  A single male Ring-necked Duck in eclipse was notable.

Next stop was Fingal WMA where I checked out the Ian Carmichael Pond and prairie area. The prairie area is not as nice as it used to be, but is still good.  Lots of burgemot, Gray-headed Coneflower, Virginia Mountain Mint and grasses.

Some butterflies included Dun Skipper, Northern Broken-Dash and Common Sootywing.

Dun Skipper

Common Sootywing

Southwold Earthworks, south of Iona, was very disappointing for birds and butterflies.  A few years ago, I had many species there including Meadow Fritillary and Gray Hairstreak. I did see a Common Sootywing and a Tawny-edged Skipper there today.

Down at John E. Pearce Provincial Park, I walked the Lorne Spicer Trail. Here I found some Little Glassywings.

On the way home I stopped by Wardsville Woods.  Although butterflies were few and far between (a theme this year!), I did find a couple of Wild Indigo Duskywings just before I left.

Some prairie-type plants have been planted at Wardsville Woods and are doing well with all the rain.

One demonstration area has a variety of plants with signage.

Virginia Mountain Mint

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Bruce Birds, Bugs, Botany

I needed to get a way for a couple of days, so I headed up to the Bruce Peninsula!  My base camp, as always is MacGregor Point Provincial Park.

Sunday was mostly cloudy up there, unfortunately, and very muggy.  I made the best of it though.  There were bouts of sun in the afternoon which helped looking for butterflies and dragonflies.  I managed to meet some of my targets.
Right away, I found a Dorcas Copper (the only one of the trip!).

In the same vicinity were some Coral Hairstreaks.  I missed them around home (probably for the first time) this summer.

In the bog near the visitor centre, I looked for Racket-tailed Emerald and managed to find a couple.

Those metallic green eyes really stick out!

I walked the two main trails in the park--Lake Ridge Trail and the Tower Trail.  Both can be good for butterflies, but the cloudy afternoon did not help.

Chalk-fronted Corporal
Variable Dancer

There were many Appalachian Browns and some Eyed-Browns fluttering through the woods.


Monday morning I headed out early and first stop was Sauble Beach where one can see Piping Plovers.  Apparently there were three nestings there this year!  I got there around 7 a.m. before the riff -raff arrived, so there were no people around.  I found some plovers right away.

A couple of early fall migrant Sanderlings were nearby as well, but I never took a photo of them. (They still come up rare at this point on eBird).

Heading north, I veered off highway 6 down Dyer's Bay Road where some Dickcissels were nesting.  I saw one female and one male.  One bird was carrying food.  I never got any good photos though, lol!

Next stop was one of my favourite places, Singing Sands at Dorcas Bay.  I have been going there since the early 1990's.  There is a new parking lot across the road and you have to walk in.  It is a good thing as that place becomes a zoo in the summer with beach goers!

Trails were actually flooded in some spots, so access was limited.  Lots of Horned Bladderwort was along the beach.

Butterflies and dragonflies were not too numerous, but I did find this nice Common Wood Nymph.

Long Dash and Tawny-edged Skippers were fairly numerous along the woodland trail.

Long Dash on Heal-all

clubtail sp.

After almost two hours there, it was time to get out of there as the beach goers were invading the place.

Tobermory Harbour was the next stop as I checked things out there and got some lunch.  Feature attraction there is the tug Dawn Light, at least to my eyes.  This is no ordinary tug.  It has an extensive storied history.  It was originally built in 1890, and it one of the oldest hulls on the Great Lakes.

The history is too much to tell here, but it has a Wallaceburg connection when named the Henry Stokes and Aburg.  It has sunk a couple of times, including one here in Wallaceburg.

The current owner has fixed up the interior and is still doing work.  He made contact with us a couple of years ago.  As fate would have it, the owner was there on Monday, and it nearly knocked his socks off when I introduced myself!  He gave me a tour of the tug.

engine room, starboard side

Drawing of original configuration:

Getting back to the topic, after lunch I stopped by Lindsay Tract Trails beside highway 6.  Nothing special there, but lots of trails to check out.

One of my mandatory stops is Petrel Point near Red Bay.  Here we have a nature reserve owned by Ontario Nature. It is a fen with some rare plants.

As I stepped onto the boardwalk, this emerald was patrolling the area.  It may be an Oscellated Emerald.

Here are some photos of plants.

Grass Pink

Rose Pogonia
Tall White Bog Orchid (past its prime)

False Asphodel

more Horned Bladderwort

Tuesday morning dawned very foggy.

I spotted this Merlin at the north end of MacGregor Point just before I headed out.

On the way home, I stopped to walk the Ipperwash Forested Dunes and Swales.  The Acadian Flycatcher was still present, among other birds.
I found this Wild Indigo Duskywing near the start of the trail.

Closer to home, Dickcissels were seen and heard along the way.  One spot was just north of Wilkesport along Kimball Road--a previously unreported location.
Map on this checklist:

Previously, I found more along Forest Road.