Great Egret

Great Egret

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Bobolinks on the prairie and lifer lep

Earlier this month, I posted that National Prairie Day, at least in the USA, was on June 4. I did get to Ojibway Prairie in Windsor a couple of weeks ago, but today I got to a prairie that I had never been to before. It is a planted prairie, as a few years ago a former colleague of mine, Rob, had planted 20+ acres of the family farm in northeastern Chatham-Kent into a prairie mix. It is maturing nicely. Today it was mostly grasses that were visible, as the wildflowers are not yet that far along, but I'm told that in another month or so it will be quite impressive, and the butterflies love it. I plan to get there again.

Rob had invited me to see the site before, when we were still working out of the same office, but for some reason I just never got around to it. That was my loss. I'm glad I didn't put it off any longer!

One of the target species today was Bobolink. A small group of them has been using this prairie site for several years now. I saw at least 8 birds, including a group of 5 males and 1 female. I saw other males a little farther off, and presumably those males had mates on a nest, so it is quite possible that there are 12-20 birds using this patch of prairie.
None of them came very close, so these images are heavily cropped, and unfortunately the bland sky wasn't what I was hoping for.....guess I will have to go back again!

While I was watching and waiting for the Bobolinks to come around, I was entertained by a few other birds, including many Song Sparrows.

A Willow Flycatcher was seen occasionally in the brushy shrubs nearby.
A Field Sparrow was in residence as well and responded quickly to my pishing. I had the camera set on a high speed frame rate, and these next two were taken less than a second apart.

Common Yellowthroats were nearby, and one male came close enough to get its picture taken.

One of the less expected bird species was this next Orchard Oriole. I had heard, then briefly seen, a second year male, and a possible female off in the distance. But then this mature male came by and started poking around in the grasses. Most of the shots had grasses messing up the auto focus, but this one turned out okay.

After a few hours on this prairie, I decided to call it a day, as the mid-day is not the greatest for bird action, even though it was not a hot day. The breeze was picking up as well, making it difficult to keep the birds in focus with grasses frequently interfering. But I do intend to go back, to capture more Bobolink images while they are still in their prime breeding finery.

While I was in the northern part of the municipality I decided to check on some butterflies. I read on one of Blake's recent posts that a Southern (Northern) Hairstreak had made an appearance at the Reid Conservation Area in southern Lambton, a population that Blake discovered several years ago. In order to minimize confusion on the name of this hairstreak, since there is a southern subspecies and a northern one, apparently some authorities are using the name Oak Hairstreak for this one. I tried looking for it a couple of times last year, without success, so I thought it was worth a try today.

The dogbane there was coming on nicely, and there were lots of butterflies....mostly Northern Crescents and Silver-spotted Skippers. In just a short time I noted a hairstreak and immediately zeroed in on it. It wasn't an Oak Hairstreak but a Banded Hairstreak. It was in great shape, and cooperated nicely for the camera.
But I couldn't find an Oak Hairstreak. I was beginning to think that it was more myth than reality. So I continued down the trail. At one point I noted something bounding towards me fairly directly. It was a Red Fox. I immediately froze, hoping that I wouldn't startle it. It acted like it wasn't used to two-legged critters in its territory, and actually came much closer than I would have expected, perhaps due to its innate curiosity. Since I just had my 100mm macro lens on the camera, these images are not all that large, even with cropping. But certainly a lot better than no camera at all.
After a few seconds, its cautionary nature took over and it retreated, not without stopping from time to time to check on me.

I eventually returned to the big patch of dogbane, and this time I saw a different hairstreak. And there it was, the not-so-mythical Oak Hairstreak!
I got this one photo before it decided to try another flower head. And I only saw it on one more occasion, but was not able to photograph it again that time. By now the clouds were getting heavier, and the wind was picking up more, so presumably this fellow decided to take refuge somewhere else. But not to worry....I will be back again!


  1. Great post, Allen! And congrats on locating and photographing well the Oak Hairstreak too.

    1. Thanks, is always nice to get a decent photo of a lifer lep!

  2. Well done!
    Looks like a decent year for the Oak Hairstreak so far.

    1. Thanks, Blake, and good to know.....I'll be back for more!