Thursday, 23 June 2011

KFN 2011 Bio Blitz

Anne Robertson has sent us a report of the KFN's 13th Annual Bio Blitz.  Details will be published in an upcoming issue of the KFN quarterly Blue Bill, which can be viewed online at the KFN website.

The Kingston Field Naturalists recently held their 13th Great Canadian BioBlitz at the Lost Bay Nature Reserve on Gananoque Lake a property belonging to Ontario Nature.  This was a public event and included guided walks along with listing species of all kinds.  The property has a variety of habitats including forests, wetlands and some open areas  It has rocky slopes, wet ravines, shoreline and ponds all contributing to the biodiversity of the area.

A BioBlitz is an attempt to list as many species as possible in 24 hours, to give a snapshot of all the plants and animals of the site.  They usually take place in June and serve as a good one day view of the living things in a particular area.  Amateur and professional naturalists join forces to spot and identify species, and to educate each other and the public about the diversity of the location.

The dubious weather prediction, the loss of power in the area and trees falling along the access road did not deter the enthusiastic crowd of members, professionals and friends who turned out for this event.  The weather was perfect: dry and around 20C, power was not necessary for this event recording nature at this site and we were grateful to locals who managed to clear the trees from the road before we arrived.

Sixty participants enjoyed a 24 hour listing of species of all kinds to get a baseline inventory of the property.  Everything from Mink to Cerulean Warbler, Grey Rat Snake and Map and Snapping turtles, a Pickeral Frog and a Grass Pike amongst the vertebrate species were recorded. Lots of invertebrates including an Arrowhead Spiketail dragonfly,  butterfly and various pond creatures scooped up by some Junior Naturalists
were added to the tally.    The plant lists provide the majority of species as trees, shrubs, vines, herbs including ferns were listed.  Butternut and fern were good finds. Some of those listed are species of concern or on the endangered species list.

Guided walks included discussion of plants, small mammals, early birds, reptiles, dragonflies, butterflies, pond dipping and night time creatures including owls and moths.

In total over 400 species were listed and a good time was had by all.  The final tally will depend on the final identification of those species photographed for professional confirmation.

The importance of the BioBlitz is in the long term value of knowing the Biodiversity of the site at a particular point in time.  Environmental changes including the effect of global warming or invasive species can be seen and monitored.  Reference to the report where there may be future threat of development whether for housing, roads, wind turbines or something else is useful. 

A full report and listing of species for the 2011 BioBlitz will appear in the September issue of the Kingston Field Naturalists quarterly magazine, the Blue Bill and on their web site at (Volume 58 # 3).

Friday, 17 June 2011

Dragonfly Report to June 16, 2011

Here is the latest odanate report from Carol Seymour, our "dragonfly lady":

After the deluge of rain and cloudy days of May both humans and dragonflies alike have come out of the shadows into the sun. The first continuous days of warmth and sunshine triggered the emergence of thousands of dragonflies in the Kingston area. The list of newly emerged species is extensive and some are quite interesting.

All four of the Baskettail species are now out, in fact the Beaverpond and Spiny are already beginning to decrease in numbers, though the Common and Pince Baskettail are out in prodigious numbers. And no, they do not carry baskets from their tails as the name might suggest. All of the females of the Baskettail dragonfly collect their eggs beneath their tails, as if in a basket, then when ready the eggs are dispersed onto the surface of a pond or wetland. Female Elfin Skimmers have been spotted in their black and yellow stripes hovering around flowers, looking much like bees - an excellent disguise to keep predators away, much needed when you are the smallest dragonfly in North American. Other species seen recently are: Chalk-fronted Corporals, Eastern Pondhawks, Sedge Sprites, Lancet Clubtails, Common Whitetails, Twelve-spotted Skimmers, Four-spotted Skimmers, Frosted Whiteface, Marsh Bluets, Boreal Bluets, Northern Bluets, Eastern Forktails, Fragile Forktails, Widow Skimmers, Arrowhead Spiketails (the ovipositor on the female of this species is in the shape of a spike, which is rammed many times into the sandy bottom of a pond or shallow creek to deposit her eggs). Also seen flying were Raqet-tailed Emeralds, Ebony Boghaunters, Belted Whiteface, Lilypad Clubtails, Blue Dashers, Dusky Clubtails, Calico Pennants, Halloween Pennants, Amber-winged Spreadwings, Emerald Spreadwings, Aurora Damsels, Taiga Bluets and Violet Dancers, and let us not forget the beautiful and recently observed in our area again, the Harlequin Darner, one of our earlier darners dressed in harlequin colours of green and yellow.   

                                                     Elfin Skimmer  Photo:  Bruce Ripley

                                           Harlequin Darner    Photo:  Murray Seymour

Monday, 13 June 2011

Butterfly Report 16 May to 5 June, 2011

In the last report I mentioned that it was hoped to see three rare Hairstreaks that have previously been sighted in the Kingston area. I am happy to report that the Gray Hairstreak has been seen a Frontenac Park, on the Cataraqui trail east of Perth Road village and at Menzel park just outside our area. Also the Juniper Hairstreak which was not seen last year within the 50 km radius of Kingston has been seen north of Odessa and at Parrots Bay Conservation area. The Early Hairstreak remains elusive though some were seen north of Ottawa.
      There have been reports of quite a number of new arrivals since the last update. They include Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, Question Mark, Meadow Fritillary, Monarch, Viceroy, Northern Cloudywing, American Copper, Common Ringlet and Little Wood Satyr. The Skippers have also started to be observed. To date the Hobomok, Arctic, Common Roadside and Indian Skippers have been reported.
      The other main news is the sudden and unexpected arrival of Giant Swallowtails. Several have been seen in the last few days all the way from Chaffeys Locks to Roblin but surprising not from Prince Edward Point, the only location where they were observed last year.  

John Poland 

                                               Juniper Hairstreak
Photo:  John Poland

Kingston Area Birds to June 10, 2011

Most local birders quit chasing migrants last weekend so we have to be content with Breeding Bird Surveys and observing those birds that want to hang around for the summer. Some of these include another Prairie Warbler north of Sydenham at the Helen Quilliam Sanctuary, seen last Friday, Alder and Willow Flycatchers on Amherst Island and in the Newburgh area, Upland Sandpipers on Wolfe, Amherst and Simcoe Islands as well as in the Loggerhead Shrike areas northeast of Napanee. Simcoe Island also had 10 N. Harriers on Wednesday.
The last of the shorebirds moving north included a Greater Yellowlegs, 6 Dunlin, 10 Semipalmated Sandpipers, 2 Black-bellied and 2 Semipalmated Plovers on Amherst last Sunday, another Greater Yellowlegs on Simcoe on Wednesday and a White-rumped Sandpiper south of Napanee yesterday. Also on Amherst, 3 Brant and 2 Common Goldeneye lingered at least until Sunday.
"Good birds" for the week were a N. Mockingbird on Amherst, a Sandhill Crane flying over the Florida Road; both reported on Sunday and a Marbled Godwit and a one-day-wonder Say's Phoebe on Amherst Island last Friday.
The Kingston Field Naturalists are doing their annual Bioblitz at the Lost Bay Nature Reserve northeast of Gananoque today and tomorrow. For details see the KFN website.
This will conclude my regular reports from Kingston until the fall (actually mid-summer) migration starts.

Peter Good

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Kingston Area Birds to June 2, 2011

With most passerine migrants already gone and the shorebird migration on the wane, there were still some good birds locally this week. High water levels have reduced habitat at the usual spots but flooded fields have been a bonus. Near Amherstview there were 3 Whimbrel, 5 Red Knots and a Hudsonian Godwit among others on Saturday; the next day 30 Black-bellied Plovers and a Ruddy Turnstone and on Tuesday another 19 Black-bellied Plovers. On the KFN property on Amherst Island today there were 4 Black-bellied Plovers, about 30 Dunlin and 50 Semipalmated Sandpipers.
Two small flocks of Brant were seen on Wednesday east of Amherst Island and two more individuals grazed with Canadaa Geese on Amherst this afternoon. A lone male Common Goldeneye seemed out of place off the east end of Amherst today.
The latest mention of warblers had a Wilson's at Elginburg on Tuesday and a Hooded in the city on Wednesday. There was an Olive-sided Flycatcher on Tuesday and a Broad-winged Hawk on Thursday; both seen near Elginburg.

Peter Good