Sunday, 20 August 2017

Perils of Being a Pollinator

While out for a walk a couple weeks ago, I found a patch of Joe Pye Weed that seemed to be popular with the pollinators.  It looked to be an easily accessible and abundant nectar source and I assumed that this Red-Spotted Purple was taking advantage of that.

However when it didn't move I moved in for a closer look and found it's antennae and proboscis tightly in the clutch of an odd looking bug.

And there wasn't just one, upon closer examination I found several more, carefully tucked in and waiting for an unsuspecting meal.

Nearby this Cabbage White had met its end in the same manner.
They are Ambush Bugs, a species I had heard of before but had never seen them.  I did some research and discovered that their preferred method of hunting is lurking in among flowers and attacking unsuspecting prey.  They do help control various insect pests, but are not so appreciated when they prey on pollinators.  Beekeepers in particular, sometimes consider them to be a pest.

I went back a few days later and found several still present.  This one had snagged a more manageable sized meal.
Despite the fact that they can sometimes be considered a pest, it was interesting to observe a new insect species.

I found this monarch caterpillar on the way out.

It's been a good year for monarch caterpillars around here.  In two evenings of searching, I managed to find nearly 70 eggs on milkweed in the yard.

Found this tattered Giant Swallowtail a few days later.

Sourced From:  Proctor Foster, Leslie. Garden Bugs of Ontario. Lone Pine Publishing, 2008

Friday, 4 August 2017

North to Manitoulin

It's been a while since my last post.  Summer is always a hectic time when living on a farm and it seems to slip by much too fast.  Hard to believe it's August already and fall migrants are already starting to trickle through.

I managed to take some time to visit Manitoulin Island for several days last week.  I have many fond memories of summers spent visiting the island and I was looking forward to exploring a new area this year.  Our neighbors had rented a cottage on the island for a week and had invited us to come join them.  Some family issues meant that plans had to be altered somewhat, but I still had several days up there to explore flora and fauna.

The first target when headed up the Bruce Peninsula was to check around the community of Mar for Brewer's Blackbird.  A fellow birder had told me where to look for this species and it wasn't long before I came across this individual, my first lifer of the trip.

An early foggy ferry crossing the following morning, meant an early arrival at Pike Lake, home for the next few days.
Fog over the ferry.
Pike Lake
Pike Lake

It was here that I finally managed to set my eyes on a White Admiral, the northern counterpart of the Red-Spotted Purple butterflies that I am familiar with back home.

This Black Swallowtail also posed nicely.

I realized that I should brush up on dragonfly identification as I watched them cruise over the water.  I believe that the two below are widow skimmers.
Male Widow Skimmer
Female Widow Skimmer

Birds are harder to track down when leaves are on the trees, but I did manage to see and hear numerous species.
A pair of Alder Flycatchers were seen and heard regularly.

American Redstart
We spent a lot of time out on Pike Lake in the canoe.  The fishing wasn't great but it was peaceful floating out there.

We also spent some time driving around the island.
Striped Hairstreak, Gore Bay
Ring-Billed Gull, Providence Bay
Roadside Meadowlark
The final morning on the island, we decided to take a walk around South Baymouth before having to leave on the ferry.  There is a series of little known trails on the edge of the town which provided a great place to walk through true northern scenery accompanied by singing warblers, croaking ravens and crashing waves.

Common Yellowthroats were numerous but they dont't seem to want to sit still for long.
Prickly Wild Rose

Red Squirrel

Our time on the island came to a close as the Chi-Cheemaun came sailing in.  

Cove Island Lighthouse seen from the Chi Cheemaun.
The last stop of the trip was to look for one of the previously reported Dickcissels on the Bruce peninsula.  No luck, but it was an enjoyable trip nonetheless.