Monday, 12 April 2021

Early Spring Mothing Adventures

 Early spring is one of my favourite times of the year to be a naturalist. Winter in Canada is far too long for my liking and naturalizing opportunities are few and far between. There is only so much winter birding I can do, and identifying frozen mosses or undertaking winter plant ID only holds my interest for so long.

As the snow recedes and the temperatures warm up, migrant birds appear - first waterfowl and Horned Larks, then waves of robins, blackbirds and Killdeers, and eventually the kinglets, creepers, and sparrows in early April. Observing each "first of year" species brings a smile to one's face, while also providing a reminder of the waves of migration still to come. Observing the phenomenon of bird migration really gets my blood pumping!

Brown Creeper - Port Weller East Pier, Niagara Region

The first reptiles of the year are found on warm, sunny March days, filling a void that had been absent since the autumn. Once the ice has receded from the ponds and the first warm rains of the spring fall, the voices of Spring Peepers, Western Chorus Frogs and Wood Frogs emanate from vernal wetlands while salamanders rush to the ponds to lay their eggs.

Northern Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis saurita septentrionalis)

Meanwhile, the first ephemeral wildflowers - usually Hepatica in my experience - add a jolt of colour to the otherwise brown tones of a deciduous forest floor. Early beetles, bees, and moths appear, eager to get on with their lifecycles during these initial spring days.

Round-lobed Hepatica (Hepatica anemone)

It is the last group - the moths - that has captured my attention this spring. I only got hooked on mothing recently, during the summer of 2019. Last spring I was pre-occupied with other things and I did not set up my moth sheet for the first time until early June. Therefore, 2021 has been my first spring of mothing in Ontario. Almost everything has been new, which is always a lot of fun!

Citrine Sallow (Pyreferra citrombra) - St. John's CA, Niagara Region

I previously blogged about some of my finds from the first mothing session of the year during unseasonably warm temperatures on March 10. Since then, I have gone out on five other occasions, as documented below. 

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