Algonquin Part V: Butterflies and Peck’s Lake

Doran and I returned to our campsite for lunch. Afterward Doran wanted to rest, and since my Dad wasn’t around I decided to read for a while. A Northern Pearly-eye wandered into our campsite, so I took some photos of it resting in a patch of sunlight. After about half an hour, however, I started to get restless and decided to go for a walk up to the lake. I was hoping to find some dragonflies, as I’d seen a few large, dark ones patrolling the shoreline on my previous visit, but none were visible this time. I did count four loons on the lake, and a small number of Chipping Sparrows flitting between the lawn and the conifers above the swimming area.

This is the Northern Pearly-eye seen in our campsite:

Northern Pearly-Eye

While walking along the road back from the lake I noticed a large dragonfly sitting on the road. At first I was thrilled when I realized it was a clubtail, but after taking several photos while edging closer to it I realized it wasn’t moving. Normally dragonflies move their heads while tracking movements of smaller insects, but this one wasn’t doing that at all. When I got close enough for a macro shot I realized it was dead. I picked it up, put it on a leaf, and photographed it so I could at least identify it later. When I checked my book I realized it was a Black-shouldered Spinyleg, which would have been a lifer for me, had it been alive.

Black-shouldered Spiny Leg

Just as I was walking into the campground my Dad’s van pulled up beside me. He said they were all going to the Peck Lake trail and were looking for me, so I hopped in the van. I had never been to Peck Lake before, but I knew it was a short, 1.9 km trail which circles the lake. My dragonfly field guide notes that the Dragonhunter and Swift River Cruiser may be seen flying over the lake itself. I didn’t see either of these, but then it was fairly cloudy and cool, not really good dragon-hunting weather.

Peck Lake

In the woods, the trail required much attention as there were plenty of roots and exposed sections of uneven bedrock. I heard a few Golden-crowned Kinglets and saw a Black-and-white Warbler along the way. Then the trail went down to the water again and crossed a marshy section along one edge. This spot is noted as being a good place to look for Boreal Bluets in the early part of the summer and Marsh Bluets, Eastern Forktails, Sedge Sprites, and meadowhawks later in the summer. I saw one meadowhawk land on the boardwalk but couldn’t get close enough to identify it before it flew away.

Boardwalk along the Peck Lake Trail

The sun came out a little later, and we found a nice large rock to sit on and drink in the beauty of the lake. In the trees across the way we saw a group of Cedar Waxwings flying around, and to our right we could hear a single White-throated Sparrow singing.

Peck Lake

We saw a beaver lodge near the edge of the lake but no beavers, and although the trail was beautiful I was disappointed there wasn’t more wildlife around. A red squirrel scolded us from the trees, but that was the only mammal we found. It was a beautiful trail, but one I’d love to do in the fall once the leaves have changed colour.

The next morning the clouds finally cleared and it promised to be a beautiful day. It also proved to be a good one for butterflies. Unfortunately, that was the day we were leaving. While we were discussing the logistics of packing up and traveling by convoy back to our place (Dad was coming to visit for a few days), I noticed a butterfly fluttering about the back of their campsite. When it landed on the ground near the back of the trailer, I grabbed my camera and took a few pictures.

Green Comma

The pattern on top of the butterfly told me it was a comma, but I had to wait until it closed its wings to figure out which one. The silver crescent was not as thin and angular as it would be in a Grey Comma, and it lacked the small spot of a Question Mark. When I showed my photos to Ross Layberry, he confirmed that this was a Green Comma – a species I had never seen before. The name comes from the thin, jagged green line near the edge of its wings. It isn’t very visible in this photo:

Green Comma

Still, it was a new species for me, one that I was thrilled to see. I also saw a fritillary flying in the parking area near the garbage and recycling bins and a few sulphurs near the sanitation station. I also saw a small, dark butterfly near the Visitor’s Center which might have been a hairstreak. Altogether I only identified three butterflies – the Compton Tortoiseshell, the Northern Pearly-eye and the Green Comma – all of which were seen in our campsite where I had time to study and photograph them. I would have loved to have stayed just one more day, now that the weather had finally improved, but we had cats at home waiting for us to get back. Doran and I were able to visit the Whiskey Rapids Trail one last time before we left, but I took so many pictures that I’ll have to post them in a separate entry.

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