Early Morning In Marlborough Forest
August 4th, 2017
On the morning of June 21st I went back to Marlborough Forest to spend more
time with the magnificent Showy Ladyslippers. I found them still glistening
with dew and last night's rain. They had been radiant in the sunset, their
colors brought out to the fullest, but this was a different sort of beauty,
fresh and virginal like the Garden of Eden.
I discovered that a cluster of eight, which had been only budding a week
before (I had actually mistaken them for Turtleheads
at first), was now in full bloom.
And there were still more hidden in the woods that I hadn't noticed before!
On my past visit, Northern Waterthrush and Winter Wren sang in those swampy
woods, hidden from view. This time I brought along my IPod to see if I could
call them out with some recorded song. They both sang back fiercely (the
loudest I've ever heard a Winter Wren sing, and that's saying something...)
but were not forthcoming with good views. The wren perched in the shadows
while searching for his (imaginary) rival, too poorly lit to photograph, while
the waterthrush just darted over the trail from one hidden perch to another.
It doesn't take much of this trickery, I find, before you start feeling like a
right %&!*. So I discontinued playback, leaving each one confident that he had
won and routed the intruder.
I had much better luck with another male waterthrush on a different territory.
After only a brief few songs, he responded, first singing two hesitant notes
("uh, hello?") and then, after one more round from me, perching in view and
singing away. Waterthrushes may be drab as warblers go, but they have long
been among my favorite birds and I was delighted to finally get a photo of
And now for something completely different.
It was dragging that ball along through the vegetation. I think it's a wolf
spider with her soon-to-be babies. Female wolf spiders are devoted mothers.
After the spiderlings hatch, they will all crowd onto her back and travel with
her wherever she goes.
I had to wade into a puddle to get some of those Showy photos. This fellow
kept me company.
This small snake was basking on the trail. After some research, I learned that
the markings on its head mean it's a Red-Bellied Snake. (I suspected at the
time, but was unwilling to harass it into showing off its belly.) I'd only
seen this species once before, and then it was in the beak of a kestrel. It is
uncommon and usually rather shy. Like all of Ottawa's native snakes, it is
harmless to humans.