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Early Morning In Marlborough Forest

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 one.

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.

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August 4th, 2017 at 2:06 pm
The SLS's look very tropical in those shots.

The waterthrush looks fierce!

The wolf spider carrying babies is kind of the stuff of some people's nightmares, isn't it?

August 4th, 2017 at 11:49 pm
He was doubtless feeling fierce, after hearing that presumptuous waterthrush song sung in his territory!

Thanks for the link. A lot of the wolf-spider-momma videos out there show people scaring/killing the mother to get the babies to scatter. I like that this one is more respectful. They handle it just enough so you can see the spiderlings skitter a bit.

August 7th, 2017 at 9:39 pm
Interesting variety on this post. I found the spider info very informative. Great shot!