Monday 6 July 2020

Skunks and a Spinyleg

Yesterday was the Skunks Misery butterfly count. I haven't done this count in a couple years, so it was nice to be able to do it!

I was assigned to the Newport County forest, near the edge of the count circle, so that's where my party spent the morning. This is a property that was donated to the Thames Talbot Land Trust. 

There was a nice big meadow waiting upon our arrival, and in it several of our first butterfly species, including a few species of skippers, Common Wood-Nymphs (the most numerous species), Great Spangled Fritillary, Eastern Tailed-Blue, and our first of several Hackberry Emperors. 

Eastern Tailed-Blue

Hackberry Emperor

Of course, I do get easily distracted by odonates. There were a couple species of interest in the meadow.

Midland Clubtail
Halloween Pennant

We worked our way down to the river through the forest, tacking on a couple more species here and there, including Tawny Emperor, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, and Little Wood-Saytr. There were several Blue-winged Warblers (including a baby) and a singing Mourning Warbler. 

Tawny Emperor

We eventually made it down to the river.

We had hoped for an American Snout, but no luck. There were several more Tawny and Hackberry Emperors, as well as some Question Marks, Dun Skippers, an Eastern Comma and Gray Comma down by the river's edge. This is where we added the bulk of our Cabbage White numbers as well.

There were a few Midland Clubtails over the river, as well as a Swift River Cruiser. This is the first time I have seen these species on the Thames River.

Swift River Cruiser

We worked our way through the woods, but as expected didn't really see all too much else. We did, however, add Banded Hairstreak and Silvery Checkerspot to the list. The checkerspot is a new species for me. I also saw a Fawn Darner, but it didn't stick around for any good photos.

Silvery Checkerspot

Banded Hairstreak

A favourite summertime wildflower for many is Michigan Lily (Lilium michiganense).

On our way back, we added Peck's Skipper to the list. Things were getting hot out!

In all we ended up with 20 species; Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (2), Cabbage White (51), Clouded Sulphur (4), Banded Hairstreak (6), Eastern Tailed-Blue (5), Great Spangled Fritillary (14), Silvery Checkerspot (1), Northern Crescent (7), Question Mark (4), Eastern Comma (1), Gray Comma (1), Hackberry Emperor (6), Tawny Emperor (11), Little Wood-saytr (4), Common Wood Nymph (76), Monarch (2), European Skipper (17), Peck's Skipper (2), Delaware Skipper (3), and Dun Skipper (10).

Afterwards, with the afternoon ahead of us with really nothing else to do, we headed west into Lambton county. First I checked out Reid CA. I figured I was pushing my luck, but maybe I'd be able to see an Oak Hairstreak, a very rare species of butterfly. I ran into Blake, so we spent some time looking, but no luck! Lots of Bandeds and a Striped though.

Banded Hairstreak

Striped Hairstreak

There were a few species of dragonflies hanging around most noteworthy being a Royal River Cruiser. This is a pretty range restricted dragonfly in Ontario. I couldn't catch it, but here is one from Reid last August.

There are a couple interesting sedges at Reid. One is Shoreline Sedge (Carex hyalinolepis), a very Carolinian species, uncommon in Ontario. This is a foodplant for Dukes' Skipper, of which Blake said are found here. I also found what I think is Pointed Broom Sedge (Carex scoparia), which is listed as rare in Lambton. This sedge is part of the quite difficult group in the genus Carex called Ovales, so consider the identification somewhat tentative. It is similar to Bebb's Sedge (Carex bebbii), but something just seemed off for it being that!

Pointed Broom Sedge

Shoreline Sedge

Blake gave me directions to McKeough CA, so off I went to my last stop of the day.

I was hoping for Flag-tailed Spinyleg, another rare species of dragonfly in Ontario, and one I have not seen before. There were several species of odonate present when I arrived to the conservation area, one of the more charismatic being Rainbow Bluet.

There were also several Pronghorn Clubtails. I have seen them before, but its still nice to lay eyes on this uncommon species! I think this is the first time an ode has made me audibly yelp when it bit me!

Eventually I did notice a larger somewhat teneral (young) clubtail flying up ahead of me. I got closer, and confirmed it was my target! I gently placed my net over it, and soon I had my lifer Flag-tailed Spinyleg in my hands! I'll have to return when it is a little less delicate and a bit more colourful!

Just as I was leaving, I saw something else nice, a young Longnose Gar! I have only seen one prior to this.

Overall a very fun insect-filled day! Summer is just getting started, hopefully some more odonate content to come.

1 comment:

  1. Glad you did get the Flag-tailed. Maybe it was the one I saw the day before as mine had just emerged.
    I have seen Longnose Gar on the surface a few times at McKeough, among other fish. Seems to be a good place for fish too!