Last year I discovered that the South March Highlands was a great spot to see some of the more uncommon sedge skippers in our region; I have been waiting all summer for July to arrive as I couldn’t wait to return this year! Last year I got my lifer Little Glassywing on July 5th and my lifer Mulberry Wing on July 12th, so I had high hopes for this visit on July 2nd. Though a few days earlier than my visits last year, members of the Ottawa butterfly group had already started reporting sedge skippers elsewhere, and so I was eager to check this under-reported area for the ones I had seen last year. The milkweed patch also hosts hairstreaks, fritillaries, monarchs, sulphurs and many other insect species – I thought for sure I would find something interesting on my visit!Continue reading
On Saturday, July 3rd I accompanied the McNamara Field Naturalists on their first in-person outing since the latest Stay-at-Home Order ended on June 2nd. Ontario entered Stage 2 of its reopening plan on July 2nd, which raised the number of people who could attend outdoor social gatherings and organized public events to 25 people (as well as allowing haircuts and personal care services again). Although I am not a member of the McNamara Field Naturalists Club, which calls Arnprior home but whose explorations include a large swath of the Ottawa Valley, one of my friends happens to be in charge of putting field trips together, and asked if I wanted to help lead a dragonfly walk. I said yes, and suggested Morris Island as it’s a great place to find all sorts of odes, including several flashy skimmers and clubtails that can be found perching in the vegetation and along the trails. I was thrilled when my mentor Chris Lewis joined us, as it would be easier to find some more of the unique species with a couple of knowledgeable people looking.Continue reading
He had had tremendous luck finding most of these target birds on the same tour at the end of June, so I was excited at the chance to see some of these difficult-to-find species. I was also looking forward to adding some new species to my county lists for Lanark, Lennox/Addington, Frontenac, and Hastings.
I had a really good walk there, seeing and hearing 28 species of birds. Highlights included a Double-crested Cormorant flying over (new for the trail) and two Broad-winged Hawks calling in the hydro cut area. Eventually I saw them both fly over and disappear into the woods on the north side of the clearing.
If you are a dragon-hunter in Ottawa, summer isn’t the same without a stop at Petrie Island in July. It is a great spot to see a number of species that are difficult to find elsewhere, so I try to get out there a couple of times each season. On July 6th Chris Lewis, Mike Tate and I visited Petrie Island together. The weather was not the greatest – the sun danced in and out of the clouds all morning, and it grew very hot and humid as the morning wore on. By the end of our two-and-a-half hours there, we were hot, sticky and uncomfortable and I only wanted to go home to my air-conditioned house. The intermittent overcast conditions meant that we didn’t see as many species as we would have liked, but we did manage to see several Petrie Island “specialties”. The birding was good, too, though we didn’t see anything really exciting. An Osprey was the best bird of the outing, though the usual House Wrens, Tree Swallows, Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts, Eastern Kingbirds, and Great Crested Flycatchers were present.
On our way to the back of the trail system we found a very brown Snowshoe Hare and two small toads in the middle of the path. The hare hopped away into the undergrowth before I could turn my camera on, but the toads were more cooperative. It seems to be a good year for them.
On Sunday I returned to Petrie Island with Chris Traynor, a friend from the Ottawa Field-Naturalists’ Club who has recently taken an interest in the odonata. He was so intrigued by the Vesper Bluet photos I posted on Facebook that he decided to try and find them for himself; I offered to meet him there as I wanted another chance to see them, as well as the Swamp Spreadwings and Unicorn Clubtail. I had also just gotten a new camera, the Sony Cybershot DSC-HX200V, that I wanted to try out. It has a 30x zoom and a few other bells and whistles I was hoping to play with.