Saturday, June 30, 2012

Early leps from March and April

Little did we know how crazy things would become.....

American Lady - Point Pelee in April

Spring Azure - Point Pelee - March

Question Mark - Point Pelee - April

Yes, I'm still away working and this is pre-written material... But I'm pretty excited to get home and do some extra curricular butterflying later in July and August... Hopefully we get some more of those super hot and humid south winds from the deep sud!

Friday, June 29, 2012

what the eft?

A couple of Red-spotted Newt (Eft) photos from this June.....

Individual #1 was dark and only had two spots... I don't know all that much about Herps, but it seemed a bit strange to only have two spots? 

Individual #2 looked radioactive, with several huge red spots... Any herp experts out there have anything cool to say about the species?  Cause I don't have much... 

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A few odes

Nothing special here, average photos of fairly bland and fairly common species...

Dusky Clubtail

American Emerald


The Ont-Odes group has been humming along nicely in Ode season..... It's a fun group since you can post anything (as long as its somewhat ode-related)... Have a picture of a Dragonfly you want to ID? Sign up and post! It's not just a sightings listserv..... 

We're also stuck at 96 members... Only 4 away from triple digits! 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Northern Leps - well skippers...

Arctic Skipper - wish it was sharper, but I like the setting/individual

Hobomok Skipper --- this is one of those pics, where in a few years I will get a good pic of this species... And I'll look back and say "ugh, I can't believe I once put that online"... But for now, it's the best I have... 

Pepper and Salt Skipper --- I was quite happy with this one.. Nice and fresh

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Southern Leps

Common Ringlet - Dunnville Area - Early June 2012

Common Sootywing - Dunnville Area - Early June 2012

I was pretty happy with the Sootywing pic...... 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Storm Filler

Two takes of a nice thunder storm moving along the shore of Lake Superior... From earlier in June

And a Canadian Tiger Swallowtail photographed as it approached.... 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

HEY... It's me...

I find myself with a spare hour before I have to catch a plane! 98% of June blog material (right into July) is pre-written and scheduled to post itself.... But I couldn't resist talking about a few things I've been following recently!


Shorebirds are moving south! Started even before the last cold front... There are a surprising number of Late June/very early July records of Ruff...

Need proof? Here's an adult female Ruff (Reeve) my Dad and I found in September several years ago.......


Remember when I rabbled about the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) for most of the winter and spring? And how it was really positive most of the winter, and we had wicked winds/storms and sweet vagrants even in the worst possible time? (Late Winter)..

And then how it pretty much died come spring vagrant season and we had a fairly poor rarity May?

Well as of today, it is still negative, and forecast to go even lower.............. There are a huge number of weather factors that can bring us rarities, but it looks like the NAO is NOT going to be helping anytime soon...


Remember last summer when I rabbled about how hopefully the MEGA drought in Texas would bring us some cool herons etc? Well it didn't happen....

Why? Well my guess is that it was way TOO wet in the US Midwest... IF anything left texas, it never got anywhere near us due to the heavy rains in places like southern IL, TN, KY etc...

But what about the summer of 2012?

DROUGHT baby... FInally starting to approach SW Ontartio from the US midwest..... This is going to be an awesome learning experience to see what sort of things happen in July and August (if it holds)... Clearly it has already brought a good number of things like Dickcissels...

Fingers crossed for some fun birds (I'm still banking on Little Blue Herons).... But with the drought hitting hardest in the northern Mississippi River area (Southern IL) maybe we COULD (I repeat, could) have a slight chance at something better like a Least Tern or Anhinga (or something stupid like Limpkin)...

Clearly I'm stretching here, but it is going to be fun to watch how it unfolds...


Tropical Storm Debby:

Right now we have our 4th named storm in the atlantic/gulf basin..... Debby is RECORD early for a "4th" storm since they started keeping records in 1851....

It is being "sheared" and hampered by dry air, which has largely exposed the centre of the storm (seen above, the thicker clouds are greatly displaced from the centre to the E, NE and N), but is quite large....

It is wobbling around in the gulf, and has been one of the most confusing storms for the experts to "predict a path" for in a long time...  Here's the major global forecast models as of this morning:

Those are THEE BEST weather models in the world, trying to predict where the storm is going to travel..... Typically they all follow a similar route, but clearly there are some major difficulties in predicting this one.... How does the National Hurricane Centre (USA) try to tell people to prepare for a major storm like this? When the models have most of the US gulf states as possible targets?

Kind of fun to watch and see how it plays out... I check the NOAA page:

And Jeff Masters Blog (for both the posts and comments, but beware the comment section):

- unfortunatley no matter how this plays out, it is very very unlikley that we will get to enjoy and weather or bird related fun.......



I predicted last week would bring some more rare leps to Ontario, and people at Pelee were happy to oblige by finding awesome species like White-M Hairstreak, Cloudless Sulphur and Hoarce's Duskywing... The winds sort of died early, so it's not totally suprising to me that it wasn't a major major event, but those are some really awesome sightings...

Now I'm just waiting another few weeks until I can get some spare time to go out and look for myself again !!! Zebra Swallowtail and White-M Hairstreak are extremley high on my lep wish-list......


Ok I think I'm good for now........

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Nature Photography 104: Part 13: the Butterfly effect

To make a very long story short, I keep finding myself annoyed with nature photography. I was very worked up a few days ago, when I became quite confident that the winner of a fairly large photo contest must have edited/doctored the photo... I then look at said persons website, and found some very blatant editing along with large amounts of shameless self-promotion as a truly expert photographer. 

This really wasn't anything new, but I learned something from it: People can do whatever the heck they want, and I shouldn't care about it. If it bothers me, I can just focus on how I conduct myself and my photography! And with that said, I had the idea to reveal some of the work done on my own photos on my personal website. 

Are you ready for a look at everything you may or may not already know about nature photography? I'll post the website version first, followed by the totally un-edited original.


A fun edition of NP104... I did away with the stupid banner, but decided to leave the generic message on top. Not sure why, but then again I don't really understand most of the things I do.......

I decided to show off some photos from this spring, and since the only thing I've edited is (essentially) butterfly photos, they're on deck... I find my personal preferences are always changing, and photos I've taken two or three years ago often disappoint when I look at them today... But anyways, here's a selection of "before and after" images on some Pelee/Island lep pics.

Dainty Sulphur

As I've posted about, there was a lot of cool species to photograph this past May... You'll notice my insect pic originals are all square (due to the camera and format it uses), but I will always crop them, because I hate squares... 

Mourning Cloak

With a lot of my recent photography, I've been trying to change as little as possible when it comes to the setting and scene elements (from what it looked like in real life)... 

Painted Lady

There was several species I had never photographed "well" before, such as this Painted Lady (one of the first I saw this spring)... It is funny to me, that after the first two days, I stopped photographing this species all together (even though I had nothing I was happy with just a few days earlier, after several years of photography)... I probably could have done better than the above image, but I started focusing my efforts on the rarer species

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

And sometimes you can't ignore some of the coolest species. I have lots of pics of Eastern Tiger, but I couldn't resist this scene... I find that my insect camera takes pictures a lot brighter than what I'm typically happy with, and end up darkening almost every single one..... 

Giant and Spicebush Swallowtails

An awesome scene at Pelee on the east beach from this spring. I cleaned up a lot of elements in the sand, despite my new plans of leaving things "natural"... I just couldn't help it with this one... 


So what do you think? Think any of the originals look better than my attempts at editing? Anything you're offended by? (Or anything you WOULD be offended by, If I was trying to hide my edits?)

Anyone even find these things interesting? Because I'm going to keep doing them, so I hope so ;)

Friday, June 22, 2012

How's the sea ice looking??

First look at the sea ice melt for 2012......  Here's a chart for total ice in the arctic over the past few years.. The black line is the current levels for 2012 (only goes part way down, since we can't see into the future)

Notice how way back in late March the total ice was as high as any of the previous 6 years (not that it says much), but interesting to note... The weather patterns that gave us (in southern ON) a record warm winter, kept things quite cool in the north... Anyways, here's the same map, but for only sea Ice:

Pretty much similar to the above... Lots of ice early, yet by mid June we're at almost record low rates for the date... The Apr 17th to Jun 17th period looks pretty steep in the melt rate... 

So what does it mean for birds? Not much... We're still running with the theory of birds "switching oceans" with the ice melting, but that's a very broad and generic wish for the most part.... But just for the heck of it, here's some maps from the same time of year, over the past few years:





Thursday, June 21, 2012

Vireo gallery upload

Oh I've done it... My new favourite complex - the "Solitary Vireo" group, now has its own place on my picasa ID gallery page:

Thanks to myself finally getting the pics of the 2006 bird uploaded...

Hopefully I'll find some more of these beauts over the next few years and add to the gallery! 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Random birds from Lake Superior

I didn't do too much birding while up north, but had a few things that were fun:

Pine Siskins: migrating flocks inland and along the lakeshore (going N)

~12 species of breeding warblers

Eastern Meadowlark --- a single bird at our cottage at Montreal River Harbour (thanks to Matt Ross).. Probably the only "vagrant" of the visit

Cooper's Hawk - 1 seen on a "hawk migraiton" on the 8th

Broad-winged Hawks - migrating on May 8th. (youngins)

Purple Finch (a few)

Pine Warbler - one morning only (singing) at Montreal River Harbour

White-winged Crossbill - a few here and there in low numbers. A select few moving N along the shore

Ruffed Grouse - good numbers

Spruce Grouse - 1

Olive-sided Fly - pair

Indigo Bunting - singing male

Boreal Chickadee - select few


And yeah........ some very random bird notes

A pic of the meadowlark 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mammals and Herps from the largest of the Great Lakes

More blog filler.................

A full list of species:

Black Bear (several) - incl cubs, year old, big male etc
Red Squirrel
Eastern Chipmunk
American Beaver
Short-tailed Weasel
large weasel sp.
Vole sp
White-tailed Deer



Painted Turtle
Garter Snake

Red-spotted Newt (eft)
Red-backed Salamander (lead and red)
Mink Frog
Green Frog
Chorus Frog
Spring Peeper
Wood Frog
American Toad


Young male --- covered in burs.... seems like a sad state... I wonder how long they'll be stuck?

Monday, June 18, 2012

More rare leps on the way???

I'm continuing my busy work schedule with limited internet, but I wanted to try and get a connection today to post an on-going theory....

It looks like there will be another big heatwave coming from the southern USA over the next few days (Tuesday to Thursday)... And so far this year (in the incredible movement of butterflies) it seems like this is exactly the type of weather that has brought many of the largest pulses ---  hot, with strong south winds (arriving from LONG distance) that is VERY HUMID... Pushing 40C with the humidity for the next few days!

So will there be another big push??? I know I'll be working, and won't really be able to get the full experience, but maybe worth keeping your eyes peeled if you're out and about...

Just in case you missed it, Blake Mann had several Dainty Sulphurs at Hillman Marsh recently:

Hopefully we'll start to get a second generation of some of these rare species.. I know I missed Sleepy Orange back in May, so here's hoping they do the same........

a Dainty from May


Also had a Pelee question on an older blog post that needs to be brought to the surface!


Questions for you Pelee folk... thinking about booking a cottage sometime in September for a little family vacation/birding. I've never been to Pelee this time of year, so just wondering if you have any tips on best or better weeks to go, and is either side of the point better (i.e., east or west) than the other for lake watching?


I personally like Pelee on just about any weather in the fall....  Here's my rundown:

Lakewatching at the tip is great from E to SW winds...  S to SW can be best.. 

NE winds are always fun... Wheatley Harbour/beaches/fields can get shorebirds/gulls etc

N to NW winds usually mean the park is slower, but can be good for bugs and hawkwatches at Seacliffe...

Time of year: I had an amazing weekend at Pelee once in mid September (~15th) ... It was the first time I went to Pelee in the fall (2006) and spent almost the entire day at the tip. Ended up with 117 species without going north of the Sparrow field...

I also often seem to notice we get our first bout of violent fall weather around the last week of September, which can be fun for birding, but maybe not the best for family outings...

It's also my personal preference to not visit places like this until after Labour Day, so the crowds are smaller...


these are just some random ramblings of my ideas... What do you think about a Pelee September visit? I know there are some avid Pelee-er's who frequently comment on the blog --- and hopefully they'd be willing to chime in???

More pre-written junk for the next few days!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dragonflies from "up north"

Here's a species list of odes from my trip to the Montreal River Harbour area:

Ebony Jewelwing
River Jewelwing
Sedge Sprite
Hagen's Bluet
Northern/Vernal/Boreal Bluet
Aurora Damsel
Spotted Spreadwing
Canada Darner
Dusky Clubtail
Lancet Clubtail
Moustached Clubtail
Twin-spotted Spiketail
Delta-spotted Spiketail
Stream Cruiser
Racket-tailed Emerald
American Emerald
Spiny Baskettail
Beaverpond Baskettail
Common Baskettail
Uhler's Sundragon
Frosted Whiteface
Crimson-ringed Whiteface
Hudsonian Whiteface
Belted Whiteface
Chalk-fronted Corporal
Four-spotted Skimmer
Common Whitetail


Hypothetical list: Harlequin Darner.....

Harlequin Darner would be a bit of an overdue lifer for me, and this species looked spot on (in a very nice bog) but I didn't have my freaking net with me... SO, even though I'm pretty sure thats what it was, I'm not actually counting it :(

Nothing too crazy otherwise.. Nice to see the Uhler's and Moustached Clubtail (as I haven't seen either for a while).. Always love the Spiketails too...

Twin-spotted Spiketail

Saturday, June 16, 2012

I guess Cardinals are going to try and live in Moosonee/Moose Factory now?? :

Here's a link to a post about one I had at Moosonee last year in August with Mark Jennings and Alan Wormington:

I know I have a photo somewhere........... but can't find it


Snowy Plover in MI:


and what the heck is wrong with this Connecticut Warb from Quebec???

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Common Buckeye near Montreal River Harbour (Lake Superior)

My recent adventure away from home was along the shore of Lake Superior at Montreal River Harbour (125km north of Sault Ste Marie).... I kept a rough list of butterflies for the adventure, but the highlight was this:

Common Buckeye (in a BOG)

Not sure how many Ontario records are further north than this (only a handfull I assume... Butterflies of Canada (1998) shows one I think)...  Was pretty suprising, espicially when it was in a spruce bog sourrounded by decidious upland woods...

Rest of the species (in no order):

Dreamy Duskywing
Hobomok Skipper
Tawny-edged Skipper
Long-Dash Skipper
Common Roadside Skipper
Pepper and Salt Skipper
Arctic Skipper
Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
Mustard White
Spring Azure
Silvery Blue
Silver-bordered Frit
Silvery Checkerspot
Harris's Checkerspot
American Lady
Painted Lady
Red Admiral
Question Mark
Mourning Cloak
Common Buckeye

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Aww devils

Not sure what can be said... I watched the first 2.75 games of the series, then work had me away from a TV...... I could have managed a few ways to watch them, but watching the first few was pretty painful to say the least...

I didn't watch any of game 6.... It sounds like the ref's sort of killed the game (based on what I read online after ... TSN etc)... But now we'll just have to wait until next year! First stop - find out which devils were injured.... Second stop -- sign Parise --- third stop - get ready for next years playoff run!

Green Cay Nature Centre & Area

Florida Trip – Green Cay Nature Centre and area

Letter on map: K

One of my favourite places on my trip, was the Green Cay Nature Centre, with the nearby Wakodachee Wetlands, although I spent most of my time at Green Cay. I did not visit the nearby Loxahatchee NWR
In contrast to my other locations I visited, this place was unique in being a sewage lagoon that had been turned into a massive interpretive nature centre with a spectacular boardwalk, building and habitats for fresh water creatures. I had heard many photographers disliked the location due to the height of the boardwalk, but I found that working with my 600mm lens cut down the problem and made for great photos.

I was extremely happy to nail some species I was still missing like Limpkin, Glossy Ibis, Mottled Duck and (better) pics of Purple Gallinule. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were around, but I didn’t get them as well as I would have liked. This was probably one of my most productive locations, with numerous photo-op’s with unexpected species as well (incld both species of Teal and Sora). Here’s a sample:

These two spots are a “must” if you’re a photographer and in the area. Outside Wakodachee wetlands I had one of those “life-changing” bird moments with a Sandhill Crane (uncommon for the area). A very cooperative individual was 100% accepting with my presence, and allowed me to be right beside it while it was feeding!

At one point, I actually attempted to touch the bird (it didn’t let me) but it wasn’t scared of me either. I really enjoy chances like this, as it allows me to be creative, and I eventually took what would become one of my favourite pictures I’ve ever taken