Tag Archive | nature

Weekend Expedition 66: Highland Creek


It is early fall in Ontario, and the leaves are changing colours…Seems to me the animals are not very abundant right now, probably because at this time of year freezing weather can hit at any time. A bit different from the west coast!
Most of the flowers are gone, and the few that remain are looking pretty shabby. Catherine and I still haven’t got out near Toronto very much to see the sights, but this Saturday I took off into the woods around the University of Toronto Scarborough while Catherine was invigilating an exam. This campus abuts Highland Creek, and there is a wooded Valley just below which has walking paths and woods. A great place to explore!


Right by the campus, Catherine found this awesome common house spider, Parasteatoda tepidariorum. Correction! This is Parasteatoda tabulata, which makes a debris-covered retreat! These cool therediids can be quite pretty!


Under some bark we found this Agelenopsis female with an eggsac.


We brought along our 6-legged parson spider (Herpyllus ecclesiasticus) to do some outdoor shots. This awesome and extremely fast spider is a gnaphosid.


We aren’t sure how she lost her legs, but she can still move very quickly!


In the woods, I found a lot of red-backed salamanders. The species in the east is Plethodon cinereus.


This one was only about 4 cm long, and was very obliging for photography.


This seems to be a “leadback” phase of Plethodon cinereus. More on this species here.


Under a log I found a couple overwintering queens of bald-faced hornets, Dolichovespula maculata. They didn’t seem too pleased to see me!


This one was vibrating her wings, probably to go off and search for a new site to overwinter after being disturbed.


I can’t get over the cormorants! When I was a kid, they did not exist here!


This is the first photo I have ever gotten of a cormorant yawning!


Sometime very soon we have to get out of town to see the fall colours…They are probably spectacular right around now!


I just barely scratched the surface of this extensive protected valley, and I am sure I will come back again and again!

Scenes from a foggy day


We have been basking in warm, moist air here on the West Coast, while the rest of the country is freezing in Arctic outflows. This “Pineapple Express” has brought a lot of rain over the past week, but that is now letting up. Yesterday was calm and foggy, and a bit eerie in its warmth. I was in Victoria, so I went walkabout to see what I could see.


Monday night the fog rolled in, smelling of the sea.




On Mt. Tolmie Tuesday morning, the air was still and moist, and collembollans could be found up on the vegetation.


Rock Flipping Day is every day for me, and has been since i was a kid. I found this beautiful spider that looks very much like a Pimoa.


Oddly, I also found 3 colonies of Aphaenogaster occidentalis, under rocks where 2 weeks ago none were evident. The warmth must have penetrated the soil, and the colonies moved themselves and their brood upwards.


These are some of my favourite myrmicines, and appear to be quite common in Garry Oak meadow habitats.


Jackson was along for this outing, and spent some time chewing rocks…You should see his teeth after 9 years of this awful habit!


I even managed to find a beautiful Phidippus!


On the ferry coming back to Vancouver, the waters were calm.


As it was high tide, the seals were hauled up on the rocky shores of Galiano Island.


Here, the ferry comes up on a log with cormorants and gulls.


Which scatter, somewhat comically.


A large volcano, Mt. Baker, which I visited several months back.


Winter lighting in this part of the world means sunset-like conditions at 2:30!


Which make for beautiful backgrounds.

Weekend Expedition 33: Fall in Stanley Park


Here we are, it is already  Arachtober, and fall weather has definitely arrived. While the rains last week kept me from going out shooting, this weekend we had a beautiful Sunday, perfect fall weather for some photography in Stanley Park.


Migration season has arrived, and all the Canada Geese are definitely in flying mode. There are takeoffs and landings every few minutes on Lost Lagoon in the morning. Go south, oh poopy ambassadors, and spread your green, cylindrical, gifts across America!



This may very well be my last jumper of the year…I found her under some bark on an old cedar stump.


A Snowberry leaf makes a nice perch for this spider.


Termites are of course still to be found in rotting wood. I hope all the Entomology students pay attention: if you do not have these in your collection by now, you aren’t looking hard enough!



A couple crow shots, because i can’t help it…



Flipping logs is something I have been doing since I was a little kid…And this Ensatina is a good reason why!


Ensatina eyes are some of the prettiest of salamander eyes. They are almost like the eyes of a doe.


This is a very odd fungus I found on an old stump. I wonder if it might be a really young fruitbody of a Hericium species.


A tiny Uloborid spider, likely Hyptiotes gertshi.


Looking elegant, stretched out on a grass blade. Metellina?


High speed Fly Takeoff

We had a representative of High Speed imaging Inc. in the lab today to demonstrate some high speed cameras…So what did we record? Some blowflies of course!

Check out how these awesome flies take off:

We have used high speed cameras before, but this one was pretty impressive. This video was recorded at 4000 frames per second, and is slowed down to 30, so it is about 133 times slower than real life. No wonder they are so hard to catch!