Friday, September 25, 2009

Paddling at Coldwell

We enjoyed a great afternoon paddling and hiking around Coldwell - described elsewhere as an abandoned place. Coldwell is one of several former commercial fishing ports along this stretch of the lake.

You can see from the photo that Coldwell isn't exactly abandoned; however, the permanent population is now two hardy souls, down from a peak of 100 or so in the early 1900's. A handful of others maintain season camps or cottages.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Wild Currant

This is prime time for wild fruits.

These currants will likely be rendered into a sauce to accompany wild game.

Darners of September

There were a few darners flying along the Lake Superior shore at Coldwell this evening. I netted (and released) six Shadow Darners (Aeshna umbrosa), One Canada Darner (A. canadensis) and one Sedge Darner (A. juncea). The latter species has a circumboreal distribution.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Magnolia Warbler in the dunes

This hatching-year Magnolia Warbler responded to my pishing. Other birds in the loose flock included Solitary Vireo, Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Eastern Garter Snake near Pebble Beach

Some 17 species of snakes are found in Ontario but, to the best of our knowledge, the very widespread Eastern Garter Snake is the only one that inhabits the north shore of Superior. We found this individual on a sunny afternoon along the trail to the lagoon, east of Pebble Beach. Garter snakes in our region often show some reddish pigmentation on the flanks, as this one did.


Monday, September 21, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Migrating shorebirds

A variety of shorebirds are filtering through the region. Last week, a Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus) was seen at Pukaskwa and in town, I've encountered small numbers of some other common species.
One of four Least Sandpipers (Calidris minutilla) at the Marathon boat launch on September 2.

A Sanderling (Calidris alba) at the Marathon boat launch on September 2.

A Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) seen at Batchawana Bay on August 29.

A Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) at the Marathon boat launch on September 11.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Triton Dagger Moth

We came upon the beautiful caterpillar as it fed on the leaves of a Northern Bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum) at the edge of the rocky shore about one km east of Pebble Beach, in Marathon.

With no clue as to the identity of this larva, we submitted an ID Request to and minutes later came the suggestion of Triton Dagger (Acronicta tritona), based on a photo in the recently published Caterpillars of Eastern North America: A Guide to Identification and Natural History by David L. Wagner, of the University of Connecticut. Within an hour, Dr. Wagner confirmed the ID and shared with us some of the species' natural history. All of its known host plants are in the Ericaceae (blueberries, azaleas, etc). While other authors have described the species as uncommon to rare, Dr. Wagner has found the species to be common over acid soils along the Atlantic coastal plain.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

On the shoreline of Lake Superior Provincal Park

This attractive Long-horned Beetle (Stictoleptura canadensis) was resting on some driftwood on a sandy beach in Lake Superior Provincial Park.

Butterwort (Pinguicula vulgaris).

Kalm's Lobelia (Lobelia kalmii).

Swamp Thistle (Cirsium muticum).

Late season dragonflies

Odes are still on the wing during the current mild spell. Most conspicuous are ones and twos of darners (Aeshnidae) - Shadow Darners (Aeshna umbrosa) and Canada Darners (A. canadensis) are airborne, seeking out mates and suitable oviposition sites along steam and pool edges.
Shadow Darners (Aeshna umbrosa) from the bank of Angler Creek, west of Marathon - male (front) and female (back).
Among Skimmers (Libellulidae) we've seen many Meadowhawks (Sympetrum sp.) along grassy trails and in clear cuts.
A very late-flying Boreal Snaketail (Ophiogomphus colubrinus) seen east of Terrace Bay.
The only Clubtail (Gomphidae) we encountered this past week was a lone Boreal Snaketail (Ophigomphus colubrinus) near Terrace Bay. According to Colin Jones, administrator of the Ontario Odonata Atlas database, September 4 is only five days shy of the latest date on record for the species. The associated website, hosted by the Natural Heritage Information Centre of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, includes distribution maps of all of the damselflies and dragonflies known from the province. It's a great source for generating regional lists of species that can be expected from a given area. There appears to be a paucity of records for the north shore of Lake Superior.

Here, for example, is the map showing the occurrences of Boreal Snaketail in northern Ontario.

Colin Jones is also a co-author of the recently published Field Guide to The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and the Surrounding Area. This easy-to-use guide covers most of the species one can expect in our area and has greatly enhanced our appreciation of the local fauna.

More on the guide:

A comprehensive field guide to all 135 species of dragonflies and damselflies found in Algonquin Provincial Park and surrounding area, extending across southcentral Ontario and into southwestern Quebec. Detailed, full-colour illustrations of all species, including males, females and variants. Additional close-up illustrations of features important in species identification. Key field marks are highlighted through the use of arrows and accompanying text. Information on identification, similar species, habitat, behaviour, flight period, status and range for each species. Includes an introduction, complete with illustrations and photographs, to anatomy and life cycle, as well as the fundamentals of observation, identification and capture. A site guide to some of the key areas within Algonquin Park to find and observe these fascinating insects. This book is one of many publications produced by The Friends of Algonquin Park, and the first in the new Field Guide series. Colin D. Jones, Andrea Kingsley, Peter Burke and Matt Holder. Released October 2008, soft cover, 14 x 21cm, 263 pages

This guide can be purchased here.