Friday 21 June 2019

Bogged Down

I had a pretty good outing today, so I figure I'd share it!  (Oh yeah, and school's out, I'm on summer break now!)

My destination today was Sifton Bog, here in London. It is a pretty special place botanically. Its a northern peat bog in the middle of the city!

Purple Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is a pretty common plant in the bog, but this was the first time I have ever seen them in flower!

Sedges (Carex spp.) were fairly abundant. I have managed to ID a few.

Tall Bog Sedge (Carex magellanica)

Hoary Sedge (Carex canescens)

Three-seeded Sedge (Carex trisperma)

Bristly Sedge (Carex comosa)

This year there has been a large northward push of Painted Skimmers. Just yesterday I was thinking about the possibility of running into one today, and low and behold, there was one! It took me an hour and a half before I finally was able to snap a photo.

I saw another lifer dragonfly too! While working my way through the bog, I noticed a smaller darner (in comparison to the Common Green Darners). I couldn't believe it...the darner had blue eyes!

The only darner in Ontario with blue eyes is Spatterdock Darner, which is fairly rare, but I think it is increasing, perhaps due to more coverage. I couldn't net it, but I managed an identifiable pic.

It wasn't completely unexpected, as the Spatterdock (Nuphar advena) is fairly abundant in the bog.

I also saw a couple species of orchids.

Tuberosus Grasspink (Calopogon tuberosus)

Rose Poginia (Pogonia ophioglossoides)

As well as Round-leaved Sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).

Certainly a place to check out again soon!

Sunday 9 June 2019

Bird Blitzin'

Yesterday was the Breeding Bird Blitz of the Sydenham River Nature Reserve, a property of Ontario Nature. The count was coordinated by Larry Cornelis, and the property, which is about 200 acres, was split in 4 areas, with a team of two or three people per area. The purpose of the count was to establish an idea of what birds were using the property.

Myself and Larry did the northern area of the property. Started off with a bang with a couple Black-billed Cuckoos, a couple "winged warblers", a Blue-winged Warbler and a bird that looked quite like a Blue-winged, but had the oddest song of one that I'd ever heard. We were thinking it could have been a hybrid. (Golden-winged and Blue-winged are a genetic mess!) We also had a Mourning Warbler singing from the parking lot. Throughout our travels we would tally two more, and combined with the other group who did the area directly south of ours, we had a grand total of six singing Mourning Warblers in the northern end of the property! Despite our best efforts however, we never were able to turn up a Cerulean Warbler...

The Sydenham River Nature Reserve is not only a great place for birds, but also plants. One of my favorites of the day was Gray's Sedge (Carex grayi).

Quite a few species at risk can be found on the reserve. Likely the rarest plant there is Beak Grass (Diarrhena americana). It is ranked S1 in Ontario, as the only two known sites in Ontario are at the reserve and up in the Ausable River area.

Another rare plant is American Gromwell (Lithospermum latifolium). I've seen this species before, but never in flower.

Green Dragon (Arisaema dracontium) was seen here and there throughout. It is another sensitive species.

One of the most signature plants of the reserve is Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). I'm a couple weeks late to see them in full bloom, but there was the odd flower hanging on.

A couple other plants I thought were cool...

Cockspur Hawthorn (Crataegus crus-galli)

Swamp Dock (Rumex verticillatus)

In his posting, Blake mentioned seeing a very large American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis). It is truly impressive, and very likely one of the largest, if not the largest, sycamores in the province. I look tiny next to it (and I'm not a small person!)

Photo by Larry Cornelis
After the we finished up our area (eBird checklist), I ventured over to a grassy area where we had had the Blue-winged Warbler(s) earlier in the day. I was very pleased to find a Rusty Snaketail!

If I'm not mistaken, this represents the first record of this species for Middlesex county. It was less than 100 meters, if that, from the county line!

It was a great count, and I got to spend some time with some great people. A nice way to spend the morning!

On a side note, I made a quick trip this afternoon to a local natural area in London, and it came up fairly productive. Highlights below.

Chalk-fronted Corporal (my first for the county)

Fringed Sedge (Carex crinita)

Red Penny Moss (Rhizomnium punctatum)

Crome Sphagnum (Sphagnum squarrosum)

Pink Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium acaule)

Friday 7 June 2019

Sedge Surprise

Yesterday afternoon I decided to go for a quick walk at the Kelly Stanton Environmental Significant Area in London. The plan was to look for plants, something that I am finding I quite enjoy!

I found a couple of my "target" species pretty quickly.

Nodding Bulrush (Scirpus pendulus)

Robin's-plantain (Erigeron pulchellus)

As well as a couple butterflies.

Common Ringlet

Little Wood Saytr

At one point, I felt as though I was going the wrong way, so I decided to try and double back and reorientate myself. I found a trail which I thought may have been the right one, and began to make my way on it, through a nice meadow. As I was walking, all of a sudden I heard a song which was familiar, but I couldn't place it. It sung again, and I knew it would be something good. It sung again, and it clicked...could it be? Yes it was!

It my surprise, I came across two singing Sedge Wrens! Its a species that I've been on the lookout for in the county for awhile, but today was not the day I was expecting to come across one (or two!). Both were quite vocal, and the habitat is suitable (and in no danger of being cut...I hope), so it seems likely that they will stick around for at least a little bit, and perhaps breed if a female shows up, or perhaps there is already a female hiding somewhere in the long grass.

As I was looking for plants, I had an inadequate lens, but at least you can tell what it is. It was singing at my feet at one point, but the grass is so dense, no pics of that one!

As it turned out, the way I had gone originally was in fact the correct way. Good thing I had gotten "lost"!

After that excitement, I went on to see what else I could find.  I believe this is Lake Sedge (Carex lacustris).

Other than the wren, my favourite find was these Yellow Lady's Slippers (Cypripedium parviflorum)

I found a dead Wild Turkey, and on it were several carrion beetles, such as these American Carrion Beetles.

All in all, I'd say it was a very nice outing, especially with that completed unexpected surprise find!

Let this be your reminder to check yourself after walking through long grass...