June is one of my favourite months. Normally the weather is hot and sunny by the time the solstice rolls around, the birds are all in full song, and butterflies and dragonflies are emerging in woodlands, fields and wetlands. However, the weather this month has not been great. The rain from May continued on and off this month, keeping water levels of the rivers and ponds higher than normal, and likely delaying the emergence of many insects. The weekends have been nice, at least; I’ve been able to get out early in the day in order to look for new birds for my year list and any butterflies and dragonflies that may have emerged. While my enthusiasm has certainly declined since our amazing trip to Costa Rica, I’ve found myself regaining interest in visiting trails and conservation areas close to home, hoping to find some species I haven’t seen since the previous summer.
The day after my trip to the Bill Mason Center, I made plans with Chris Lewis and Chris Traynor to head out to the Cedar Grove Nature Trail in Marlborough Forest to look for odes around Roger’s Pond. I would be co-leading an OFNC outing there the following weekend with Jakob Mueller, a reptiles and amphibians guy, and wanted to get an idea of the dragonflies and damselflies that were flying. As we weren’t meeting at the parking lot there until 8:30, I headed out to Sarsaparilla Trail first, then the Rideau Trail for a quick look around.
On June 14th I returned to Roger’s Pond in Marlborough Forest to see if I could find another Twin-spotted Spiketail flying along the creek. I had had one there last year on June 2nd, and wasn’t sure whether it was too late for these large, handsome dragonflies. In any event, even if I couldn’t find the spiketail, there were plenty of other Marlborough Forest specialties to search for, including Silvery Checkerspots, Aurora Damsels, and Brush-tipped Emeralds. None of these were present on my visit here with Chris and Lorraine, but should have emerged in decent numbers by mid-June. I spent some time scanning the vegetation surrounding the parking lot for the Aurora Damsels, and found only one – then quickly lost it. Mindful of the poison ivy growing at the edges of the parking lot, I wasn’t able to search the thicker vegetation at the back too thoroughly, but I did come up with a few interesting bugs.
On June 7th I headed west to Dunrobin, still hoping to find some more birds for my year list. My plan was to stop in at Pinhey’s Point first, a historical site along the Ottawa River that I’d never visited before. I’d heard there were Cliff Swallows nesting there, and as I haven’t seen one of these birds in Ottawa in years, I was hoping it would be an easy tick. I was also still hoping to find the Golden-winged Warblers and Eastern Towhees that breed along the Thomas Dolan Parkway, plus whatever interesting butterflies and dragonflies that were flying – I’ve had both Baltimore Checkerspots and Horned Clubtails at the Stonecrest Trail, and was eager to see both again.
Marlborough Forest is not only a great place for birds and odonates, it is a wonderful spot for butterflies, too. When I arrived I spotted a couple of large butterflies fluttering through the parking lot as soon as I arrived; at least three White Admirals were basking on the sunlit gravel, though they kept chasing one another into the vegetation. I was hoping to get a photo of one perching on a leaf, but they were so active I wasn’t able to get any pictures. This Northern Crescent was much calmer, resting on a leaf while the much-larger Chalk-fronted Corporals hunted close by.
On June 24th my friend Melanie and I spent the morning at the Luskville Falls trail in Quebec; it happened to be Saint Jean Baptiste Day, a well-known Quebec holiday. Originally celebrated as the feast day of St. John the Baptist, the connection between Saint Jean Baptiste Day and French-Canadian patriotism was born in 1908 when St. John the Baptist was designated as the patron Saint of Quebec.
Melanie and I originally intended to spend the early part of the morning at the Champlain Lookout and Pink Lake in Gatineau Park, but as the only road up to these two places was closed to vehicular traffic until 11:00 a.m., we decided to make the drive to Luskville Falls instead.
On Sunday Deb and I met up to do some west end birding. It was supposed to be a gorgeous sunny day, but when I got up I was dismayed to see gray clouds overhead and a thick fog obscuring my neighbourhood. If the sun was shining above, I sure couldn’t see it! Still, I met Deb in our usual spot and was encouraged to hear that the sun was shining in the east end where she lives. We discussed our route for the morning, and as I loaded my gear into her car I noticed that one of the gulls in the parking lot was much bigger than the others. It was a Herring Gull, a sub-adult from the plumage; I snapped a few pictures, but as it was standing alone I wasn’t able to include any of the Ring-billed Gulls for size comparison.
In mid-July I visited Marlborough Forest with a couple of friends. Pat and Melanie had never been to the Cedar Grove Nature Trail, so I thought I’d introduce them to this wonderful trail. It was a warm, beautiful morning, and quickly grew very hot. The deer flies were annoying, but this time there were no swarms of Racket-tailed Emeralds, Common Pondhawks and Chalk-fronted Corporals to keep them at bay.
In the woods just beyond the parking lot we heard an Eastern Wood-pewee and a Red-eyed Vireo singing. Cedar Waxwings flew by overhead, and in the distance we heard a Blue Jay squawking.