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Summer Butterflies

Acadian Hairstreak

Acadian Hairstreak

It was sunny and warm this morning when I woke up, so I decided to head over to the Beaver Trail to see if any interesting butterflies were flying. The meadow there is a good spot for skippers, fritillaries and Common Wood Nymphs, and I’ve seen Monarchs nectaring there on the milkweeds and Viper’s Bugloss in the past. I also thought it would be a great idea to see what dragonflies were flying, in case there were emeralds flying there that I’d overlooked in the past.

When I arrived the first birds I heard were an Eastern Wood-pewee and a Broad-winged Hawk, which surprised me as I had just heard one at the Rideau Trail last weekend. I also heard a Red-shouldered Hawk’s whiny call, but the sound was coming from across the beaver pond and because of the distance I couldn’t tell if it was actually a Red-shouldered Hawk or a Blue Jay imitating it. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard either hawk here before.

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First Damselflies!

Mustard White

Mustard White

After we returned from Florida I was itching to get out and catch up with what remained of migration in Ottawa. I didn’t get out until late in the afternoon on Monday (the last day of my vacation) and spent an hour at the Beaver Trail around the corner from where I live. This was a great decision as I not only picked up two new birds for my year list, but also a few butterflies and my first dragonflies and damselflies of the season!

I arrived shortly before 3:00 pm, and to my surprise a lot of birds were still singing. I heard one Eastern Wood-pewee and a pair of Scarlet Tanagers singing near the Wild Bird Care Center; the Scarlet Tanager was a year bird for me. My second year bird was Alder Flycatcher, which I heard at the first opening onto the marsh traveling counterclockwise. The Alder Flycatcher was a new species for me at this trail, as were the half-dozen Bank Swallows that flew overhead, giving their characteristic harsh chatter as they flew.

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Butterflies and Migrants at Hurdman

Silvery Blue

I returned to work after enjoying an extra-long weekend in Nova Scotia, and I couldn’t wait to visit Hurdman at lunch on Friday to see what had changed in the days since I had last visited. Another large wave of Red Admiral butterflies had migrated north while I was out of the province, and this wave contained a larger proportion of Question Marks, American Ladies and Painted Ladies. I was looking forward to seeing whether any new butterfly species had arrived and/or emerged, and whether any of the usual breeding flycatchers, warblers and vireos had returned to Hurdman while I was away. I was also hoping to find some more migrating warbler species, as the Hurdman woods have been very productive for warblers these past two springs.

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The first spring babies

Canada Goose gosling

I took the day after returning from my trip to Nova Scotia off work to recover from the late night flight, but the weather was so gloomy that I figured it might be a great day to go see what was happening at Mud Lake. This turned out to be an awesome decision, as I saw 45 species, including 12 warblers, altogether. I met Bob Bracken and Chris Lewis on my way to the conservation area; they had their scopes pointed up into a tree on Britannia Street, so I stopped to see if maybe they had a Summer Tanager or an Orchard Oriole. It turned out they had seen a Merlin fly into the tree and were looking for a nest. We decided to meet at Britannia Point and bird the area together.

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A Brief Visit to Nova Scotia

Mustard White

My fiancé and I went to Nova Scotia during the first weekend of May for a brief visit. We went there chiefly to visit family, but I managed to get some birdwatching in during our visit. We arrived late Friday night and stayed in a hotel near the airport; on Saturday morning we drove up to Maitland to check out Doran’s father’s land. While driving up Highway 215 I noticed a large bird in a field next to the road. I asked Doran to stop the car to confirm that the bird was what I suspected: a Ring-necked Pheasant. We had to backtrack a bit, but when we returned to the spot I was not only able to get a good look at the bird, but also some good photographs!

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A Butterfly Invasion

Red Admiral

Sometimes nature puts on a show so spectacular that even those who are only vaguely aware that there is a wonderful, wild world beyond the technology-obsessed, glass and concrete cityscape take notice. This happened last week when millions of migratory butterflies journeyed north from their wintering grounds in the United States and invaded Eastern Canada, descending on city parks, green spaces and backyards to the astonishment of many. I received notice of this mass migration on Monday, April 16th from fellow OFNC member and University of Ottawa biologist Maxim Larrivée, who sent an email out to me and several other butterfly enthusiasts advising that thousands of migrating Red Admirals, American Ladies and Question Marks had been reported that day as far north as Brampton, Ontario. Maxim is a postdoctoral fellow leading the Canadian Butterfly and Global Change research at the Canadian Facility for Ecoinformatics Research and has been working hard with U of O biologist Jeremy Kerr to develop an online database similar to eBird for citizen scientists to report their sightings. This database, appropriately named eButterfly, has only been live for a few weeks now.

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A Few Butterflies

Spring Azure

After a long week of sunny but cool weather and a strong north wind which brought migration to a halt, Friday was warm with a high of 16°C. I couldn’t afford to take the afternoon off to look for bird and butterflies so I spent an hour and a half at Hurdman instead. Not surprisingly, I found no new birds and very few individuals; city workers were noisily clearing downed trees along the feeder path, which may have sent any birds that were around scurrying for cover.
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New Arrivals at Hurdman

It is difficult for me to be cooped up indoors during the month of May, so I’ve been spending as many lunch hours at Hurdman as possible this month so as not to miss out on spring migration. It was gray and gloomy on Friday, May 6th, when I saw a couple of Warbling Vireos, Yellow Warblers and Gray Catbirds for the first time at Hurdman this season. All of these birds breed here, so I’ll be seeing a lot of them over the summer! At least one Eastern Kingbird had also arrived, and there were still a large number of Yellow-rumped Warblers moving through.

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OFNC Outing to Constance Bay – Part II

Olympia Marble

After another stop at Jeff’s house to use the facilities and retrieve our cars, we traveled to Bishop Davis Drive in a long procession that must have bewildered the locals. Bishop Davis becomes a dirt road once it leaves the village behind, and eventually comes to a large track entering Torbolton Forest. This is a prime spot to look for the regionally uncommon Olympia Marble, a beautiful butterfly related to the more familiar Mustard and Cabbage Whites.

The Olympia Marble prefers open sandy or barren areas where rock cress, its larval host plant, occurs. With the beautiful green veining on the underside of its wings, it is unmistakable and definitely worth searching for.
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