Thursday 28 February 2019

Recent Happenings

Last post I predicted that the first Red-winged Blackbird of the season would show up last weekend. That has not happened yet! I suspect within the next week I will see the first, hopefully by March Break at least! February 29th is the latest date I have seen them arrive in the neighborhood (for as long as I have been keeping tabs anyways). Still have a chance to "tie" that, but looks as though we will be pushing the arrival further into March!

Last weekend I took advantage of the nice weather and went out to one of London's ESAs (Environmentally Significant Areas). I was intending to scout out a spot I suspected had Mudpuppies and that I could potentially return to at night. Alas, I found that the water was just too deep, cold, and fast moving to carry out said operation with any success. Perhaps if I had waders (which I don't because they don't make them in my size!)

I did note a few other things in the shallower parts, such as some aquatic plants and river mussels.

Plain Pocketbook (Lampsilis cardium)

Giant Floater Mussel (Pyganodon grandis)

I found a neat genus of moss, Fontinalis, which attaches itself to rocks submerged underwater. I found a couple other species of moss that were submerged, however I was unable to ID them (as of yet anyways, grabbed a couple samples!).

Fontinalis dalecarlica

Fish were surprisingly scarce. I only caught one, and in addition saw another one which narrowly escaped my net, which was likely a Central Stoneroller.

Rainbow Darter (Etheostoma caeruleum)

I explored the forest a little bit too.

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)

Common Buckthorn (

Rhamnus cathartica)

This is Oriental Bitterswee(Celastrus orbiculatus). It is similar to the American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) I found last week, however it is an invasive species.

I found a nice Butternut tree (Juglans cinerea).

Unfortunate for the tree, but interesting for me was the presence of Butternut Canker (Sirococcus clavigignenti-juglandacearum). Butterut Canker is a fungus that (I am pretty sure anyways) will eventually kill the tree.

There were a number of small insects taking advantage of the warmer weather, including many stoneflies. I am pretty sure they are of the species Allocapnia maria.

Of course, I am always on the lookout for interesting fungus.

Coryne Dubia

Crystal Brain (Exidia nucleata)

Jelly Spot (Dacrymyces stillatus)

On a side note, my friend Nathan just started a blog. Currently he is documenting his attempt at a Waterloo county big year. Go check it out here!

Thursday 21 February 2019

Thursday Tidbits

School was cancelled today, so I went out on a hike to enjoy the nice weather. My destination of choice for today was Fanshawe Lake in London. 

My main focus today was plants, but found a couple other things as well. Lots of migrant Horned Larks today, as well as a Pileated Woodpecker. Found this friendly little Striped Skunk, apparently unconcerned with me being less than 10 feet away. 

I am a newbie to winter tree ID, but here are a couple that I have been able to identify. I must say, it seems tricky (and is), but I could see how this could become addicting... 

Boxelder Maple (Acer negundo)

Butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Autumn Olive (Elaeagnus umbellata)

Basswood (Tilia americana)

Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)

Eastern Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
I enjoy the challenge of mosses as well. Found a few species today.

Atrichum sp.

Sword Moss (Callicladium haldanianum)

Delicate Fern Moss (Thuidium delicatulum)
I am a person who is easily distracted, and today was no exception. I, of course, had to stop and look at some fungi and lichens!

Exidia recisa

Phomopsis sp.

Stump Puffball (Lycoperdon pyriforme)

Candelariella sp. (likely C. aurella)

Ceramic Parchment (Xylobolus frustulatus)

Splitgill Mushroom (Schizophyllum commune)

A few miscellaneous finds...

American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

Red Bartsia (Odontites vernus)

Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

Unidentified tree disease (?)
A fun afternoon out, and got a good hike. Seems like a good place to visit in the future!

Oh, and just for fun, I'll make my prediction that the first Red-winged Blackbird of the season for the pond down my street will show up either tomorrow or Saturday. If I average out my spring arrival dates for that location, I get February 22, which, low and behold, is tomorrow. It is supposed to be warm the next few days, so maybe that'll give them a little extra push.

Monday 18 February 2019

Fanshawe Findings

Today I went for a little outing at Fanshawe Conservation Area in London. I was most interested in the Evening Grosbeak that has been around, but that was not to be. This was my third attempt!

Nevertheless, still a few things lurking around the feeding area.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Northern Cardinal

A few of the more uncommon winter sparrows as well.

Fox Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

There were plenty of Dark-eyed Juncos. Many were even starting to sing a little bit!

A Brown-headed Cowbird stopped in. My first one in awhile.

On another note, a few days ago I was happy to find a couple flocks of Common Redpolls. Species #166 for my modest neighborhood!

Monday 11 February 2019

Cans and a Speckle Belly

Yesterday I made a quick visit to a nearby pond to check out a couple birds.

I was pleased to see ten Canvasbacks.

Also present was a Greater White-fronted Goose (Speckle Belly), which had been around for a few days.

That's it for now. Geese seem to be advancing into Ontario, surely the blackbirds and other spring migrants will be right behind them!