Winter Uplands

I went out for two short walks around my neighbourhood this past weekend.  I didn't see much of anything, but I did come across this poem that perfectly described the feeling during my strolls.  The poem is titled Winter Uplands by Archibald Lampman.



Christmas Bird Count 2014 - Ottawa

Today I did the Christmas Bird Count with people whom I have gotten to know this semester that enjoy bird-watching too.  It has been a while since I bird-watched with other naturalists, and I have forgotten how fun it can be (and less awkward compared to birding by myself in the suburbs and/or parks with children around).

Focusing on the Goldeneyes on the Rideau River.

We saw a total of 26 different species (the others kept actual counts for each species), and below were the more interesting species that we observed and that I photographed.


Rideau Canal, birds, and full moon

The school semester is finally over, but work (i.e., preparing for qualifying exam) still continues no matter what.  I took some photos the past two weekends just walking along the canal and hiking in the Arboretum hoping to see some wildlife.

Parliament Hill
Preparation for Winterlude has begun even though the ice is not thick enough yet.


Stroll along Rideau Canal & Yellowjacket & Knifefish

Here are some photos I took last weekend while walking along Rideau Canal.  Originally I was hoping to take some more photos this weekend but ended up too busy working.

Reflection Kaleidoscope
A kaleidoscope image of water reflection.


Remnants of Autumn

I finished grading a bunch of lab reports yesterday, and when I woke up this morning, the weather was so nice that I decided to visit the Arboretum for a long overdue nature walk with my camera.

I have been so busy lately that autumn is slowly disappearing in front of my eyes and yet I haven't got any free time to take some photos with my camera.  I was very happy today when I got to the Arboretum and saw there were still some trees with their fall leaves.

Autumn colours
Tree on fire


Went back to BC for 10 days

I went back to BC for reading week from Oct 11th to 20th.  Aside from going out twice nature-watching and five times for food, I spent most of my time indoors working.  Such is the life of a busy PhD student.

On the second day back, I went to Richmond's Sharing Farm for an hour or two with my mother.  The sky was cloudy and cool temperature - typical Vancouver.



Ottawa Butterfly Show, Carleton University

Before flying back to BC early tomorrow morning, I went to a free butterfly show at Carleton University this morning, an event I heard from my landlord last year and wanted to go ever since.  The daily show begins at 9 o'clock, and when I got there after 9:30 today, there was already a long line with parents and kids (I was the only single adult waiting in line).  About 30 minutes later, I was inside the greenhouse and enchanted by the diversity of butterflies.

I think none of the butterflies are native to Canada and are raised purely for shows like this.


Ecology labs and autumn colours

I have been incredibly busy this school semester demonstrating labs for the ecology course, grading lab reports, as well as preparing for my PhD comprehensive examination.  I tried to take some pictures whenever I am outside, otherwise I am indoors working away.

The ecology course consists of two field labs - first on the effects of abiotic factors in the stream on benthic macroinvertebrate biodiversity and second on tree diversity in different successional stages - both of which take place at Gatineau Park.

Last month (September 12th), the teaching assistants and lab demonstrator went out to familiarize ourselves with the study area.

Old Chelsea Stream (upstream)


Culture Days at National Gallery of Canada

This weekend (September 26 to 28) celebrates a national event called Culture Days where activities took place throughout the country to promote art and culture in Canada.  Here in Ottawa, one of the activities is visiting the National Gallery of Canada for free, which I partook today.

My first time inside the gallery.


Flowering plants of Gunnison National Forest, Colorado

Even though my summer field season has finished, I still have three blog posts about Colorado in draft mode that I want to share.  Here is one about most of the flowering plants that I photographed during the summer (and then I will post photos of insects and birds).  I have arranged these images mostly by the time I saw the plants (i.e., phenology) and/or genus.

One of the earliest flowering plant that I saw.  I couldn't identify it at the spot, but it is in the Parsley family (Apiaceae).


2014 Ottawa Folk Festival

This past few days (Sept 10 - 14) I have been attending shows at the Ottawa Folk Festival - my first time attending this event and it is fantastic!  Here are some photos I took from this event.  Note: most of the shows were during night time and my camera is not good with high ISO, thus I turned most of these photos into black-and-white images.

Laurent Bourque


Bug Day at Canada Agriculture and Food Museum

There was a free event today at Canada Agriculture and Food Museum called "Bug Day", which consisted of various activities introducing insects to the public, e.g. insect zoo, cockroach races, insect collecting, etc.  I went there mainly for the free admission into the museum, a place that I haven't visited yet here in Ottawa.

Ornamental Gardens at the Experimental Farm


Mud Lake, Ottawa revisited

Given that school begins tomorrow and I now have a valid bus pass, I decided to go to Mud Lake today to do some wildlife-watching before the hectic school semester begins.  The last time I was there was almost nine months ago, so everything are different now, especially temperature-wise.  To read more about the different types of wildlife one can encounter at Mud Lake at different times of the year, read this post at the blog The Pathless Wood.

A true summer (sunny, hot, and humid) day today.


August's Photographic Update

Sorry for not posting anything since my return from Windy Pine.  I have been working on my project either from home or school, plus I do not have a student bus pass so my destinations are limited to places I can walk and/or bike to.  I still went out a few times, and here are photos from most of those outings.

August 6 - Went for a walk to Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland, and I was surprised at how much vegetation have grown compared to the first time I was there.

There weren't many bird species that I saw - mostly just Mallards (and one heron in this image).


Long weekend at Windy Pine

This past long weekend, I returned to Peterborough and went back to Windy Pine to visit friends and tried mothing once again (just like last year).

Since I returned back to Ontario last week, I found this summer to be cooler and smoggier than I remembered.


Long way back to Ottawa

On Wednesday (July 23rd) when we left RMBL, we drove through Cottonwood Pass trying to get to Arapaho National Forest where Mertensia perplexa is found.  Unfortunately, we didn't make the correct turn past Taylor Park Reservoir and wasted at least an hour going the wrong direction.

Taylor Park Reservoir
Taylor Park Reservoir


Daily life in Colorado - Part 8 (final)

This is the last series of photos I took one day before I depart from RMBL as I went for a short hike and thanked the land for allowing me to conduct my research there.

Gothic Mountain
Goodbye, Gothic Mountain.

Salamandering at Mexican Cut Preserve

Last Sunday, I wrapped up my field season by collecting the last nutlets from remaining plants.  The following day, I volunteered to help out with Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum nebulosum) research in Dr. Howard Whiteman's lab.

The salamander research conducted here at RMBL is fascinating because it takes place at Mexican Cut Preserve, which is one of the highest areas (11,200 feet) in the world where salamanders are found and also the highest land in the world protected by Nature Conservancy.  The alpine ponds on Galena Mountain that house these salamanders were carved by glaciers a long time ago.

Mexican Cut Preserve

Daily life in Colorado - Part 7

I departed RMBL last Wednesday and arrived back in Ottawa past midnight today.  Along the way, I made a couple of detours to visit Mertensia species that are important to another component of my project in the coming field seasons.

Before I share photos from the road-trip, I want to first post some of the photos I took on my last few days at RMBL.

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries that are still too small to eat.  Sadly, I won't be around to feast on them.


Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) in Gothic

There is a family of Red fox (Vulpes vulpes) residing here in Gothic.  There have been observations and photos of them (for example), but I have not yet seen or gotten photos of them yet.  One hour ago, as I was leaving the laboratory, I saw two foxes playing in the field behind the Gothic Research Center.  I quickly ran back to my cabin to grab my camera.  There was only one playing by the time I got there, but I managed to get these photos.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)
Looking to catch an insect in the air.

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Red fox (Vulpes vulpes)

I really hope to see them a few more times before I leave.  What a beautiful creature!


Hiking to my 2nd tallest mountain so far - Gothic Mountain (3,850 m)

Today, my labmate and I hiked to the top of the mountain that towers over our cabin (and Gothic) - Gothic Mountain. Its height is 3,850 m, which is just four metres short of Avery Peak that I climbed last week.

Quick picture of Gothic Mountain before we left.  To get to the top, we followed the trail descriptions in this website, which we found to be accurate and useful.

Daily life in Colorado - Part 6

My work here in Colorado is coming to an end as my plants are producing nutlets and ready to be collected.  Technically, we will leave this coming Saturday, but we may stay for an extra couple of days to tidy up all the loose ends.


Each Mertensia flower has four ovules and thus can produce up to four nutlets per flower.


Daily life in Colorado - Part 5

Random photos taken from last week.

Morning lupines
On the way to work one day, I saw the soft morning sun shining through the lupines.

Hiking to my tallest mountain so far - Avery Peak (3,854 m)

Yesterday, I hiked from RMBL at 2,891 m to the tallest place I have ever been to on Earth - Avery Peak (3,854 m).  It was quite fun (and tiring) hiking up/down a steep mountain side, but the view at the top was worth it!

Gothic Mountain
View of the Gothic Mountain from the other side.  Gothic Mountain is 3,850 m and definitely another mountain I want to hike to before I go back to Canada.


White-lined Sphinx Moth visiting Delphinium

While I was working yesterday, I saw this beautiful White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata) visiting Delphinium nuttallianum flowers.  I quickly dropped everything and started taking pictures of it.  The moth was quite co-operative and let me got closer and closer until it was less than a metre away.  What a treat!  I have been compiling blog posts of my fauna and flora photos until the end of the field season, but I just can't wait to share these ones first.  Hope you will enjoy these images as much I did photographing this beautiful creature.

White-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles lineata) visiting Delphinium nuttallianum


Daily life in Colorado - Part 4


My field season is slowly winding down with the flowers setting seeds (a.k.a. nutlets).  However, the nutlets contain elaiosomes that are removed by ants (and the plants are also eaten by deers), thus I have to be extra diligent in nutlet-collecting before other creatures get to them first.

Ants also steal nectar from flowers.  Here is one removing the flower.


Daily life in Colorado - Part 3


One of my study species - Mertensia brevistyla.



Daily life in Colorado - Part 1

I am certain I will have many posts like this which are just random assortment of photos that I take on a daily basis.


Collecting Mertensia fusiformis flowers.


Beautiful sceneries in Colorado

Quick update on some of the photos I had taken in Colorado.

A map of the general area I am staying at.


Road trip from Ottawa to Colorado

I had arrived safely in Colorado on Sunday evening.  The drive from Ottawa to Colorado was relatively uneventful until the last leg of the trip where it started to hail and the scenery changed from the flat landscape to high-rising mountains.  Interestingly, the two places we stayed overnight were hosting dog or horse shows.

We drove from Ottawa to Kalamazoo, MI in the first day and spent a night in a smoky motel room.  We powered through Illinois and Iowa on the second day and ended at Grand Island, NE.

Crossing to Iowa.


Egret and deer at Sawmill Creek

I went for a bike ride around Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland this afternoon.  While scanning the edge of the wetland for birds, I first saw an egret!

This is the first time I seen a Great Egret (Ardea alba) in Canada, even though I had seen it before in Taiwan and New Orleans.  According to members in the Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club Facebook page, egrets can be seen along the Ottawa River and sometimes a bit inland (such as here) as well.


Canadian Tulip Festival - Blast of colours (Part 2)

I biked to Commissioners Park this afternoon to check out the tulip festival once again.  Along the way, I saw many (crabapple?) blossoms in the Arboretum.



Tulip Festival in downtown Ottawa and Gatineau

Today, I went to downtown Ottawa and Gatineau to check out the Tulip Festival in these parts of the cities.

The blossoms are here!


Update for the week

I bought a bike at a garage sale on Sunday, so on Monday (12th), I attempted to bike to school.  There isn't a straight-forward path from where I live to the university, but there is a path along the canal that gets me to school in about 45 minutes (by biking through some neighbourhoods and parks first), which is not bad, especially when the weather is nice.

Biking past Hog's Back Falls - man-made waterfalls.


Canadian Tulip Festival - Blast of colours!

One of the things I have been looking forward to since I moved to Ottawa is the Canadian Tulip Festival.  It is apparently the largest tulip festival in the world and symbolizes the friendship between Netherlands and Canada (especially since WWII).  Tulips are also Ottawa's official flower, so it makes sense for National Capital Commission (NCC) to put a lot of effort into this festival.  There are 30 flower beds at Commissioners Park, which consists of 60 different varieties of tulips and almost 300,000 plants in total!  For more information, please visit the main website - http://tulipfestival.ca/site/home/en.

One of the main information boards about the establishment of the festival.


More flowers and insects at McCarthy Woods

Here are some photos taken today.

White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) near the feeder at the place where I live.


Birds and bees at Sawmill Creek

Few days ago, somebody posted a photo on Facebook of several Black-crowned Night Herons at Sawmill Creek.  I decided to see if I could see them for myself this afternoon.

Once I got there, I unknowingly spooked one heron from its hiding place and it took off, but at least I saw it today.

Then I saw this Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius), which was the second time I had seen this species.  The last time was almost three years ago in Ivvavik.


Bee flies, bumble bees, and butterflies

Went out for a walk in McCarthy Woods this afternoon.

A lot of new growth are sprouting out from the forest floor.


More flowers and bees in McCarthy Woods

The weather was suppose to be poor this weekend, so when I saw some sunny breaks this afternoon, I quickly grabbed my camera and headed to McCarthy Woods to take some photos.

I saw more Trout-lilies (Erythronium americanum) in flower.


Along Rideau Canal

The 11th annual Ottawa-Carleton Institute of Biology (OCIB) Symposium took place yesterday and today.  I didn't participate in this symposium since I just started, but I did attend to a few presentations.  Most of the presentation were pretty good, although only some were in the field of ecology so my understanding is limited.

On the way to the bus stop, I took out my camera with the OM lens and snapped some photos.  

There was one day when the water on the canal was still and the refelection was perfect (but I didn't bring my camera then).  Today was just a bit too windy.


Fauna/flora surveying in Gatineau Park (2014)

Today, I helped out with a long-term project studying the phenological patterns of fauna (i.e., pollinators) and flora at Gatineau Park.  It was my second time visiting the park so I was very excited to be here again.

The project involves three main components: surveying flora, collecting bees,


Signs of Spring - native flowering plants and bees

After yesterday's post about the emerging plants seen last Monday at McCarthy Woods, I decided to go there after school today (and before I mailed my tax forms) to see if the plants started flowering yet.  And indeed they were (but in very small numbers)! 

The first thing that caught my attention was a wild Nomada bee (as oppose to the honey bees observed more than two weeks ago) with yellow pollen on its body!


Snowy Owl (still) in Ottawa

Got some photos to share from last Monday and today.  Last Monday, I went out for a stroll at McCarthy Woods near where I live.

All the snow are gone, but nothing flowering yet.


Bird-watching at Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland

I was debating where to spend some time outside this long weekend, especially because the public transit schedule is different every single day.  Looking at eBird, I realized there was a bird-watching spot very close to where I live called Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland, so I searched for instructions on how to get there this morning and walked there right after.

The main purposes of this man-made wetland are to collect run-off water and de-silt the water before it flows into Sawmill Creek.


Visiting Canadian Museum of Nature's Natural Heritage Campus

For a part of my PhD research, I will visit several herbariums and examine specimens in the genus Mertensia spp.  I will be studying at the relationship between morphological (reproductive and vegetative) and phenological (timing of flowering) traits in genus Mertensia.  Today, I took the bus to Canadian Museum of Nature's Natural Heritage Campus in Gatineau and spent most of the day looking at herbarium specimens.

The collection room.


Dominion Arboretum, Ottawa

I traveled to the (Dominion) Arboretum this afternoon to see what the recent warm Spring weather has brought to us in terms of wild fauna and flora.  It was my first time traveling by O-Train and to the Arboretum, and I must say I am quite impressed by train, especially since it only took me about 25 minutes from where I live to the Arboretum.

Map of the Arboretum


Macoun Marsh in Beechwood Cemetery

Today's weather is really nice - sunny and not too cold.  The Ottawa Field-Naturalists' Club had a birding event at Mud Lake this morning at 8 AM, but it was too far and too early for me to go on a Sunday morning.  I instead went to Macoun Marsh, a part of the Beechwood Cemetery.

The marsh is located at the southeast corner of the cemetery.
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