This fall has been busy with home repairs and renovations so I haven’t been able to explore as much as I would like. I did get out for a pleasant walk in October at the Riverwood Conservancy, though. It was late in the afternoon of an unusually warm day so I hoped to spot a few interesting migrants.
2017: The Year of the Painted Lady Butterfly in Canada
Everywhere we went this spring, summer and fall, we saw Painted Lady butterflies. We weren’t the only ones. According to e-Butterfly, they had a banner year with very large numbers seen in the early fall gathering along the Great Lakes and elsewhere and then sailing further south.
There were at least 5 Painted Lady butterflies sipping up nectar on one flowering plant in a garden near the Chappell House. Two others flew by me in that area.
I don’t know if these particular butterflies made it safely further south but they were in relatively good shape so they may have.
Other Signs of Autumn
This hasn’t been a great year for fall leaf colours but there still were some lovely trees dotted through the park.
Chipmunks have been fewer in number this year but this one seems to be healthy and almost ready for winter.
This black Grey Squirrel wasn’t as lucky. I heard both a squirrel and several birds frantically calling and stopped along the Red Deer trail to see what had upset them. In a few seconds, this Red-tailed Hawk flew a short distance away from them and closer to me. After another minute, it flew out across the marsh. That’s when I could see the long bushy tail and knew its catch was a squirrel.
I’m not sure what these 2-3 cm long insects were in the upper farm meadow. I thought they were crickets, but a closer look shows they don’t have the head tight to the body, nor the big hind legs. They also didn’t jump but walked, like ants.
After poking around the internet for a while at home, I wondered if they are actually Oil Beetles. I posted a photo up to BugGuide.net and yes, they are probably some type of Oil Beetle, although the common type for this area is usually found in the spring and early summer, not fall.
At one point, I saw five of these beetles within a few feet of each other. Although they occasionally met, they just kept walking through the grasses at the sides of the trail.
If they are Oil Beetles, their young probably feed on pollen, honey and eggs in bee nests.
This fresh looking Mourning Cloak butterfly was near the path down from the upper meadow. It lazily flew away along the edge of the ridge, though, not circling back. I guess it’s either a female or not interested in defending a territory yet. Mourning Cloaks can survive the winter as adults. I hope I see this one again in the spring!
There’s one Red-bellied Woodpecker that has become much bolder than the others. It will come to collect food from the feeder on the Red Deer trail even if people are fairly close.
I’m not sure exactly what it got from the feeder, but it brought it up to this branch to wedge it behind the bark. Many birds will store some food for later use or for winter.
I was pleased to see this display. The male White-breasted Nuthatch was on the feeder choosing an interesting bit when the Red-bellied Woodpecker flew in from the other side. The Nuthatch called and made aggressive flaps but the Woodpecker calmly ignored it. Both parties ended up with a tidbit good enough to carry away.
I had to leave soon after this interlude but I was glad I had the time for even a short October ramble.
- Unexpected Encounters with Tortoiseshells and Turtles in Burlington in October
- A Mid-October Ramble Around the Rattray Marsh
- A Ramble Around the Ruthven Historic Property on a Lovely Late October Afternoon
- A Mink Meets Mute Swans on an October Afternoon
Have you had a colourful autumn or have the leaves been falling before they’ve turned colour? Please share your sightings with a comment.