Great Kiskadee

Great Kiskadee

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Looking back.....looking ahead

 Looking back......

It was four years ago, in early March 2014, that with some trepidation, I joined the blogging world. The time has flown by, and it has been a rewarding experience. Thanks to all of you readers for making it worthwhile!

I've posted over 340 times in that span. The topics as initially expected, varied widely on subjects about the natural world, with an emphasis on southwestern Ontario and especially Chatham-Kent. The most frequently read post by far, with almost 5500 views to date, has been one of several I wrote about Lyme Disease. That in itself has made this blog worthwhile in my opinion, as Lyme Disease continues to be a poorly understood thing that can affect so many people who spend time out doors, or who have pets that do. Fortunately the risks, identification and treatment options are becoming a lot better known but there are still many conflicting ideas put forth as authoritative.

The country with the most page views of my entire blog is the USA with almost half the total views. Next comes China, followed by Canada, Russia, France, Portugal, Germany, Brazil, United Kingdom and Ukraine. I'm not sure what this means, but I found it interesting.

As you know, I really enjoy photographing the natural world, especially if 'a picture is worth a thousand words' so that I don't have to write out as much! So far I have included more than 4200 photos. Here are some of my favourites that I have used.

Forests, although few and far between in this part of the province, are a favourite site to explore and photograph, whether it be spring wildflowers or overall landscapes.

White Baneberry

Clear Creek Forest Provincial Park
 This next one was featured in a Canadian Geographic calendar.
Fish Point Provincial Nature Reserve
 Many of my photographic attempts are pre-planned, but some are more serendipitous. I wanted to get photos of my sweetheart admiring these three individuals of Tuliptree along the trail of that name at Rondeau. She struck a tree-hugger pose, and I got this one. It turned out to be the best of that event!
Marie amongst Tuliptrees
Huge Tuliptree along a Skunk's Misery trail
Photographing in foggy conditions can be fun.

The sloughs of Rondeau are often worthwhile to check out. Prothonotary Warblers are endangered and declining residents in a handful of swamp settings in southwestern Ontario.

Prothonotary Warbler
 Being at the right spot at the right time enabled me to capture this Mink when it paused briefly while scampering across a rotting log.
 Shallow sloughs may eventually get fairly dry over the season, enabling lush greenery to emerge. This is one of the sloughs I need to cross in a relatively remote part of Rondeau to check on one of the rarest orchids in Canada, shown in the following photo. The only known place for it in the entire country is at Rondeau.

Nodding Pogonia (Triphora trianthophora)

Macro photography is fun. 
American Rubyspots along the Thames River
Boogie-woogie aphids on an American Beech
Red-banded Leafhopper
 This next one features a White-faced Meadowhawk dragonfly, chowing down on some sort of midge.

 At the other end of the scale is the very large Bald Eagle, with a recently caught fish.
 Forest birds can be quite colourful.
Scarlet Tanager

Red-headed Woodpecker
In more open landscapes, which is much of southwestern Ontario and especially Chatham-Kent, are some lone trees. This American Elm, featured next, is one of the largest of its kind, surviving on a road allowance and has escaped (so far) the ravages of Dutch Elm disease.

There are lots of open spaces to choose from. Some include wetlands.
Lake St. Clair wetland, near Mitchell's Bay
This next one is of a rare Marbled Godwit feeding in the shallows at Mitchell's Bay along Lake St. Clair. I was able to get out in my kayak and get quite close.

 A Great Egret often gets some attention. Having one soar overhead against a bright blue sky is always a treat. Being backlit shows the delicate nature of such a large bird, with the almost translucent white wings and the limited amount of bones supporting all of those flight feathers.
 A small colony of the more western Yellow-headed Blackbird was fun to observe at relatively close range for several breeding seasons. They were nesting close to the road near Mitchell's Bay and entertained many people, some of whom came from quite a distance.
 Willets are another relatively rare species, and the three shown below were part of a group of about a dozen that were found at Shrewsbury, on Rondeau Bay.

Lake front sites give lots of opportunity for photography. The lake can be quite placid....
Erieau harbour
 ....or quite riled up, and it is on these occasions when the dynamic shorelines can undergo change.
Erieau harbour
 Sunrise can be an inspiring time to capture scenes along the water front.
Erieau looking across Rondeau Bay
Sunrise along Lake Erie shoreline at Erieau
Tallgrass prairies are a favourite open space I explore as much as possible, both in Ontario where it is quite limited.....
Walpole Island First Nation
 ......and in the mid-west, where there are many more to explore.
Sky Prairie, Missouri
 Various bird species are more apt to be found on prairies and prairie like areas than in other habitats.
Short-eared Owl
While the Short-eared Owl is currently found locally only as a wintering resident, it formerly nested when larger prairies and wetlands occurred in southwestern Ontario. Of course Snowy Owls are here only as a wintering species, although some may show up in late fall and linger into early spring.

It is no secret that I like waterfalls as well. There aren't many close to home, but I enjoy seeking them out in my travels. Some favourites are:
Hogg's Falls, along the Niagara Escarpment near Flesherton

Rock Glen in the conservation area near Arkona

Brooks Falls, north of Huntsville

 In the far north of Ontario, is the huge Hudson Bay Lowland, which I was fortunate to camp on and explore for almost a month in total over two successive years.

At the other extreme, in southeastern Arizona is the Sonoran Desert, with the iconic huge Saguaro Cactus dotting the arid landscape. I've been to this area half a dozen times, and can never get enough.

A typical breeding bird of southern Arizona and adjacent states is one that has shown up on two occasions in Chatham-Kent, of all places, and both times in the late fall/early winter period. The one shown below stayed around long enough to be on the Christmas Bird Count!
Vermilion Flycatcher, just north of Wallaceburg

Looking ahead......

I expect there will be more of the same types of blog posts. Of course none of us know exactly what the future holds for us, but my intentions are as follows:
-complete the series on Natural Areas of Chatham-Kent (there are about three more parts to go);
-tidbits highlighting my regular exploratory forays across Chatham-Kent and beyond;

Some tentative blog post topics include, in no particular order:
-How old is that tree?
-Tips on forest photography
-Will all those cute little bunnies, birds and other newly born/hatched wildlife survive to adulthood?
-Prescribed burns in Ontario: has the pendulum swung too far?
-One drink too many (I'll keep you guessing on that one!);
-Old growth forest;
-Bison birds;
-A conundrum in science;
-How an ecologist views the landscape;
-Changes in the birds of Kent County, comparing a 1940s era unpublished manuscript to today;
-Invasive species: the elephant in the room;

So stay tuned if you like! Hopefully you are getting as much enjoyment out of checking out my blog as I am in sharing it!
Sunset over Lake Erie, taken from the ferry Pelee Islander


  1. I greatly enjoy your blog and have learned the names of several plant and insect species from your posts. I look forward to learning more in the future!

  2. Some stellar shots in there Allen! Keep it up!

  3. We enjoy your blogs too Allen. We live way up near Flesherton now, but still get to Rondeau most springs for a visit. Your blogs have given us a better appreciation of what we see in that area.

    1. Thanks Gord and Cathie. You have likely seen Hogg's Falls not too far from where you are. It is a wonderful place to visit. Perhaps our paths will cross at Rondeau one of these times.

  4. Your blog and photos are excellent Allen, I read it regularly. As far as wondering about the nations who see it most, it's likely similar to my software website; Russia and China are top three for me as well, mostly bots/spammers hitting it repeatedly once I traced the IPs.

    1. Thank-you Steve for your support! I had wondered about the likelihood of bots/spammer type of 'views', and given the way technology is used and abused in this age, not surprising at all I guess.

  5. Thanks for sharing you blogs and taking us into your wonderful world. looking forward to the continuation of them.

    1. Thanks, Paula. It is quite a different looking landscape than what you are used to, isn't it.