wherever you are

To the observant naturalist, the world is a fascinating place. Leave any naturalist standing around waiting somewhere and it won’t be long before he or she is inspecting the nearest plants to see what kind of insects and spiders they might host. Every puddle or ditch needs to be checked out to see if there might be something wiggling or splashing about. While out for the evening, a moment is required to discover what kind of nocturnal insects have been attracted to any porch light or lamp post. A spiderweb hanging in a corner is an open invitation to try to figure out who made it. A walk through an overgrown patch of ground is like being on a safari. Even the briefest visit to a new location feels like a expedition. There are always new things to see and discoveries waiting to be made.

Last summer’s visit to Nova Scotia was one such expedition. With knapsack stuffed with camera gear, notepads, a couple of field guides, a magnifying glass, and a GPS unit, we were ready to set out. It proved to be a wonderful trip. At Cape Chignecto Provincial Park, we found mating pairs of iridescent Lytta sayi blister beetles on the brilliant lupine flowers (see above). At a small park alongside the Shinimicas River, we photographed the shells of Margaritifera margaritifera unionids (click on thumbnail photo to see larger view). At the Maccan Tidal Bore preserve, we found a wetland area teeming with dragonflies.

Along a stream near the Kentville Agricultural Centre, dozens of land snails tracked through the dense vegetation. Several species of dragonflies could be seen patrolling the air above the small pools of water.

In the coastal forests of Thomas Cove Conservation Area near Lower Economy, we found many mosses, lichens and fungi along trails that led over rough-sawn boards and wound along low cliffs above the ocean. On a promontory overlooking the cove, we were surrounded by Bee-like Flower Chafer Beetles (Trichiotinus assimilis). Looking much like bees wearing decorative saddles, they moved about over the rose blossoms (see below).

We spent a full day hiking through the forests at Mount Uniacke Estate. We hoped that we might see the wonderfully patterned Maritime Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis pallidula) as on a previous visit (click on thumbnail for larger view). However, on this trip, it was not to be. Instead, we were entertained by a dozen or more male Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) damselflies whirling combatively above a brook beneath a footbridge on the former Great Road.

The above is just a snapshot of our trip and some of the observations made during rambles along several trails in Nova Scotia. While it was certainly no Darwin-in-the-Galapagos voyage of discovery, for us, this year’s observations added greatly to our understanding of the ecology of a few more areas of the province.

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