Thursday, 31 July 2014

Be Careful Where You Stick Your Face! 

On July 27, I took a trip to a couple of to-date-unsurveyed Atlas squares northeast of Truro. At one stop I photographed this Long Dash skipper (Polites mystic) visiting some Purple Vetch with a pair of orchid pollinia, presumably from the Large Purple Fringed Orchids (Platanthera grandiflora) that I found along the riverbank, stuck to its face. Let this be a lesson to you: be careful where you stick your face!

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Go Ahead...Make My Day! (redux) 

I don't know what it is about Salticids (jumping spiders) that makes them so pugnacious...but they just are! If you've seen my previous photo (see Go Ahead...Make My Day!) then you'll know that this is a different species of Phidippus (this one is Phidippus whitmani on a milkweed leaf rather than a rock) and that she's ready to stand her ground against a camera (and a photographer!) that make the proverbial David & Goliath look like a head-to-head WWF match. She seems to be saying, "How lucky do you feel?" Well, I felt lucky enough to get this shot (July 26, Kentville).

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The A to Z of the Bird Alphabet... 

I'm an opportunistic bird photographer...they're rarely the object of my search but if a bird wants to pose for me then I'll obligingly take its portrait. This bird, a female Archilochus colubris (or ruby-throated hummingbird), is at the beginning of the bird alphabet. Photographed at Angevine Lake on June 1st.

This bird, Zonotrichia albicollis (or the white-throated sparrow), represents the end of the bird alphabet. It posed for me in amongst the needles of a White Pine at Roaches Pond in Spryfield on July 25th. For some truly spectacular bird photos, visit Russel Crosby's South Shore won't be disappointed!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Big Beetle Badness... 

This past week I spent some time exploring the Annapolis Valley. I stopped in to the Ravine Trail along Elderkin Brook adjacent to the Kentville Agricultural Research Station. While taking some photos of a Mustard White butterfly, a very large beetle buzzed past my head and landed right beside me. It was the biggest, baddest beetle I've ever seen, a Northeastern Pine Sawyer, Monochamus notatus, a member of the Cerambycidae or Longhorn Beetles. The antennae on this beast were about 3 times the body length, which I judged to be about 35 mm (a bit under 1.5"). A nice big surprise!

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Nova Scotia Coppers...Part 1 

The day I found the Acadian Hairstreaks (see Another Rare Nova Scotia Butterfly) I was actually looking to photograph this butterfly, the Bronze Copper, Lycaena hyllus. I knew that they could be found at the Wallace Bay NWA but hadn't had a chance to photograph them on previous visits. I'm happy to say that this time I was successful. This is a male photographed July 20.

Another Copper that flies at the Wallace Bay NWA is the Maritime endemic Salt Marsh Copper, Lycaena dospassosi. One of only five species of butterflies found nowhere else in the world except Canada, the Salt Marsh Copper is known only from Quebec's Gaspe Bay peninsula, and the three Maritime provinces (NB, NS and PEI). This is the ventral or underside of a male photographed on July 20.

This is the dorsal or upperside of the male Salt Marsh Copper, Lycaena dospassosi, photographed at Wallace Bay NWA on July 20.

This is the ventral or underside of a female Salt Marsh Copper, Lycaena dospassosi, photographed at Wallace Bay NWA, July 20.

This is the dorsal or upperside of a female Salt Marsh Copper, Lycaena dospassosi, photographed at Wallace Bay NWA, July 20.


In Part 2, I'll illustrate two of the other three species of Copper that can be found in Nova Scotia

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Amazingly Beautiful River Jewelwings... 

One of the highlights of a recent trip to the Northumberland Shore of Nova Scotia was finding River Jewelwings, Calopteryx aequabilis, along the Wallace River. This is a male, photographed July 20th, perched over the water on some emergent grasses waiting for a female to fly by.

This is the female River Jewelwing, Calopteryx aequabilis. Photographed along the Wallace River on July 20th.

And this was the point of the male perching over the water: a mating pair of River Jewelwings, Calopteryx aequabilis. Also photographed July 20th along the banks of the Wallace River.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Another (!) Rare Nova Scotia Butterfly... 

It's amazing what you can find when you're not looking! This is one of six (count 'em, 6) Acadian hairstreaks, Satyrium acadica, found on July 20th in two different locations. These are the first Acadian hairstreaks recorded from Nova Scotia during the past 5 years (and it's only been found from three locations in New Brunswick during the same time period) of the Maritime Butterfly Atlas project.

One of the Acadian hairstreaks, Satyrium acadica, found near the Wallace Bay NWA. This is one of 5 individuals found in the same patch of thistles (although this one is nectaring on white sweet clover).

This Acadian hairstreak, Satyrium acadica, has sustained some hindwing damage so the bright orange spots on the upperside of the hindwings is visible. Most hairstreaks never bask with their wings open.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

A Rare Nova Scotia Butterfly... 

This is a new Maritimes Butterfly Atlas record for the Northern Cloudywing, Thorybes pylades. Photographed at Debert, NS on July 13th, it's the first Colchester county record during the Atlas period (although a record for Colchester is included in Ferguson's 1955 book), and is the latest ever date for this species in Nova Scotia. All other Nova Scotia Atlas records are from the month of June and from Pictou, Antigonish and Guysborough counties. This species is currently considered S2 Vulnerable (imperiled because of rarity or because other factors demonstrably make it very vulnerable to extinction or extirpation) in Nova Scotia.

When is a Firefly not a Firefly? 

Technically, this is a firefly, that is a member of the Lampyridae, but this one is diurnal and doesn't have light-emitting organs so I guess it would be best considered a fire-less firefly. Ellychnia corrusca, is the largest species in its genus and they're quite common at my favorite outdoor photography studio, Roaches Pond in Spryfield. Photographed on July 11th

A mating pair of Ellychnia corrusca, a diurnal firefly, reveal that both sexes appear identical, that is, there is no obvious sexual dimorphism. Photographed July 11th at Roaches Pond in Spryfield.

A Face on a Face... 

Can you see the face on the "face" of this thick-headed fly? I don't know about you but it reminds me of Burl Ives (so now you know how old I am). The fly is Physocephala furcillata, a Conopid fly with the colloquial moniker "thick-headed flies" because they frequently have heads that are larger than their body size would suggest. Photo taken July 13 near Debert, NS.

This is Physocephala furcillata in lateral or side view. A wonderful, almost uncanny, resemblance to a thread-waisted wasp, isn't it? Note the halteres (white "knob" projecting from the side of the thorax) that are only found on flies. Photo taken July 13 near Debert, NS.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Backyard Visitor... 

On the morning of June 29th, I noticed a visitor to our urban backyard. Raccoons (Procyon lotor) are fairly common around here and our situation—sandwiched between two houses with tall fences (3 kids on one side, 3 dogs on the other) and backing onto a woodlot with a small creek—means we see a lot of them. But it's very rare to see them during the day. Here our inquisitive visitor is checking to see whether its ok to venture out of the woods.

After taking the first few photos, our visitor knew I was there and watched me for more than 15 minutes before tentatively emerging from the edge of the woods.

He finally got up the courage to venture into the yard. I had to draw the line when he decided it would be fun to explore our garbage and organics bins—he tried three times before finally getting the message. Persistent little rascal...

More Flower (or Hover) Flies... 

On June 27th I posted about encountering and photographing a female Sphaerophoria contigua on June 12th (see Flower (or Hover) Flies Fill the Gap...). Just a few weeks later, on July 4th, I had the chance to photograph the male of this same species and here he is. Note that the compound eyes meet at the top of the head and compare to the eyes of the female. There's also sexual dimorphism in the colour and pattern of the end of the abdomen.