Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Here they come!

Here in the Kitchener area we're moving into one of my favourite times of the year, the spring movement of amphibians.  Often starting out with a trickle (today's sightings limited to the photos below), in a week or two the wetlands will be busy with calling frogs, water bugs, and salamanders.

This morning I pulled my first of year Spring Peeper from a minnow trap at a study site near Guelph.  First of year visual that is, I had heard the call of one or two ambitious individuals weeks ago near Parkhill before things went cold again.  Typically a cross-like marking is visible but this one has a pretty solid pinkish colour to it, perhaps due to recent emergence (I'm not sure why this occurs).

My first Eastern Newt of the year brought a smile to my face.  These guys never look very impressed and are rather common in this part of Ontario but I always enjoy encountering them.

 An unexpected find in the trap was this Northern Redbelly Dace.  Having observed this study pond last fall as a bone dry mat of peat, seemingly disconnected from other waterbodies I wasn't expecting fish!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Odds and Sods

Haven't had a tonne of material to post of late but I thought I'd share some interesting photos from the last couple of weeks.

The photo below is an amazing American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) growing in a woodlot near the Greenock Swamp between Walkerton and Kincardine.  It's by no means the largest Beech I've encountered, but look at that crown! Full points for good (albeit not typical?) form. 

Last weekend I was visiting my parents in Thorndale.  Checking out a planted Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) in the yard dangling structures caught my eye.  I'm just starting to get more into moth identification and the best I can come up with is that these cocoons belong to either Promethea Silkmoth (Callosamia promethea) or Tulip Tree Silkmoth (C. angulifera).  The larvae of each species will apparently forage on Tulip Tree so no leads there per se.  There were a total of 8 cocoons on a tree that's only about 7-8m in height.  I'll have to check back in on these.  The moth book I recently purchased is the Peterson Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America by David Beadle and Seabrooke Leckie.  So far looks to be a very comprehensive resource.

An ambitious mission to Parkhill Conservation Area to search for the uncommon Harbinger-of-spring (Erigenia bulbosa) (a forb in the carrot family) didn't yield results (I was going on the very slight chance I could find a population I know of, perhaps poking through the leaves).  A very nice spot nonetheless with some interesting shrubs like Leatherwood (Dirca palustris), calling Spring Peepers, and 80 cents in beer can revenue!