What Is That … Young Beastie?

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Waddells

We talked about various courting couples in our June 18, 2017 article.

We are happy to provide further examples in this article of some of the cute young beasties we are observing around White Lake that attest to the success of these courting behaviours.

We start with one of our favourite insects at this time of year, the insect-devouring dragonfly (Odonata).  Early on June 21st we observed many teneral dragonflies.  Tenerals are freshly-emerged adult dragonflies.  When tenerals emerge from the dragonfly nymph stage, they are minimally pigmented with soft, shiny wings.  The tenerals we saw recently were all the same species.  They were resting together, glistening in the dawn sunlight on cedar branches hanging low over the water.  You can see in this picture the nearby nymph cases from which two tenerals have just emerged.  Also in this picture the tenerals’ wings are still slightly folded or crinkled as they are still pumping body fluids into their wings to make them flight-ready.  We have observed this mass metamorphosis only once in the past ten years.

Turning to the avian world, every summer at the cottage we see families of Canada geese (Branta canadensis).  A pair of Canada geese will lay anywhere from four to eight eggs in ground nests which they build next to the water.  This year has been no exception, although we have observed fewer chicks swimming with their parents than in previous years.  This year we have regularly seen two small families near our cottage, each initially with five chicks.  Predation and other factors have taken their toll.  We noted in our last article one of these families is down to three chicks and as you can see in this photo there remain only four chicks in the other family.

Another family of birds we enjoy watching at the cottage is the common loon (Gavia immer).  During the last three years we were entertained by loons raising their families at our end of Three Mile Bay.  Unfortunately this year, we do not have a resident breeding couple.  Typically, breeding loons will lay two eggs in a floating island nest built of aquatic plants.  This picture we took in June 2016 just in front of our cottage …  so cute.  We followed their development over the summer and were pleased that both chicks survived to fly south in October.

Moving on to furry mammals, first is the red fox (Vulpes vulpes).  An adult female can have one to ten kits in a litter.  In our previous article we pictured a single kit but you can see in this picture four kits playing together in the middle of the road.  While most parents would agree that this is not a good playground for youngsters, fox kits have a keen sense of hearing, as well as smell and sight, which gives them early warning when a vehicle is approaching.

Finally we turn to the whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus).  Typically a doe will give birth to one or two fawns.  In the past, we were privileged to have a remarkable doe who regularly visited our cottage with her triplets.  In 2014 she had three fawns and three again in 2015.  We were told by a neighbour that hunters shot her in the fall of 2015 … so sad. This year, towards the end of June, we saw our first single fawn with its mother and recently we saw twin fawns. We look forward to seeing more fawns, perhaps triplets, as July unfolds.

These five species are just some of the more visible, easy to observe young beasties we enjoy watching at the cottage.  Every year we are amazed and delighted to watch the many types of young beasties that appear and grow up during our summer at the cottage.

We relied on three sources for preparing this article, Dennis Paulson’s Princeton Field Guides – Dragonflies and Damselflies of the East, Jeffrey C. Domm’s Lormier Field Guide to 225 Ontario Birds and Tamara Eder’s Mammals of Ontario.