Mayfly, Beetle, and Waxwings

Some photos from yesterday and today.

Close-up of a dead mayfly found in my office.


Herping at Oliver Centre

There are many Flatheaded Mayflies (Heptageniidae) flying around lately.  One was seen outside my office window today with its old exoskeleton nearby.

Leucrocuta sp.

In the afternoon, I was helping out with the herpetology class with their salamander surveys at the Oliver Ecological Centre.  The students were comparing different methods of surveying for salamanders (i.e., transects, quadrats, random walks, and cover-boards).


Ivvavik National Park - last upload

This time last year, I was waiting for my flight to Ivvavik National Park so that I can get my second field season started.  I won't be going back this year, instead I will be here in Ontario trying to finish my degree and move on to another chapter of my life.  This will be the last batch of photos that I took last field season, and I am always reminiscing the time I spent at this beautiful place.



Found Syrphid at Trent - Eristalis (Eoseristalis)

Today I found a Syrphid in a closed hallway here at school.  I collected it in a vial and put it in the refrigerator for a minute or two to cool it down and take some photos.

Using the Syrphid key that I received at the pollinator identification course last year, I keyed it out to Erizona sp. female (eyes do not meet at the top of the head) but I am not quite sure about it.

So here is how I keyed it out:
1. black abdomen with partial or complete transverse yellow bands,
2. assumed bare postpronotum (otherwise the key would lead me to Blera sp. which has pilose postpronotum),
3. abdomen tergites with no black velvet bands,
4. face mostly yellow,
5. eye with rounded emargination on posterior margin (as oppose to triangular emargination),
6. R4+5 vein conspicuously curved,
7. Vein R4+5 distinctly curving into cell r4+5,
8. Face yellow with black medial spot or stripe; R 4+5 shallowly curved into cell r4+5,
9. Third and fourth abdominal tergites with yellow margin = Eriozona (Megasyrphus).

I could not stand not knowing how wrong I was regarding the identification of the species, and so I enlisted the help of BugGuide.  Trusting the experts over there, they identified it as a Transverse Flower Fly (Eristalis transversa), which based on other photos does look similar to my photos.  Going back to the key, I keyed it backwards knowing the species (or subgenus Eoseristalis).

- Hairy bulky flies with long, black/brown/yellow hairs, similar to bumblebees and honeybees
- Face either concave, or somewhat swollen, or with central tubercle
- Arista bare, or with inconspicuous hair (at most slightly longer than arista width)
- Vein R4+5 sinuous
- Cell r1 closed before wing margin; hind femur neither enlarged nor with prominent lobes or extensions

- Katepimeron, half of anepimeron, meron, and metapisternum bare = Eristalis (Eoseristalis)

You can see the conspicuously curved R4+5 wing vein and closed r1 cell.


Interesting coloured critters during the weekend

Biked to school yesterday and today to work on my thesis.  I stopped at the soccer field again to see what kind of wildlife I could find.

On Saturday, I saw an all-green bee that I assumed is an Agapostemon sp., and Silvery Blue butterflies again.

Metallic Green Bee (Genus Agapostemon)


Herping at Trent's Canal Nature Area

The weather this past few days has been quite amazing - warm and humid during the day and then periodic downpours (with thunders) in the late afternoon - the kind where you will be completely soaked if you happen to be outside during the downpours.

View from my office window.

The Herpetology class went out today to Trent's Canal Nature Area to survey the frogs based on their calls, and I volunteered myself to help out.  We went out  yesterday to check out the sites and heard mostly Grey Tree Frogs calling and one lone Spring Peeper.


Chasing butterflies and dragonflies

There was no bus services today because of the holiday (Victoria Day); plus, I figure it's probably time for me to start doing some exercises by biking to school today.  When I was getting close to the school, I saw a path leading to a field that I never paid attention to before.  Then I saw the field was busy with butterflies and dragonflies flying around.  Definitely a great detour.

This was the dragonfly that I saw today.  I took some photos of it, and I think it looks like a Frosted Whiteface, but any feedback is appreciated.

Frosted Whiteface (Leucorrhinia frigida) female 2013
Frosted Whiteface (Leucorrhinia frigida) female


Lady Eaton Drumlin in the Spring

The weather was so nice (and warm) today that I decided to check out Lady Eaton Drumlin before I went to my office.  It was during mid-day so the highlights of some of these photos are quite bright.  One thing I didn't prepare for was the mosquitoes and so they annoyed me quite a bit today.  This is my first being on the drumlin during the month of May.  I was here last year in April and the trees were still leafless and only hepatica was flowering, but that was not the case in May.

Star-flowered Solomon's Seal (Maianthemum stellatum)


Blossoms at Trent (Update: May 18)

One of my favourite things about Spring is probably admiring trees with beautiful blossoms.  There is just something about the colourful and fragrant flowers and the attraction to insects and birds that draw me to photographing them.  I have been waiting for the trees at Trent to flower for a while now, and now the moment is finally here!

Wednesday (May 15)

So beautiful!


Walking through Parkway Trail - Rose-breasted Grosbeak

As I mentioned earlier, I walked part-way to school today through the Parkway Trail.

Very 'green' nowadays

Maytag the cat & Herps

My landlord got a cat on Monday and his name is Maytag (Tag for short).  This is my first time living with a cat (even though I like animals a lot, being responsible them is a completely different story), so it's going to be an interesting experience for sure.

Maytag on the sofa


Windy Pines Conference Centre

Windy Pine Conference Centre on the shore of Lake Kushog consists of 6 cabins owned by the Canadian Studies Department of Trent University.  For more information, please visit the official site.

On Saturday, I had the opportunity to help out with season-opening of the centre, as well as exploring this area for the first time.

Cabin in the woods
Back of the main cabin.  The cabin has a very homely feel to it, with a functional kitchen, bathroom, fireplace, bedroom, and more.


Recap of the week - new macro technique and critters saw during Enrichment camp

While experimenting with my Nikon P&S lately, I found out that if I hold my small hand lens (for plant identification) in front of the P&S lens, then I can get a pretty decent close-up photo of the critter/flower (but I need to get very close).

I took photos of this spider just outside my office window on Monday.

On Tuesday and Thursday, I assisted with two of the mini-course programs held here at Trent.  One was getting elementary students "Wild About Nature!", and the second was teaching students about "Habitat and Organisms".  It has been a while since I worked with children, but it's quite rewarding especially now that I am teaching them about nature.

For "Wild About Nature!", we first made a field kit, consisting of a clinometer, a plant press, and an insect-collecting container.  We then took the children outside to measure tree heights using the clinometer.  We also played games with the children - one called "Predator & Prey" (three trophic levels - grasshoppers, orioles, and hawks) and one with three different feeding apparatuses (modified plastic knifes, spoons, and forks) to collect different prey types.  We also took the children outside to collect plants and insects.

Limber honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica)

More than three years ago, I saw this plant on one of my off-days here in Ontario.  I did not figure out what it was until just a few days ago (I initially called it a Kissing Plant because it looked like a pair of lips).

Limber honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica)

It is Lonicera dioica, commonly known as limber honeysuckle.  The leaves are opposite and simple, but the bases of uppermost pair are fused to form a saucer-like disc.  Quite interesting.


International Migratory Bird Day

Today (May 5) is International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD), and one of the nearby events takes place in Alderville where I helped out with the managed burn last week.

Alderville black oak savannah
Back at Alderville.  I wish I took a better photo of the burn last week, so that I can compare it with this photo.  But from afar, I think the burned ground is green now.


Back from OE3C (at Western University)

I just got back from London, Ontario for the OE3C conference.  Overall, I think it's went very well, especially for my first "actual" conference - the venue/school is beautiful, just the right size in terms of attendees, and the weather is pleasant for the past three days.

We resided at the "Guest House on the Mound" for the duration of the conference.  Nothing to complain about the location.


Trout Lily in the backyard

While I was taking out the compost this morning, I saw this beautiful flower in the backyard.  I quickly ran back into the house to get my camera.

Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum)
According to resources, it is a Trout Lily (Erythronium americanum) with yellow flowers and the leaves are mottled with brown markings.  It flowers in early spring and usually found in moist woods.  Neat!  

This week (Thursday to Saturday), I will be attending the Ontario Ecology, Ethology, and Evolution Colloquium (OE3C in short) at Western University.  This will be the first time I present my research in front of other researchers and students, as well as my first time in London, Ontario, so I am looking forward to it.

Wish me luck!
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