Great Egret

Great Egret

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Hot, humid and sultry, but there are still lots of reasons to get out!

During these hot, humid, dog days of summer, I have been picky about the times I am out in the field. Apparently the term 'dog days of summer' refers to the hot sultry period from early July to about August 11, and includes the period when the dog star is in conjunction with the sun (I'm Sirius :-).  I've never really enjoyed the hot humid weather, and ever since I've had to contend with Lyme Disease, it has been more of a challenge. But with so many things to see, I definitely get out when I can!

Not that long ago, I ventured out for some pre-sunrise photography, at one of my regular locations: the main harbour of Erieau, looking across Rondeau Bay to the provincial park. As I got out, I realized how sultry the weather was actually foggy on my way to Erieau, and with 100% humidity and no breeze it was not comfortable at all, even at about 5:15 a.m. I had forgotten to bring my knife to cut the humidity and haze. And the mosquitoes were already up and at it.

 I usually find the 30 or so minutes before the sun rises to have the best colours, and by using a tripod, a neutral density filter, cable release, mirror-lock-up and a low ISO rating, I can get some appealing slow shutter speed shots where the colours blend in nicely. This first one was an 8 second exposure.

Just as the sun was breaking the horizon and I was packing up, I noticed a canoe heading out, so I nabbed a photo of that as well. Obviously it took a much faster shutter speed to capture them. This next one was at 1/125 second.
I headed over to Rondeau Provincial Park shortly afterwards. The woodland atmosphere was dark and foreboding, as the sky was mostly overcast, and the fog had remained in the still air to give an ethereal look and feel. Even the birds were quiet, but couple of months ago it would have been alive with song at that hour.

Spider webs were everywhere, and obvious by the way the drops of moisture clung to the silken threads, appearing as a string of pearls.

I headed out the South Point Trail, hoping for a little breeze and some kind of action as the sun broke through the haze, the wind shook the spider webs free of dew drops and the wildlife came alive.

Some of the mid-summer wildflowers were in fine shape.

Tall Bellflower

Purple Flowering Raspberry
 When I got to the 'point', it was clear that erosion was ongoing. There used to be a bench a short distance beyond and to the right of this Danger sign. This is the third bench in as many years, in three different locations, that has had to be rescued by park staff, which demonstrates the extent of the erosion. It isn't just occurring at one place. The erosion is partly due to the higher water levels this year, but also due to the presence of the large pier at Erieau which interrupts the normal water currents carrying sand.

The trail and road used to be here not that long ago!
There were a few butterflies.....I didn't see anything really unexpected, but the next two were nice and at least briefly cooperative for the camera.
Appalachian Brown

One of 5 Giant Swallowtails sipping nectar from Wild Bergamot
I explored other sections of the park, and got some photos of this Small Green Wood Orchid. It grows in wet areas on rotting logs, especially in some of the sloughs.

On another trail, I came across lots of White Vervain (Verbena urticifolia). Most people wouldn't give it a second glance let alone a first one, yet the tiny flowers, only a few millimetres across and appearing on long slender branches are simple but attractive.

I came across this tiny Orchard Spider feasting on its most recent meal.

And this is the time of year for one of Canada's rarest orchids to appear...the Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora), which as far as anyone knows, only occurs at Rondeau. I wrote a fairly extensive post about it previously, entitled: A highly endangered native orchid.

During one of my planned visits, I took park staff out to see it (it is so small and occurs in an out of the way place; none of the current park staff had ever seen it in real life before this day).

It is a bit of a hike to get to the location, crossing some of the deepest, darkest and swampiest woodland such as is shown in the image below, all the while fending off hordes of bloodthirsty mosquitoes. Other than the occasional park staff who I take to this favoured spot, I have never seen anyone else even close to it, and I love it!

And we saw plants with single flowers, doubles and the even rarer triple (from which it gets the 'Tri' part of its Latin name). I always hope to find ones that are strongly magenta in colour, but it seems that this year, for some reason, they are mostly white with just a slight tinge of magenta at best.


  1. Beautiful pictures and another great post Allan. It was a real shock for me to see that picture of the Rondeau tip. I took a picture of the same sign this spring and when I compare the two pictures, the differences are startling. I had never really understood how serious erosion could be.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Jonathan. Sandspits such as Rondeau are always at the mercy of those dynamic forces shaping them, which can be exacerbated by human intrusions such as the Erieau pier.