Sunday, July 31, 2005

Grand River

We live about 10 km from the Grand River not far from Brantford, Ontario. The Grand River system drains the largest part of southern Ontario and flows for 298 kilometres (185 miles) on it way to Lake Erie. There is a brief history of human habitation along the Grand River here, but for today I just wanted to post this photo.

The photo is taken from a pedestrian bridge that goes across the Grand River about 8 km upstream from Brant's ford, the location of a river ford named for Chief Joseph Brant who was one of the natives of the Six Nations from the Finger Lakes area of what is now New York State. (I have been both amazed and surprised to find Joseph Brant's portrait hanging in museums in Stuttgart, Germany and Nairobi, Kenya. See the history note from above and/or the Chief Joseph Brant link to understand how natives from south of the present border came to be in the Grand River area.) The bridge is part of a 16 km (10 mile) loop biking/walking/running trail that extends on both sides of the river between two pedestrian bridges. As part of my physical "recreation," I run that loop almost every week during the warmer months. Fleur-Ange and I biked it today and brought along the camera for the photo. If you look closely, you can see two canoes in the river downstream.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Butterfly & Moth

One great spin off from doing this blog is that I, and my partner, are being more observant on our daily walks and learning about insects that we've not noticed before. It also is a good excuse for buying new field guides. Here is a butterfly that I am sure has been here all along but I have just not noticed it.

I am 90% sure that it is a Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos). After spending lots of time trying to get a good photo of the butterfly with its wings spread, I found in the new field guide that the special crescent mark to look for is on the underside of the hind wing. Hopefully I will learn how to photograph butterflies soon.

Fleur-Ange found this moth on a Queen-Anne's Lace flower.

She reported that it was waving its antennae about wildly but she did get one in better focus on this side shot.

Pronouncing the first half of the moth's name, Virginia Ctenucha (Ctenucha virginica was fairly easy but the second half? Is it perhaps "TEN uh chuh"?

Friday, July 29, 2005

Not a Butterfly

An innocent clean up of the flower garden turned nasty this morning. I had missed a spot in one of the flower gardens a week ago and decided to clean it up. All went well at first.

Do you see the small hole near the shadow at the bottom left of the photo? Do you see some black and yellow objects near the hole? I didn't!

The small yellow and black objects brought themselves to my attention in the way they knew best, stinging! My hand is still paining me now, four hours later. It appears that Yellow Jacket Hornets like nesting in the ground but do not like being disturbed. They can "sting repeatedly at the least provocation" according to The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Insects and Spiders. Just imagine what they can do if one runs a hand cultivator over the entrance way to their nest. It seems to be the case that hand cultivators are a bit more than "least provocation."

Two hours later, Fleur-Ange found this wasp nest hanging in a small tree.

She used the telephoto part of the camera to get this photo. It's not as clear as we would like but it will do for today.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Yesterday, I updated my wild flower web site. Last week was amazing with 168 different species of wild flowers in bloom. I think that might be an all time record for one week and it is certainly the record for the year.

Meanwhile, last week I had the opportunity to go out with some dragonfly hunters.

We were only out for about two hours but they managed to capture and identify 8 species of damselflies and dragonflies:

This is a damselfly that likes to stay low in damp grasses.

This meadowhawk dragonfly may be far from water but will return to ponds, marshes, bogs, and streams. It has been known to land on light colour clothing on cool days according to the Stokes Beginner's Guide to Dragonflies.

I read that this dragonfly migrates along the Atlantic Coast.

This damselfly has a very long, slender abdomen.

Meadowhawks are very difficult to sort out for identification according to Stokes.

We see this dragonfly more than any others at the ponds on our property.

This was a small dragonfly that we could not capture except on the camera. It spent all it's time on this leaf or flying over the stream well away from the shore.

This was the last damselfly of the morning. OK, we missed lunch and it was afternoon but we had planned on stopping by noon. Sometimes the clock hands spin faster than others.

Pablo said... You forgot to include the line,
"No flies were harmed in the making of this post."
4:29 PM, July 27, 2005

Sorry Pablo, OK here goes...No flies were harmed in the making of this post. Not only that, for you who are not dragon/damselfly hunters, holding a damsel/dragonfly by its wings, carefully, will not damage it. I wish I could say the same for butterflies but they are much more fragile. We did not handle any butterflies.

Thanks, Pablo, for the reminder!

Monday, July 25, 2005


Most who read this blog will not have known Jack. When I think about the situation, I did not really know him that well either. I don't remember him ever visiting my house and I only visited his two or three times. He was a fellow wanderer! About 20 or 25 years ago I was a hike leader on the Bruce Trail. At that time I was known as a leader of faster and longer hikes along the Niagara escarpment. Jack was one of the fairly regular hikers. We all knew he was older than most of us but I do admit to being quite surprised to find that he was almost twice as old. When Jack was in his 80's, he was still hiking 20 to 25 kilometres (12-15 miles) in spring, summer and fall and cross country skiing during the winter with the local cross country ski club. As he hiked along, he told fellow hikers stories about his younger days and of some of his retirement activities. He went back to school and finally got the B.A. degree that he had neither time nor money for in his younger days. He got his degree from McMaster University in classical studies. He volunteered at the McMaster University Hospital as a subject for the study of ageing. He drove cancer patients to the hospital for treatments. He often walked to the grocery store to buy and carry his groceries 3 or 4 blocks back home where he lived on his own. I don't remember when Jack stopped skiing. I think it was in his late 80's when he stopped going with the club but he still skied trails closer to home. He stopped the longer hikes but came out for regular wild flower walks until he was at least 94. Jack stopped his earthly wandering last Saturday well on his way to his 97th birthday. I shall miss him! He was both special and an inspiration to many people.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Wandering Sun #1

Here is an update on the wandering sun. If you saw my first blog, you will know that I started with a photo of sunrise on summer solstice. Here is a photo from that day and one from just over a month later showing the movement of the sunrise position and time.

The sun is peeking through the needles of the tree and not looking too bright but one can see that the sun is on its way to the south again.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Tomato Hornworm

Earlier in the week, Rurality had a Tomato (a.k.a. Tobacco) Hornworm on her website. Guess what we found on our tomatoes yesterday.

According to the website that Rurality noted, Tobacco Hornworms tend to be more southern and Tomato Hornworms tend to be more northern. Obviously, they both tend to be out and about right now. Sigh!

I guess if one cannot save the tomatoes, one should try to enjoy the colours of the pests.

It does not take too much manipulation to make them look more interesting.

(I just could not resist playing again!)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Unknown Moth

Does anyone know the ID of this moth?

Fleur-Ange got another close look.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Morning Walk

There was lots of dew on everything this morning.

This dew drop was on a Goldenrod plant. I turned the photo upside down to make the scene in the drop easier to make out. You can see the meadow, bottom light green area; the willow trees, dark green further up the photo; sky; and bright sun all reflected in the dew drop.

On Fleur-Ange's second photo you can see dew drops like pearls on a spider's web.

On the third photo, the dew is on a Cattale leaf.

This is under a Queen Anne's Lace flower.

I finally got the camera for this shot of sunlit Timothy.

Monday, July 18, 2005


I've changed my mind twice, so far, about the ID of this leafhopper. (See P.S. at the end of this.)

Right now I think it is probably (Graphocephala fennahi) which on the British site I found it on is just called "Leafhopper," which is a safe bet for the English name anyway.

The colours on this leafhopper were so wonderful that I couldn't help but play with them on my computer. I copied several of the colours, multiplied them, turned them about, etc. (i.e. I just played with them.) Following are the results:

How about Leafhopper Abstract for a title?

P.S. Just to save you from having to go to the comments section: Nuthatch said...
"You are correct, this leafhopper is commonly known as the Rhododendron Leafhopper...."

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Choke Cherries, etc.

I went out for a brief stroll with our dog, Calla, between rainstorms this afternoon and found the first Choke Cherry shrub (Prunus serotina) with red berries. Most of the others have green berries that have barely started to turn colour. A quick taste confirmed that they were indeed Choke Cherries. Nothing else causes the mouth to pucker up so quickly.

It won't be long before every walk in wooded areas in this part of the country will result in one's legs being covered with little green bur-like seeds. They are the seeds of Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana). The hooked hairs on the seeds also collect water as can be seen in this photo. Who knew that such a pesty thing could also be so beautiful?

On the last part of the walk, I found this Green Lacewing on a Milkweed leaf. At least that is what I think it is as it looks like the one on the California Bug People web site.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Ambush Bug Revisited

On July 6 I had a photo of the Ambush Bug. Here is a newer photo of the bug taken inside the house on my desk where it was easier to get a better close up.

The entire bug is interesting in shape and colour but the body part that makes it unique is the front leg. Notice how it makes a bit of a pincher to hang onto its prey.

I thought the bug looked quite familiar when I first saw it earlier in the month. After some reflection, I remembered that I did a watercolour sketch of the bug 5 years ago and then did a limited edition from an etching later. Here is a photo of my original watercolour.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Wet Baby

I'm not sure how this baby got so wet as my rain gauge hardly showed any amount of rainfall.

He, or she, did not want anything to do with me!

Mom was hard to photograph as she looked from above while scolding.

Dad, while also hard to photograph, gave the species away. Baby was a wet, unhappy, fledgling Red-winged Blackbird. I wanted better photos but decided that I had already created more than enough stress for the evening.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Unknown Beetle

This beetle was in our library room crawling across the floor. It's not ones first choice for sight when looking up from a book.

I've spent a few minutes looking for a species name but have not been sucessful yet. Any ideas?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Web Sites and Spiders

It's Tuesdays and my web site is updated with the names of last weeks 152 species of wild flowers found in the Hamilton, Ontario area. There are also 5 new wild flower photos to look at and a few others on the Past Photos sections if you missed them or want to look again.

Meanwhile, Fleur-Ange and I are finding spiders in the meadows around our house.

This one, we think, is a Flower Crab Spider. If so, it can actually change colours to help match the flower it is on in a matter of a day or two according to what we read. (Of course I can't remember where I read it now. It was yesterday. Sigh!) Fleur-Ange found the spider on a Motherwort plant.

This second spider, I found in a Red Pine tree. It was fairly small.

OK, it was really small. I just accidently found it while looking for new pine cones. Here is a magnified look:

It appears to be in the "Sheet-web Weaver" family of spiders with about 2 200 other species in its family. If any one knows the species name of either spider, please pass it on. I've looked in various places, books and web sites, and have not had the time or patience to sort them out. (Oh the joys of dial up connections....)

Monday, July 11, 2005

Syrphid Fly

We looked through several books before deciding that this insect was a Syrphid Fly. It was spending time on Mullein flowers. These are three of the best shots that Fleur-Ange managed to capture. I just did some creative cropping of the photos.

Yes, Syrphid Flies look a bit like bees.

These photos make the fly look large, but they are about 1 cm, or less, from wing tip to wing tip (may 1/3 inch?).