Tuesday 21 May 2024

An early orchid and other plants

 With the abnormally advanced spring, many wildflowers are ahead of their normal blooming time. A prime example is this Showy Orchid. Usually it would not be in flower until about the end of the third week in May, but here it is in prime condition about two weeks earlier.

Lots of things have been steadily appearing, although with the very warm weather similar to mid-July temperatures, many species do not last long. What follows is an array of things that have caught my eye and camera. 

Violets can sometimes be quite dominant on the forest floor, such as this Eastern Canada Violet.

The flowers are mostly white....
...with the back of the petals showing a purplish tinge.

Common Blue Violet

Long-spurred Violet

This next one is rather rare, and restricted to southwestern Ontario. It is Pawpaw, a small tree, and the flowers are often open before or just as the leaves are unfurling.

Blue Phlox
Shagbark Hickory is not common, but widely scattered. Its bark is distinctive...
...and as the leaves first emerge, they almost look like flowers.

White Baneberry

Red Columbine

Wood Anemone
Many of the sloughs of Rondeau are full of yellow flowers. Leaves are not all that visible, as they are at or under the water surface. It is the Yellow Water Crowfoot.

When one is wandering the trails looking for flowers, other things pop into view. This first one is also a plant, a fungus known as Dryad's Saddle

There have been lots of Eastern Tiger Swallowtails flitting about!
This Northern Brown Snake was right on the path, and seemed reluctant to move off, as it was enjoying the sun.
These Six-spotted Tiger Beetles had other things on their mind!
There are always a multitude of things to see and enjoy in the natural world!

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Sunday 12 May 2024

Birds, birds and more birds....'tis the season!

 While I haven't been out enough to maximize the number of birds around, I have been out and managed to get a good representation of the masses of birds that have arrived, or are in the process of arriving.

Certainly one of the recent highlights was the one-day wonder of an American White Pelican that showed up along the Erieau Marsh Trail. I managed to get a variety of photos, with it swimming, resting and even in flight as it took a quick aerial tour of the area in front of me.

I had this Belted Kingfisher come by, and while it was hovering before diving for a fish, I caught it.
A couple of Semi-palmated Plover were roaming on the far muddy shore.

 Not a bird, but a pair of what appears to be two female Snapping Turtles wrestling around. I'm not sure what they were up to.

Also not a bird, but an unusual sight was to see these two Eastern Spiny Softshell Turtles along the muddy edge of the marsh trail. They are an endangered species, but there seems to be a reasonably healthy population in the Rondeau Bay area.

They are sometimes called the 'pancake turtle', and when they flatten themselves out, it is easy to see how they got this name.

Northern Map Turtle (l) and Midland Painted Turtle

 This Eastern Kingbird popped into view for a few minutes.

I spent a bit of time roaming beyond the normal birding hotspots, partially to follow up on an unusual sighting in Chatham-Kent. Fellow blogger Quinten Wiegersma reported this Common Raven nest a bit north of Thamesville. It isn't in the greatest spot for viewing, let alone photographing, but there it was, a nest on the side of a silo.
At least one head of a young raven was showing from time to time.
Not nearly as unexpected as a Common Raven, this pair of Osprey had set up a  nest along a fairly busy road, and railroad, between Prairie Siding and Longwoods Road that leads to Tilbury. This species has at least attempted to nest in C-K in the past, but I don't recall any confirmation of success. This nest is easy to keep tabs on, so perhaps it will be successful in spite of the busyness of the immediate area.

While roaming about, I noticed this pair of Wild Turkeys near a wooded area.

I haven't been to Rondeau as much as in past years, but hopefully that will increase a bit in the near future. And those times when I have been out, the birds have been somewhat scarce. But I haven't done too badly, considering the amount of time spent. I have managed photos of the following:

Hairy Woodpecker
This next one is probably a Least Flycatcher. At least it has the general characteristics of one, but it wasn't singing, so Empidonax flycatchers are sometimes difficult to determine with absolute certainty.

 Lots of vireos are around, such as this Blue-headed one.

A Northern Flicker was busily digging out a nest hole.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are relatively common.
Of course Song Sparrows are fairly plentiful almost year round.
This Veery posed nicely on a fallen log.
White-crowned Sparrows are sort of plentiful, but not for long....
...as are Yellow-rumped Warblers.
Green Herons are often only partially seen....

...and sometimes one can get a relatively unobscured view and photo.

Along one of the Mitchell's Bay trails, I had this Eastern Bluebird in my sights....

...and Great Egrets are often quite cooperative for the camera.
This Greater Yellowlegs was squawking its disapproval of me along the trail.
A walk through nearby Paxton's Bush on the north side of Chatham is close to home, and a pleasant walk when it isn't too crowded.
Great Horned Owls returned this winter, and this youngster was sitting up nicely.
This family of Mallard ducklings were quite content along the trail. Mother Mallard was very close by.

The Black-billed Magpies continue to occupy a territory not far from Shrewsbury. It  isn't clear what  stage of nesting they are at, as initially they were seen carrying nesting material into the upper part of a spruce tree, but more recently they seem to have begun nesting in a White Cedar. At least they are persisting, and only time will tell if they are successful.

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