More About Me

Allow me to introduce myself. Most of my spare time is dedicated to natural history and environmental knowledge development and communication. I hold an executive position with the Mississippi Madawaska Land Trust, Carleton, Place, Ontario, Canada. I live in Arnprior, the location of the official tallest tree in Ontario at Gillies Grove. It is a White Pine (Pinus Strobus) with a height of about 47 metres. The National Research Council of Canada has placed me on their Animal Care Committee, which oversees the treatment and care of laboratory animals in human health research. I have my own blog, which captures natural history knowledge and more as I make my way through various eco-districts.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Biodiversity at Home and Abroad


What follows is a whimsical foray into the mysteries and nature  of species. In North America,
 the Western Cordillera is a major barrier for many species. Also, altitude mirrors latitude, 
so that northern species can be found at altitude in very southern latitudes. Biodiversity increases
As you go south to the equator. Also, the richest communities are warm southern coastal salt 
water marshes. Wherever you land on the continent, local diversity in landscape and micro-climate results in biodiversity. We will look at some of these specialized habitats, or more particularly, econiches. 
As part of the presentation whimsy, we will briefly consider Bergmann's rule 
states that organisms at higher latitudes should be larger and thicker than those closer
 to the equator to better conserve heat, and Allen's rule states that they will have shorter 
and thicker limbs at higher latitudes. Introduced to me by Michael, I have made a point 
of observing Bergmann’s Rule, with mammals being more obvious,  I have also observed that the other Endotherms, birds, also may prove the rule.

The Glaucous-winged Gull is a large, pale gull of Pacific shorelines. 28 North American species. 54 worldwide. It’s relatively easy to this from other gulls—most species have black wingtips, but adult Glaucous-winged Gulls have pearly gray wingtips that match the color of the rest of the back and upperwing. The only catch is that they often hybridize with Western, Glaucous, and Herring Gulls, complicating identification. These familiar birds of the Pacific Northwest coastlines forage on fish, tidepool inhabitants, and other foods along rocky shorelines, scavenge at landfills, and follow fishing vessels offshore.

Otters are often seen along the British Columbia coast. It is a little confusing, though, because the species most often seen in these waters is the River Otter (Lutra canadensis). This species is one of the most common mammals along the beaches and rocky shores, but it almost always is found near a source of fresh water. 
Normally three pups are born to a female, and they may spend two to three months in the den on land before venturing out. Groups of River Otters almost always consist of females and their young. North America is made up of very different habitats and climates, however North American river otters can be found across the continent! 
Each population of otters faces their own unique challenges and environmental conditions which can lead to different body types or behaviors. For example, in the Adirondacks, river otters are typically larger than river otters found in warmer climates in North America down to 30 degrees. This difference in body size can be attributed to two scientific principles: Allen’s and Bergmann’s rules. ● Allen’s Rule: Body shape and appendages are long and thin in warm climates and more rounded and compact in cold climates. ● Bergmann’s Rule: Body size is large in cold climates and small in warm climates.  With Otters, this varies. Otters contradict Bergmann’s Rule south of 30 degrees and north of 45 degrees. 

On the Validity of Bergmann's Rule
Shai Meiri and Tamar Dayan
Results Over 72% of the birds and 65% of the mammal species follow Bergmann's rule. An overall tendency to follow the rule occurs also within orders and families. 

Macauley Park, SE Vancouver Island

Garry Oak Ecosystem-Dense-flowered Lupine , Lupinus densiflorus 

Species at risk-An annual with a highly restricted distribution known from  three Canadian locations.  The total population size is small and fluctuates considerably depending on climatic conditions. 

These populations are subject to continued risks from habitat loss and degradation due to activities such as urban development,  trampling, mowing and competition with invasive exotic plants.

Goats on the Roof: The Old Country Market started as a roadside fruit stand providing fresh 
produce to travellers heading to the west coast of Vancouver Island. Over the years it has evolved
 into a landmark of Coombs, with a mixture of shops and eateries for locals and 
visitors alike. Oh yeah, and there are goats… on the roof!

The original market was created by Kristian Graaten. Kris and his wife, Solveig, emigrated with their
 children to Vancouver Island from Norway in the 1950s. Kris, who grew up in the small community 
of Lillehammer, was inspired to include a sod roof in his design of the market. Many Norwegian 
homes and farm structures are built directly into the hillside with the sod roof becoming an
 extension of the hillside. With the help of sons, Svein and Andy, and son-in-law, Larry, Kris 
unwittingly began to build what would become perhaps the most famous sod-roof building in the world.
And now the question, “What if we put goats on the roof?”

Well, it was the weekend of the Coombs Fall Fair and the grass was getting rather long. Legend
 has it that, after a few glasses of wine, Larry suggested that they ‘borrow’ some goats to ‘mow’
 the grass and perhaps provide some entertainment for passing cars. Needless to say, the goats 
became permanent tenants of the Coombs market that weekend and have been there for more than thirty years. Each spring, a trip of goats makes their home on the roof, entertaining both locals and
 visitors from all over the world.

Old growth Western Red Cedar. , Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Provincial Park, 10 miles east of Port Alberni.  The old growth Douglas Firs were larger.

Tofino, B.C.: "Black Jay” Stellar's Jay, Cyanocitta stelleri,  in receding light. Note that the Cordilleran (Interior) Stellar's and the Coastal Stellar's are considered different sub-species. There are 3 species of Jay in this presentation, one in the west, one in the south and one in the southeast. List all three in the comments, if you dare. No, the Blue Jay is not one of them!

J Pod of the resident Juan de Fuca Killer Whales which eat mostly Chinook Salmon
 and reside in one of the busiest shipping lanes in North America. Some recent good news about this same Pod:

A second new baby orca has been born to a pod of endangered southern resident killer whales off Victoria. The Pacific Whale Watch Association and the Washington-based Center for Whale Research say J-pod orca J41, also known as Eclipse, gave birth Thursday in waters southwest of B.C.'s capital city.

Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina), Sidney, BC. People feed these wild animals, which is not a practice I encourage,  This one has learned that if he slaps the water with his flippers, he gets more fish from the visiting primate bipeds.

Travelling north from Victoria to the Yukon is easiest by air (Yukon Air). Although possible by land, you will need to set aside a lot of time, and rent a tough all wheel drive vehicle for the journey. Once in the Yukon, you can also visit southern  Alaska. Haines, Juneau and Skagway are all easily accessible from Whitehorse via road and ferry. Alaska has an excellent ferry system.

Whitehorse seen from our landing Yukon Air flight. The water seen at the left, top of the photo is the Yukon River, one of North America's longest rivers.

Sheep Creek Trail, Kluane N P, July 2018. Above and below.

From Parks Canada: This popular trail climbs alongside of Thechàl Dhâl and above Sheep Creek. It offers excellent views of the Slims River Valley as it opens up into the sub alpine. This is an excellent trail for viewing Dall sheep in the spring as the sheep are usually found at lower elevations.

From me: Lower elevation! This was 2 kms away up a very steep slope. To be fair, it was relatively lower! And this was June 30. See the snow-capped peaks in the photos above.

An after supper hike on the Dezadeash Trail, above. We finished at about 10 PM, still bathed by bright sun. Caution: Grizzlies also use this trail, as do Moose. In Kluane, this is considered a short and easy trail, only 5.5 kms.

From Parks Canada:The first part is boardwalk and wood chips (the first 300 m of boardwalk is wheelchair accessible) passing through a wetland area. The next section of the trail travels through aspen forest and small meadows. A viewing stand is located along the riverbank about 1 km down the trail. This is a good place to stop to look for animals such as beaver, moose and waterfowl. At 1.4 km the trail splits to form a loop for the remaining 2.6 km. The left branch continues along the riverbank through tall aspen then turns back through a shady spruce forest to the beginning of the loop.

The variety of habitat along this trail makes it an especially good place to watch for birds. Also, if you look carefully you can find other animal sign such as moose browsing, squirrel middens (caches), a beaver dam, bear claw marks on trees, etc.

Fledgling Northern Hawk Owl. It was calling (alarm call?) vigorously. Identification notes:  white eyebrows, long tail, larger than Boreal. This was a "life" species for me.

Rafting the Klondike River past Bonanaza Creek:

Thanks to Rod Schjerning of The Viking and The Wolf River Expeditions, I got to raft down 25 Kms of the Klondike River and fish for Arctic Grayling...Also, thanks to Norm Brown for signing me up and for explaining the joys of NZ's North Island. This was the tour that starts at 6 PM, and ends around 9 PM. Yukon close to the summer Solstice makes for long glorious days.

From a quickly moving raft, getting this shot was difficult, and I did NOT know which species it was until I downloaded the photo: Northern Shoveler, Spatula clypeata. This duck breeds throughout the Yukon.

Up the Dempster Highway, not too distant from Whitehorse, and there are tours from Whitehorse: Tombstone Territorial Park. This is a view of the Tombstone Mountains, whence the name. For nature buffs, I recommend renting a 4 wheel drive vehicle for travelling the Dempster Highway. Tour Tombstone, then go further, and you will be on the Tundra.

Gray Reindeer Lichen, Cladonia rangiferina
Lichens in the Yukon support the Caribou, Musk Ox and other hoofed animals throughout the winter. In fact, Caribou are one of the few animals that have special microorganisms in their stomach which allows them to digest the lichens.

From the Cornell University, All About Birds Website:"
birds on breeding territories are aggressive defenders of the nest site, flying at intruders and persistently attempting to chase them from the area." 

The Lesser Yellowlegs, Tringa flavipes,  breeds thorughout the Yukon. This bird was VERY noisy, as it worked to keep me from ther nest. You can see the bill is open, as it cackled at me. This was my first time seeing this bird at a nesting site. There is a stream not far from the bird. Nests are usually on the ground, not far from a stream. There were many other species of tundra breeding birds at this site. One that I saw even farther off was the subject of a study, this day, by Yukon territorial biologists, south of the Tombstone Park. I stopped ot talk to them. They had not found any Golden Eagles. Looking to the west from this site, I saw one!

Returning to south Vancouver Island, we now take a long trip by car all the way to Kingsville, Texas, on teh western side of the Gulf of Mexico, just north of the US-Mexican Border.

The Collared Peccary, Pecari tajacu, is a species of mammal in the family Tayassuidae found in North, Central, and South America. They are commonly referred to as javelina, saíno, or báquiro, although these terms are also used to describe other species in the family. The species is also known as the musk hog. In Trinidad, it is colloquially known as quenk. I saw these on my Eco Tour of the King Ranch led by Jim Craig, in December 2011.

Green Jays, at a feeder on the 850,000 acre King Ranch.

Above and below, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Estero Llano State Park,  Texas. This bird is resident here along the Rio Grande, and is a migrant nesting along the north shore of Lake Ontario.

Some birds are also at the northern limit here at the north side of the Rio Grande. Above, Long-billed Thrasher, 
Toxostoma longirostreand below a Black-crested Titmouse, Baeolophus atricristatuswhich has a very limited range in northeast Mexico, and in the adjoining part of Texas.

A large number of North America's waterfall winter here. Above, is this the same duck I saw in the Yukon? A pair of Northern Shovelers at Estero Llano.  Below, Great Kiskadee, 
Pitangus sulphuratus, a large flycatcher found through most of South America, and  in Texas, only along the Rio Grande.

Another Mexican and Central American bird may be seen here, the Altamira Oriole, 
Icterus gularis. This is a very large Oriole, and, like most Orioles, can't resist fresh fruit. Below, the last of the Rio Grande birds, a relative of our Whip-Poor-Will, the Common Pauraque, Nyctidromus a

 found throughout Central America and Northern South America.

Back up the coast past Corpus Christi, and Roger, Ann and I board the Skimmer at Port Aransas to view wildlife in the very shallow bay at the mouth of the San Antonio River. This very special shallow bay supports the wintering Whooping Cranes, that nest in Wood Buffalo National Park in our country.

Back to Corpus Christi area, where I accessed the Padre Island National Seashore. This one hundred mile long barrier island is home to a great number and diversity of bird species during the winter. Above, a rare Piping Plover, Charadrius melodus,  wriggles his right claw above the sand, supposedly to mesmereize prey.
Padre Island is home to many migrating and resident species.  I counted 10 species of ducks in one pond, before they lifted off , including Ruddy Ducks, Redheads, Canvasbacks, Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead, and Pintails (above). While the Roseate Spoonbill, Platalea ajaja, below, just kept one eye on me after a graceful landing. This species is the only one of 6 Spoonbill species to nest in the Americas.

From the King Ranch, and Corpus Christi, we take a long drive along the north shore of the Gulf Of Mexico, down across central Florida to the Everglades. Here is Suzanne, another Macnamara Field Naturalists' Club Colleague, ready to tour the "Glades. That is a very special tree behind Suzanne...
below, you can see the trunk of this tree.   The tall tropical Gumbo Limbo tree, Bursera simaruba, grows from South Florida into Mexico, the Caribbean south to Brazil and Venezuela. The tree has a distinctive shiny red bark that looks like it is constantly peeling.They’re sometimes called “the tourist tree” because the peeling red bark resembles the skin of so many first-time South Florida visitors. Best seen at Gumbo Limbo Trail, Royal Palm Visitor Center, Everglades National Park.

You may have to take a canoe/kayak guided paddle through the salt water Florida Bay to see the above plant. It is Tillandsia fasciculata Sw. var. densispica Mez Giant Airplant  along the coastal Mangrove Swamps. 

Below, you don't have to paddle to see the bird below. We have Turkey Vultures in our area. A more southern vulture, the Black Vulture, Coragyps atratus, is common in Everglades National Park. Caution, if you park within the National Park, cover your windshield wipers. Black Vultures seem to be attracted to them!

Two of the Everglades signature species: Above, the ancient Anhinga, Anhinga anhinga, a fishing bird, has to dry its wings after each hunting trip. The common name of this bird is Snake Bird, as it does resemble a snake as it swims under water. Anhinga is from the Brazilian Tupi language, and roughly means the same as the common name. 

And it has to keep one of those lovely blue rimmed eyes on the lookout for this dominant Everglades species (below), the American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis. This big bull was entering the stream to go fishing, not far from where the Anhinga sat.
Yes, there is also an American Crocodile, and they are found along Florida Bay (salt water, brackish water, and occasionally fresh water) in Everglades National Park. This 
12 footer is one of about 2000 American Crocodiles, Crocodylus acutus in the waters of the southern tip of Florida. This is an example of endangered species recovering from the brink of extirpation from Florida.

In a few Parks and Reserves, Nature Interpretation is strong, notwithstanding cuts here and there.  The classic US National Parks Ranger outfit on Ranger Frankie. These people are ever so valuable for helping to educate so many about nature. Below: Powdery Strap Air Plant, Catopsis berteroniana, commonly known as the powdery strap airplant, is an epiphytic bromeliad thought to be a possible carnivorous plant, similar to Brocchinia reducta, although the evidence is equivocal. Its native range is from southern Florida to southern Brazil.

From sub tropical Everglades, we begin our journey home along the Atlantic Coastal Plain, stopping at Merritt Island, and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Reserve 
at the boundary area between Florida and Georgia:

Above, Zebra Longwing, 
Heliconius charithonia, the state butterfly of Florida.

 The  Long-tailed Skipper (Urbanus proteus) above,  is a spread-winged skipper butterfly found throughout tropical and subtropical South America, south to Argentina and north into the southern part of the United States of America. It cannot live in areas with prolonged frost.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Above, a sign and fence separating the Space Center from the National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Below, a view toward the Kennedy Space Center from the Refuge. I prefer the $10 charge for the NWR. It costs $50 a PERSON to enter the Space Center! Note, I have met two real rocket scientists who work for the Space Center who spend their free time looking at birds.

One of the residents, a Reddish Egret, Egretta rufescens, is very happy to share space with a space center. There are several species of white wading birds here, including a white morph of this bird.

Tens of thousands of shore birds, wading birds and waterfowl spend winteres at Merritt Island, like the White Pelicans on the right below. These are prairie nesting birds, going as far as Saskatchewan and Manitoba in summer. The Roseate Spoonbill, below, left, is a resident of the NWR.
Like the Red-shouldered hawks, the Pileated Woodpeckers, 
Dryocopus pileatus, in Florida are substantially smaller than our northern Pileateds. This one, below, is more of a curiosity since it has a malformed bill. We wondered how it had survived. The smaller body volume of resident birds here is considered to be exemplary of Bergmann's Rule (see note above regarding otters).
When in the south of North America, one of the most renowned of the nocturnal mammals is also one of the few marsupials in our part of the world, the Opossum, below. In fact, it is the only marsupial found north of Mexico and does range into Southern Ontario, northern New York and Vermont. THey are expanding their range into Canada, in southern Quebec, Eastern Ontario and southern British Columbia.

Above, a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks, 
Buteo lineatus. These birds are very common throughout Floida. Although the same species as our Red-shouldered Hawks, the Florida birds are considered a separate sub-species, on average smaller and are paler than our birds.

Below, one of the rarest and most delightful birds in Florida, Scrub Jay, Aphelocoma coerulescensMerritt Island NWR Dec. 31, 2012. Is there a better way to celebrate New Year's Eve?

Welcome to Okefenokee National WIldlife Refuge (NWR). The Okefenokee NWR is mainly a bog inside a huge, saucer-shaped depression that was once part of the ocean floor. The Okefenokee now lies 103 to 128 feet (39 m) above mean sea level.[8] Peat deposits, up to 15 feet (4.6 m) thick, cover much of the bog floor. These deposits are so unstable in spots that trees and surrounding bushes tremble by stomping the surface. This reminds me of our walks at the White Lake Fen. Native Americans named the area "Okefenokee" meaning "Land of the Trembling Earth".  Habitats include open wet "prairies", cypress forests, scrub-shrub vegetation, upland islands, and open lakes.

We did not let Winston play with this big bull alligator, pictured above as we toured the bog in the late afternoon aboard one of the electric NWR tour boats. This one demonstrates thermoregulation by opening his mouth. Further in, we got too close to another bull, which hissed loudly at us, as a warning.
At one of the conserved old farms in the upland portion of the NWR, we found this male Fence Lizard, 
Sceloporus undulatus, demonstrating for a nearby female.
Here is the Chesser Farm, now interpreted through the Okefenokee NWR.  The Chessers still live in nearby Folkston, Ga. A good deal of their income was derived from the Slash Pine, Pinus elliottii, tapped or slashed for pine resin.  The pine resin has many industrial applications. Baseball fans know it as pine tar, used to improve bat grip. The resin processing system still exists at this farm, as do some of the taps.  The Fence Lizards enjoy the Chesser Homestead fencing.

Slash Pine, above. 

And....what is a bog without carnivorous plants. Below is a Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia spp., blooming in April in the Okefenokee NWR. Okefenokee NWR is home to three of the 8 North American species of Pitcher Plant. I believe this is Sarracenia flavia, the Yellow Pitcher Plant, which is only found in the southeast US.

Wending our way along the Atlantic Coastal Plain, we arrive in the Carolinas! Nothin' could be finer! There is nothing more Carolinian than the Carolinas (biology humour). Here we will focus on the Carolina Beach State Park in the SOUTHERN part of North Carolina, and Huntington Beach State Park in the NORTHERN part of SOUTH Carolina. Clear, eh?

First a night time view from the condo we used as our home, at Carolina Beach. Nice, huh?
Below, one of many Common Loons, Gavia immer,  wintering off the coast. I have asked fellow bird enthusiasts in the Carolinas and Florida what they do to our lovely patterned birds that we send down to them each year.

The Atlantic Coastal Plain is host to many resident birds, like the Loggerhead Shrike, Lanius ludovicianus, above, and some quite uncommon migrants, like the Wilson's Plover, Charadrius wilsonia, below. Huntington Beach State Park is one of the few places Wilson's Plovers breed. I took this photo a few days after their arrival in March. The Park management had already closed their breeding grounds to visitors. Dogs are never allowed in this part of the Park. Piping Plovers also breed along this same stretch of the Park.

The Carolina Beach area hosts, in Winter,  a number of Northern Gannets, which nest in colonies off the coast of Canada. These large birds patrol the coast looking for fish. Their bullet-like dives are renowned in the bird world. 

Visiting Carolina Beach State Park is a must for naturalists. This Park hosts rare Longleaf Pine habitat, which is very sandy and acidic, making for a harsh environment. In order to maintain the habitat, controlled burning is essential. We arrived at the Park just after one of these burns. There were, surprisingly, few people about. Jan and I found the Park Naturalist who was very happy to take us on an impromptu tour, with a very rare highlight.

You can see the burn marks on this seedling Longleaf Pine, Pinus palustris. Note the barren ground around it. This is typical of the habitat in late winter, when it is very dry.
In another part of the Park, with somewhat denser forest, we found this Hermit Thrush, enjoying the sunny winter day.

And then, in a very special part of the Park, which is difficult to find, the Park Naturalist pointed to these very tiny plants growing in the burned area;VOILA!
 The only community containing wild native Venus Flytrap, Dionaea muscipula

. Each plant is no bigger than a coin. They only grow in this specialized habitat inland from the Atlantic.

Before going inland to the Appalachians, the Adirondacks and home, let's go north along the Atlantic Coastal Plain to two of the crown jewels of nature in North America, Chincoteague NWR and Assateague National Seashore (national park status) in northeastern Virginia and southeastern Maryland. A side note:  Ernest Thompson Seton grew up in Toronto, and spent time in Manitoba. His boyhood memories in Toronto are captured in an extraordinary book titled "Two Little Savages". Seton later spent a lot of time in the USA, got to know Teddy Roosevelt very well, and was instrumental in establishing the National Wildlife Refuge network. That book inspired many to follow in Seton's path, including Michael Runtz.

Great Black Backed  Gull with Laughing Gull. The next day, I assisted with the Gull Count for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, travelling north along 25 miles of seashore (Assateague NS) into Maryland, including most of the seashore where visitors are not permitted. I learned to differentiate juvenile gulls very quickly! I also learned that Great Black Backed Gulls and Lesser Black Back Gulls stay in their own groups on the beach.

Above, a Black Skimmer, Chincoteague, Virginia.The Black Skimmer, Rynchops niger,  is a tern-like seabird, one of three very similar birds species in the skimmer genus Rynchops in the gull family Laridae. It breeds in North and South America. 

Below, American Oystercatchers, Haematopus palliatus . Another strange name for an American bird (more later).  Think of how fast oysters move! Hard to catch, eh? They do, in fact, eat mostly salt water molluscs.

Above, Horseshoe Crab, Limulus polyphemus,  and below,  Sand or Ghost Crab, Ocypode quadrataHorseshoe crabs are not actually crabs at all, they are much more closely related to spiders and other arachnids. Horseshoe crabs are “living fossils” meaning they have existed nearly unchanged for at least 445 million years, well before even dinosaurs existed. The American horseshoe crab is a common sight on Virginia's beaches, and easy to see, as they are normally 35-50 cms. "Easy-to-see" is NOT a quality of the Ghost or Sand Crab. These small (5cms.), mostly nocturnal,  crabs live in the sand and blend in quite well, even when one ventures out in the middle of the day. THey do change colour to match their surroundings. Very chameleon-ish. Find one in the photo below. Good luck.

Below is a beach 2-fer: my favourite goldenrod being visited by a Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus. Solidago sempervirens, the Seaside Goldenrod or Salt-marsh Goldenrod, is a plant species in the genus Solidago of the family Asteraceae. It is native to eastern North America and parts of the Caribbean. It is an introduced species in the Great Lakes region and the Azores.

Who's a pretty bird? The Arctic Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus tundrius, is one of three subspecies of peregrine falcon [. The Arctic Peregrine nests in tundra regions of Alaska, Canada (Yukon, Northwest Territories, Quebec, and possibly Labrador), and the ice-free perimeter of Greenland . It is a long-distance migrant that winters in Latin America from Cuba and Mexico south through Central and South America. In October, you can find them at Assateague National Seashore, as they follow Arctic shorebirds southward.
While meandering through to see the above Falcon, I came across this very large dead shark on the beach. The Fish and WIldlife people were aware of it.  Few people have seen one of these: a Thresher Shark, Alopias spp. Although 26 feet long, this shark's length is 50% tail. The tail is whipped at schools of fish, which are torn apart by the force of the lashing of the tail. All 3 extant species of the genus are threatened.

To get home, we travel north from Chincoteague, perhaps going bird watching at Cape May, New Jersey, after taking the Ferry, moving inland away from the Atlantic Coastal Plain through the Appalachians, arriving at the largest protected area in the lower 48 states: Adirondack State Park in New York, below.

Below is a late summe characteristic wetland plant, Chelone glabra, White Turtlehead.

Above is a fungus we see on Maples in our area, Northern Tooth Fungus, Climacodon septentrionalis. And below, proof that not all Common Loons in the USA are missing their familiar patterns.

Bogs are more expected in this area, than they are way down in Southern Georgia!  And here is another species of Pitcher Plant, The Pitcher Plant, Sarracenia purpurea. The bogs of Adirondack State Park also have the other carnivorous plant familar to those who visit Algonquin Park,  Roundleaf Sundew,  Drosera rotundifolia.

The trip back to our area is about 4 and a half hours. Along the way, let's see what has been happening in some of the conserved lands of our area: The Queen's University Biological Station, High Lonesome Nature Reserve and the Macnamara Trail in Arnprior.

Above, a Bluebird, Sialia sialis,  successfully nesting at high Lonesome Nature Reserve. Then, Michael and Art on a day of discovery at Queen's University Biological Station (photo by Suzanne Monnon). A female Blanding's turtle goes for a stroll at high Lonesome. Below, an outing on the Macnamara Trail in Arnprior, led by Suzanne, and some current and past members on annual Macnamara Trail maintenance duty, October 2012.

Art has been in Spain with Jan in 2019 and 2020. Art gave this presentation in October, 2020. In November, Alberto Suarez-Esteban will give the presentation. Coincidentally, Alberto will be featuring Donana National Park in southwestern Spain, and here are Art and Jan at the same place:

A thought about the European Blackbird and our Robin: Our Migratory Thrush, Turdus migratorius, named Robin by European settlers, because they thought it resembled the European Robin, Erithacus rubecula, which is at the top right, of the photograph, below.  In Spain, I became familiar with the Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), which is almost identical in size, behaviour and song as Turdus migratorius, EXCEPT for coloration. Now we know why scientific names are valuable!

Above, Griffon Vultures, Gyps fulvus,  in Grazelema National Park. These huge birds are intimidating. I thought I heard them discussing how to turn me into meat.They are is 93–122 cm (37–48 in) long with a 2.3–2.8 m (7.5–9.2 ft) wingspan. That is just a touch smaller than the California Condor.

Iberian Ibex, El Torcal de Antequera:
The Iberian ibex, Spanish ibex, Spanish wild goat, or Iberian wild goat, Capra pyrenaicais, a species of ibex with four subspecies. Of these, two can still be found on the Iberian Peninsula, but the remaining two are now extinct.

More on Spain in later blogs.