(Above: Tawny Emperor at S.C. Johnson Trail, Brantford. Photo: Ian Smith)
The pop-up outing led by Bill Lamond at the S.C. Johnson Trail in Brantford on July 25, 2019 was very informative and enjoyable. Our goal was to observe a variety of butterfly and dragonfly species, and to experience an area that was new to some of us. The trail and surroundings proved to be a great spot to help maintain biodiversity. There were adjacent stormwater ponds, a surrounding woodland, a wide pathway with a meadow-like border, and a very large meadow and wetland. In looking at Google Maps some of the woodland appears to be natural and some appears to be planted. The trail is 14 km long and runs between Brantford and Paris. It is a natural wildlife corridor along the Grand River hosting various sized patches of woodland border and unfortunately some development. What a perfect mix of attributes for observing wildlife. As a relative newcomer to the Hamilton area it is wonderful finding another stone to be turned.
For me there were a few highlights and oddities. There seemed to be very few skippers overall, but the Silver-spotted Skipper did keep showing up here. They are a striking looking skipper. The Powdered Dancer damselfly, although not rare is always a treat to see and better still to get a photograph of, as once settled, they do seem to like to pose. The Widow Skimmer dragonfly is fairly common but with such high numbers that day it was possible they had recently emerged. For me it was a real treat when the Tawny Emperor butterfly showed up. It is one I have only seen a couple of times before. Fortunately I was able to get photographs of them on two different shirts, two different hats, and close by on a couple different leaves and at a few points along the trail. Had I had my cell phone there also would have been a selfie of it on me. It may seem like they are being friendly but in reality they are gathering nutrients (often salt from our bodies), and they are a bit territorial. A real oddity for the day was something that most of us had never heard of. While taking a photo of a female Powdered Dancer, there was something hiding under the leaf, which I didn’t notice and you can barely see in the photo. Jerry Bloom came over to see what had captured my interest. The damselfly flew and then he noticed something, a Mantisfly (Mantispidae). This was definitely something new and unique to most of the group. As hard as I tried, I never did get a good photo of it.
This is just a glimpse into some of the observations of the day. I will definitely return at different times of the year to see what other gems can be located. Next time I will pay more attention to the birds and also try to see what is at the stormwater ponds. Lastly, I would like to thank Bill for this outing and others he has led in the past.
This article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of The Wood Duck.