Bruce Pit is under-valued as a great spot to see a variety of insects at the peak of summer. Though I’ve spent a lot of time looking for dragonflies there, it wasn’t until recently that I realized it could be good for other types of insects as well. In 2020 I found a species of tiger beetle there that I had never seen before, Punctured Tiger Beetle, and last year I observed it again, as well as another type of tiger beetle: the colourful Festive Tiger Beetle. Tiger beetles have long flight seasons, but are not active during the entire summer; they become inactive or aestivate (the summer equivalent of “hibernate”) during the hottest part of the year, so it is easier to find them towards the beginning and end of summer. I started visiting on June 17th this year, hoping to find some good odes, butterflies, and a few different tiger beetles for my life list.
I left southern Ontario dark and early on Saturday, August 23rd. By 8:30 am I had made it to Brighton and decided to stretch my legs at Presqu’ile Provincial Park, a great spot to see shorebirds along Lake Ontario in the fall. It was cloudy but humid by the time I arrived at my first stop, Owen Point, and the mosquitoes were pretty nasty. I didn’t see much along the trail until I reached the last lookout, where I spotted an Empidonax flycatcher in the vegetation. It flew off before I could form any sort of impression of ID. A fellow birder kindly pointed out a couple of shorebirds at the tip of Owen Point and allowed me to spray up with his bug spray. I saw the Black-bellied Plover at the tip but couldn’t see the Ruddy Turnstone he had mentioned; at my feet, two Semipalmated Sandpipers and two Semipalmated Plovers were foraging along the water’s edge.
On Saturday, June 21, 2014, a group of OFNC naturalists led by Robert Alvo and Jakob Mueller visited Opinicon Road and the lands around the Queens University Biological Station (“QUBS”) for a day of birding and herping in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve. Although not even two hours away from Ottawa, this area is rich in fauna typically found in southern Ontario, and our goal was to see some of these species. Targets included Gray Ratsnake, Cerulean Warbler, Golden-winged Warbler, Yellow-throated Vireo, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Red-shouldered Hawk, Black-billed Cuckoo and Yellow-billed Cuckoo. The drive down to Opinicon Road was uneventful, and our first stop of the day was a beaver pond just south of Chaffey’s Locks.
The Bruce Pit is always a great place to visit in the summer, so I decided to spend a couple of hours there one morning in early June to check out the marsh birds and odes. It was a beautiful, warm summer day, and one of my goals was to search the pond for Eastern Red Damsels. This is the only place in Ottawa where this small damselfly seems to be found, though I have not seen one for several years now. According to the Ottawa Odes checklist, they emerge in mid-June and fly until late July. I was a bit early – it was only June 8th – but decided to try for them anyway.
I began my visit with a walk around the pond while I waited for it to warm up. I saw one Great Egret flying over the pit and a Great Blue Heron stalking fish at the edge of the pond. A pair of Pied-billed Grebes were vocalizing in the reeds at the edge of the pond, and I heard a pair of Marsh Wrens singing as well.
Deb and I enjoyed our picnic by the water, though there were few ducks to be seen on the lake. One of my favourite spots in the park is the field of wildflowers behind the picnic area, where I enjoy spending time looking for butterflies. It is also a good spot for dragonflies, which can often be seen patrolling the skies above. Common Green Darners, mosaic darners, and Black Saddlebags are the chief species seen here, and I always hope to find them perching in the vegetation.
After we had finished our lunch I grabbed my net and my camera and went looking for butterflies. We saw and photographed Monarchs, crescents, Cabbage Whites, Clouded and Orange Sulphurs, Eastern Tailed Blues and, best of all, at least two Common Buckeyes! Continue reading →