After leaving Pyramid Lake we drove back to our cabin to get some lunch. Doran wanted to relax afterward, but I couldn’t sit still so I decided to explore the grounds of Pine Bungalows.
Our co-inhabitant, the Columbian Ground Squirrel, was sitting in front of his burrow at the back of the cabin when I checked. There was a pine cone on the ground in front of him, and although he tried to look nonchalant, I figured he had been trying to eat the seeds inside for there was a flake on one of his eyes. These squirrels are larger and much calmer than the American Red Squirrels that also call Jasper home. Although the one under our cabin sometimes darts away when he sees me, other times he just sits there. Fortunately today he decided to allow me to look at him.
We had barely gotten out of the car when I spotted a large blue darner flying about the parking lot. He was circling the area between the car and the washrooms quite low to the ground, apparently hunting bluets. At one point I thought he was going to land on the roof of the rest room building, but instead he attempted to perch on a blade of grass. Darners perch by hanging vertically from a twig or other vertical surface; he was so heavy he caused the blade of grass to bend.
Sometimes nature puts on a show so spectacular that even those who are only vaguely aware that there is a wonderful, wild world beyond the technology-obsessed, glass and concrete cityscape take notice. This happened last week when millions of migratory butterflies journeyed north from their wintering grounds in the United States and invaded Eastern Canada, descending on city parks, green spaces and backyards to the astonishment of many. I received notice of this mass migration on Monday, April 16th from fellow OFNC member and University of Ottawa biologist Maxim Larrivée, who sent an email out to me and several other butterfly enthusiasts advising that thousands of migrating Red Admirals, American Ladies and Question Marks had been reported that day as far north as Brampton, Ontario. Maxim is a postdoctoral fellow leading the Canadian Butterfly and Global Change research at the Canadian Facility for Ecoinformatics Research and has been working hard with U of O biologist Jeremy Kerr to develop an online database similar to eBird for citizen scientists to report their sightings. This database, appropriately named eButterfly, has only been live for a few weeks now.
I hadn’t been to the Beaver Trail in a while, so on the holiday Monday I decided to go and look for some Common Wood-nymphs, a beautiful, dark butterfly that I often see there in the latter half of the summer. At first the butterflies were slow to appear, so I spent my time watching for birds and dragonflies. To my disappointment, the pond by the V-shaped boardwalk was entirely dry….there was no water, and no dragonflies or water snakes or Common Yellowthroats. July was a dry month and water levels everywhere are lower than normal; still, I had hoped to find some water present, for there are usually lots of dragonflies around when there is.