Saturday, August 25, 2007

Northern Flicker (Eastern Yellow-Shafted)

This male, adult Northern Yellow-shafted Flicker was seen feeding on ants in one of our Tamarack Trees along our driveway. Always striking in its appearance, in the background the rich yellow of Coneflowers in my flower garden highlighted the yellow on its undertail; enhancing its beauty even more. Flickers belong to the Woodpecker family.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Black and Yellow Garden Spider and Egg Sac

I'm always fascinated whenever I find a Black and Yellow Garden Spider in my garden. This is perhaps the 3th or 4th one I have found in the past few years. Yesterday's find was unexpected as this spider wasn't in the area of my garden where I usually find them. I was thinning my white flower bed when I spied it in the tall stalks of a white Obiedent Plant (a.k.a.: False Dragonhead). What was more exciting to me though (instead of the garden spider), was the brownish covered egg sac I found nearby! This was a first find of such for me. I noticed a brown ball-shaped object, in a tangle of silken threads, which, at a first glance, reminded me of a Goldenrod Gall, but this seemed somewhat larger than a gall found on a Goldenrod stalk. After laying eggs on a silken bed the Garden Spider will create a ball shaped sac and cover it with an outer wrapping of brownish silk. When hatched in the spring this sac will apparently contain about 1000 minute spiders! For more information on Black and Yellow Garden spiders and the egg sacs which they create please go to:

For more postings on spiders please go to:

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Walking along a woods trail, with a cushion of soft pine needles beneath my feet, I suddenly saw a little sparrow-type-looking bird silently lift from the forest floor and perch in the bare branches of an old Pine Tree above. Thinking it was perhaps just a Song Sparrow, for there are many about this time of year it seems; I decided to photograph it anyway as I had not encounter -ed anything else yet this morning. As I was taking the pictures though, I noticed that its movements were different, not brisk and quick like a sparrow, and it seemed to have a decidedly different sort of walk as it moved along the branch. It was unhurried and stayed within camera range, although as I got closer it moved away, keeping a uniform distance between me and my camera. There were no sounds during this encounter so I had no auditory clues to consider. Continuing on my walk I reached my destination and sat upon a rock for a while watching the river. After sitting for a few minutes I decided to review the pictures I had taken of the little bird I had encountered along the trail.. Only then did I see the very noticeable and distinguishing 'white eye ring'. Still I was not quite sure of its identification for I was thinking, "Hermit Thrush" at first. I had seen one before in the same area; however the size did not match, for although a Hermit Thrush is a smaller thrush among other thrushes, this bird was too small to fit that category. Also a Hermit Thrush has 'spots' on its breast whereas this bird had 'streaks'.The name, "Ovenbird" came to mind although I had seen only pictures of that species in field guide books. Striding home, now with a purpose in mind, I immed -iately went to my Sibley's Field Guide. Ah ha!! A new bird to add to my life list today! An Ovenbird!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Three Ospreys on a Nest

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Female Common Yellowthroat

Sitting on our back porch swing and observing my garden at this time of year is always a rewarding experience. Earlier this week, my investigation of quick movements and glimpses of warbler yellow, seen within our large, round flower bed, led me to the discovery of this female Common Yellowthroat moving among the yellow Coneflowers growing there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Common Mergansers Upon a Rock

I hadn't been checking the upper portion of the river very often this summer so I decided to wander along its Pine and Cedar laden shores yesterday afternoon. The trees gave me camouflage and sheltered my presence allowing me a leisurely paced photo opportunity. Beautifully arranged upon a large rock in the middle of the river was this group of female and juvenile Common Mergansers.
Then later, while watching them slowing slide into the river and swim upstream; I was able to count 14 in all.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

First Year Male Common Yellowthroat

Stopping beside a group of bushes overlooking a water area; I heard a small , sharp 'chirp' and in the branches beside me, about a meter away, I saw this young, male Common Yellowthroat Warbler looking at me. The beginnings of the black mask, character -istic of the adult male Common Yellow- throat, was evident and its forehead was brown; these markings made the identification of this little warbler rather easy.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Early Morning Birding

Yesterday morning, having woken early, and as the rest of my household was still sleeping, I ventured out to do some early morning birding before breakfast. Our river is a very likely place to find early morning activity and so I decided to make the observation post overlooking it (the river) my first stop. The rising sun cast strong light upon the water and the reflections of a couple of Spotted Sandpipers were more clearly seen than the actual birds which was the source of their mirror images. A nearby apple tree was full of noise and upon checking out its source I found a Philadelphia Vireo there. When turning to leave I hear my first Osprey of the day and could see the resident flock of Pigeons flying to the highway bridge nearby. My next stop was a lake a few miles away and I was really pleased to see a group of Wood Duck feeding there. I had noticed these ducks a few days ago but they usually disappeared as soon as they had seen me. As one juvenile separated from the group and fed a distance from the others, it came closer to me and the still waters created a beautiful reflection of it. Having decided it was time to return home I had moved only a few meters up the road when I noticed activity close by in a Chokecherry tree which was full of ripe fruit. There were two Eastern Kingbirds there and one immed- iately flew to the wires overhead; while the other dis- appeared. I think maybe the bird pictured to the left above is a juvenile Kingbird. Having my camera full of bird images I returned home. What a wonderful way to start the day!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Young Wood Duck Reflection

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar

Although I have seen hundreds and hundreds of Tiger Swallowtail Butterflies, for they seem to be everywhere in the early summer, I had never seen an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Caterpillar until this week. We had been walking along the edge of a river admiring the beautiful Water Lilies and the reflection of blue Pickerel Weed growing there. Upon returning to our car my sister-in-law remarked, "Oh, I see we have a visitor!" Perched upon the receiving end of my seat belt was a fascinating, intriguing looking, smooth, green caterpillar with black, blue and yellow eyespots and a black eyebrow! I don't know how it got there but I suspect it may have been caught upon my clothing or camera and I carried it back to the car with us . We considered ourselves very lucky to have seen it for from what I have read, they are often located nearer the tops of trees, rather than in lower locations. As we studied it we could see that it retracted its head within its body but when it walked its head would protrude out of a front opening.

Before we left we carefully placed the caterpillar on the leaves of a nearby tree.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wood Turtle

Walking along the rocky-strewn bed of the Little Yoho Brook I noticed this Wood Turtle among the rocks and grasses near its shores. The Wood Turtle is terrestrial and can be found in the woods, whereas Painted Turtles and Snapping Turtles feed in the water. As soon as this turtle was aware of my presence it tried to seek cover by crawling under the edge of a rock. We left it undisturbed and continued on with our hike.

The only other time I have encountered a Wood Turtle in recent years was when I photographed the one shown above in June , 2001 while it was crossing a dusty, unpaved road. In this photo the characteristic brick red colour on its legs and neck is easily seen.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Wood Duck Family

There is a small lake nearby where I often go to watch for Osprey and Kingfishers, Painted Turtles and Red-winged Blackbirds. At the end of the lake the water has been bisected by a road and a railroad bed. The photo above shows the railroad bed and the drainage pipe which connects it to a small sort of swampy pond, drainage area on the other side. I seldom check out this side of the road but a couple of days ago I saw a Wood Duck Family just at the same time they saw me and they quickly disappear -ed into the pipe opening. Deciding to check the area out further I found an old , narrow road down the other side of the railroad track and driving down it found a fascinating swamp like area. Looking through the drainage pipe from this view I saw saw another duck approach the entrance on the other side; but it also anticipating the view saw me and quickly disappeared from its entrance. This spot was a wonderful find and I shall return to this beautiful location again.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Green Frog and Tadpole

Sitting on a log at the edge of the pond, this Green Frog presented a photo oppor- tunity for a good close up view. Its green upper jaw distinguishes this frog from others. The water line on its body shows a distinct colour change due to the silt in the pond water. The Tadpole shown below may be that of a Green Frog, though that is only speculation on my part as it was found in the same location as the frog. After hatching a Green Frog Tadpole grows to a length of about 3 inches and then overwinters in the water, not tranforming into a frog until the following season. (ref. source: The Amphibians and Reptiles of New Brunswick, Stanley W. Gorham, NB Museum pub. , 1970)

Sunday, August 05, 2007

American Eagle and Common Mergansers

Yesterday morning, leaving home with only a pocket full of change, sans camera, I had gone to a few yard sales, but before returning home, the lure of the early morning river beckoned me to its shores. Upon arrival I immediately saw an American Eagle which had just landed on a rock in the middle of the river; and in the water adjacent to it was a group of Common Mergansers. Should I stay and watch; or take the chance that they would all stay in the same position while I quickly drove home to get my camera? These pictures included illustrate my decision. Having returning with my camera the Eagle and Mergansers were still there, still in the same 'freeze frame' positions. The Mergansers seemed huddled together with no noticeable activity while the Eagle stood surveying the scene. Then after a few more minutes, the Eagle left, flying around the bend of the river. Shortly after that the Mergansers activity suddenly became alive again, chasing each other and frolicking about as they often do. During my drive home I saw that the Eagle had perched in a tall stand of Pines further up the river.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Monarch Butterfly

Having been away for the past week it was a pleasant surprise to find a female Monarch Butterfly feeding on Cone Flowers in my garden upon our return. This is my second sighting of a Monarch this summer.