Fauna/flora surveying at Gatineau Park (2015) - Part 1

These past two days (Wednesday and Thursday) I was helping out with a fauna and flora surveying project at Gatineau Park (same as last year).  The weather was very pleasant and I felt great (but exhausted) from being outside most of the day.  It's a great way to prepare my body and mind for the upcoming field season.

Rideau Canal
I took this picture on Tuesday when I walked along the canal during my lunch break.  The ice has pretty disappeared by now.

Same as last year, there are ten plots in Gatineau Park and we have to survey the flowering species within the plots every couple of days.  There are bee nest boxes set up near the plots and we have to check for bee occupancy.  This year, we also set up pan traps along the edge of the plots collecting insects.

At our very first plot, there was this male Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) drumming and claiming his territory right above us.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)
Looking and listening for other competitors nearby.

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)

We saw several Mourning Cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa) flying in the park.  First butterfly photo of the year!

On one of the bee nest boxes, there were two Diurnal Fireflies (Ellychnia corrusca), just like last year.

An unknown wasp.

I didn't have much time to look for birds while helping out, but at the end of the survey, I spotted this Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) through the branches.

Today, we went back to the plots and checked all of the pan traps.  Most of the insects collected at this time of the year were flies, with the occasional bees, spiders, hoppers, and one moth.

A jumping spider on my backpack.

Unidentified moth
An unknown moth.

While walking between plots, we also have to keep an eye out for pollinators.  This morning, the project leader walking in front of me stopped all the sudden and netted the first bumble bee of the season!  The bee was flying towards a hepatica flower and we quickly put it inside a clear vial to take some photos of it.  After many identification challenges (even after returning back to campus), we decided it is a Brown-belted Bumblebee (Bombus griseocollis).

Brown-belted Bumblebee (Bombus griseocollis)


Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis)
The best distinguishing feature - the brown hair at the bottom of the T2 abdominal segment.


Brown-belted Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis)
After identifying and photographing it, we released the bee.  It decided to gloom itself and hide among the leaf litter instead of flying away.

There aren't much flowering at the moment.  The only flowering species I saw were Sharp-Lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba) and Round-lobed hepatica (A. americana).

Sharp-Lobed Hepatica (Hepatica nobilis)
Sharp-Lobed Hepatica

As we were finishing up the survey, this American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) showed up and started posing for me on the tree.

American red squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

Afterwards, we saw another squirrel.  This one was munching on something.

In addition to the Mourning Cloaks flying around, there are also orange butterflies present but they never stayed still long enough for me to get close and photograph it.  I saw this one by chance but it didn't want to show the upper side of the wings to me, so I am classifying this as an unknown Comma (Polygonia sp.).

Hopefully, I will get another chance or two to come out here again before I depart for my field season next month.

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