Checking for Spring around South Keys area

I went for a long walk around my neighbourhood this afternoon trying to document some of the organisms that are emerging and becoming more active/abundant with every passing day.

Hepatica (Anemone sp.)
Hepatica (Anemone sp.) - always the first ephemeral to emerge in McCarthy Woods.

Hepatica (Anemone sp.)
Close-up on the beautiful delicate flower.

Hepatica (Anemone sp.)

I also saw my first butterflies (and bee - but not photographed) of the year today!  I believe this is an Eastern Comma (Polygonia comma).

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
There were also many Mourning Cloaks (Nymphalis antiopa) flying around in the forest.

Feeding on something in the tree bark.

Ventral view of its wings.

One thing I was looking for was salamanders, but I was not as lucky as the last time.  While I was looking underneath rocks and logs, I noticed something bright sticking out of the forest floor and quickly realized it was an Eastern Garter Snake!

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)
Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

This snake did not move the whole time I was photographing it.  What a wonderful model.

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis)

While the snake was enjoying the sun, a Mourning Cloak all the sudden flew and landed on a rock right next to the snake (they were maybe five centimeter away from each other).

What an amazing sight!

Eastern Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis sirtalis) and Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
Snake and butterfly.

Having two such interesting subjects right next to each other, I was facing the dilemmas of which one to focus on.  I decided to do both separately.

Eastern Garter Snake and Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak and Eastern Garter Snake

Again, the snake did not move the whole time and the butterfly flew elsewhere after less than five minutes.  A part of me wonder if the snake sees the butterfly as a potential prey.  I know Merlins do.

Mourning Cloak (Nymphalis antiopa)
The Mourning Cloak enjoying the sun somewhere else.

While walking along McCarthy Road, I noticed two Black-capped Chickadees (Poecile atricapillus) flying back and forth from this tree.

They were excavating and building a nest cavity.  Here you can see one of the chickadees inside the cavity.

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)
Taking the wood chips out of the cavity.

Not great shots but still fun to document.

Hopefully they will nest here and I can come check on them regularly (before I depart for fieldwork at the end of next month).

Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus)
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) on the other side of McCarthy Woods.

Groundhog (Marmota monaxat Sawmill Creek Constructed Wetland.

Groundhog (Marmota monax)
It disappeared into its burrow afterwards.

Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara) was also the first flowering plant I found last year.

Close-up on the small flowers on the head.

Ring-necked Ducks (Aythya collaris)

Tamarack cone (Larix laricina)
Tamarack cone (Larix laricina).  Love the arrangements.

Tamarack cone (Larix laricina)
Another side-view.

I love this time of the year, especially after a pretty long winter.

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