Jun 242017
 

We have a sweet smelling Abelia shrub that is proving to be very popular with the insect population. Visitors this month include our first and so far only Monarch, a Black Swallowtail, a White Admiral, and two hawk moths, including the Hummingbird Clearwing and the Snowberry Clearwing, the latter new to us. And out amongst the wildflowers, the Canada Tiger Swallowtail is regularly feeding on the Viper’s Bugloss. I was able to photograph them all except the Monarch, with two separate views of the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth.

On June 8th, Peter got a bit of a surprise opening the door to our under-deck to find an Eastern Milksnake coiled around one of the garden hoses. He was lucky to get a photo as it made its way along the line of stopcocks heading for a bit of cover under the stairs.

Stephenie Armstrong, Warsaw

Eastern Milksnake – Peter Armstrong

Snowberry Clearwing at Abelia shrub – Stephenie Armstrong – June 2017

Hummingbird Clearwing at Abelia shrub – Stephenie Armstrong

 

Canada Tiger Swallowtail on Viper Bugloss – Stephenie Armstrong

Aug 022016
 

I got a picture of this Giant Swallowtail butterfly today (August 1, 2016)), a species I had never seen before. So again, something unusual has popped up at Curve Lake!  I did some reading and these butterflies are moving northward. Reports thus far say that they are now found at Point Pelee and the northernmost report is from Ottawa.

David Beaucage Johnson

Note: Giant Swallowtails are a newcomer to the Kawarthas, too, and now appear to be well established. D.M.

Giant Swallowtail - David Beaucage Johnson - Aug. 1, 2016

Giant Swallowtail at Curve Lake – David Beaucage Johnson – Aug. 1, 2016

Jul 292016
 

I saw my first Giant Swallowtail of the year in the garden today, hovering around the phlox. I checked the dill plantation but there were no larvae. No Monarchs have been seen.

Bill Snowden, Ennismore

Note: I saw my first Giant Swallowtail today, too, just east of Havelock.  Giant Swallowtails in the Kawarthas lay their eggs on Hoptree and Prickly Ash.  D.M.

Giant Swallowtail on phlox - Tim Dyson

Giant Swallowtail on phlox – Tim Dyson

Giant Swallowtail on phlox - August 18, 2014 - Drew Monkman

Giant Swallowtail on phlox – August 18, 2014 – Drew Monkman

 

Jun 212016
 

I went out early both Saturday and Sunday (June 18 and 19, 2016) on Lower Buckhorn lake and took these pictures.

Robin Blake

Wild Rose - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Wild Rose – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

White Admiral -June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

White Admiral -June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

White Admiral -June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake (9)

White Admiral -June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake (9)

Slaty Skimmer - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Slaty Skimmer – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

Osprey - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Osprey – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

Northern Water Snake - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Northern Water Snake – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

Four-spotted Skimmer - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Four-spotted Skimmer – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

Eastern Kingbird - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Eastern Kingbird – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

Canada Geese - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Canada Geese – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

Blue Flag - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Blue Flag – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

Bald Eagle - June 18-19, 2016 - Lower Buckhorn Lake - Robin Blake

Bald Eagle – June 18-19, 2016 – Lower Buckhorn Lake – Robin Blake

May 192016
 

The Kawarthas is home to at least 100 species of butterflies, 135 kinds of dragonflies and damselflies and a thousand or more different moths. Learning to identify the more common species is a great way to connect to the natural world around us and get kids interested in nature.

Butterflies

Who has not been enchanted by butterflies – the delicate, colorful wind danc­ers that are the hallmark of a warm spring or summer day? Belonging to an order of insects known as Lepidoptera, butterflies are easy to observe and turn up everywhere from woodland trails to backyard gardens. In fact, butterfly-watching also adds a whole new level of enjoyment to gardening. Compared to birding, which can involve getting up at the crack of dawn to take advantage of peak avian activity, identifying and photographing butterflies is a more civilized affair. Butterflies are rarely on the wing before 8 am and are most active on warm, sunny days.

Getting good looks at butterflies is easiest with a pair of binoculars, especially those that focus to within six feet or less. A camera with a zoom lens also comes in handy. By taking a picture of the butterfly, you can identify it later. Lots of excellent guide books and apps are available such as the “ROM Field Guide to the Butterflies of Ontario” and the “Audubon Butterflies” app. Some butterfly-watchers also use a net for catching hard-to-identify species such as skippers, which tend to be very similar. The butterfly can be transferred to a plastic viewing jar and then released.

Here are a few additional suggestions to keep in mind.

1. To find a given species, research the time of year it flies and its preferred habitat. Spring azures, for example, are most often seen in May; Canadian tiger swallowtails are active in June, while many of the fritillaries are observed in mid-summer.

Spring Azure - male - Wikimedia

Spring Azure – male – Wikimedia

2. Roadsides and wetland edges can be particularly productive, as long as there are sufficient flowers in bloom.

3. Learn to identify the plants that attract butterflies, either for nectar or as “larval plants” on which to lay eggs. Among the most important are the milkweeds.

Coral Hairstreak on Butterfly Milkweed

Coral Hairstreak on Butterfly Milkweed

4. Watch for butterflies basking in the sun on gravel roads (e.g., anglewings) and tree trunks (e.g., satyrs). Some species are attracted to animal dung and muddy puddles, which serve as a source of minerals, amino acids and nitrogen.

5. Be careful not to cast a shadow on the butterfly, since this will usually cause it to fly away.

6. Pay special attention to the butterfly’s size, wing shape, color and pattern­ing. The pattern on the underside of the wing, usually visible as the butterfly feeds, is especially important for identification purposes.

Moths

If you would simply prefer that insects to come to you, then moth-watching may be your thing. Mothing, as it is sometimes called, can be as simple as leaving on the porch light and checking periodically to see what’s clinging to the screen door. Unlike butterflies, most moths are nocturnal. However, there are exceptions. To distinguish moths from butterflies, remember that butterflies have club-like knobs on the ends of the antennae and usually perch with their wings held upwards. Moths, on the other hand, perch with their wings outspread and have antennae that closely resemble bird feathers.

While a simple incandescent light will attract some moths, the most effective bulbs are those that project light in the UV spectrum such as a black light CFL. Grow bulbs, designed for plants or aquariums, also work well. An even more effective option is to use a mercury or sodium vapour bulb, which broadcast an extremely bright light and draw in moths from further away. Set the light up in front of a wall or, even better, a white cotton sheet where the moths can land and be studied at close range.

Not all moths, however, are interested in lights. Some are nectar-feeders and will come to bait such as over-ripe bananas. A particularly effective way to entice moths is with a syrupy “goop.” One mixture calls for one over-ripe banana, a dollop of molasses, a scoop of brown sugar and a glug or two of beer. Mix the ingredients in a blender and spread the concoction on a tree trunk or a hang­ing rope. Check regularly after dark to see what has been attracted. With any luck, species such as Catocala (underwing) moths will show up. During the day, the bait may also attract butterflies.

Gallium Sphinx moth - June 4, 2016 - Gwen Forsyth

Gallium Sphinx moth – June 4, 2016 – Gwen Forsyth

A lot of the fun in mothing comes from taking pictures of the insects. Be aware, however, that using a flash may create washed-out images. A way to get around this is to carefully catch the moth in a small container, put it in the fridge overnight and take a picture the following morning using natural light. Place the moth on a pleasing background such as a leaf or a piece of bark. Make sure your camera settings are ready, because you will only have 30 seconds or so before the insect warms up enough to fly away. Placing a ruler beside the moth for one of the shots serves as a simple size reference.

Moth identification can be challenging, so keep in mind the following tips:

1. Start by focusing your ef­forts on the larger moths and those that stand out from the rest because of their large size and distinctive colours and markings (e.g., giant silkworm moths, sphinx moths).

2.  Take note of how it holds its wings when at rest. Are they spread out to the side or tent-like over the back? The former is probably a moth in the family Geometri­dae while the latter likely belongs to the family Noctuidae.

3. Once you have a rough idea of what family the moth might belong to, look more closely at the patterns on its wings and compare these to the photo­graphs in a guide such as “Peterson Field Guide to Moths” by Seabrooke Leckie.

4. Keep in mind the time of year. Like butter­flies, the moths you see change with the seasons. Knowing a given moth’s flight period will help to narrow down the species.

5.  Look at the range maps and make sure the species occurs in your area.

6. Check the type of host plant (larval food plant) the moth requires. If, for example, a given moth lays its eggs on plants that don’t grow in the Kawarthas, you can probably discount it.

 

Almost everything that applies to butterfly-watch­ing is also pertinent to the observation of dragonflies and their close cousins, damselflies. Collectively, these two groups of insects are known as the Odonata or simply “odonates.” Like butterflies and moths, there is a great deal of species diversity, and they, too, make wonderful subjects for photography.

On warm, sunny days, dragonflies and damselflies can be found around any wetland, lake or river. Many species are also attracted to meadows, roadsides and backyard gardens. In addition to using binoculars and a camera to help with identification, it can be fun to catch the insect in a butterfly net. It can then be transferred to a transpar­ent jar or plastic bag. Despite what many people think, dragonflies cannot sting you and their “bite” – on the rare occasions when this happens – is usually more startling than anything else. Here are a few simple suggestions to get started as an odonate-watcher.

1. Learn the different dragonfly (e.g., darners, skimmers) and damselfly (e.g., bluets, spreadwings) families. Knowing the family will greatly narrow down the choice of possible species.

Male Ebony Jewelwing, a species of damselfly (D. Gordon Robertson)

Male Ebony Jewelwing, a species of damselfly (D. Gordon Robertson)

2. Pick up a copy of “The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and Surrounding Area”. Written by local naturalist Colin Jones and illustrated by former Peterborough resident Peter Burke, it covers all of the species you are likely to find in the Kawarthas.

3. For dragonflies, take special note of overall size, eye position (e.g., do the two large eyes touch each other?) as well as any patterning on the thorax, abdomen or wings.

Immature meadowhawk dragonfly - Margo Hughes

Immature meadowhawk dragonfly – Margo Hughes

4. Remember that the male and female in many species can be quite different.

5. As with common moths and butterflies, you may want to start collect­ing odonates to have a small reference collection. Doing so will not have any impact on the population. Guidelines for proper collecting (e.g., using glassine envelopes) can be found online.

You will find more ways to develop a stronger connection to the natural world in my new “Big Book of Nature Activities: A Year-Round Guide to Outdoor Learning” which I co-wrote with Jacob Rodenburg, executive director of Camp Kawartha. The book will be available in June.

 

 

 

Apr 262016
 

About two weeks ago, in the northeastern part of Peterborough County, I saw the following species. APRIL 14: Hubble Road – 3 Eastern Comma butterflies; Sandy Lake Road – 1 Eastern Comma and 1 Mourning Cloak. APRIL 15: Charlie Allan Road – 6 Compton Tortiseshell;  Galway/Cavendish Forest Access Road – 4 Eastern Comma, 2 Mourning Cloak, 2 Compton Tortiseshell and 46 Painted Turtles; Cedarwood Drive – 1 Compton Tortiseshell; Pencil Lake Road – 1 Mourning Cloak; Lou Philips Drive – 1 Mourning Cloak

Jerry Ball

Mourning Cloak - Maple Cr. - Apr. 2014 - Drew Monkman

Mourning Cloak – Maple Cr. – Apr. 2014 – Drew Monkman

Compton Tortoiseshell - Wikimedia

Compton Tortoiseshell – Wikimedia

 

Eastern Comma - Terry Carpenter

Eastern Comma – Terry Carpenter

 

Apr 082016
 

We returned to our home on Dodworth Island on Stony Lake on Monday and immediately filled the four feeders. The activity is the most ever….We have 10 usual species but two things stand out. There are no Common Redpolls, but we have over 50 Pine Siskins. At least one Osprey is back..no loons here yet. The ice went out on April 1.  Rob Welsh

NOTE:  Pine Siskins are showing up in large numbers all over Peterborough and the Kawarthas right now. Flocks of 60+ have come to our feeder in recent days, along with close to a dozen Purple Finches. Drew Monkman

I was about to send out an APB. However, this evening around 5 pm. our pair of Common Loons finally arrived (Buckhorn Lake near Six Foot Bay) . Unfortunately, our “lone loon”, who usually arrives before them (as early as April 1) hasn’t appeared yet. Fingers crossed he’s ok.  Toni Sinclair, Buckhorn Lake

On April 6, I had 12-15 Purple Finches at our feeder for most of the day. No, they were not House Finches! Mostly females but at least 4 showy males.   Jim Cashmore, Wallis Drive, Peterborough

I heard the first Spring Peeper chorus for me this year, on March 31 @ 9th Line and County Road 32 (east bank along Otonabee towards Lakefield). Susan Chow

I saw my first Mourning Cloak butterfly on March 27,  just south of Keene.  Michael Gillespie

On the Indian River outside Warsaw, we heard an Eastern Phoebe calling March 28 at about 8:30 am – our harbinger of Spring!  Jane Bremner, Warsaw

Jerry Ball and I covered some of the side roads off Hwy 507 in the northern part of Trent Lakes Municipality and found Compton Tortoiseshell butterflies on three different roads. Martin Parker

We’ve had a weasel around all winter (a Long-tailed, we think), but never managed to get a photo until Easter Sunday, March 23… its white winter coat has started changing. Gwen Forsyth, Lakefield

I saw a pair of Sandhill Cranes on March 23. They were flying northeast over Centre Line of Smith at the 7th Line.  Jim Watt, Peterborough

I was outside March 23 cleaning the snow off the deck and about 20 feet above my head flew this magnificent adult Bald Eagle. He went upwards and landed on top of the pine tree on our point. Waited there for about ten minutes.  Derry Fairweather, Upper Buckhorn Lake

Today, March 22, my wife saw a pair of Gray Squirrels mating in our yard. It seems far too late, since Gray Squirrels give birth to their first litter this month. I haven’t been able to find a reference to mating in March anywhere online. Drew Monkman

Bald Eagle - March 23, 2016 Derry Fairweather

Bald Eagle – March 23, 2016 Derry Fairweather

Compton Tortoiseshell - Wikimedia

Compton Tortoiseshell – Wikimedia

Long-tailed Weasel - March 23 - Gwen Forsyth

Long-tailed Weasel – March 23 – Gwen Forsyth

Mourning Cloak - Maple Cr. - Apr. 2014 - Drew Monkman

Mourning Cloak – Maple Cr. – Apr. 2014 – Drew Monkman

 

Pine Siskin (by Karl Egressy)

Pine Siskin (by Karl Egressy)

Eastern Phoebe at nest - David Frank

Eastern Phoebe at nest – David Frank

 

Jun 082015
 

While doing volunteer work for the Kawartha Land Trust today (June 7), west of Pontypool, I saw a Silver-bordered Fritillary, a couple of duskywings, a Little Wood Satyr, a Common Ringlet and a Question MarkMichael Gillespie, Keene

On Friday June 5th Colin Jones and I saw a fresh Giant Swallowtail off Old Norwood Rd south of Havelock.  Don Sutherland, Peterborough

 

 

Giant Swallowtail on phlox - Tim Dyson

Giant Swallowtail on phlox – Tim Dyson

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) -  D. Monkman

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) – D. Monkman

Little Wood Satyr - D. Gordon Robertson

Little Wood Satyr – D. Gordon Robertson

Jun 012015
 

On May 30th, on my way to Stoney Lake, I saw my first Giant Swallowtail of the season as it flew across the road in front of me on County Rd #46 between Round Lake Rd, and Church Rd north of Havelock. Seems to be right on time for first flight of Giants, based on observations of the past few years since they became suddenly abundant in the county.
Upon arrival at Stoney, the client I was going to see about some gardening told me she had just seen her first two Monarchs of the season, the day before (May 29th) – one at her home in Toronto, and the other at her island cottage on Stoney Lake. Seemed a little early to me based on my own observations of the species, but I have no reason to doubt her. It may have slipped my mind to report these, but the fine article recently posted here by Chip Taylor about Monarch status/predictions reminded me.

Monarch Butterfly - Terry Carpenter

Monarch Butterfly – Terry Carpenter

Giant Swallowtail on phlox - Tim Dyson

Giant Swallowtail on phlox – Tim Dyson

May 262015
 

There was a large increase in the number of butterfly species today (May 26).  Jerry Ball and I walked the Trans-Canada Trail from County Rd 38 to Blezard Line and saw 21 species as follows;

Clouded Sulphur 43, Silvery Blue 69, Red Admiral 6, Dreamy Duskywing 5, Northern Spring Azure 4, American Lady 3, Meadow Fritillary 4, Juvenal’s Duskywing 1, Cherry Gall Azure 3, Mustard White 8, Common Ringlet 3, Northern Crescent 12, Hobomok Skipper 4, Tawny-edged Skipper 7, Pearl Crescent 2, Viceroy 1, Black Swallowtail 1, Mourning Cloak 1, Canadian Tiger Swallowtail 1, Eastern Comma 2, Arctic Skipper 2

Tony Bigg, Lakefield

Red Admiral - Margot Hughes

Red Admiral – Margot Hughes

American Lady - Wikimedia

American Lady – Wikimedia

Spring Azure - male - Wikimedia

Spring Azure – male – Wikimedia

 

May 092015
 

Many Spring Azure butterflies hanging around the dogwoods in my yard. American Lady laying eggs on the Pearly Everlasting and a Red Admiral checking out the nettle. These butterflies really go for their host plants, so we try to plant as many as we can and it works!

Blair Hamilton, Pigeon Lake

Red Admiral - Margot Hughes

Red Admiral – Margot Hughes

Spring Azure - male - Wikimedia

Spring Azure – male – Wikimedia

American Lady - Wikimedia

American Lady – Wikimedia

Apr 302015
 

Bob Prentice and I visited the northeast of the County and found five new butterflies for the year – Gray Comma, Northern Spring Azure (Note: The Spring Azure in this area has now been re-classified as Northern Spring Azure, Celastrina lucia), Olympia Marble, Hoary Elfin, and Henry’s Elfin. We also heard a Red-shouldered Hawk calling.

Tony Bigg

Spring Azure - male - Wikimedia

Spring Azure – male – Wikimedia

Apr 132015
 

The following are my Peterborough County “First of year” sightings this month:

April 3 – Pair of Eastern Phoebes calling continuously, Brown Creeper, on Tates Rd

Wilson’s Snipe calling at the north end of Northey’s Rd at 14th Line of Smith.

April 4 – River Otter at north end of Lakefield Marsh

April 6 – 20 Rusty Blackbirds at the west end of Beardsmore Rd

April 10 – Fox Sparrow by the tower at Lakefield Marsh,

3 Eastern Meadowlarks on Douro  8th Line by the power lines

April 12 – Swamp Sparrow, Lakefield Marsh. Heard by PFN Sunday walk group,

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker on Charlie Allen Rd

13 butterflies in the NW of the County – 10 Eastern Commas, 2 Mourning Cloaks, 1 Compton’s Tortoiseshell,

many ‘The Infant’ (Archiearis infans) Moths

 

Tony Bigg, Lakefield

Eastern Meadowlark - Karl Egressy

Eastern Meadowlark – Karl Egressy

Mourning Cloak - Maple Cr. - Apr. 2014 - Drew Monkman

Mourning Cloak – Maple Cr. – Apr. 2014 – Drew Monkman

Fox Sparrow - Jeff Keller

Fox Sparrow – April 2013 –  Jeff Keller

Sep 042014
 

When I left the house yesterday, (September 3rd), and headed out to work near Norwood and then on to Stoney Lake later, I had seen a total of 59 Monarchs during this 2014 season. When I returned home at dusk last night, that total had grown to 83, (including 7 observed as road kills). This total may well triple the number that I observed for the entire 2013 season, (which was 32 monarchs.)

So, as of yesterday, my expected estimate of 60 that I had predicted seeing this season was wrong, but I am happy to say that is was wrong on the PLUS side of things!! Now, 100 or more should not be out of the question, as there are still some weeks of monarch season to go.

I plan to film some of the raptor migration in the coming weeks, both inland, and along Lake Ontario, so Monarch sightings will surely jump during those times. In fact, in the past, the most monarchs I have seen in a single day have been while watching the autumn hawk movement. Cold front coming Friday night after hot, muggy and then thunderstorms, so Saturday should be fantastic for hawk watching, (and counting more Monarchs). I will keep you posted.

I still have my eye out for second brood Giant Swallowtails, but am still at 19, and have not seen one for nearly a week now.

Tim Dyson

Male Monarch

Male Monarch

Sep 042014
 

Here at our home near Lanark, there has been another banner year for the Giant Swallowtail. It’s been almost a repeat of the season of 2013. The first generation emerged in early June and ended in mid-June, feeding mainly on Dame’s Rocket and the orange hawkweed. The second generation started on August 2 and the butterflies have continued flying (save for one rainy day) and nectaring on our garden flowers up to today. They are very abundant with one to 5 seen simultaneously every day. Both the spring and summer flight periods are about 3 to 4 days later than last year (I don’t think I saw any in September of 2013). This is Sept 1 and we counted 5 present around the yard. The midsummer generation feeds on Cone Flower, Garden Phlox, Buddlaea, and Tithona rotundiflora (Mexican Sunflower) with the latter in full glory right now. The Prickly Ash, their essential food plant in these parts is very abundant in open meadows and forests around here.

Also today there are 3 Monarchs nectaring on the Mexican Sunflowers, so six sightings for this species in the past week. It is good to see the population seems to be re-surging and likely, there will be quite a concentration later at Point Pelee and along the shores of Lake Ontario. Bit of a butterfly garden around here….
Ted Mosquin, Lanark (north of Perth)

Source:  naturelist@googlegroups.com

Giant Swallowtail on phlox - Tim Dyson

Giant Swallowtail on phlox – Tim Dyson

 

Aug 262014
 
White Admiral - Margot Hughes

White Admiral – Margot Hughes

Today, we had two Monarchs visit the Buddleia in our garden. Over the past week, we’ve had a single Monarch come to the garden most days. Yesterday, there were also a Giant Swallowtail (second of the year), a White Admiral and a Red Admiral. The admirals were on the Buddleia, while the swallowtail preferred the phlox.

Blair Hamilton of Pigeon Lake also had a Giant Swallowtail in his yard today. It was laying eggs on his Hop Tree.

Drew Monkman

Giant Swallowtail on phlox - August 18, 2014 - Drew Monkman

Giant Swallowtail on phlox – August 18, 2014 – Drew Monkman