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!

2 thoughts on “Weekend Expedition 66: Highland Creek

  1. Beautiful little salamanders – love them! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a common house spider before but of course,there’s no way I’d ever recognise spiders like Catherine does. I’ve got cupboard spiders (Steatoda grossa), basement spiders, giant house spiders, zebra jumping spiders and one or two other species I’ve come across in my house (jumping spiders and basement spiders are lovingly placed some place safe) but never that one in your photo.

    I’m curious how bright you’ll find the fall colours, Sean. Be sure to post photos and let us know. I read an article where climate scientists speculated that vibrant fall colours in the deciduous forest of eastern NA might becoming rarer due to global warming. Global warming is misunderstood by many and doesn’t necessarily mean it’s always warmer (e.g. the last 2 winters back east) so I’m not sure about weather trends on that side of NA. But if fall nights have been warmer, there won’t be those brilliant colours.

    My brother and sister-in-law moved to Nova Scotia so I’ve been following their weather. They’ve had it warmer than normal so I’ll have to ask about their fall colours. As usual, we’re back in our gloomy wet coast weather which I dislike. But then, I dislike winter weather with the long nights anywhere in the world! ;D

  2. Pingback: Morsels For The Mind – 16/10/2015 › Six Incredible Things Before Breakfast

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