Showing posts from August, 2014

Life and death at the pond.

I normally don't do video posts, they are too large and I don't think most people watch them.

This happened at our little pond while I was waiting to photograph birds.
I wasn't sure if I was recording it properly so I stopped it.
They disappeared over a small log so I don't know what the end result was.

Any day you see a bald eagle is a good day.

Well mostly.
While out with the turtle researchers doing a hatchling release the motor stalled out and left us stranded.
Fortunately a couple in a small boat were out fishing and when I signalled them they were kind enough to tow us back to the dock.
According to one of the owners we probably had water in the gas.
Another repair.
A boat is a hole in the water that you throw money into.

Immature bald eagle.

Haliaeetus leucocephalus

The Bald Eagle has been the national emblem of the United States since 1782.

Rather than do their own fishing, Bald Eagles often go after other creatures’ catches. A Bald Eagle will harass a hunting Osprey until the smaller raptor drops its prey in midair, where the eagle swoops it up.
Immature Bald Eagles spend the first four years of their lives in nomadic exploration of vast territories and can fly hundreds of miles per day.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology

No. Really. It's true.

I was abducted by aliens.
They were HUGE, must have been 100 turtles tall and  they didn't have shells.

They lifted me up in the air and pulled my legs way out, used wierd metal things on my shell and flashed bright lights in my eyes.

It's all in your point of view.

Chelydra serpentina

The snapping turtle is Ontario’s most prehistoric-looking turtle species. Its long tail has a series of triangular spikes along the top that are reminiscent of those of a stegosaurus. The carapace (upper shell) is tan or olive to black in colour, has a coarsely serrated anterior (front) edge and three longitudinal ridges, and is often covered with algae. The plastron (lower shell) is very small. The maximum length of the carapace in this species is 47 centimetres

source - Ontario Nature

Hey, you got any peanuts over there?

Downy woodpeckers are frequent visitors to the suet and peanut feeders in the yard.
This one seems to be checking on the peanut feeder.

Picoides pubescens

The Downy Woodpecker eats foods that larger woodpeckers cannot reach, such as insects living on or in the stems of weeds. You may see them hammering at goldenrod galls to extract the fly larvae inside.


This scarlet tanager, I think it is a male juvenile , is a complete contrast to its breeding plumage.

This one dropped by to have a drink and a bath before continuing its migration to warmer climes for the winter.

This is the male in breeding plumage.

If you can confirm the id as either male, immature or female please let me know.

Piranga olivacea

On the wintering grounds in South America the Scarlet Tanager joins mixed species foraging flocks with flycatchers, antbirds, woodcreepers, and resident tropical tanagers.

The oldest Scarlet Tanager on record was nearly 12 years old.

source - - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The marsh edge.

We were out on the pontoon slowly working our way along the edge of the marsh when this immature black crowned night heron took flight.

We had good birds today, bald eagle, great blue heron,green backed heron, swamp sparrow, lots of king birds, cedar waxwings, northern harrier,one red winged blackbird,cormorants, wood ducks and more.

Nycticorax nycticorax

Young Black-crowned Night-Herons leave the nest at the age of 1 month but cannot fly until they are 6 weeks old. They move through the vegetation on foot, joining up in foraging flocks at night.
The oldest Black-crowned Night-Heron on record was 21 years, 1 month old.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


Interesting, colourful and practical, what more could you ask for?
We saw this agriculture implement while at Amherst Island looking for rare bird.

This is a hayrake which is an agricultural rake used to collect cut hay or straw into windrows for later collection (e.g. by a baler or a loader wagon). It is also designed to fluff up the hay and turn it over so that it may dry.

Crash Landing

August is a good time to see the cicada killer wasp.
There were a number of the wasps flying around a sandy soil field with short grass here at Rondeau

One dropped her cicada, either missing the burrow or because it was tired from fighting a strong head wind.

She stung the cicada again to make sure it wasn't going anywhere while she tried for lift off.
It had great difficulty getting airborne again and crashed head first with her heavy load several times.

Eventually it climbed the leg of a picnic table to get some height. It worked after three tries but it flew off in the direction it had come from.

Sphecius speciosus
Females dig nest burrows in well-drained soil, often forming large nesting aggregations, and provision nest cells with cicadas they capture and paralyze in nearby trees.
When the males appear in mid or late June, they usually display very aggressive behaviour that strikes fear into people’s hearts. However, as in other stinging wasps, males of the cicada killer do not have …

I am not a snake!

Take a closer look. I have legs.

I am a five lined skink, and I am Ontario's only lizard.

Plestiodon fasciatus

The five-lined skink is a smooth, slender lizard that can grow to 21 centimetres in length, but most individuals are much smaller.
If a predator catches a skink by the tail, it will break off and begin to thrash about. The moving tail distracts the predator while the lizard escapes.

source - Ontario Nature.

Edward Scissorhands brother.

Amazing claws on this map turtle we found today.
Evidently they are used in the mating process to stimulate the female.

Graptemys geographica

The female Northern Map Turtle has powerful jaws for crushing the shells of molluscs, its primary food source.

The Northern Map Turtle is extremely wary and will dive into the water at the slightest provocation.

Northern Map Turtles are known for their communal basking, and may be found piled up together in several layers of up to 30 turtles.
Map turtles will often bask at the surface of the water under floating vegetation mats with nothing but their head or nose visible from the surface. This behaviour puts map turtles at significant risk of mortality from motorboats.

The leaf hopper and the pollinator.

I didn't notice the little leaf hopper in the upper left until I saw the photo on the computer.

I have no idea which leaf hopper species it is nor do I know the species of bee.
Lots of pollinators, bees, wasps and butterflies in the yard right now.

Face off

I don't know the species of spider but they were face to face and neither was backing down.
I don't know if it was territorial or possibly a mating ritual but it was an odd sight.

Eating wild carrot.

This chipping sparrow is eating the seed head of Queen Anne's Lace or wild carrot.
A common bird and a common plant.

Spizella passerina

A crisp, pretty sparrow whose bright rufous cap both provides a splash of color and makes adults fairly easy to identify.

The nest of the Chipping Sparrow is of such flimsy construction that light can be seen through it. It probably provides little insulation for the eggs and young.

The oldest known Chipping Sparrow was 11 years, 10 months old.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

The Body Builder

Looks like this thrasher has been working out.

No longer slim and sleek he looks ready to take on the bully birds
Oddly enough it was feeding at a feeder. It was eating grapes from a mesh bag.

Normally they are ground feeders and I haven't seen this behaviour before.
He actually drove of a number of blue jays, definitely bully birds, and hogged the grapes.

Toxostoma rufum

An aggressive defender of its nest, the Brown Thrasher is known to strike people and dogs hard enough to draw blood.

Brown Thrashers are accomplished songsters that may sing more than 1,100 different song types and include imitations of other birds, including Chuck-will’s-widows, Wood Thrushes, and Northern Flickers.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Wawing nest.

Friends of ours had a cedar waxwing nest in a tall spruce on their property.

It was set well back in the branches and the lighting was terrible which washed the colours out.
Still it is the only waxwing nest I've seen never mind photographed, so I'm not going to complain about the quality of the photo.

Bombycilla cedrorum

Because they eat so much fruit, Cedar Waxwings occasionally become intoxicated or even die when they run across overripe berries that have started to ferment and produce alcohol.

The oldest known Cedar Waxwing was 8 years, 2 months old.

Red-spotted purple.

This red-spotted purple was hanging around our packing area.
It kept its distance but allowed me to get close enough to get a few photos.

They are a fairly common butterfly for us but we don’t see large numbers of them.

Limenitis arthemis

The Red-spotted Purple is a mimic of the poisonous Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) and is typically found in open woodlands and along forest edges.

This butterfly is often found taking nutrients from gravel roads, roadsides, or scat

Bird on a stick

This caspian tern was sitting on a channel marker at the entrance to Erieau Marina where we keep our pontoon.

A great day on the water, the lake was calm and the breeze was enough to keep biting flies to a minimum.

Hydroprogne caspia

As large as a big gull, the Caspian Tern is the largest tern in the world. Its large coral red bill makes it one of the most easily identified terns throughout its worldwide range.

The oldest known wild Caspian Tern lived to be more than 26 years old. Average life span of Great Lakes Caspian Terns is estimated to be 12 years.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Butterfly in the yard.

I believe this is a painted lady which comes to the yard each year.

My iMac is old and acting badly after 8 years.
Buying a new one but am making do with a PC that I'm not comfortable with.
I probably won't post many comments for the next few days.

Have a good weekend when you get there.

Vanessa cardui


In the boat basin where we keep the pontoon boat we often see turtles basking just below the surface.

This is a map turtle just chillin' in the afternoon sun.
No ipod, I guess they aren't water proof.

Graptemys geographica

Seen up close, the fine light lines on the carapace of the Northern Map Turtle (Graptemys geographica) look like contour lines on a topographic map. But more likely, your view of this species will be brief and distant, since it is extremely wary and will dive at the slightest provocation.

Females are much larger than males and have powerful jaws that they use to crush molluscs with. The smaller males eat mostly aquatic insect larvae.

Female northern map turtles may take more than 10 years to reach maturity.

sources - Ontario Nature, Royal Ontario Museum

The root of the matter.

This is one of many trees that have fallen victim to shoreline erosion at Rondeau Provincial Park.

The south beach is littered with them.

The seed eater

The goldfinches have started coming back to the yard after being gone for several weeks.

They are taking advantage of the flowers finishing their blooms.
This is monarda or bee balm.

Spinus tristis

Goldfinches are among the strictest vegetarians in the bird world, selecting an entirely vegetable diet and only inadvertently swallowing an occasional insect.

As of May 2007, the oldest known American Goldfinch was 10 years 5 months old.

source - Cornell Lab of Ornithology.