Monday, July 25, 2011

Return of An Unwelcomed Guest(s)

The day before I was set to leave for a vacation in Sudbury, I discovered my yard had a visitor. In fact, quite a number of visitors. Insects from the order Coleoptera had decided to feed on the leaves of the Corkscrew Hazel, Sand Cherry and hedge in my yard. These beetles are native to Japan and were first recorded in Canada in 1939. Since then, the Japanese Beetle has caused problems for farmers, nurseries and home owners in many states and provinces.

Last year, Jean and I found only a few of the invasive pests in our garden. This year however, the numbers have increased greatly and they have acquired a taste for the leaves of a Corkscrew Hazel tree in the backyard. At first, I tried to pick them off of the tree but for every 1-2 I removed, another 8-10 would emerge from the inner branches and leaves to escape placement into an empty yogourt tub. Knowing I could not win this battle, I took the garden hose and sprayed the entire tree with a good dose of H2O. With travel plans the next day, my options were limited and spraying the tree would help temporarily.

A grape vine that has crept over the fence from the neighbour's yard was also harbouring some Japanese Beetles. When searching for additional Popillia japonica, I came across this large orange beetle. It appears to be from the Scarabaeidae family, the same family that contains the Japanese Beetle and the Asiatic Garden Beetle. After a little searching, I identified this large insect to be a Grapevine Beetle.

A few years ago, this beetle caused heavy damage to my mother-in-law's ornamental grapevine. So, I quickly disposed of this specimen as well.

The next day, Jean and I left for Sudbury. Taking action to prevent further damage would have to wait. I had some Big Nickel birding to do.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Big Nickel Birding

Ahhh, vacation time! It's always satisfying to have some time off from work and during the week of July 18, Jean and I spent a few days in Sudbury visiting my brother and his family.

This was our first visit to Sudbury, Ontario since Jean and I committed ourselves to a life of birding and if we did not observe any lifers while birding the region of Greater Sudbury, at least we would start three new county (regional) lists. Let the ticks begin.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Perils of Nesting Killdeer: Raising Young in a Parking Lot

It was the holiday weekend. Despite the distraction of three days of beautiful weather and the start of the 2011 Tour de France, I still managed to find time to inspect the nesting Killdeer on the property of my employer.

On Canada Day, Jean and I checked on the progress of the two clutches after completing our third and final survey for the Marsh Monitoring Program. The adult was still incubating the eggs.

Over on the other side of the building, the second breeding pair had momentarily left their eggs unattended.

No emergence on Saturday either but on Sunday afternoon Jean and I made a quick inspection on the way home after visiting friends. As we watched the adult rise from the spot it has tended the last few weeks, two chicks popped out and ran a short distance. Finally! After an incubation of approximately 27 days, two of the eggs had hatched. The other half of the clutch still sat in the gravel. Since they were not laid until two days after the first two, it appeared there was still some incubation time required.

Walking into work Monday morning I noticed the gravel area was empty and there was hardly any evidence that Killdeer had nested near the entrance to the building. All that was left was a shallow depression created by the shorebird. Jean and I returned Monday evening with our scope to capture some digiscoped images. We found both adults but only two young. It's possible the other two eggs were preyed upon.

We kept a safe distance from the family and though it was not easy, Jean snapped a few pictures. The young are quite small and the camera preferred to focus on the nearby rocks and clumps of grass.

The second pair still had some incubating to do.

I'll continue to monitor the development of the young and will look forward to the day they can finally fly. Until then, it's best they stay as close as possible to their mum.