Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bell Forest Field Trip

Acadian Forest Rich in Rare Plants

Purple Trillium Trillium erectum
Bell Forest Preserve is a 50-hectare conservation site owned by the Meduxnekeag River Authority.  It was purchased through public and private funding and preserves our best known surviving example of Acadian Forest habitat.  It contains many rare plants, some not found anywhere else in the province and some found nowhere else east of Quebec, including Maine.  It was my privilege to visit this site recently.  This posting showcases some of the plants we found.

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis

Dutchman's-breeches Dicentra cucullaria
Bloodroot and Dutchman's-breeches are common in rich soils under hardwoods.  There were also many violets.  Pictured below is the Yellow Violet.  Its leaves and flowers grow from the same stem.

Smooth Yellow Violet Viola pubescens

American Dog Violet Viola conspera

Marsh Blue Violet Viola cucullata
The Marsh Blue Violet is our provincial flower and is also called the Purple Violet.  In the photo above it is spotted with water droplets. 

Wild Ginger Asarum canadense

Wild Ginger Asarum canadense
Wild Ginger is also found in Bell Forest, though only sparsely.  It has a heart-shaped leaf and its brownish-purple flower is on the ground.  It is pollenated by ants.  The root of this plant smells and tastes like ginger.  

Kidney-leaf Buttercup Ranunculus abortivus

Kidney-leaf Buttercup Ranunculus abortivus
This buttercup is fairly common in rich hardwoods where it prefers to grow under hardwood trees.  Its flower is inconspicuous.

There are many uncommon species of ferns growing in Bell Forest.  Christmas Fern is not rare but one of our interesting evergreen ferns.  In the photo below you can see the over-wintered fronds with new growth 'fiddleheads'.
Christmas Fern Polystichum acrostichoides
 Silvery Glade Fern is listed as 'locally common' in some rich sites.  However, it is not a fern we see very often.  It is just newly growing in the photo below.  In the adult plant the sori (fruiting bodies) are silver coloured and herringbone shaped.  They give the plant its silvery colour.

Silvery Glade Fern Deparia acrostichoides
Rich hardwood sites are a wonderful, diverse study area.  Their rich limestone soils provide nutrients for unique flora.  They are special sites which need to be treasured and preserved.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Birds and Blooms

Field Trip Finds

A friend and I spent most of May 14 in the Fredericton area and in Maugerville and Sheffield looking for nature's spring abundance.  Pictured above is a welcome spring bird, the Killdeer.  It is a bird that says its own name and is a very welcome sound in spring.  It likes gravelly areas and is often seen close to roadsides.  It nests on gravelly areas and this bird was doing its broken-wing display to try to distract us from the area, probably indicating its nest was nearby.

Eastern Kingbird
This Eastern Kingbird was perched on a barren branch.  It was intent on catching an insect and paid us little attention.  Note the white band on the tip of its tail.

Greater Yellowlegs
There were about 20 yellowlegs in the roadside ponds, both Greater and Lesser.  This Greater Yellowlegs was sporting its dark breeding plumage.  It will soon move northwest to its breeding range.

Bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis
In the rich hardwood areas around Fredericton we found some interesting plants.  The Bloodroot pictured above is reasonably common.  The specimen pictured above is shown in the morning before it had fully opened to the sun.  

Round-lobed Hepatica Anemone americana

Round-lobed Hepatica

Round-lobed Hepatica
The Round-lobed Hepatica (also called Round-leaved Hepatica) is very rare in the province and is found in dry hardwood stands often on slopes.  It has been found in the lower St. John River valley, in one site along the Bay of Chaleur and in one area alone the St. Croix River.  We were lucky to find both white and blue specimens in full bloom.  The leaf is 3-lobed like the anatomy of a liver, hence the name.  The leaf is a dark greenish purple colour.

Baltimore Oriole
When I got home, this beautiful male Baltiore Oriole was enjoying the oranges I had put out for it.
Spring is an exciting time!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Rare Bird in Grand Manan

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron Spotted in Grand Manan

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron

A Yellow-crowned Night-Heron was found in Grand Manan on April 26 in Woodward's Cove.   It was resighted twice, once on May 4 and once on May 6 in the same general area.  We were visiting the area and were lucky to see it on May 4.  

The bird is an adult and was feeding in a very wet ditch on the roadside, under the cover of heavy bushes.  Although in a difficult position for photos, it did allow us to walk within 30 metres of it without flushing.  

The Yellow-crowned Night-Heron is a rare bird in New Brunswick.  Birds of New Brunswick: An Annotated List lists it as a very rare summer visitor; casual in spring.  There was only one record prior to 1970 and there has been an average of one per year after that.  Of the approximate 30 records for the province, 20 have been from Grand Manan.

This species normally breeds in the southern US from Texas to Virginia.  It is sometimes found as far north as Massachusetts along the coast.  It is a permanent resident of coastal Florida, Georgia and South Carolina as well as Texas and Louisiana.  It is active during the day or night and feeds on aquatic invertebrates.  It is about 24 inches tall and could be confused only with the Black-crowned Night-Heron which is a common summer resident.  The Black-crowned has a black crown and the Yellow-crowned has a yellowish-white crown and a white cheek patch.  Juveniles are difficult to differentiate from those of the Black-crowned.  (Please refer to a field guide).  

It is hoped that this bird remains on Grand Manan for the summer and that it perhaps finds a mate, although this is unlikely.

Yellow-crowned Night-Heron