Friday, September 26, 2014

Bruce Peninsula Wildflowers

I spent last weekend up on the Bruce Peninsula with the University of Guelph Wildlife Club. The Bruce is a spectacular place to be a naturalist, and I had a lot of fun. The weather was mostly dismal, but there were breaks in the rain that were actually very nice.
To start off, I spent a lot of time looking at wildflowers. I believe I have identified these correctly but if you know differently please let me know! Many of these are quite range and habitat-restricted.
The rest of my sightings will be in another post.

Kalm's Lobelia (left) and Blue-green Grass-of-Parnassius

Bog Goldenrod

Bog Goldenrod and Pitcher Plant

Common Sneezeweed

Fringed Gentian not quite in bloom


Horned Bladderwort

Indian Paintbrush

Kalm's Lobelia

Nodding Lady's Tresses - one of the many orchids the Bruce is famous for

Ohio Goldenrod

Shrubby Cinquefoil

Friday, September 12, 2014

Algonquin Mammals

I had an excellent summer for mammals in Algonquin Park, and have made this post to share a few of the ones I managed photos of. Other species I saw very well but didn't photograph include Eastern Wolf, Red Fox, Mink, River Otter, Raccoon, Meadow Vole, Red-backed Vole, Deer Mouse, Red Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Flying Squirrel sp. and Sorex Shrew sp. Poorly seen Short-tailed Shrew and several unidentified bats round out the list.

 It wouldn't be Algonquin Park without Moose, and I probably saw one every 2 or 3 days on average. This calf proceeded to follow its mom across the highway shortly after I took the picture.

Early in the summer I scared two American Martens up a tree. I think they are young ones almost fully grown.

They are extremely adept climbers!

Raccoons are quite rare in Algonquin, and it is usually the common and inquisitive Marten that gets into mischief in garbage cans and the like.

White-tailed Deer are much less common than Moose in Algonquin Park, and indeed this individual was actually just outside Algonquin at Ragged Falls Provincial Park.

It was an excellent summer for seeing Black Bears. This mother with two cubs was one of two such families hanging out in this area for the entire summer, probably being seen by thousands of visitors.
 I see Snowshoe Hares in Algonquin Park much less commonly than I see their relative, Eastern Cottontails, in the developed portions of Southern Ontario.
Virtually every mammal will eat meat when it is readily available, with Snowshoe Hares apparently being no exception, but it is hard to imagine a less vicious looking animal! Some seemingly unlikely animals I've personally seen showing their carnivorous streak include Northern Cardinal, Gray Squirrel and Mallard.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Yellow-crowned Night-heron in Toronto

I'm back in Guelph for the fall now, but had a brief time last week in Mississauga after returning from Algonquin Park. For the last couple of weeks of my time in Algonquin I was hoping that the immature Yellow-crowned Night-heron being seen daily at Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Etobicoke would stick around. Sure enough it did, and on September 3rd I went to see it with Emma Cushnie.

We found the bird without too much trouble, although at first it was not in the pond it has been normally seen.

This rare vagrant (not reported annually in Ontario) can be distinguished from the much more common Black-crowned Night-heron by its longer legs, slimmer shape, mostly dark bill and more limited white on the back and wing feathers. Incidentally, there were several Black-crowned Night-herons nearby, including both an immature for comparison with the Yellow-crowned as well as this cooperative adult we watched for a while:

As you might expect from their name, Night-herons feed largely from dusk to dawn. Less well-known is that the common Great Blue Heron is largely crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk), and also commonly feeds at night.

This family of Red-necked Grebes was nearby, with two striped-headed chicks behind the adults in front. I find the disjunct population of Red-necked Grebes breeding in harbors and marinas on Lake Ontario very odd, as it seems to differ widely in both range and habitat from the main population in the prairies.