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19 August 2010 @ 07:37 pm
Return to Ottawa  

We arrived back in Ottawa on Sunday, and the next day it was back to work for me. The week off did me much good, and for the first four days back in the office I felt completlely relaxed. Even all the unread emails in my in-box and the stack of files on my desk needing my attention didn't cause me much stress. It was as if the real world was back in Nova Scotia, and my return to work was only a temporary visit. Unfortunately by Friday my productivity and relaxed mood began to diminish, and I was yearning to be outside to enjoy the beautiful summer weather Ottawa was having. I did spend a couple of lunch hours at Hurdman Park that week, but it just wasn't enough.

Eastern Tailed Blue


Grasshoppers seem more abundant this time of year. Although I don't go out of my way to photograph them, I will sometimes take their picture if they stay put in one place long enough, or hop up onto a plant right in front of me. One thing I've always wondered about grasshoppers is whether they blindly hope for the best when they use their powerful hind legs to propel them into a leap or whether they know exactly where they are going to land. Given how many times I've seen them crash into a plant and fall to the ground upon landing I rather suspect the former.



Grasshopper


Hurdman is a good place to find Eastern Tailed Blues, a rare to uncommon butterfly in the Ottawa area. I've seen them here now during the past three summers, most often on the west side of the transitway around the base of the large hill. Eastern Tailed Blues prefer such open, sunny places and are often found in weedy areas and disturbed habitats. They fly close to the ground and nectar on low-growing flowers which are open or short-tubed such as clover, wild strawberry, cinquefoils, asters, etc. I tend to find them most often on Cow Vetch, a blue-purple member of the pea family found in fields, roadsides and disturbed areas. Caterpillars also feed on many plants in the pea family.



Eastern Tailed Blue


Although most gossamer-winged butterflies (also known as Lycaenids, the group to which the blues and hairstreaks belong) do not perch with their wings open, Eastern Tailed-Blues sometimes bask with their wings at a 45 angle. It always amazes me to see - and photograph - the rich blue colour of the upper side of the wings.



Eastern Tailed Blue


Another butterfly which stopped by while I was photographing the Eastern Tailed Blues was this Northern Crescent, another common butterfly of Hurdman Park.



Northern Crescent


This small, yellow grasshopper did seem to know exactly where he was going when he landed on this Queen Anne's Lace. He made such a charming picture that I was persuaded to take his picture.



Grasshopper


To my surprise, I also found a Praying Mantis at Hurdman. I had just started down the path toward the river when something with pale green wings (I thought it was a large moth!) flew by me and landed up in the tree about four feet above my head. I saw where it landed, and when I looked through my binoculars I discovered a Praying Mantis! This was the first one I'd seen this season, and I thought it was strange to see him sitting among the tree leaves.



Praying Mantis


Asters were beginning to bloom, which signals to me the changing of the season. One of our latest-blooming wildflowers, the lovely purple and yellow blossoms last well into fall. They are a good source of nectar, and as such they attract many insects, including this tiny bee.



Bee on Aster


Common Ringlets are also common at Hurdman. This species prefers old fields, meadows, and open woodland areas, and can easily be found in the grassy fields at Hurdman. Not surprisingly, caterpillars feed on grasses, while adults nectar on flowers - a trait which it does not share with other members of the Satyrinae subfamily to which it belongs. This species has two broods per season in Ottawa, and can be seen from late May to early October.



Common Ringlet


As the insects were so abundant and so cooperative, I spent most of my time watching and photographing them. The birds seemed less conspicuous, although a couple of Eastern Kingbirds noisily flew from treetop to treetop with their gusty, sneezy-sounding calls. Vireos and redstarts were still singing, but less frequently than before. Breeding season is definitely coming to an end, and it won't be long until the birds begin to leave and the insects disappear. In the meantime, however, I will continue to enjoy this beautiful summer weather and hope it lasts!



 
 
 
Soul Diasporasoul_diaspora on September 27th, 2010 04:17 am (UTC)
Welcome (belatedly I guess) back to Ottawa :-) Love the Eastern Tailed Blue pictures.

I've been reading your Nova Scotia entries and was surprised to see all the pictures of eiders. My in-laws camp in Fundy every summer and my mother-in-law always brings back tales of the birds she saw (flock of Blackburnian Warblers right outside their camper this summer--I'm jealous!), but she never mentioned eiders. Back when I last went to Fundy I wasn't a birder and paid no attention. I have to get back out there someday...