Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 15 April 2016

Sunny days in the forest

Sunny days are here....I'm sure you noticed!

The forests of Rondeau are looking more like spring every day. The sloughs are full of water, with green plants starting to appear.
 I noted my first of season Ribbon Snake along the Tuliptree Trail. It looks much like an Eastern Garter Snake, but the yellow stripes are brighter and the contrast with the black is more distinct. It also spends more time in wet woods, unlike the garter.
Wildflowers are starting to appear. Hepatica, of which there are both Sharp-lobed and Round-lobed types, are fairly abundant along some trails, especially the Spicebush Trail. The leaves are slower to develop than the flowers, but the six-petalled flowers are obvious. They can be bright white or have a bluish or purplish tinge to them.
Butterflies have been active on the sunnier days. Yesterday I saw Eastern Comma, Mourning Cloak and Red Admiral.
Eastern Comma
Mourning Cloak
The Red Admiral didn't stick around long enough for a photo. It was trying to get to the tree sap that was flowing out of the holes this Yellow-bellied Sapsucker had made, but the sapsucker was busily chowing down on the sap as well as some of the smaller flying insects that were attracted to the sap, so the butterfly didn't take any chances. Sapsuckers are getting more abundant these days.
In the more open areas, I came across a pair of Killdeer. One of the adults was at the nest until it saw me heading its way.

My first Killdeer nest of the season
This nest is in the parking lot near the churches and tennis courts. A nest close by in 2015 did not survive. Maybe this one will have better success.

Also in the grassy areas nearby were at least 3 Vesper Sparrows and a dozen Chipping Sparrows. The Vespers do not stay in the park for long, as they nest in open and grassy agricultural areas. Chippies are common and widespread throughout the open area of the park, especially where there are coniferous trees.

Three White-tailed Deer were grazing nearby. Their winter coats are looking a little rough these days, as their heavy brown coat is beginning to shed. By late May, they will be their usual reddish-brown.
In some of the sheltered grassy wetlands, Leopard Frogs are noticeably abundant as they are in full mating season. One pond I noted had at least 36 frogs, and some egg clusters were visible as a result of some successful mating. The one in this next image is in full 'song'.....its pouches just behind the eye are inflated, as it gives its snore-like call.
I have almost stopped measuring trees these days, now that the weather is getting warmer and ticks are out. I've tracked down a few more big trees, however, such as this Red Oak that measures 95 cm dbh. It is located just a bit south of Bennett Avenue.
This next one is a Tuliptree, and at about 125 cm dbh, is the largest one of that species I've measured so far. It is located along Rondeau Road, a bit north of Gardiner Avenue.
Enjoy the great weather in southwestern Ontario over these next few days! And beware of ticks...I've already has some Black-legged Ticks (a.k.a. Deer Ticks) on my pants!

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