I didn’t have much time for birding last weekend, but I did manage to get out late in the afternoon on both days. I’ve been hoping for some nice weather to do some butterfly-watching, and although it was warm on Saturday, it began clouding over as soon as I left the house. I decided not to go too far – just around the corner to the Beaver Trail – and I found enough interesting species to make it worthwhile.
My first noteworthy species was a Winter Wren, the first one I’d seen at this trail this year. It was scolding me from the tangled branches of a downed tree, which is where they are most likely to be seen out in the woods, especially woods where there is water nearby.
I’ve been taking a lot of pictures in my garden lately; June is a great month for seeing lots of different insects! Although my butterfly garden hasn’t attracted any hummingbirds or interesting butterflies yet (i.e. any species OTHER than the common, non-native Cabbage White), it has attracted a lot of other pollinators such as hover flies, fruit flies, bees and moths. Of course, these insects attract other types of insects….the predators that feed on them, rather than the pollen or nectar of flowers. As usual, there are lots of different types of spiders in my backyard, including a couple of very small orbweavers. I hope they grow large and fearsome like the Banded Argiope that spent a couple of months in my back garden last fall. The only dragonfly I’ve seen in my yard this year is a male Common Whitetail, similar to the one that spent an afternoon here last year.
The rest of my columbine flowers have begun to bloom, as has the Arrowwood Viburnum shrub in my backyard. Once again this shrub has become infested with aphids, and no matter how often I blast them off with a hard spray of water, they keep coming back. I am reluctant to use chemicals to rid the shrub of these pests, given that a number of other insects visit the flowers for pollen.
One insect in particular interested me. It was small, and I thought it was a winged ant at first. When I took a closer look, I recognized the body shape and the clear wings outlined in black. It looked a little like the Virginia Creeper Borer moth I had found at Hurdman two years ago, and I knew I had discovered a clearwing moth!
My flowers have been slow to bloom so far, but when I returned from my trip to southern Ontario I was delighted to find that most of the Columbine I had started from seed last year was in bloom. I was thrilled with the colours that had blossomed: purple with a little bit of yellow in the center, white with purple stripes, red and yellow, pale pink, and even white. The flowers on two of my plants haven’t opened yet; I can’t wait to see what colours they will become!
Early summer is a good time to visit the Beaver Trail in Stony Swamp. There is usually a wonderful diversity of butterflies and dragonflies, the birds are singing in the woods and in the wetlands, and the Red Squirrels and chipmunks seem tamer, often coming close in the hope of receiving a handout or two. I visited late in the afternoon, with the specific goal of photographing butterflies and dragonflies, starting my walk with a tour of the open wildflower alvar next to the parking lot. This area is usually good for dragonflies and butterflies, and I was not disappointed. I saw several Common Whitetails here and a couple of Four-spotted Skimmers. Later in the season this will be a good spot for meadowhawks.
After checking Roger’s Pond, I decided to leave the clearing and take the right-hand trail (if facing north, toward Roger Stevens Drive) which looks as though it circles the pond. I have never followed the entire trail around the pond before and was hoping to find the little log shelter I’d seen pictures of in other peoples’ galleries.
The trail immediately plunged into the woods, although in several places only a thin screen of trees separated the forest trail from the pond clearing. At no time did I see the water, but in these open spots I found a singing Chestnut-sided Warbler in all his breeding-plumage beauty and a singing Rose-breasted Grosbeak.