Monday 22 June 2015

Not all about birds!

Ed Hayden and I did a small hike on Sunday in search of Gray-cheeked Thrush - an endangered species in Newfoundland. I had found a colony of this species in the same area last year and was hopeful we could hear them again. Sure enough, at around 7:15 we heard the distinctive thin raspy song nearby. It continued singing for another 15 minutes when we left.

Despite ideal listening conditions, there were significantly fewer along this trail than last year. That may be explained by the later date (1 week), mere chance, that the birds have moved to a new breeding area, or evidence that the population continues to decline. I'll have to monitor the area again over the next years.

There were plenty of beautiful flowers along the trail.

Rhodora (Rhododendron canadense) are particularly abundant on the island:

Cornus canadensis - Bunchberry/Crackerberry.
This species has 4 white leaves that function as fake petals:

In fact, the flowers are tiny and consist of single petal that springs open, when touched by an insect, to release pollen!

Kalmia polifolia - Bog Laurel.
A toxin in this plant, Grayanotoxin, lowers blood pressure (among other things) - but only when concentrated, which can happen in the honey of bees that use it for nectar!

This nest was surprisingly close to the main trail. It belongs to a Spotted Sandpiper:

Short-tailed Swallowtail are only found in the Atlantic provinces of Canada (and NE USA). One of their favoured plants is Scots Lovage (Ligusticum scoticum) - which I think is what this one is on. This plant is tolerant of salt water spray - so can be readily found on our coastlines.