Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mid-spring Movement

I've been out every day this week, and each trip is more exciting than the last. The first huge wave of sparrows and warblers could arrive within a week, although ten days is a more reasonable estimate. There's no point worrying about what's to come though, as there's so much to see right now!

A nice diversity of migrant birds arrived on Monday, although not in as large numbers as I'd hoped. New arrivals included Pine Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Hermit Thrush and Ruby-crowned Kinglet. The sunny weather and warm temperatures also brought out a number of ectothermic ("cold-blooded", although that term is inaccurate and misleading) animals, including my first snake of the year.

Golden-crowned Kinglets were abundant, but very difficult to photograph due to their incredibly frantic movement. This was the best shot I could get, but I have a lot of excellent pictures of empty perches!

This Eastern Garter Snake was very dull coloured all over including its eyes, perhaps it's close to shedding?

I was happy to find this cool little caterpillar, and excited when I discovered that this is the caterpillar of a very familiar species - the Virginia Ctenucha. These are the big dark moths with metallic bodies that are often seen flying in the day in summer.

Tuesday saw a big influx of birds into the area. In two hours in the Guelph Arboretum I saw an estimated 25 Brown Creeper, 60 Ruby-crowned Kinglet, 50 Golden-crowned Kinglet and 50 Dark-eyed Junco, along with a variety of other migrants (Brown Thrasher, Eastern Towhee, Fox Sparrow, Field Sparrow)

It's blurry, but I thought this picture with both a Fox Sparrow and a White-throated Sparrow was kind of cool. Sparrows seem to really like the dogwoods (blurry red branches in the foreground)

Several unexpected birds have been seen recently at a park with some man-made ponds in Guelph (including Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser and Caspian Tern), and I continued the trend today with 4 Greater Yellowlegs and a Wilson's Snipe in the flooded baseball diamonds.

One of the yellowlegs went for a little swim, something I've never seen before.

This large hoverfly was sitting on the boardwalk today. I have tentatitively identified it as Heliophilus fasciatus. Like most hoverflies, this species is a bee/wasp mimic, but the single pair of wings distinguises it as a fly.

Finally, I had my first Midland Painted Turtles of the year basking in the sun today. I'm always amazed at how these guys are found in virtually every urban pond that has suitable habitat.

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