Day Two – full of little surprises

Our second day of bioblitzing took place at a couple of our favourite conservation areas in the Lanark Highlands region of eastern Ontario. We didn’t encounter anything near as exciting as the encounter with the snapping turtle seen the previous day, but we did discover many wonderful little surprises that might have been overlooked if it weren’t for our close inspection.

Again, it’s difficult to describe all that we saw, so I’ll go about this in a couple of different ways. If you just want an impression of our day, you can visit this gallery that contains photos from both locations taken on April 22, 2007. The top 4 rows were taken at Purdon Bog Conservation Area — an area that is known throughout our region as the home of the Showy Lady Slipper Orchids. There’s a hiking trail and a small lake adjacent to the bog, so we did a bit of blitzing and photography in all three areas. The remainder of the photos were taken at Baird Woods, a county managed forest which has a short but excellent hiking trail that passes through areas of plantation pines, a wetland, and a natural mixed forest with many older trees. When you are checking out the gallery, just click on any of the thumbnail images to see a larger view. The second way you can join in on the adventure is to read the following brief account which is linked to photos in the gallery. The species list for the day’s sightings appears at the end of this post.

So, on to this report and the “little surprises” seen during our walk and blitzing of both areas.

At Purdon Bog, the Lady Slipper orchids weren’t visible as yet, but small clusters of Purple Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea) are scattered around. While photographing a couple of these, I noticed a small spider, probably a Gnaphosidae of some kind, hiding inside one of the pitchers. It was a little too camera shy for me to get a good photo, but you can see a vague suggestion of it in the above photo. Also seen at Purdon bog were 5 Painted turtles (Chrysemys picta), basking on bits of driftwood in the small lake adjacent to the bog. I photographed quite a number of mosses and lichens, and have done a slapdash job of partly identifying them. I’ll work on this some more before submitting my data sheets for the final BioBlitz tally. If you’re interested in seeing them, check out the above-mentioned gallery.

After blitzing around the bog and associated trails for awhile, we moved on to Baird Woods to wander around for about an hour. Highlights there were several clusters of frog eggs (I’d say they’re those of Wood Frogs – Rana sylvatica) visible from the boardwalk over the wetland area. After passing through the Red Pine plantation, we poked around for a bit along a couple of sections of the trail. At a small meadow, I picked up a few stones in a pile that would have been made by a farmer working the land many years ago. I found a nice Wolf Spider (as yet unidentified), as well as these yellow ants (see below – click on image for larger view). I’ve done a bit of checking around, and it seems that these are probably some species of Acanthomyops ants , sometimes referred to as “citronella ants” as they are supposed to give off a citrus like scent if disturbed. I didn’t notice any scent, but then I didn’t really disturb them too much as I just took a couple of photos and gently replaced the stone as I found it.

After checking out the stone pile, we continued on through the woods, where I shot a few photos of the many nice examples of large old trees, such as this great Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum). We also stopped to photograph some fungi, such as this Artist’s Conk (Ganoderma applanatum) that we often stop to visit when looking for Horned Fungus Beetles (unfortunately, it was too early in the season to see any on this day). While I was busy shooting photos, Don noticed this Porcupine den inside the hollowed-out center of a fallen Sugar Maple (see below). While I was investigating and shooting a photo, I found yet another little surprise — this small cluster of brilliant Scarlet Cup fungi (Sarcoscypha austriaca).

Okay, that’s about it for the report from Day Two. I’m now in the process of bioblitzing around my farm. I’ve actually been doing a bit of that for the past couple of days and will start to write up some reports tomorrow. Fortunately, the weather is cooperating and I’m beginning to find some neat things which I’ll try to share each day for the rest of the week.

Reptiles & Amphibians:
Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina) – 1 seen dead on road – Jock River & Franktown Road on return trip home.
Painted Turtles (Chrysemys picta) – 5 seen basking on driftwood at small lake adjacent to Purdon Bog.
Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica) – egg masses at Baird Woods boardwalk, and in same vicinity some calls.
Spring Peepers (Pseudacris crucifer) – several faint calls heard at Purdon Bog & Baird Woods wetland.

Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) – 2 seen and heard at Purdon Bog, and 2 seen and heard at Baird Woods.
White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) – footprints and droppings seen throughout trails at both locations.
Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) – den inside of hollow Sugar Maple log.

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) – Calling and hammering near picnic area of Purdon Bog
Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) – 6 seen on while traveling to and from.
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis) – hundreds seen while traveling to and from.
Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) – 2 heard at picnic area on point at Purdon Bog.
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapilla) – many – ubiquitous throughout woods along all trails.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) – 2 seen at Purdon Bog.
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis) – 4 heard at Purdon Bog in trees above picnic tables.
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) – 1 heard in pine plantation at Baird Woods.

Insects & Spiders
Woolly Bear caterpillar (Pyrrharctia isabella) – 2 caterpillars in Red Pine plantation at Baird Woods.
Wolf Spider (Lycosidae family) – 1 seen in rock pile in meadow at Baird Woods.
Yellow ants – many found under rocks in little rock pile in meadow at Baird Woods. Pupae and larvae also seen.
Unidentified Ground Beetle.

Tinder Polypore (Fomes fomentarius) – seen on trees and fallen logs at both locations.
Birch Polypore (Piptoporus betulinus) seen on birch at both locations.
Artist’s Conk fungi (Ganoderma applanatum) – several seen on large Sugar Maple snags.
Scarlet Cup fungi (Sarcoscypha austriaca) – several around Porcupine den at Baird Woods.

Lichens and Mosses
Reindeer Moss (Cladina rangiferina) – extensive on exposed rock areas about Baird Wood wetlands.
Shining Club Moss (Hyperzia lucidula) – on woodland trail at Purdon Bog.
Sphagnum Mosses – throughout Purdon Bog.
Ground Cedar (Diphasiastrum digitatum) along woodland trail at Purdon Bog.
Ciliate Hedwigia Moss (Hegwigis ciliata) – probable ID of moss on some rocks along woodland trail at Purdon bog.
Pin cusion Moss (Leucobryum glaucum) – on stumps in Red Pine plantation in Baird Woods.
Dwarf Scouring Rush Equisetum scirpoides – in bog alongside boardwalks at Purdon Bog.
Ramalina species of lichen growing on dead cedars by lake at Purdon Bog.
Flavoparmelia (Green Rockshield) species of lichen on rocks along trail at Purdon Bog.
unidentified rock lichen on rock along trail at Purdon Bog.

Balsam fir (Abies balsamea) – a couple of large trees and many small in woodland trail at Purdon Bog.
White Pine (Pinus strobus) – several fine examples at both locations.
Eastern White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis) nice examples at both locations.
Grey Birch (Betula populifolia) – clumps at both locations.
American Beech (Fagus grandifolia) – several large examples at Baird Woods.
Red Pine (Pinus resinosa) – two plantation stands at Baird Woods.
Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) – very large tree on Purdon Bog woodland trail.
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) – very large examples at Baird Woods.
White Spruce (Picea glauca) – several large examples at Baird Woods.
Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis) – a large tree at Baird Woods.
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) at Baird Woods.
Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum) – many hateful little devils coming up in meadow and along trails at Baird Woods.
** Note, this is only a small selection of trees seen and identified at both locations.

Purple Pitcher Plants (Sarracenia purpurea) along boardwalks at Purdon Bog.
Barrenland Strawberry (Waldsteinia fragarioides) growing in bog and along woodland trail at Purdon Bog.
Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) – growing along forest trail at Baird Woods – none in bloom as yet.

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10 Responses to “Day Two – full of little surprises”

  1. Wayne Says:

    Very nice diary of the bog trip, Bev. The boardwalk through the area must be wonderful.

    The pictures on pbase are great. I very much admire that porcupine hole – I was looking at some not nearly so nice an hour ago. And great plants, especially the lichen, lycopodium, scarlet cups, and leucobryum. I hope we get some rain to bring some of those things out!

    I’ve been listening to our phoebes and this morning also heard for the first time the great crested flycatchers, apparently announcing their arrival.

  2. burning silo Says:

    Wayne – Thanks! You would really like Purdon Bog – it’s not a large area, but there are many interesting bog plants along the boardwalk. About a year ago, they added another rustic boardwalk leading along the base of a steep rock ridge through more bog and past the small lake where a boardwalk and observation platform has been built. This leads on to a woodland trail and picnic area. Very beautiful spot and really quite secluded as it’s quite far from any major town or city.
    Isn’t that a nice Porcupine hang-out? Much nicer than many that I see. I’m hearing all kinds of new bird songs around here this week. The warblers will probably be arriving here fairly soon. The trees are just beginning to bud out noticeably over the last day or two.

  3. pablo Says:

    I have a number of den openings like your porcupine’s in my woods, though I don’t suppose mine house porcupine.

  4. burning silo Says:

    pablo – One thing about porcupine dens — you’ll know for sure that it is one when you see it. There is always a big heap of porcupine poop at the entrance. I can’t really think of any other animal that does that.

  5. Cathy Says:

    Firstly: I just watched Richard Dawkin’s “Growing Up In the Universe” wherein I learned that pitcher plants get their nutrition from the excreta of the maggots *shudder* that feed on the flies that slip in.

    OK. Favorite pix: Don and Sabrina on the boardwalk :0) That’s what it’s all about. Moving through this beautiful world – taking it all in – with a good friend.

    General impression: You live in a lovely area.

    Oh! Oh! That Horned Fungus Beetle is the perhaps the most hopelessly homely – comically clutzy looking bug I’ve ever seen. Great photo.

  6. Kati Says:

    lovely, lovely, lovely. just the fix of appreciation that I needed this morning!

  7. Marcia Bonta Says:

    I’ve just enjoyed your last several posts about bioblitzing. The photos are wonderful, as usual, and helpful to my impatient self who doesn’t stop to identify the tinier creatures of our world. But turning over rocks to look for ants has always been the favorite pastime of every child I’ve ever taken for a walk in the woods. Never know when you’ll find a salamander instead of ants.

  8. Julie Says:

    Your photos are incredible. Any chance that you’d recommend a not-too-expensive digital camera for someone who’d like to start learning how to take at least decent shots for illustrating a nature blog?

  9. burning silo Says:

    Cathy – Yes, I do believe we live in a lovely area. I’m so glad it that there are still some really nice fairly natural areas remaining. And yes, aren’t those Horned Fungus Beetles homely little fellows. However, I love watching them!

    Kati – Thanks! I’m glad that you enjoyed seeing these images.

    Marcia – Yes, ants are definitely a big attraction for children — and for me too. I’d love to find a salamander instead of some ants a little more often though! (-:

    Julie – There are so many cameras on the market that would probably do, but I’d definitely recommend getting one that has some macro capability if you’re interested in photographing insects and spiders. A lot of digital cameras can’t shoot a photo closer than 8 to 12 inches. You should really look for one that has a “macro mode” setting. I’ve seen some nice photos taken with a couple of the Canon models. Peter or Cathy – if you’re reading this, what model of Canon are you two using again — is it the Canon S3 1S (??) I think so. Another camera that should be good for macro work and that is small and easy to carry with you is the Nikon S10. Again, I don’t like to recommend any particular model as there are so many cameras and new ones coming on the market all of the time. What I usually recommend is to go to a good camera shop and have someone help you look at models. Take along something small to try shooting macro photos — a small rubber toy frog or similar object is a good choice. Try out a few cameras and see which ones work best. Be sure to have the salesman show you how to put the camera into “macro mode” as it can be tricky on some models. Hope some of that info helps!

  10. Cathy Says:

    Yes, Bev – it’s the Canonn S3 1S (That’s a hoot – I’ve told people who’ve asked that it’s a . . .1 ‘5’ not ‘S’.)