Sunday, 12 August 2018

Made it to Moosonee!

After a long train ride, we have finally made it to Moosonee!

We have seen a few cool things along the way, with many more in store. Highlights include Black-backed Woodpeckers we found at a roadside stop, and a Red-necked Grebe we found in Moosonee, a local rarity.

We ship off first thing in the morning. See you in two weeks!

Red-necked Grebe

Black-backed Woodpecker

Red Fox

Thursday, 9 August 2018

Off to the Bay! (And some odes)

This afternoon I went down to the Tillsonburg area in search of some uncommon odes. I struck out on my two main targets, Riverine and Laura's Clubtails, most likely due to the time (Riverine stops flying around 5pm) and the weather (it started to rain heavily!) Nevertheless, I did manage to find a couple cool things by wading in the Big Otter creek.

Zebra Clubtail

Fawn Darner

In other news, on Saturday I will be leaving the comforts of civilization, and will begin my journey to the coast of JAMES BAY! I am going up with the James Bay Shorebird Project as a volunteer, where I will be monitoring shorebird numbers and species as they make their way south on migration. I will also be joined with a number of my young naturalist friends, Jack, Nathan, and Ethan (who has a blog by the way, check it out!) I am looking forward to seeing what this adventure has in store, and I am sure it is many great things.

I might post an update with a few back of camera photos of things I have seen on my way to Moosonee before I leave for the remote field camp. I'll have to see what the WiFi is like. Look for it no later than Monday if I get around to doing it! 

I'll have lots of stories when I come back at the end of August!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Cambridge Things

Last Thursday I went to Cambridge in search of the reported Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. I struck out on the heron, but I was entertained by the insects, especially the dragonflies. I actually managed to find three species of dragonfly I had never seen before. There were no doubt more species, but I didn't bring my net!

Black-tipped Darner

Lance-tipped Darner

Williamson's Emerald

Ebony Jewelwings were very numerous.

There were a few American Rubyspots along the river.

There was a single Slender Spreadwing, and a single Shadow Darner.

Slender Spreadwing

Shadow Darner

A couple butterflies and moths.

Wild Indigo Duskywing

Gypsy Moth

No heron, but still a productive outing!

Lil' Snapper

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Afternoon Odeing

This afternoon I did a little bit of odeing (looking at dragonflies and damselflies) out Brantford way.

My first stop was Fowlers Pond in Blandford Blenheim, where I found some Slaty Skimmers, meadowhawks, and a Variable Dancer. I also saw an emerald, likely Williamson's.

Slaty Skimmer

Variable Dancer

White-faced Meadowhawk

Ruby Meadowhawk

Next stop was some ponds in an industrial area in Brantford (near where Oak Park road and Hardy road for those interested) There were plenty of dragonflies, including Calico Pennants, Halloween Pennants, Widow Skimmers, Common Whitetails, Black Saddlebags, and Common Green Darners.

Halloween Pennant 

Common Green Darner

I managed to net a Saffron-winged Meadowhawk around the north pond. Meadowhawks are my favourite, so naturally this was a highlight. This is the first Saffron-winged I have seen in a couple years, and the first I have netted.

Finally, after an hour, I caught sight of my main target for this site, the Comet Darner! Comet Darners are rare vagrants in Ontario. It caught me a little off guard as I was just about to give up, so here is my best photo!

Comet Darners can be told from a female Common Green Darner by the lack of the "bulls-eye" mark on the top of the face.

Female Common Green Darner showing the "bulls-eye"

Next and final stop was the Grand River south of Wilkes Dam. My target here was Dusky Dancer, another rare ode in Ontario. It didn't take too long to find some. I counted about eleven, including three pairs in tandem.

I saw a couple other dancer species.

Powdered Dancer

Blue-fronted Dancer

American Rubyspots were also fairly numerous.

Pretty good afternoon if I do say so myself!

Tuesday, 24 July 2018


Here are a few sphinx moths I have encountered over the past few weeks. They are always a thrill!

Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Blinded Sphinx

Snowberry Clearwing

Hummingbird Clearwing

Modest Sphinx

Blinded Sphinx

Modest Sphinx

Twin-spotted Sphinx

Saturday, 21 July 2018

National Moth Week 2018

It is National Moth Week! National Moth Week (NMW) is an international week designated (by enthusiasts, I believe no *official* designation yet) to the observation of moths!

Mothing (the art of looking at moths, much like "birding") is a surprisingly fun and addicting past time. Only recently did I discover this hobby, but I have quickly grown to love it. In a little of a month, I have already identified almost 200 species right in my own urban backyard here in London!

Mothing is a very easy thing to do, and requires almost no equipment. Much like birding, you can get as "high tech" as you want, or stick with the basics. The easiest thing you can do is just turn on an exterior light and see what shows up. If you wish to get a bit fancier, you can hang up a bed sheet outside (a white cotton one works best), and shine a light source on it. Different moths are attracted to different frequencies of light, so depending on what type of light you use with determine how many and what species of moths you attract.

The light source is the most important part of attracting moths. Black lights work well, and are fairly inexpensive, and can be easily found in nearby stores. The best option is a Mercury Vapour light bulb, however they seem to be hard to come across, so you'll most likely have to order one off the internet. MV bulbs tend to be more expensive, however they are the best option to attract the most number of moths. I find this one works well.

If you are not interested in buying a "specialty bulb", don't think you can't get in on the fun! Pretty much any light source will work (though I have found that a flashlight is ineffective).

If you don't feel like staying up late, then you can also look for moths during the day! While you won't often see the larger ones, you will most definitely find the smaller ones, and you should get lucky with a few geometer moths. Just walking through some grass will often flush them. Many cool moths also fly during the day, such as clearwing sphinxes and clearwing borers.

Squash Vine Borer

Moth identification is probably the most frustrating part of mothing. There are many good sources from which you can learn, and may even be able to help you ID the moth if you have a photo. One of my biggest aids in identification is iNaturalist. With a single photo, iNat is able to give you a pretty good guess as to what something is. I will warn you that iNat takes some getting used to, and can be a hard "transition" if you are a user of eBird. iNat is not very hard to use however, and after playing around with it for a bit, you should be able to figure out the basics.

There are many other sources for help, such as the Moth Photographers Group, BugGuide, and Backyard Nature (links below). These sites may be a bit confusing, as they use a lot of scientific names, however feature lots of high quality pictures to help with ID.

The best way to start with moths is to focus on the bigger ones first, and as you become more comfortable, start to look at the smaller ones.

Moth ID sources:

Moth Photographers Group (for a walkthrough of the site, see here)

BugGuide (moth ID section here)

Backyard Nature (Ontario Moths)

As I said before, the best place to put your moth records is in iNaturalist. iNaturalist is great because even if you are not sure of a species, someone is apt to come along and help you with your identification.

If you are using iNaturalist, and are unsure of an ID, just tag me in the description of your observation (@birds_bugs_botany) I am by no means an expert, but I will try my best to help you out!

Speaking of iNaturalist, the project for the 2018 National Moth Week observations in Canada can be found here. All your sightings will be automatically added!

If you have any questions regarding moths or iNaturalist, please feel free to ask!

I challenge everyone reading this to give mothing, either nocturnal or diurnal, a try at least once this week. I am sure you will enjoy it. Even if you cannot identify everything, you will appreciate the beauty of these fabulous creatures!

For a bit more info on mothing, see this link, or just do a bit of googling!


Virginia Creeper Sphinx

Orange-headed Epicallima Moth

Glorious Habrosyne

Western Bean Cutworm

Willow Leafcone Caterpillar Moth

Modest Sphinx

***Note: Any grammatical errors are due to lack of sleep because I was mothing all night

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Ojibway Adventures

Last Sunday I went down to the Ojibway complex in Windsor. I managed to catch up with a few cool things, including my lifer Dukes' Skipper and Spicebush Swallowtail!

There were a few plants in bloom.

Grey-headed Coneflower

American Bladderwort

Common Jewelweed

Due to the very hot and humid temperatures, not many butterflies were out and about, but I was still able to find a few.

Red-spotted Purple
Wild Indigo Duskywing

Giant Swallowtail


Acadian Hairstreak

Silver-spotted Skipper

Delaware Skipper

Dukes' Skipper #1

Dukes' Skipper #2

Not overly too many dragonflies and damselflies, but a few.

Ebony Jewelwing

Ruby Meadowhawk

Common Baskettail

Emerald Spreadwing
Of course, there were a couple other insects as well. 

Black Horsefly

Sculptured Resin Bee

Dogbane Leaf Beetle

All in all a good day, hopefully I can get down there again before I embark on an "adventure" later this summer....