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01 July 2009 @ 08:27 pm
More from Jack Pine  

I visited Jack Pine Trail late Sunday afternoon, and in addition to the Fishing Spider (see previous entry) I found a few other interesting things. The best find of my day was a beautiful, red male Scarlet Tanager calling from a bare branch above the trail. I have heard these birds singing from the top of the canopy a few times this year, but hadn't seen one until now. The unusual "chick-bang" call was what led me to it, and I was happy to get such a great view of the brilliant male not too far above me. The overcast sky and lengthening shadows made photography impossible, so I will have to hope for a better opportunity to photograph this wonderful bird.

Fragile Forktail

Wildflowers are now blooming profusely throughout the trail. I saw lots of yellow Birdsfoot Trefoil and purple Heal-all, and the beautiful pink blossoms of the Swamp Milkweed are just about to bloom.

Birdsfoot Trefoil

The Birdsfoot Trefoil is a low-growing member of the pea family. Although it is non-native and is considered a weed, this plant helps fix nitrogen which improves the soil and is beneficial to nearby plants. Commonly seen along roadsides, in fields, old pasture, and in disturbed areas, this plant gets its name from the slender seed pods that look like a bird's foot. Birdsfoot Trefoil is also very tolerant of drought because of its deep roots.


Heal-all is a member of the mint family, and is another non-native weed. It was originally introduced as an ornamental but has escaped from cultivation in most areas of Ontario. It is found in open woodland, meadows, pastures, waste areas, roadsides, lawns, and around buildings.

At the back of the trail, at the opening where the second, smaller OFNC feeder used to hang in the winter, I found a large dragonfly patrolling the air several feet above the ground. I was thrilled when I saw it land on the side of the post of the Knoxdale sign and hurried over to take its picture. The light was not good, and the position of the wings blocked just enough of the stripes on the thorax to make a positive identification impossible.

Unknown Darner

Although it was getting close to dinner time, I decided to make one last stop while I was at that section of the trail. Near the small boardwalk further along I had seen a Fragile Forktail the last time I had visited, and I was hoping to find one there again so I could get a decent photograph. Fortunately I was able to find this small damselfly relatively easily and, even better, to take a photo using my macro lens.

Fragile Forktail

Although Fragile Forktails may resemble male Eastern Forktails at first glance, there are two distinguishing features to help identify them. One is the all-dark abdomen; the Fragile Forktail lacks the blue tip of the Eastern Forktail. The second distinguishing characteristic is the broken green shoulder stripe, giving it the appearance of an exclamation mark. I find these unique black and green damselflies quite pretty, and am glad to know there are two reliable places to find this species (the other is the Beaver Trail).

After photographing the forktail I left for home, glad I had decided to go out for at least a couple of hours....you just never know what's around unless you look!