Showing posts from August, 2013

How to reward a volunteer

How to reward a volunteer, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Let him release snakes.
At least that was my reward and I was delighted.
These hatchlings were the last of the eggs that had hatched out over the past two days.
Yesterdays post of the snake hatching was one of the ones I released last night.
If you look closely you will see other small snakes trying to crawl out of the container.
I wasn't grumpy, I was looking into the full sun.
Have a great Labour Day weekend everyone.


Emergance, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This fox snake is just coming out of its shell.
Slightly reminiscent of a scene from the movie, Alien.

A female fox snake was caught and pit tagged for research. While in captivity she laid her eggs and they were kept and incubated to give them a better chance at survival.
I was lucky enough to get this photo of one of the snakes emerging from its shell.

Pantherophis gloydi

Smiley face.

Smiley face., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Recently Rondeau Provincial Park had a Turtle Day to promote turtle conservation through education.
One of the guests was this Blanding's Turtle which had been confiscated by the Canada Wildlife Service. It can't be released into the wild and is kept for education purposes at the visitor centre in the Park.

Scientific stuff:
Blanding's have a very distinctive yellow throat, however, in captivity the throat colour fades.
It has a smooth, domed shell that has been said to resemble a military helmet. This medium-sized turtle inhabits a network of lakes, streams, and wetlands, preferring shallow wetland areas with abundant vegetation. It can also spend significant portions of time in upland areas moving between wetlands. In a single season this highly mobile turtle has been known to travel up to seven km in search of food or a mate.
For more information go to Emydoidea …

Stand off

Stand off, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. These two downy woodpeckers both wanted to go to the suet feeder.
They started posturing, bobbing up and down spreading and snapping their wings in an effort to drive the other away.
This went on for about two minutes before one finally left.

Scientific stuff
Picoides pubescens
Downy Woodpeckers are small versions of the classic woodpecker body plan. They have a straight, chisel-like bill, blocky head, wide shoulders, and straight-backed posture as they lean away from tree limbs and onto their tail feathers. The bill tends to look smaller for the bird’s size than in other woodpeckers.
Go to
for more information.

Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.


Contrails., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This gull was flying so high and fast he was creating contrails.

Actually it had something caught on its wing, it wasn't fishing line but we couldn't tell what it was.

Beach comber

Beach comber, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. While out on a release of turtle hatchlings this semipalmated plover came near the boat.
It was chasing another semipalmated and appeared agitated for some reason.
Shorebird migration is underway and we are hoping to get more species in the next few weeks.

Scientific stuff
Charadrius semipalmatus
Small shorebird.
Legs moderately long.
Neck short.
Back brown.
Underparts white with one thick black or brown band on chest.
Legs yellowish.
Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Nose Dive

Nose Dive, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. In you go, the nectars at the bottom.
A nice view of the underside of the tiger swallowtail.
A Tiger Swallowtail on an iron weed plant in the front yard.
Our butterflies are late this year and the swallowtails are just showing up now.
Papilio glaucus.
Photo taken in Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Little brown snake.

Little brown snake., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Yes another snake photo.
This time it is a little brown or Dekay’s snake, that was on the road. My wife picked it up and brought it to the visitors centre for identification.
Anne had thought it might be a hog nosed snake, which is endangered and rare in the park.
As it turned out it was the little brown. This is a fully grown adult.
The snake was returned to the location it was found at, but off the road.

Scientific stuff:

23-33 cm;
record 49.2 cm
light grey-brown to red-brown
two rows of spots along light coloured stripe on back
rows of spots may be joined by narrow lines
dark downward bar on side of head
juveniles have three yellowish spots on neck
belly cream or pinkish
scales keeled; anal scale divided
gives birth to live young
Not at risk
Storeria dekayi

Babies,babies and more babies.

Babies,babies and more babies., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Oh stop your ughs and yucks and eeeewwwws.
Snake babies are cute and at least to herpetologists, cuddly.
I'm not a herpetologist but I like them.
How many heads do you see?
If your a country dweller or live in a suburb with farm fields near by you have mice. Snakes eat mice.
So, do you want a snake outside the house or mice inside.
These are fox snakes from a recent hatch and are pencil sized.
A female was caught and pit tagged for research. While in captivity she laid her eggs and they were kept and incubated to give them a better chance at survival.
While out doing a turtle hatchling release the researchers let these delightful creatures go where the adult was captured.
I will be posting a few more photos of the release in the future.
Get over yourself they aren't yucky.
Scientific stuff:
Pantherophis gloydi
Yellow-brown with large brown or black blotches on back that alternate with smaller blotches along sides.
May have r…

What's up there?

What's up there?, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. Maybe it's looking for a tree frog.
Herons and egrets always look awkward in trees, at least I think so.
This is an immature bird, if you look closely you will see fuzz on its head and back.
It was feeding along the edge of the bay then flew up into the tree.

The scientific stuff:
Adult herons are a striking bird with a velvet-green back, rich chestnut body, and a dark cap often raised into a short crest. These small herons crouch patiently to surprise fish with a snatch of their daggerlike bill. They sometimes lure in fish using small items such as twigs or insects as bait.
Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada.
Butorides virescens

The hatchlings

The hatchlings, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The skink researcher came to the cottage today and we checked on the skink nest.
At least three of the eggs had hatched, possibly more. The egg at the top appears to be just starting to hatch out.

The scientific stuff -

The five-lined Skink (Plestiodon fasciatus) is a small, smooth-bodied lizard, with black or grey colouring and five white or yellow stripes along the back. The colour pattern diminishes with age as the stripes darken, and the contrast is less apparent in adults. Juveniles have bright blue tails, but this also diminishes with age. In adults, the tail is grey. Adult males can be distinguished from females by their broader heads and bright orange jaws and chin. Adults can reach a length of 20 centimetres. Skinks are very active predators, and they dart quickly from place to place looking for insects, worms or other invertebrates.
The southwestern populations of the five lined skink, are Endangered Provincially and Nationally,…

Five lined skink and eggs

Five lined skink and eggs, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. I came upon this nest on our cottage lot by accident the other day.
Female skink and 8 eggs.

I will check now and then to see if I can get a photo of a hatchling.
So as not to disturbed the nest too much I am limited to once every two days.

Plestiodon fasciatus

Belly Band

Belly Band, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. A quick identifier for a red tailed hawk is the prominent stripping on its belly, referred to as a belly band.
When soaring, adults show rufous on the topside of the tail, hence the Red-Tailed hawk name.
Seen at Rondeau Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario,Canada.

Buteo jamaicensis

Cruising the beach

Cruising the beach, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. While out with the turtle researchers on a hatchling release we came upon this adult Blandings turtle.
According to the Toronto Zoo web site:
It is 12.5-18 cm in length;
Carapace black to greyish-brown with numerous yellowish spots or streaks
Plastron has a flexible grooved hinge that allows lower shell to close upward to protect head and legs
Bright yellow on chin and throat
Protruding eyes
Domed shell obvious while it basks on logs, rocks or clumps of vegetation
Emydoidea blandingii

Befroe the splash.

Befroe the splash., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This chipping sparrow had just put its face into the water, creating a hole, before it started splashing.

Bed of nails.

Bed of nails., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. As long as you spread the pain around people will tolerate almost anything.

Sail away

Sail away, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We spotted the good ship Liana's Ransom, off Erieau on Lake Erie.
Our pontoon isn't very fast so it took awhile to catch up to her.
We think she is part of the tall ship festival taking place on the great lakes this year.

Tongue tied

Tongue tied, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. An immature Baltimore oriole managed to get tangled in the mesh back containing grapes.
At first I thought its foot was caught, that happens occasionally and they normally get themselves free.
This one had its tongue caught and its foot.
It took a few minutes to get the bird and the feeder off the pole which gave Anne an opportunity to get a camera.

I held the bird while Anne used small scissors to cut the mesh away.
It flew off, apparently no worse for the experience.
Probably it won't eat grapes for the rest of its life.
Icterus galbula.

In good hands

In good hands, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. This baby Fowler's toad is not much bigger than a thumbnail.
We found it on the beach while out with turtle researchers in Rondeau Provincial Park.

According to the Royal Ontario Museum: Fowler's Toad is a medium-sized toad which lives on sandy beaches and breeds in marshy shallows of lakes or permanent ponds. In Ontario, individuals are gray with a few dark blotches; elsewhere, the toads are brown.
They are classed as endangered in Canada.
For additional information go to:
Anaxyrus fowleri

Sittin' in the rain

Sittin' in the rain, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. I guess he didn't feel like singing.

After a bath in our little water feature this immature bluebird sat up on a branch before flying off.
We had a total of 5 bluebirds in the water or next to it at the same time.
Of course no camera was handy.

sialia sialis

Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario,Canada

Home delivery

Home delivery, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. The house wrens have used the nesting box right outside the bedroom again this year.
It's interesting watching their antics as they come and go.
It would be nice if they didn't start chattering at 5.30 in the morning.

Troglodytes aedon

Taken through a window at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada.

Weather vane.

Weather vane., a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. He sat up on the roof and tested the wind.
Norther cardinal, cardinalis cardinalis.

Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario ,Canada

Split the difference

Split the difference, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. As we were heading out he was coming in on a heading that nicely bisected the channel.
When you get to the end of the channel you have to make a hard right or left, otherwise you run into Rondeau Provincial Park.


Whimbrel, a photo by ricmcarthur on Flickr. We were out on the boat yesterday and had a good day of birding.
Kingfisher, sandhill cranes and this whimbrel were the highlights.
We normally see whimbrel in the spring but this is the first we have seen in the summer.
They probe the sand for marine invertebratesYou can see the grains of sand on its bill and the nostril hole that goes right through.

Numenius phaeopus.
Photo taken at Rondeau Provincial Park in southwestern Ontario.