On the last day of July I spent some time at Old Quarry Trail, a place I hadn’t visited since March. I always like to visit this trail at least a couple of times each season; it’s great for robins, waxwings, Black-backed Woodpeckers, and porcupines in winter, warblers in migration, and a variety of breeding birds and odes in summer. It has a nice mix of habitats, with mixed coniferous-deciduous forest, a large, cattail-filled marsh, vernal ponds, and an open field which are all home to a variety of species. Summer, however, is my favourite time for visiting, as I’ve found a number of interesting odes there during the height of dragonfly season, including a Williamson’s Emerald patrolling the boardwalk a few years back.
After getting lucky with the Banded Hairstreak on Friday I decided to try for another hairstreak butterfly in a different location nearby: the Acadian Hairstreak. In July 2014 I had found a small colony of these small, gray butterflies at the Bruce Pit and hoped to find them there again this year. It’s also a good spot for birds and dragonflies, so I decided to bring my net and spend some time there. As the “pit” itself has become overgrown with cattails, I decided not to walk down to the water, but to check the meadow above it instead. This turned out to be a wise decision as there were a number of tiny toads at the water’s edge and I didn’t want to accidentally step on any.
Chris Traynor and I found more than just dragonflies in Gatineau Park – there were lots of other birds and bugs at the Sugarbush Trail and Dunlop Picnic area to keep us busy. The birds were typical of a morning in early summer – many were singing in the woods and open areas, but few were actually seen. We heard a Scarlet Tanager, White-throated Sparrow, Brown Creeper, Common Raven, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Veery, Black-and-white Warbler and a pair of Common Yellowthroats; I managed to see a Yellow Warbler, a Belted Kingfisher flying through the woods down the creek, and an Ovenbird that posed out in the open long enough for a few photos. It wasn’t the birds I had come to see, however, and the variety of odonates and insects we found was amazing. My previous post covers all the dragonflies we found; this post is limited to the damselflies and other insects we saw.
After leaving Cape Breton Doran and I spent the rest of our vacation in Greenwood. We stayed with Doran’s foster mother, Iris, just outside of town on the South Mountain; though at 275 metres in height, the “mountain” is the same height as the Eardley Escarpment in Gatineau. This granite ridge forms the southern edge of the Annapolis Valley and protects it from severe weather blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. There are plenty of fields and small woodlots along the roadways on top of the mountain, and small lakes and larger swathes of mixed forest beyond the main roads. Iris’s property consisted of a large yard with a small woodlot containing a swampy area at the back; if that wasn’t enough for me, there was a dirt road close by which was wooded on one side and had a dense scrubby meadow on the other. All of this made for some excellent habitat to look for wildlife.
On June 6, 2015, I visited the Bruce Pit and a couple of the Stony Swamp trails before heading off to the Richmond Lagoons to look for a few common birds that I was missing from my year list. At Sarsaparilla Trail I saw a Snowshoe Hare near the entrance to the woods and heard a Northern Waterthrush singing somewhere across the pond, a new bird for my year list, though one I wasn’t expecting. Also of note were a Marsh Wren singing in the reeds right next to the boardwalk and a male Scarlet Tanager in the woods. I found him singing his hoarse, robin-like song right at the end of the branch overhead, his bright red underparts glowing in the foliage.
At the Bruce Pit I added Common Gallinule to my year list when I spotted an adult walking with a young bird at the edge of the cattails. I also saw a Virginia Rail and a beaver in the creek, a Belted Kingfisher hovering over the pond, pairs of Killdeer and Spotted Sandpiper feeding along the water’s edge, and a couple of Chestnut-sided Warblers at the back of the trail. I heard an American Redstart and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak singing but wasn’t able to spot either of them. It was too early for any dragonflies to be flying yet.
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.
After my success in finding the first dragonflies of the season at the Beaver Trail five days earlier, I was eager to find some more and spent the last day of May on the trails of the South March Highlands where I’d had some luck before. I stopped at the Nortel Marsh first, hoping to find the Willow Flycatcher that I missed on my previous visit as well as a colony of Sedge Wrens that had taken up residence in the large sedge meadow north of the bike trail. I didn’t hear any Sedge Wrens singing, but I did find 27 species during my visit, including two Willow Flycatchers calling in the cattail marsh at the back, a Wilson’s Snipe perching on a stump, two female Purple Finches, two Brown Thrashers, one Marsh Wren, an Alder Flycatcher, three Bobolinks in the Equestrian Park, and two Savannah Sparrows in the same field as the Bobolinks.