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12 June 2010 @ 08:07 am
Hurdman in early June  

Things have been settling down at work so I've been able to visit Hurdman Park on my lunch hours again. This time of year I find the insects more interesting than the birds; I am not likely to see any new species of birds around until fall migration begins, whereas the insect world constantly changes. Some insects have a very short flight season of a month or less, so when they're gone (such as the Eastern Pine Elfin butterflies that I missed this year) I won't be able to see them again until next spring. Some species fly early in the spring, while others don't fly until later in the summer. Other insects produce more than one generation in a season, which means they can be found for a couple of months or the entire spring and summer (such as the Cabbage Whites butterflies). So even during the quiet months of summer there are different species of dragonflies and butterflies around; a such, it's worth going out as often as possible to see them before their flight season ends.

Common Green Darner

The Question Mark is one species which has two generations per year. These butterflies overwinter of adults in southern regions, then migrate north when spring returns. In Ottawa they arrive in late May or early June, and fly until early July. The second generation emerges in late July or early August, and is only seen until mid-September, when it migrates south. This individual was photographed on June 2, 2010.

Question Mark ( Polygonia interrogationis

Hobomok Skippers are one of the most common skippers in the region with a flight season from late May to early July. They can be found in grassy clearings and woodland edges. Females come in two colour forms: the orange form typical of skippers, and a brown form known as the "Pocohontas form".

Hobomok Skipper

The Canadian Tiger Swallowtail only has one generation per year. This means that adults are only on the wing from mid-May to late July, depending on latitude; the eggs that they lay will not complete their transformation to the adult stage until the following spring.

These swallowtails seem to have had a good year, for I've seen them on most of my outings, and often I've seen more than just one. When this one flew past me and landed on a leaf at the edge of the woods, I was thrilled at the chance to get some photos of this species from a different angle. I was able to walk right up to him to get this photo.

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

I saw some interesting insects on my walks as well. This little "ladybug" is a 14-spotted Lady Beetle, a non-native species which is nevertheless beneficial as it feeds primarily on aphids. In fact, these lady beetles are found wherever aphids are found: gardens, lawns, fields, vacant lots, etc.

14-spotted Lady Beetle

Another beetle of interest was this firefly. Even when he isn't glowing, he is quite beautiful.


There were a few birds around, too. I saw or heard Song Sparrows, American Redstarts, Yellow Warblers, Gray Catbirds, a female cardinal, a flock of Cedar Waxwings, a Northern Flicker, both Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos, Eastern Kingbirds, a Brown-headed Cowbird, a Hairy Woodpecker, and this Great Blue Heron standing close to the shore.

Great Blue Heron

Common Green Darners are a common sight at Hurdman; they have a long flight season from late April through to October. I see most of them flying low above the Rideau River, or else flying high above the open grassy areas. These fellows do not often perch, so when I startled a beautiful blue and green male out of the grass, I watched him zip back and forth above the trail in case he decided to land again in the same area. Eventually he caught an insect, and flew back down into the grass. I did in fact see where he landed, then edged closer for a couple of photographs. This was an unexpected find as I have never had any luck in photographing the blue and green males....until that day!

Common Green Darner (male)

On my way back to the bus station I saw a dark orange butterfly flying over the grass. I wasn't sure if it was a Monarch or a Viceroy until it landed, when I saw the black band running across its hindwings. This butterfly is typically found near wet areas where willows grow in the vicinity. Unlike most other members of this genus, adult Viceroys regularly visit flowers to sip the nectar. This species has two overlapping generations that fly from late May into September in most of Canada.


June is one of the best months for seeing many different species of butterflies; I'm lucky that I can see such a variety in a place so close to work!