Jack Pine Trail in the evening

The Friday after my OFNC outing I took the afternoon off work and visited Jack Pine Trail. I had things on my mind and needed a distraction, and I knew a walk with my camera at one of my favourite trails would provide just the distraction I needed. It was after 3:30 when I got there; a little later than I planned, but still hot and sunny.

Just like my previous outing at Jack Pine Trail on Sunday, the first interesting thing I saw was not a bird, but rather a completely unexpected mammal – a raccoon on the ground near the OFNC bird feeder area. I think the raccoon had been eating some food left out for the deer when I startled him; I caught a glimpse of him galloping into the bush and then he was gone.

The area by the bench was sunny, and as a result a few butterflies were fluttering about. I saw a pair of Little Wood Satyrs, a Hobomok Skipper, and a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail. The swallowtail stayed well out of reach of my camera, but the skipper and one of the Little Wood Satyrs were more cooperative.

Little Wood Satyr

A little further along I noticed a large, colourful, hairy fly resting on a log. It flew up when I approached, landed a little further down the log, then flew onto a leaf when I tried to take a picture. Eventually I succeeded in getting a picture worth posting; I suspected it was a Robber Fly of some sort, a predatory fly often called the falcon of the insect world. My suspicions were later confirmed when I reviewed my photos.

Robber Fly (Laphria sp.)

A few birds were still singing even late in the afternoon; I heard two Black-throated Green Warblers, an Ovenbird, three Eastern Wood-Pewees, two Red-eyed Vireos and even a Scarlet Tanager. One Blue Jay, a couple of Swamp Sparrows and a Common Yellowthroat were present at the middle boardwalk, where I found a male mallard resting on the boardwalk rail. There was no sign of the Snapping Turtle.


The alvar was quiet – there were no White-throated or Field Sparrows singing, and the only bird I noticed was a Northern Flicker flying over. I noticed a small moth land on a juniper bush; I was surprised by the soft, delicate colours that were revealed when viewed up close. The pattern made the moth fairly easy to identify as an Olive-shaded Bird dropping Moth, an awful name for such a pretty insect. I think the name is bigger than he is!

Olive-shaded Bird dropping Moth

I found a couple of flowers in the meadow which I thought were worth photographing. I hadn’t realized the Bladder Campion was so pretty until I took a closer look.

Bladder Campion

No skippers were nectaring on the ragwort; while I normally see them doing this along the Rideau Trail, I haven’t yet found them doing this anywhere else.

Balsam Ragwort

A couple more skippers did make an appearance at the back of the meadow. Another Hobomok Skipper was nectaring on Cow Vetch, and a female Tawny-edged Skipper was just resting on a leaf close to the ground. The clouds were moving in and the sun was dropping lower in the sky, which is probably why these butterflies were less active.

Female Tawny-edged Skipper

Hobomok Skipper

A couple more moths caught my attention in the woods near the marsh at the back of the trail. The first was a pale White-Banded toothed Carpet Moth, a species which seems to be quite common as I have photographed it many times both at Jack Pine Trail and in my own yard. This one seems much more colourful than the other ones that I’ve seen:

White-Banded toothed Carpet Moth

I also saw two of these Simple Wave moths resting in the vegetation. They tend to sit out in the open, highly visible to people like me who like to look for moths.

Simple Wave (Scopula junctaria)

I crossed the small boardwalk at the stream and noticed something rustling in the cattails. It was something large – I could not only hear it, but could see the cattails waving back and forth. Then it moved, and I saw a dark back covered in quills. This was the first time I’d seen a porcupine in such a dense stand of vegetation and I stood there, awestruck. I think the porcupine realized I was there, for he began climbing the nearest tree.


It was a neat encounter, and with the raccoon at the beginning of my walk, one of the best outings I’d had at Jack Pine Trail in a while.

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