Thursday, June 7, 2018

Field Season Is Upon Us

Your nature moment for the day: this is the Wavy-Lined Emerald Moth, also known as the Camouflaged Looper for obvious reasons. According to my guide, "our only widespread caterpillar that adorns its body with plant fragments". So stylish!

Friday, January 5, 2018

2017 Recap

In 2017 I participated in several bioblitzes, hiked some lovely trails, and travelled eastward to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The lattermost item in that list was obviously the most exciting in terms of new opportunities to see stuff, though all adventures are exciting in their own way.

My trip was intended to take me to Machias Seal Island to see Atlantic Puffins up close and personal, but nasty weather that day meant the trip didn’t happen. Luckily, I had a second chance in the form of the Bird Islands Important Bird Area (link), which didn’t get me quite as close a view but certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a beautiful day to be out and a very pleasant boat trip out of Englishtown, highly recommended to anyone who plans to be in that area.

I mean. Puffins.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park was also stunningly gorgeous, and I would definitely go back to hike more of the trails there. The Bog Boardwalk trail was short but jam-packed with interesting plants. And the views from the Skyline Trail couldn't be beat.

Bog Boardwalk Trail
Dragon's Mouth

I saw a grand total of 11 new bird species in 2017 (and a whole lot of the 'old' species, too). Lark Sparrow and Dickcissel were locals - the Lark Sparrow was a famous visitor to downtown Toronto (for some reason it really liked hanging around a tiny patch of scrub along a rail line), and there were Dickcissels all over the place in southern Ontario this past summer. The trip east got me Nelson's Sparrow, Ring-necked Pheasant, Common Eider, Common Murre, Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Atlantic Puffin, and Black-legged Kittiwake. Finally, I saw my first Bonaparte's Gull on a Nature Guelph group trip down to Hawk Cliff this fall - not a rare bird by any means, just one of those ones that has somehow eluded me until now.

And of course I'm already plotting my next big adventure, to take place end of June - beginning of July 2018. Stay tuned!

Savannah Sparrow
Cobra Clubtail
British Soldier Lichen (and others)
Bald Eagle

Saturday, August 19, 2017


I owe some longer posts on things that have happened this summer, but in the meantime at least have some photos of cool bugs I've found.
Calico Pennant

Banded Hairstreak

American Copper

Large Lace Border

Little Wood Satyr

Great Spangled Fritillary

Unicorn Clubtail


Eastern Giant Swallowtail

Northern Blue

Silvery Blue

Least Skipper

Monday, May 1, 2017

Take A (50km) Hike

Somehow I've gotten myself involved in two fundraisers over the next couple of months.

One is the Great Canadian Birdathon... which I admit I only signed up for because I want the tshirt. As far as I can tell the requirement is simply to go birding in the month of May, which I was going to do anyway so it's not a hardship. But it seems gauche to beg money for two things at once, so I made a decent donation to my own 'campaign' to overpay for my 'free' tshirt, and will probably call it even.

The second thing is the Bruce Trail 50 km challenge as per my team page. That one, I'm actively fundraising for. And I really hope the weather is nice on June 25th because otherwise that ~30km of walking is going to be pretty miserable (since there are two of us, we'll be trading off the various legs of the total 50km trek). It'll be a long day, but the last one of these I did was a lot of fun so I have high hopes for this one too.

Making more donations is one of my goals for 2017 (and beyond). There seems to be so much nasty in the world right now, and I know that throwing money at things is not going to make that go away, but maybe it can help in some small way to make some good things to counteract it. Conservation is definitely a cause near and dear to my heart, and the BTC does Good Work towards allowing the preservation and appreciation of some truly beautiful landscapes.

And, I mean. Shiny limited-edition challenge badge. How can I resist?

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy (Belated) Earth Day!

I spent most of actual Earth Day on the couch napping off the aftereffects of a minor stomach bug, so I did my best to make up for it today by spending some quality time outdoors and contributing to citizen science via eBird and iNaturalist.

The spring ephemeral adventure continues at Starkey Hill - today's additions were Carolina Spring-Beauty, Dutchman's Breeches, and Cut-leaf Toothwort. Lots of things still to come. The trilliums are just barely beginning to flower here, I anticipate full carpet status within a week.

Have you appreciated your planet today?

Carolina Spring-beauty
Cut-leaf Toothwort
Dutchman's Breeches
Marsh Marigold

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Picky Plants

Sharp-lobed Hepatica
Something I learned yesterday, after branching out from my beloved Arboretum to try and find some different species, is that our two hepaticas grow only in maple-beech forests. Like, exclusively, no exceptions. I had been wondering why I wasn't seeing any at the Arboretum, which is lousy with trout lilies and trilliums and bloodroot, but not a hepatica to be found. I guess it just isn't maple-beechy enough? Because Starkey Hill is covered with hepatica in bloom right now. Geographically, the two areas aren't that far apart. Topographically, both have wetland pools interspersed with (I thought, at least) maple-beech upland forest. Starkey is a bit rockier and hillier, of course, so maybe that makes the difference.

Clearly I'm going to have to keep an eye on both places from now on, if they're going to throw different species at me like this. I am apparently on a mission this year to document the bloom times of the spring ephemerals. For posterity! ...and iNaturalist.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Spring has sprung. Thank goodness.

Early Blue Cohosh - Caulophyllum giganteum

Early Meadow-rue - Thalictrum dioicum

Greater Bee Fly - Bombylius major
Mourning Cloak - Nymphalis antiopa

Eastern Garter Snake - Thamnophis sirtalis ssp. sirtalis

Tree Swallow - Tachycineta bicolor
Yellow Trout Lily - Erythronium americanum

Coltsfoot - Tussilago farfara

Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis

Midland Painted Turtles - Chrysemys picta ssp. marginata

Red Admiral - Vanessa atalanta

Eastern Comma - Polygonia comma
Not shown: the Common Green Darners that would not settle down for a good photo, the Wood Frogs quacking away in the ponds, and one crescent butterfly of unknown type that flew away far too quickly.

God I love spring.