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Dragonflies and an Elfin at the Bill Mason Center

Eastern Pine Elfin

When I got back from Costa Rica I didn’t much feel like doing any birding back here in Ottawa. I’d been spoiled by all the colourful, tropical birds and exotic species that I’d seen – Costa Rica was a dream come true for me, and it was hard to return to reality. As soon as I got back I started thinking about a return trip there, wanting to spend more time in the rainforest so I could see birds such as Cotingas, Jacamars and Bellbirds. And oh, the hummingbirds and tanagers there!

It was difficult to get excited about birding in Ottawa, and the weather didn’t help. It was cold and rainy when we left and still cold (only 16°C) when I returned. The thought of going dragon-hunting stirred my interest somewhat, and when the weather warmed up the weekend after we got back, I decided it was time to take my net out of hibernation.
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Dragonfly Season Begins!

Northern Spring Azure

Northern Spring Azure

By the third week of May the weather finally warmed up enough to do some dragon-hunting, so on May 21st I made plans with Chris L. and Jakob M. to go to Roger’s Pond in Marlborough Forest to look for birds, bugs and herps. We had great luck with all three, though mammals were sadly lacking. I’m not sure why I don’t see many mammals at this trail; the only one I can remember seeing with any certainty was a Snowshoe Hare right on the gravel trail as it ran by me.

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Spring Beauties: Butterflies, a Porcupine and Spring Ephemerals

Spring Beauty

Spring Beauty

The Beaver Trail is one of my favourite trails to visit in mid-spring: spring ephemerals such as violets, Trilliums and Hepatica are in bloom, a good variety of butterflies – including various anglewings, Mustard Whites, elfins and azures – are on the wing, and both breeding birds and migrants alike can be found along the edge habitat surrounding the ponds. Although one of the shorter trails in Stony Swamp, the variety of wildlife that can be found here makes it worth visiting in any season. Spring, however, is my favourite season for visiting. On May 7th I arrived at the parking lot just before 8:00 am, and found only a few chickadees and Song Sparrows. It wasn’t until I reached the first marsh that I heard my first good bird of the day – an American Bittern. This was a year bird for me, and not a bird I hear very often in Stony Swamp, making it a great find.

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Waiting for Migration to Resume

Raccoon

Raccoon

The long-awaited south winds arrived on Saturday, and I was eager to get out the door early and see if any new birds had blown in with the gorgeous weather. I started off the day at Jack Pine Trail where I hoped to find the Black-backed Woodpeckers again. Though I didn’t see the woodpeckers or any new birds (where are the Winter Wrens? The Field Sparrows?), I did come up with 25 species, including two Tree Swallows flying over the marsh at the back, three different Brown Creepers singing, two Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a flock of 10 Cedar Waxwings flying over, half a dozen White-throated Sparrows singing, and a single Purple Finch.

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Mer Bleue Part II: Wildlife

Balder’s Arctic

Two unique butterflies and one rare dragonfly call the Mer Bleue bog home: the Brown Elfin, Balder’s Arctic (formerly known as Jutta Arctic) and the Ebony Boghaunter (formerly known as Fletcher’s Dragonfly). When I visited the bog a year ago I only found two of those species – the Brown Elfin and the Ebony Boghaunter. This time I spent a little more time on the southern section of the boardwalk, accompanied by the songs of the Lincoln’s Sparrows and Palm Warblers, both of which breed in the bog, as I rambled along. I saw a number of small moths flying amongst the vegetation, and every time one came close to me I got my hopes up that it was the small Brown Elfin butterfly. Then I saw two larger, darker butterflies battling together above the bog. They flew toward me, too busy pecking away at each other to notice me, coming close enough to touch. I didn’t get a good enough look at them to identify them before they drifted away.

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Late Afternoon Beauties

Eastern Pine Elfin

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.

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MacGregor Point PP: The rest of day 1

After the walk ended my mother and I ate lunch at the Visitor’s Center then did some exploring of our own. We returned to the Huron Fringe Trail, the official name for the boardwalks encircling the Visitor Center, and spent some time on the beach. We didn’t see anything unusual in either place, although it was great to see all the Herring Gulls on the water, a species I usually don’t see in Ottawa until late fall and winter.
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