Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago: Part 11 (second complete day at Surama)

Introduction
January 25-27, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Karanambu Lodge
January 27, 2018 - Karanambu Lodge, boat cruise on the Rupununi River
January 28, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Rock View Lodge
January 29, 2018 - Rock View Lodge and surroundings
January 30, 2018 - Rock View Lodge, drive to Atta Lodge
January 31, 2018 - First complete day at Atta Lodge
February 1, 2018 - Second complete day at Atta Lodge
February 2, 2018 - Cock-of-the-rock lek, drive to Surama Ecolodge
February 3, 2018 - First complete day at Surama Ecolodge
February 4, 2018 - Second complete day at Surama Ecolodge


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February 4, 2018

Dendrobatidae is a family of frogs common referred to as Poison Dart Frogs. These frogs are often brightly colored, terrestrial, and difficult to find (with a few exceptions), making them a prized find among naturalists. One of the iconic species is called Dendrobates leucomelas, the Yellow-headed Poison Frog, and it can be found mostly in eastern Venezuela, Guyana, and parts of northern Brazil and eastern Colombia. Kenneth, one of the other guides at Surama, was obsessed with herps and knew the whereabouts of most species found in the general area. We inquired with him about our chances of spotting Dendrobates leucomelas and he was happy to provide instructions as to how to get to a reliable area for the species. Stefano arranged for a truck to pick us up before dawn to drop us off in the right area, and we would spend the rest of the morning walking throughout the forest on our way back to the lodge.

Dendrobates leucomelas habitat - forest near Surama Ecolodge

Stefano, Laura and I sat in the back of the truck as it rumbled over the very rough track. We were a little slow-moving this morning after all of the hiking the previous day, so taking the truck to the dart frog location was a good idea indeed!

The forest was a little bit different here, with a novel species assemblage and a number of giant boulders that looked like they had been strewn about. Almost immediately upon our arrival we heard several dart frogs vocalizing to each other. A short search later, and we had found a pair!

Yellow-headed Poison Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Yellow-headed Poison Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Dendrobates leucomelas is one of the largest species of dart frog, reaching up to 5 cm in length. This species is quite territorial and small groups will vigorously defend their territories against rivals. Their vocalizations which are emitted frequently consist of far-traveling, insect like trills. By following these calls we found another pair a short while later.

Photographing the Yellow-headed Poison Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Yellow-headed Poison Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Yellow-headed Poison Frog (Dendrobates leucomelas) - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Happy with our great success, we had an extra spring in our step as we began the long trek back to the lodge, following the west bank of the Burro-Burro River. Even at this relatively early hour we were dripping with sweat; the humidity takes some getting used to in Guyana. We had hardly traveled more than a few hundred meters when I spotted a brilliant red, black and white serpentine shape on a trail-side shrub.

Aesculapian False Coral Snake (Erythrolamprus aesculapii- forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Wow! This gorgeous snake appeared to be an Erythrolamprus aesculapii (Aesculapian False Coral Snake), the same species that we had encountered the previous afternoon. It lay completely still in the bush, likely waiting in ambush for an unfortunate lizard to wander past. The colours on this individual were absolutely spectacular.

Aesculapian False Coral Snake (Erythrolamprus aesculapii- forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

The rest of our walk back was relatively slow sightings wise but considering that we had observed numerous Yellow-headed Dart Frogs, and had also found another snake (our fifth in 24 hours!), it had been a successful morning. I did add two new bird species on the walk back - Gray-fronted Dove and a heard-only Black-chinned Antbird. I stopped to photograph this strange insect; it is called a Wax-tailed Planthopper (Pterodictya reticularis).
 
Wax-tailed Planthopper (Pterodictya reticularis) - Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

After several hours of hiking along the seldom-used trail we finally arrived back at the part of the Burro-Burro River familiar to us, due to our boat ride from the previous afternoon. There happened to be a shelter there and good thing, since the heavens opened and the rain poured for a good twenty minutes right around the time that we arrived. We wolfed down our remaining food and laid down on the picnic tables to rest for a few minutes while waiting out the rain. At this point we were all tired and hungry, our chigger bites had progressed, our water supplies were dwindling and we still had five kilometers to walk.

It was during this long walk back to the lodge once the rain had cleared when we experienced the highlight of the trip for myself, though it was also one of the more frustrating moments. With only a kilometer remaining before we reached the lodge, we were for the most part putting one foot in front of the other, eagerly awaiting lunch and water waiting for us back at the lodge. Stefano and I were walking next to each other, while Laura was a few meters behind us. Suddenly a huge black and yellow cat appeared on the trail no more than twenty-five meters in front of us. By the time that my brain registered what this animal was - a huge male Jaguar - it had crossed the path and slipped into the forest on the other side. I blurted out "Jaguar!" as quick as I could, and Stefano got on it before it disappeared, but Laura was walking directly behind us and we were blocking her view; the two seconds it took for Laura to look around us was all the time that the Jaguar needed to slip off of the trail into the dark forest. A bittersweet moment, for sure, and despite us waiting for a little while, the cat never reappeared. Despite my elation at viewing a male Jaguar along a forest trail, I could only imagine the pain that Laura was feeling over missing it - not through any fault of her own, just by circumstance. We will definitely have to return to the land of the Jaguar one day and rectify the situation!

We had a relaxing lunch and took a bit of a break for the afternoon. I purchased an hour of internet and got caught up on everything back home (including my beloved Leafs of course), while Laura relaxed in our room and did some packing. Around 4:00 PM we met with Stefano for a leisurely walk through the savannah. First we tried calling in Ocellated Crakes in the long grass (no luck), then we headed back to the dry forest where the Great Potoo had been seen roosting.

One of the side trails we took passed close to one of the dwellings. We were met by their guard-kitten and guard-trumpeter who came running out to see who we were. A little girl named Ana emerged from the dwelling to check up on what the fuss was about. She introduced us to Moore, the Gray-winged Trumpeter, as well as Timothy and Thomas, her two kittens. Needless to say our progress was impeded by this welcome distraction, and Laura made sure to befriend both Moore, and Timothy the kitten (who was actually female, Laura noted).

Making friends - Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We poked around in the dry forest for a while hoping to spot the potoo but were met with little success. The clouds increased in size and soon a light rain fell. Laura and I were ready to call it quits but Stefano kept at it; his persistance paid off as he soon spotted the potoo! We all enjoyed the stellar looks at the bird that was likely not thrilled about the current rain situation.

Great Potoo - Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We enjoyed our last dinner at Surama and said our goodbyes to the other guests, as well as to the guides that we had gotten to know in our three days here, especially Stefano and Kenneth. That evening Laura wrote in her journal and I culled photos, but neither of us lasted very long until our eyelids grew heavy. It had been another tiring but excellent day...

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Introduction
January 25-27, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Karanambu Lodge
January 27, 2018 - Karanambu Lodge, boat cruise on the Rupununi River
January 28, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Rock View Lodge
January 29, 2018 - Rock View Lodge and surroundings
January 30, 2018 - Rock View Lodge, drive to Atta Lodge
January 31, 2018 - First complete day at Atta Lodge
February 1, 2018 - Second complete day at Atta Lodge
February 2, 2018 - Cock-of-the-rock lek, drive to Surama Ecolodge
February 3, 2018 - First complete day at Surama Ecolodge
February 4, 2018 - Second complete day at Surama Ecolodge

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago: Part 10 (first complete day at Surama)

Introduction
January 25-27, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Karanambu Lodge
January 27, 2018 - Karanambu Lodge, boat cruise on the Rupununi River
January 28, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Rock View Lodge
January 29, 2018 - Rock View Lodge and surroundings
January 30, 2018 - Rock View Lodge, drive to Atta Lodge
January 31, 2018 - First complete day at Atta Lodge
February 1, 2018 - Second complete day at Atta Lodge
February 2, 2018 - Cock-of-the-rock lek, drive to Surama Ecolodge
February 3, 2018 - First complete day at Surama Ecolodge
February 4, 2018 - Second complete day at Surama Ecolodge


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February 3, 2018

The Harpy Eagle is one of the most impressive birds that is found in South America. Weighing up to 20 pounds with a two-meter plus wingspan, Harpy Eagles are adorned with a double crest of feathers on the top of their head, while they also possess massive talons. Harpy Eagles spend most of their time sitting quietly in the canopy of lowland rainforests in Central and South America, keeping a watchful eye out for sloths and primates, of which the huge talons assist with crushing the skulls of the unfortunate mammals. Harpy Eagles occur in very low densities in relatively undisturbed, mature forests sporadically in the Americas. They rarely soar above the forest and their natural history remains little-known because of the difficulty in viewing them. Much of the knowledge we have of the species comes from observations at nest sites as well as the few observations of individuals hunting.

It was one of these nest sites that we were planning on visiting first thing in the morning on February 3. Harpy Eagles are widespread in the forest of Guyana but because of their extremely low densities and habits they are a very difficult species to just happen upon. This particular nest had been well known for a number of years and the pair of eagles had successfully raised several young. This particular nest was occupied by a 22 month old chick who was making forays further and further afield so there would be no guarantee that it was home. We were certainly up for trying!

We rumbled along the dirt highway in the back of the lodge's truck, enjoying the cool breeze on our faces and feeling more awake with each passing minute. Thirty minutes passed before we pulled off the road, the truck backed into a narrow parking spot which signaled the beginning of the trail.


The walk to the nest was not long - perhaps two kilometers - but it took us over an hour since we were stopping occasionally to check out birds. It was tough going in this forest due to the sheer size of the trees. Some birds were calling from the canopy but good luck getting even a glimpse! Fortunately we encountered a few understorey and mid-level species as well, including three new ones for me - Ferruginous-backed and Common Scale-backed Antbirds, and Amazonian Motmot.

forest along the Harpy Eagle Trail near Surama, Guyana

We reached the nest tree shortly before 8 AM. The Tropical Cedar which housed the nest was one of the most impressive trees I had ever laid eyes on; certainly the largest I had seen in person. Rising well above the canopy it was easy to see why this was the preferred nesting tree for the eagles.

Harpy Eagle nesting tree

We scanned the nest from several different vantage points but nobody appeared to be home. We also tried playing some tapes, also without a response and so we kept waiting. Laura pulled this Bullet Ant off of her, which certainly caused an temporary increase in her heart rate. They say that the pain from a Bullet Ant bite feels similar to being shot or stabbed and it will last upwards of 24 hours.

Bullet Ant - Harpy Eagle trail near Surama, Guyana

An hour passed by. Stefano had packed with him a snack that consisted of bake (the doughy pastry I mentioned from our time in Atta) that had been stuffed with an omelette, along with a thermos full of sweetened lime juice. The food certainly took the edge off and gave us additional patience.

We tried playing the tape again. Almost instantly there was a response! Our eyes strained through the forest to try and gain a vantage point from where the calls were coming from. As soon as the Harpy responded, a nearby troupe of Howler Monkeys started making a racket. It was a pretty surreal moment, hearing the Harpy call, followed by a warning call from all of the Howler Monkeys. They clearly know that the Harpy Eagles do not mess around.

The eagle changed positions a few times, calling from various locations around us, but try as we might we were unable to sight it. While that was a slight letdown, just hearing the interaction between the eagle and the monkeys made it worthwhile.

Laura spotted a Black-faced Hawk while we were waiting for the Harpy, which hung around long enough for Stefano and I to enjoy it. I was thrilled with the find since Black-faced Hawk is relatively uncommon in northern Amazonia and it was a new one for me.

Black-faced Hawk - Harpy Eagle trail near Surama, Guyana

By 10 AM we finally gave up and began walking back to the truck. Along the way Laura and I paused frequently to investigate lizards, butterflies, or beetles in the undergrowth; invariably, Stefano immediately lost interest each time he realized that we were not looking at a bird. The one non-bird we were able to get him to look at was this Weeping Capuchin that passed by us in the treetops.

Weeping Capuchin - Harpy Eagle trail near Surama, Guyana

On our way back we quickly stopped at a spot where a Long-tailed Potoo roosts, but were unable to find it. We spotted this Great Black Hawk at a roadside stream on the way back but the biggest highlight was a Smooth-fronted Caiman (either Cuvier's Smooth-fronted Caiman or Schneider's Smooth-fronted Caiman)  that was near a tiny roadside creek. It unfortunately disappeared after a few seconds.

Great Black Hawk - highway near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We made one more stop before driving back to the lodge for lunch. This particular part of dry forest was home to a Great Potoo which could often be found roosting in the area. We searched for half an hour without success, though I did find three more "lifers" including Pearl Kite, a species I've somehow managed to not encounter on my previous trips to the Neotropics.

We relaxed at the lodge and enjoyed lunch. Yuha had arrived (this was our fourth time seeing him!), as had an older couple from England, and the five of us enjoyed telling stories of our respective travels.


Later that afternoon we planned to meet up with Stefano and hike down to the Burro Burro River for an evening paddle. We invited Yuha to join us, he was game, and so we began walking down towards the forest, taking a trail that would eventually lead to the Burro Burro River. Joining us would be one of the local men from Surama (though I completely forgot what his name was); Stefano mentioned that he would help paddle the boat on the river.

Forest near the Burro Burro River, Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We walked relatively briskly towards the river, hoping to make decent time along the 5 km route. We paused whenever we encountered birds or anything else of interest, though that was relatively fruitless over the first couple of kilometers. The "best" bird of the walk was the small group of Capuchinbirds, with males displaying from both sides of the path. Eventually we were able to see a few through our binoculars as well, but the audio is what was really worthwhile! Following the success with the single Capuchinbird at Atta Lodge, it was great to observe and hear the famed display as well. 

We had our eyes trained on the path in hopes of encountering anything serpentine, and Laura was the first to find success. A fast-moving, brownish snake glided off the trail, affording nothing but a few quick glimpses before it completed disappeared into the thick, trail-side vegetation. We identified it later using our field guides as a Northern Woodland Racer (Drymoluber dichrous). 

We continued on with a renewed sense of focus, following our brief encounter with the racer. Any rustlings heard in the undergrowth were heavily scrutinized, though most turned out to be Giant Amievas or Striped Forest Whiptails.

Giant Amieva (Amieva amieva) - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Stefano suddenly stopped dead in his tracks and put his hands up to stop Laura and I as well. There was a snake on the trail! With a smile on his face, he slowly pointed towards the red, white and black patterning on the forest floor.

Aesculapian False Coral Snake (Erythrolamprus aesculapii) - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We excitedly followed his gaze until we noticed the snake, lying motionless in the leaf litter. I was not sure what it was at the time, and with the possibility of it being a coral snake, we decided to not risk catching it. Later we were able to figure out that it is a Aesculapian False Coral Snake (Erythrolamprus aesculapii). This species preys on lizards and snakes and is uncommon but widespread in Amazonia.

Aesculapian False Coral Snake (Erythrolamprus aesculapii- forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

It quickly disappeared off the trail once it noticed our movement. We continued along the remaining kilometer or so of trail, arriving at the Burro Burro River with 90 minutes remaining until sunset.

Paddling along the Burro Burro River near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Water levels were down along the river which limited our route as certain areas were not passable. The evening air was very still and bird song rang out clearly as we drifted by.


I spotted two large figures atop a Cecropia that was lining the watercourse. Piping Guans! We had heard one the previous evening but this was much better. The Blue-throated Piping-Guan is relatively common in Guyana though in other parts of its Amazonian range its numbers have declined, due to hunting and habitat loss. Piping-guans are almost entirely arboreal, spending much of their days in the treetops feeding on a variety of fruits.

Blue-throated Piping-Guan - Burro Burro River near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Blue-throated Piping-Guan - Burro Burro River near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

A Paradise Jacamar posed in the sunlight once we had returned to dry land, while we also spotted a Cayenne Jay, Laura's first.

Paradise Jacamar - Burro Burro River near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Cayenne Jay - Burro Burro River near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

The sun set as we walked back to the lodge, with the sounds of tinamous and insects accompanying us. In a few puddles we found several frogs; I caught one, much to the surprise of Stefano who thought I was crazy.

Leptodactylus guianensis - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We reached the edge of the savannah about 45 minutes later. With the lodge in view only a few hundred meters from us, there was one more wildlife surprise in store. A small, dark serpentine shape ahead of me revealed itself as a blind snake, which I quickly caught before it could disappear in some vegetation.

Trilepida dimidiata - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We were pretty excited as not only was this our third snake of the walk, but it was a super cool one at that! Blind snakes range throughout the tropics but little is known about most species due to their secretive nature and fossorial habits. On many species the eyes have been much reduced, they are able to sense changes in light but not much else.

I believe this one is Trilepida dimidiata, sometimes called the Dainty Blind Snake, based off a key to the herps of Guyana. I was not able to figure out much at all regarding its natural history when trying to research the species. While we were holding the snake, it would try to prick us with the end of the tail which was hardened into a point (though it was unable to draw blood). An interesting bit of self-defense but it makes sense considering it would be unable to bite most potential threats. That mouth is just too tiny.

Dainty Blind Snake (Trilepida dimidiata) - Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

We brought the blind snake back to the lodge as I was interested in showing it to Kenneth, one of the local guides who was a fountain of knowledge when it came to herps. Kenneth assisted me with many identifications during my time in Surama as he knew the area better than anyone.

We quickly wolfed down our dinner and prepared to head back out for a night hike, eager with anticipation on what we might see. While we had been a little frustrated with Stefano on the previous day, he certainly was a great help today. He had never done a night hike before at Surama but was up for it, even though it meant that he would not get home until late that night.

We targeted a creek bed that we had passed earlier in the day. Watercourses are hotspots for wildlife, particularly in the dry season, and while the creek bed was mostly dry but there were some occasional standing pools of water.

One of the first animals we encountered was a Gray Four-eyed Opossum (Philander opossum), its eye-shine easily visible in my headlight beam from several dozen meters away.

Gray Four-eyed Opossum - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

This tailless whip scorpion was an imposing sight on a nearby boulder due to its massive, 12 inch "legspan".

Tail-less Whip Scorpion sp. - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Invertebrates seem to come out of the woodwork in the tropics at night and when the "big game" are not biting it is fun to marvel at the invert diversity. Massive cochroaches, spiders, crickets and millipedes were all commonly seen and we soon grew accustomed to the difference in eye-shine from a spider compared to a frog.

Unknown spider - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Walking along the creek, my headlamp beam illuminated just what I was hoping to see. A snake, draped at waist height on an overhanging branch! I called Laura and Stefano over and we marveled at the reptile. Laura was thrilled to see a "draper", considering we had struck out on tree boas everywhere that we had visited to this point. While not a tree boa, the Banded Cat-eyed Snake was a fantastic find instead.

Banded Cat-eyed Snake - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Cat-eyed Snakes patrol the low and mid levels of the forest at night, hunting primarily for lizards and frogs. Named due to their vertical pupils, Cat-eyed Snakes superficially resemble some species of venomous snakes. Stefano tried to stop me from picking it up but I convinced him that I was positive in its identification, having seen several Cat-eyed Snakes on previous trips.

Banded Cat-eyed Snake - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

It was pretty awesome sharing this experience with Laura and Stefano. We even managed to get him to hold the snake - the first time he had ever done that!

Stefano with the Banded Cat-eyed Snake - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

Soon after it was time to head back to the lodge. Our eyelids were getting heavier by the moment and we had an early start planned for the next day. On the way back we found a Kinkajou high in the trees, quite a few more impressive spiders, and a several other odds and ends. It had been a fantastic day with many great sightings. The next morning we had a plan to target a particularly interesting amphibian.

Unidentified spider - forest near Surama Ecolodge, Guyana

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Introduction
January 25-27, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Karanambu Lodge
January 27, 2018 - Karanambu Lodge, boat cruise on the Rupununi River
January 28, 2018 - Rupununi savannah, Rock View Lodge
January 29, 2018 - Rock View Lodge and surroundings
January 30, 2018 - Rock View Lodge, drive to Atta Lodge
January 31, 2018 - First complete day at Atta Lodge
February 1, 2018 - Second complete day at Atta Lodge
February 2, 2018 - Cock-of-the-rock lek, drive to Surama Ecolodge
February 3, 2018 - First complete day at Surama Ecolodge
February 4, 2018 - Second complete day at Surama Ecolodge

Thursday, 6 December 2018

Summer odds and ends (Part 2)

Continuing on from the previous post, here are a few odds and ends that I photographed this summer that have not made it onto the blog just yet.

In late July I joined my siblings and some of my cousins for a weekend of camping at Turkey Point Provincial Park in Norfolk County. I made sure to arrive early enough on the Friday to do a little bit of exploring, and hit up the Backus Woods for a bit before meeting up with Adam Timpf and checking out his farm. The highlight for me was finding a couple of Smooth Greensnakes in the Backus area.

Great Golden Digger Wasp (Sphex ichneumoneus) - Norfolk County

Eremnophila aureonotata - Norfolk County

Monarch - Norfolk County

Smooth Greensnake - Nofolk County

Smooth Greensnake - Norfolk County

One of my field sites this past summer was a beautiful area of forest, meadow and wetland located near the North Bay airport. I was fortunate to make several trips to the area over the summer to document the birds, reptiles and plants of the area. The late July visit was the most memorable for me as I discovered a Great Gray Owl along the edge of a fen while doing some botany surveys. I also broke out my camera on a few occasions to document some of the insects and plants that I was seeing.

Atlantis Fritillary - North Bay, Nipissing District

Aphrodite Fritillary - North Bay, Nipissing District

Spoonleaf Sundew - North Bay, Nipissing District

Monarch - North Bay, Nipissing District

Punctured Tiger Beetle (Cicindela punctulata) - North Bay, Nipissing District

Silver-bordered Fritillary - North Bay, Nipissing District

Silver-bordered Fritillary - North Bay, Nipissing District

Green Frog - North Bay, Nipissing District


Watershield - North Bay, Nipissing District

On July 29th I returned to the Niagara River with my brother, who was in town for a few days. He was curious to hear about the populations of dusky salamanders found in the Niagara River gorge, so we quickly checked a couple of spots and turned up a few Northern Dusky Salamanders.

Northern Dusky Salamander - Niagara River gorge, Niagara Region

Short Hills Provincial Park is a natural area with some great trails located only 20 minutes from home; as such it is a favorite location for Laura if we are feeling up for a hike. During the afternoon of August 3 I visited on my own, armed with my camera, and in search of butterflies. I had never really searched for Lepidoptera at Short Hills before so was curious what species could be found. I ended up with close to 20 butterfly species for the afternoon, including several late and very worn Hickory Hairstreaks.

Orange Mint Moth (Pyrausta orphisalis) - Short Hills PP, Niagara Region
 
Hickory Hairstreak - Short Hills PP, Niagara Region

Gray Comma - Short Hills PP, Niagara Region

Hypena sp. - Short Hills PP, Niagara Region

Viceroy - Short Hills PP, Niagara Region

Great Spangled Fritillary - Short Hills PP, Niagara Region
 
Spotted St. John's Wort - Short Hills PP, Niagara Region
Beginning in early mid August a spate of unusual birds, many with southern origins, began to be reported from various locations throughout southern Ontario. These included a variety of southern wading birds including Ontario's first Reddish Egret from Oliphant. One of the first of these southern rarities to be reported was a Little Blue Heron, found at Wildwood Reservoir in Oxford County. I was in the area on August 13 and made a quick stop to see the heron. The views were OK but the bird was quite distant, meaning photography was practically useless, but it was fun to study the species which I had only observed one time previously in Ontario. While watching the heron, I tried my hand at photographing a Wandering Glider that was making frequent passes along the shoreline in front of me.

Wandering Glider - Wildwood Reservoir, Oxford County

This year I have started to take a real interest in moths. Unfortunately I have not got around to creating a moth sheet setup, and our yard is not too conducive to this, but at the very least I have tried to be more aware of various moths while out and about. Laura and I drove down to Port Burwell Provincial Park for a weekend of camping with my parents, sister and brother-in-law in late August. A nice walk with Laura and my parents down to the beach on August 19 provided numerous opportunities to study various plant, herp and insect species. Perhaps the highlight for me was this larval Achemon Sphinx that Laura found in the dunes. This species is fairly widespread in the States but is restricted to the Carolinian zone in Ontario. It's host plant is Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia Creeper).

Achemon Sphinx - Port Burwell PP, Elgin County

Below are a few larids from a nice walk at Port Weller on August 26. The birding was a little slow this day, but at least a few photographic opportunities presented themselves.

Bonaparte's Gull - Port Weller east pier, Niagara Region

Caspian Tern - Port Weller east pier, Niagara Region

A subsequent visit to the east pier at Port Weller provided another opportunity to document some of the common plant and insect species that frequent the pier. It's been fun this summer to try to document as many species as possible that utilize the pier.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail - Port Weller east pier, Niagara Region

Ailanthus Webworm - Port Weller east pier, Niagara Region

Halloween Pennant - Port Weller east pier, Niagara Region

On August 29, field work brought me to the Brantford area. Following up on recent reports of Comet Darners from a particular stormwater management pond, I made a brief detour on my way home. The clouds had filled in the sky during my hour at the pond, meaning that the solar-powered odonates were few and far between, and none of the rare Comet Darners appeared. I still had a good time though, photographing winged creatures both living and human-created. A few Saffron-winged Meadowhawks were my first of that particular species.

Eastern Amberwing - Brantford, Brant County

Saffron-winged Meadowhawk - Brantford, Brant County
Widow Skimmer - Brantford, Brant County

CF-18 Hornet - Brantford, Brant County

In search of avian autumn migrants, I spent a couple hours along the north shore of Lake Erie on August 30, paying a visit to both Wainfleet Bog and Morgan's Point CA. The birding was pretty fun at Morgan's Point with around 50 species noted, including some Broad-winged Hawks overhead, a dozen species of warblers including several Canadas, and a few Yellow-bellied Flycatchers. Wainfleet did not provide much in the way of migrant birds, but I had my first three milksnake day in a long time!

Milksnake - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Milksnake - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region
 
Milksnake - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Milksnake - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Bicyrtes quadrifasciatus - Morgan's Point CA, Niagara Region

I'll finish this post with a Northern Map Turtle and some American Rubyspots from the Grand River at Caledonia on September 4, while I was unsuccessfully searching for a Yellow-crowned Night-Heron.

American Rubyspot - Caledonia, Haldimand County

American Rubyspot - Caledonia, Haldimand County

Northern Map Turtle - Caledonia, Haldimand County