Saturday, 15 August 2015

Busy Times...

Saturday, 15th August

It's been too long, way too long since my last post and there's really no excuse. Except that I'm now gainfully employed (seasonal contract mind you) at Murphys Point Provincial Park (near Perth, ON), and that I've now moved out to Wolfe Island, and that I've become somewhat obsessed with moths and odes...

So, I think this one will be more about the insects in my life and the joys of hunting them down! It started with the odes and the opportunity to help out on surveys being conducted in the park. So with a new field guide, the highly recommended Field Guide to The Dragonflies and Damselflies of Algonquin Provincial Park and the Surrounding Area and a home-made dragonfly net I set out with the help of local expert Bev Edwards to tackle the more tricky aspects of identification - mainly conducted by close examination of exceptionally tiny genitalia, particularly the damselflies.

Twelve-spotted Skimmer (male) - Fallows, Murphys Point Provincial Park, ON
The larger dragonflies are in general easier to identify, with some being boldly patterned like this Twelve-spotted Skimmer. Others, the the following Slaty Skimmer are also easy, but in this case due to their uniform dark colouration.

Slaty Skimmer (male) - Staff House, Murphys Point Provincial Park, ON
A passion of many ode hunters is finding swarms of darners - we haven't seen too many this year unfortunately but I have managed to pull of the only record of Black-tipped Darner seen so far this year in the park - not really a big deal but still not bad in my first year...

Black-tipped Darner - Staff House, Murphys Point Provincial Park, ON
And so to the moths - to my great delight no-one has ever really done much mothing in the park and I have already more than doubled the park list in little more than a month or so. Considering that the list started at just 56, and that there are literally thousands of species in North America, that wasn't really such a hard task...

I guess I did get interested in moths way back when I was growing up in the UK but years of living in countries with little or nothing in the way of field guides quelled that interest. Now proud owner of Peterson's Field Guide to Moths of Northeastern North America, a home-made moth-trap and the encouragement of Mike Burrell, I have taken up a new summer pastime! Having a digital camera capable of 'macro' shots is also beneficial but mine is nothing special; just a Canon SX40 'bridge camera'.

One of the commonest moths in my trap (at the staff house at Murphys Point) is the Painted Lichen Moth. I have seen the more vivid Scralet-winged Lichen Moth just once. It's kinda weird but I was super-excited to see it - just like birding but with lifers coming in thick and fast!

Painted Lichen Moth -Staff House, Murphys Point Provincial Park, ON
And here's the more vivid Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth.

Scarlet-winged Lichen Moth - Staff House, Murphys Point Provincial Park, ON
A nice one that I found a couple of days ago is the Pearly Wood Nymph. It's to be expected of course but all these moths are highly seasonal. The Tent Caterpillar Moths, Sphinx moths and various Datanas from earlier in the season (just 3-4 weeks ago) are no longer coming to the trap.

Pearly Wood-nymph - Staff House, Murphys Point Provincial Park, ON

It's great fun - get out there and do it.

Till next time,


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