The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Bird Sanctua…OMGSHINY

South of my home, there is a swath of land that has been designated a migratory bird sanctuary.  It provides a variety of habitats, from cattail marshes to mature hardwood forest, and boasts an impressive bird list.  There are walking trails and an interpretive centre, and it’s open year-round to visitors at no cost.   I have not spent nearly as much time poking around in it as I should since it is only a 20 minute drive from my home.   

I was working in my little home office this morning and couldn’t help but notice that it was sunny and warm and FRACKING GORGEOUS outside.  So I did what any serious, conscientious grad student would do:   I ceremoniously swept the pile of reading off my desk, grabbed my camera and binoculars and hit the road.   The sanctuary was calling me.   

(Don’t look at me like that, you know you would have done the same.) 

The St. Lawrence River demarks the southern limit of the sanctuary.  While the shoreline and small inland bodies of water are still largely frozen over, the widest parts are moving freely and welcoming our waterfowl back home for the summer.  The Canada Geese are back in droves: 


Yep, that’s you guys down there (you know who you are).  Heck, we’re practically neighbours! 

I spotted my first Mallard Duck pair of the season.  They were very suspicious and coy and did not appreciate the paparazzi.  The Red-winged Blackbirds have also returned; they filled the air with their cocky KONK-A-REEEEEE, and strutted about the tips of trees and cattails, all “I’m too sexy for my epaulets”.    Ring-billed Gulls screamed and circled overhead.  I could hear Killdeer crying in the distance, and watched American Tree Sparrows dance through the branches on either side of the trail.  A few Robins hopped and pecked at the softening terrain.  

I wonder what else I would have seen and heard had I walked more than 100 yards down the path.  I got distracted.  There were LOGS on the ground!  Basking in sunshine! Unfrozen!  Moveable! 



I’m a slave to my entomophily.  Arthrophily.  Invertephi…whatever, you know what I mean. 



Slug eggs!  And a millipede! 


Red Velvet Mite! 


Green Bug!  


Oh, wait: that’s a little plant.   That’s right folks, the first sprig of spring!  I don’t know what the heck it’s going to be (something monocot-ey that grows in groups in a little sunny opening at the edge of a forest – perhaps a day lily?), but it surely is a welcome sight.

And don’t get me started about the beetles, my friends.  Not “just” larvae, but BEETLES.    For serious.

Stay tuned.

6 responses to “Bird Sanctua…OMGSHINY

  1. Susannah March 20, 2010 at 1:41 AM

    Slug eggs are so beautiful. And what a great picture of the red velvet mite!

    • TGIQ March 20, 2010 at 3:23 PM

      The eggs really are special…like little pearls on the black earth. There were a few dozen of them altogether. I love those mites! This one was quite large, and in an awful hurry, I took a zillion pictures and only a few caught it at rest…or at least, at slow 🙂

  2. jason March 20, 2010 at 11:29 AM

    I absolutely adore the opportunity to follow the goings on from so far north. Things like “returning” red-winged blackbirds, killdeer and mallards serve as reminders to me that what I see year-round are often migrants for others. That’s always fascinating to me. We have our migrants, too (both of the kingbird species and the scissor-tailed flycatchers are good examples), but there’s such a cool realization in being able to see it from both perspectives.

    And Oh. My. Gawd. on the slug eggs. How totally awesome!

    • TGIQ March 20, 2010 at 3:24 PM

      The contrast between our two regions really is fun, isn’t it? I think I get just as big a kick out of all the wildlife and flora that you enjoy while I tromp around in snow! I’m looking forward to seeing some of those flycatchers, we don’t see them here…

  3. Steve Willson March 20, 2010 at 5:36 PM

    Thanks for visiting my Blue Jay Barrens blog and the comments on my Edwards’ Hairstreak Pupa post. I think the ants and the butterflies have a fascinating relationship. This year, I’m going to try to get some shots of the ants escorting the caterpillars into the tree for a night of grazing.

    I enjoyed your post, especially the photo of the mite. For the past two days, I’ve had a mite running around between the LCD screen and the backlight of my computer monitor. It’s like having a pixel gone wild. I’m wondering how long it can survive in there.

    • TGIQ March 20, 2010 at 6:44 PM


      How on earth did that poor thing get IN there???

      Thanks for stopping by, Steve; I found your hairstreak post via Circus of the Spineless…it was a really interesting story!

      Thanks for the comment, too (I’m rather fond of that mite photo myself); I hope you’ll find other good tidbits here in the future 🙂

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