Wednesday 5 June 2013

Carden Alvar - herps and insects

The Carden Alvar is not only a great place to see breeding birds, but also a hotspot for several other interesting species. Smooth Green Snakes are common in the alvar and seen quite often by visiting birders, though I've never seen one there. Two provincial species at risk, the Northern Ribbonsnake and Eastern Milksnake, also can be found here. While I was driving down the north part of Wylie Road around mid-day, I noticed a snake on the road just in time. Slamming on my brakes, I expected the blotched snake to be a somewhat lost Northern Watersnake, but was happy to see it was an Eastern Milksnake. A fiesty one at that too, which acted a little defensive as I took a few photos, unaware that I had stopped to avoid it on the road.

Eastern Milksnake - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

The diversity of insects on the alvar is quite high since there are several unique habitat types in the area. The most common species seen was the Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, with many gathering together to suck nutrients out of the wet spots in the road. Other species that were quite evident included the first Hobomok Skippers of the year as well as some duskywings. This photo is of a Juvenal's Duskywing.

Juvenal's Duskywing - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

The second batch of Azures, this one the Summer Azure, was flying and many fresh individuals were in the grassy areas.

Summer Azure - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

I was happy to see another species of Blue - this one a Silvery Blue. Another small Blue had me stumped at first, but I believe it is just a very worn Spring Azure.

Spring Azure? - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

Spring Azure? - Carden Alvar (May 31, 2013)

This is the time of year that female turtles are moving towards their nesting areas. Many cross busy roads, so keep an eye out for them when you're driving and if possible, stop and help them across the road. This little Snapping turtle was trying to cross a busy country road with non stop traffic near the town of Kirkfield. Jeremy and I stopped to help a few Midland Painted Turtles cross the road as well.


Brent Turcotte said...

The mystery butterfly could be a moth. I have seen two species of Spring Moths (Bluish and White) that kind of behave like a blue, active in the daytime and almost always with wings folded up. I thought it might be a Gray Spring Moth, but it doesn't match.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thought, Brent. I'm pretty sure it is a Spring Azure though. Everything about it seems to fit, it is just that it is super worn and faded. If you look closely at the first image, you can see the pattern on the underside of the wings. It matches Spring Azure pretty closely.