Friday 19 October 2018


On Monday I returned from Sabah, the Malaysian state that is located in the north part of the island of Borneo. I was in Sabah to leave a nature tour for Quest Nature Tours, returning for my second "tour of duty" after a successful trip in October 2017. (For those of you that may be interested in going to Borneo, we'll be heading back in Oct 2020 - click this link for details).

At some point I will likely put together a day-by-day summary of this year's trip, much like how I did for last year, but that will have to be a project for this winter as I still have the remaining Guyana posts to make, plus some upcoming travel plans very shortly. In the meantime, I thought I would post a few of the photos from this recent trip. I've only edited a few so far, but that's better than nothing. Without further ado!

Black-barbed Flying Dragon (Draco melanopogon)

Maroon Leaf Monkey (Presbytis rubicunda)

Ghost Crab (Ocypode sp.)

Asian Water Monitor (Varanus salvator)

Leopard Cat (Prionailurus bengalensis)

Blue-naped Parrot (Tanygnathus lucionensis)

Mossy Bush Frog (Philautus macroscelis)

Black-sided Flowerpecker (Dicaeum monticolum)

Trilobite beetle (Platerodrilus paradoxus)

Mountain Treeshrew (Tupaia montana)

Bornean Orangutan (Pongo pygmaeus)

Wagler's Pit Viper (Tropidolaemus wagleri)

Haaniella scabra

Hooded Pitta (Pitta sordida)

Wednesday 10 October 2018

Summer odds and ends

As usual it has been an extremely busy summer, with work sometimes getting in the way of my need to spend almost every waking hour outside exploring the natural world (though work has often facilitated this as well!). Below are a few random odds and ends that have not made it onto the blog yet for one reason or another.

Back in late May a nice walk at Short Hills with Laura was productive with many great botany finds. The extremely warm temperatures stifled bird activity, though I did find a nice male Clay-colored Sparrow on territory. This species has only been detected breeding in Niagara somewhat recently so it is always fun to find a "new" spot.

Clay-colored Sparrow - Short Hills Provincial Park, Niagara Region

Clay-colored Sparrow - Short Hills Provincial Park, Niagara Region

This summer I have searched for dusky salamanders (Desmognathus) on a few occasions. Ontario has two species that can be found within its borders, though both species are extremely limited in range and only known from a few small seeps and creeks in the Niagara River gorge. During one of my earlier (unsuccessful) attempts, I photographed this gorgeous Eastern Red-backed Salamander. This species comes in several different colour patterns. The most common of course is the red-striped, though the lead-backed is also seen frequently. The ratio of lead-backed to red-striped is variable depending on the population but in general lead-backs compose between 1/5 to 1/2 of the individuals within the populations I see in Ontario. Many of the lead-backed individuals come adorned with a sprinkling of white flecks especially concentrated along their sides.

Eastern Red-backed Salamander - Niagara River corridor, Niagara Region

That day Laura and I also found this awesome looking moth. This species, Olethreutes quadrifidum, has a short flight period in early summer, while its larvae feed on Dogwood (Cornus sp.).

Quartered Olethreutes (Olethreutes quadrifidum) - Niagara River corridor, ON

Later trips to look for dusky salamanders were more successful as I detailed in this blog post from early July. I have visited on a few more occasions with mixed results. On July 15 I joined a couple of fellow herpers and we lucked out with both species, including my first Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander from the northern population. I was also thrilled to find a young Northern Dusky Salamander that only recently began to transform out of its larval stage.

Northern Dusky Salamander - Niagara River corridor, Niagara Region

Northern Dusky Salamander - Niagara River corridor, Niagara Region

Northern Dusky Salamander - Niagara River corridor, Niagara Region

Allegheny Mountain Dusky Salamander - Niagara River corridor, Niagara Region

During another salamander search I crossed paths with this very fresh Mourning Cloak. What a stunner!

Mourning Cloak - Niagara River corridor, Niagara Region

In early July a Snowy Egret spent a few weeks in the Fort Erie area, being seen at several spots along the lakeshore. It took a few tried but I eventually caught up with the beast on July 2. The views were a bit distant but I was thrilled to see my first SNEG in Niagara.

Snowy Egret - Fort Erie, Niagara Region

One of my job sites this year was on the picturesque Harris Lake, located north of Parry Sound. Due to limited road access we used a boat to access our study sites.

I had to take this selfie. It was hard to believe that someone was paying me to drive a motorboat around a gorgeous lake in July. Whenever I am up to my neck in reports, or dealing with a difficult project during those long winter days, I think back about some of the awesome fieldwork from the previous field season.

Selfie at Harris Lake, Parry Sound District

Back to insects! One of my field sites in Brantford was located near Mohawk Lake. As the date was early July it was peak season for hairstreaks, one of my favorite groups of butterflies. I lucked into finding a handful of them though they were all Banded Hairstreak, the most common species over much of their Ontario range. I also found my first Blue-fronted Dancers that day.

Banded Hairstreak - Mohawk Lake, Brantford

Blue-fronted Dancer - Mohawk Lake, Brantford

American Goldfinches are easy to ignore due to their abundance during much of the year. While surveying at Scanlon Creek Conservation Area in Bradford, this one landed on a cattail only a few meters away so I couldn't not take it's photo. Even the dull females are attractive birds in their own right.

American Goldfinch - Scanlon Creek Conservation Area, Bradford-West Gwillimbury, Simcoe County

I will finish with some insect photos that I took at the Wainfleet Bog on July 18. That day was particularly special as I photographed my 100th species of butterfly in Ontario. It was a lifer, and an overdue one at that - Striped Hairstreak! I found two individuals in different areas of the bog. I was in the bog in search of a different quarry, so the hairstreaks were a very pleasant surprise.

Striped Hairstreak - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Striped Hairstreak - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Monarch - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Great Spangled Fritillary - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Dun Skipper - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Northern Pearly-Eye - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

American Copper - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Dwarf St. John's Wort (Hypericum mutilum) - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Striped Hairstreak - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region

Striped Hairstreak - Wainfleet Bog, Niagara Region