Friday 12 June 2020

Early June Jaunts

I've gone out a couple times over the past few days. The weather hasn't been the most cooperative, but still managed to see a couple neat things.

On Tuesday, I went up to the Parkhill Conservation Area. It was my first time going to this place, and I have very limited time, so I didn't get to explore it to the fullest extent. The little area I did explore was somewhat productive. I saw my first Red-spotted Newts.

I had been hoping to see some of the uncommon sedges in the area, but only managed to find one new species for me, Handsome Sedge (Carex formosa). It is fairly similar to Graceful Sedge (Carex gracillima), but the lower stem (leaf sheaths) are hair, and the spikes are shorter.

Handsome Sedge

Graceful Sedge

Another species of sedge I saw was Hairy Sedge (Carex hirtafolia), its hairy leaves are quite distinctive. Hammer Sedge (Carex hirta) also has hairy leaves, but the fruiting spike looks quite different.

There was a lot of Sweet Vernal Grass (Anthoxanthum odoratum) along the trails and road. This is a non-native species.

I was surprised to find Cream Violet (Viola striata), which, while ranked S3 in Ontario (21 to 80 locations where it is present), seems to be somewhat common in Middlesex county. I have seen it in several locations. Usually, it seems that this violet is found along rivers and creeks, but this was on the middle of a pine plantation beside a power cut! 

A couple odes were seen. Several Common Baskettails, an unidentified clubtail (I missed my swing!), and my first Marsh Bluet of the year.

Common Baskettail

I stopped into Weldon Park in Arva on my way home. It is a neat little place, and I have turned up some interesting things there. I saw several species of sedges. I think in total, I had nearly 20 species of sedges in total on this day.

Dewey's Sedge (Carex deweyana)

Narrow-leaf Inflated Sedge (Carex grisea)

James' Sedge (Carex jamesii)

Hitchcock's Sedge (Carex hitchcockiana)

Rosy Sedge (Carex rosea)

James' Sedge (Carex jamesi) again

Retrorse Sedge (Carex retrorsa)

Bristle-stalked Sedge (Carex leptalea)

Porcupine Sedge (Carex hystericina)

I saw a couple odes of interest, including my first Eastern Pondhawk, Widow Skimmer, Skimming Bluet, and Orange Bluet of the year. A few Snowberry Clearwings (moth) as well.

Snowberry Clearwing

Eastern Pondhawk

I saw this odd aquatic plant, which is actually closely related to algae.  

Common Stonewort (Chara vulgaris)

Fast forward to yesterday afternoon. I went out to the park down my street on a whim, hoping to maybe see some Unicorn Clubtails, an uncommon species of dragonfly. I have had a few at the pond there for the last few years. At one point I looked up, and saw a couple black birds of prey. I figured they had to be vultures, but I was quite puzzled by their flight pattern, which was made up of snappy wing beats followed by short glides. I was certainly regretting not bringing my binoculars! I caught flashed of silvery wing tips as they flapped, so naturally Black Vulture crossed my mind. But that would be nuts! I only had the small lens on my camera (55mm!), but with nothing better, I snapped photos. As they passed overhead, I noted the stocky wings, short tail, and silvery wingtips. I couldn't believe it, they were indeed Black Vultures! I managed to snap a few record photos.

Needless to say, a new bird for my neighborhood list, and what seems to be the fifth record all time for Middlesex county. This may be the first record with more than one bird, but I'd have to check. Perhaps they are a product of the hurricane that moved through. They're no Sooty Tern, but I was quite pleased! 

Always something to see!

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