Wednesday, July 17, 2024

A couple of recent strolls along the Mill Race, St. Jacobs, ON

30 June, 2024

     Just before we arrived (so not strictly on the trail) we saw this juvenile Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) resting in the middle of the road.

     We thought it might be injured and stopped to check, but when we approached it, it flew off, so perhaps it was just resting. Bad place to rest, however!
     Common Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca) probably garners little attention from most people, but upon close examination (see the second picture) it is really quite beautiful.

     Broadleaf Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea canadensis) is a bit of a mouthful!

     Our old friend, Eastern Calligrapher (Toxomerus germinatus) was seen frequently.

     Amber Snails (genus Succinea) seem to be exceptionally common this year and we see them everywhere and in great numbers.

     Neither Miriam nor I could recall excessive wind of late, but it was apparent that it had occurred in the vicinity of the trail - perhaps localized, but of sufficient ferocity to cause damage.

     Common St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) was blooming prolifically.

     Flies (order Diptera) are often difficult to identify even for an expert, and certainly for a duffer like me. This is a species of Muscoid Fly (superfamily Muscoidea) but I am unable to narrow it down any closer than that.

     A Goldenrod Crab Spider (Misumenia vatia) is a fascinating little creature, and very handsome.

     It is known to change colour, generally to match the flowers it inhabits while it waits for unsuspecting prey. 
     Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis) will soon be ready for picking and there will be no shortage of takers. 

     A White-striped Running Crab Spider (Philodromus rufus) permitted a quick glance and a picture and then scurried off out of sight.

     Skullcap Skeletonizer Moth (Prochoreutis inflatella) has a macabre connotation to the name, but the insect is very handsome.

     Common Green Capsid (Lygocoris pabulinus) is a well camouflaged bug that feeds primarily on herbaceous plants.

     Inch worms are great favourites among children due to their unique method of locomotion; this individual is the larva of a species of Geometer Moth (family Geometridae).

     We were delighted to find a Grape Flower Plume Moth (Sphenarches ontario).

     There are several species of Scudder's Bush Katydids (genus Scudderia) and this is one of them.

     From the subfamily Sciapodinae -

     What a beauty it is!
     Illustrious Greenbottle Fly (Lucilia illustris) is a name that imports grandeur to a humble fly.

      Would that I were designated "illustrious!"
      It would be an unusual day when a walk along the Mill Race failed to produce a Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) or two.

     Those old celibates in Rome never looked so fine!
     An American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is common, unreasonably good looking, noisy and feisty.

     Common Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is rightly named; it does resemble an exquisite jewel.

     It is one of my favourite flowers and to see a hummingbird sipping nectar from it is to experience nature at its finest.
     Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare) has attained an impressive size; soon its crop of seeds will be essential for for American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) and other birds.

     This Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) was fluffed up, shedding water perhaps, for it was not a cold day.

     A Red-banded Leafhopper (Graphocephala coccinea) is a spectacular little insect, and quite common too for those who care to seek it out.

     The superfamily Phalangioidea (Harvestmen) contains five families and more than 1,500 species. I have been unable to name this one!

     I think you will agree that Long-tailed Dance Fly (Rhamphomyia longicauda) is attractive.

     Common Lagoon Fly (Eristalinus aeneus) on the other hand resembles the bouncer at the local saloon!

     Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia) is a pretty adornment along the trail.

     An Alder Spittlebug (Clastoptera obtusa) is small and is only found by a conscientious search.

     I have often wished that the name Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) could be changed to something not containing the negatively-charged term "weed". The flower is beautiful, and critical to that most beloved butterfly of all, the Monarch (Danaus plexippus). 

     Two-banded Petrophila (Petrophila bifascialis) is a very common moth, often encountered.

    Common Red Soldier Beetle (Rhagonycha fulva) is appropriately named for they seem to be present in platoons and battalions! 

     Love not war seems to be on their minds, however, for they are constantly mating. They generally live only for a few weeks, but perhaps happiness is theirs during their brief interlude on Earth!

06 July, 2024

     Any day that one is welcomed by a Green Frog (Lithobates clamitans) is a great day.

     This year, a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) is almost a given.

     Wood Soldier Flies (genus Xylomya) are interesting insects generally associated with dead or dying wood.

     I am at a loss to explain why, but Common Water Striders (Aquarius remigis) hold a certain fascination for me.

     Grapeleaf Skeletonizer Moth (Harrisina americana) is very striking, and we were delighted to encounter this individual.

     A Burdock Seedhead Moth (Metzneria lappella) is demonstrably less colourful.

     My old friend, Eastern Calligrapher (Toxomerus germinatus) put in an appearance.

     A Yellow-legged Flower Fly (Syrphus rectus) is a good-looking species.

     A Band-winged Crane Fly (Epiphragma fasciapenne) no less so.

     The complex Laphria canis designates an artificial grouping of medium-sized bee-mimic robber flies - not easy to identify as to species!

      Arion Slugs (genus Arion) are not everyone's favourites, but they have their role in the ecosystem.

     It is not at all difficult to find representatives of Common Flesh Flies (genus Sarcophaga).

     The following handsome insect is found in the family Tipulidae, but I am unable to narrow it down much beyond that.

     This is a crambid moth in the genus Herpetogramma.

     A Northern Cardinal along the Mill Race Trail is not unusual at all, but the following individual was either inordinately curious, or looking for food.

     It followed us for a long time and at times perched at barely more than arm's length.
     I could not help but wonder whether it has learned from observing chickadees that humans often bring food and I was sorry not to have any with me since this would have been my first cardinal on the hand. I had sunflower seeds in the car too. 

     It only started to ignore us when a female showed up - what a smart fellow!
     An Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus) was without a doubt looking for a handout too, so we disappointed two species!

     An American Toad (Anaxyurus americanus), by contrast was quite happy to stay concealed and mind its own business.

     Common St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) was blooming exuberantly.

     And a Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula) stopped by to say, "Goodbye."

     If I were required to pay by the minute for the countless hours of pleasure I have enjoyed along the Mill Race, I would be bankrupt. It's that kind of place. 

Land Acknowledgement

We acknowledge that the land on which we are situated are the lands traditionally used by the Haudenosaunee, Anishinaabe, and Neutral People. We also acknowledge the enduring presence and deep traditional knowledge, laws, and philosophies of the Indigenous Peoples with whom we share this land today. We are all treaty people with a responsibility to honour all our relations.