Friday, August 16, 2013

Ebony Jewelwing - Calopteryx Maculata - Demoiselle

When we were climbing Mont Cayamant I saw a number of odonata I don't usually see at the lake where I am generally, which is interesting considering that they're within a bare 15km of each other. In any case, I spotted a female ebony jewelwing damselfly, Calopteryx maculata. She was fortunately not very shy at all and it was easy to photograph her quite extensively.

Female C. maculata
 This is a good shot that shows the creature pretty well, I think. I know it's a female because it has the white stigma (spot on the wing); males of this species don't have the white spot.

C. maculata face
 I like the fierce, toothy appearance of a damselfly face.

C. maculata eating its prey
In this photo you can see that she's eating a bug that she's caught. Cool-looking creature.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Water Smartweed - Persicaria Amphibia - Renouée Amphibie

I'm finding that there are far fewer easy guides to aquatic plants in the region. I was very lucky to stumble on the identification of this plant. I present: water smartweed (fr: renouée amphibie), Persicaria amphibia.

P. amphibia inflorescence

I found this to be quite a lovely flower, with very long ovoid leaves. The flower stalk rose out of the water about eight to twelve inches and the pink flower stalks were each growing off a single branch of the plant.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sweat Bee - Augochlorella Aurata - Abeille

Je ne sais pas le nom de cette abeille en français; le nom anglais inclut plusieurs espèces. Je ne peux donc donner que le nom scientifique pour l'identifier. Ceci est Augochlorella aurata, une abeille semi-sociale. Elle qualifie comme une abeille solitaire; chaque reine fait tout le travail de son nid et n'a pas d'abeilles travailleurs. Elle est semi-sociale parce que les reines de l'espèce A. aurata s'assemblent parfois en groupes de nids où elles partagent le travail de la construction du nid, mais toutes les individus sont des reines et la collecte du pollène et du nectar est faite par chaque reine. Il n'y a pas d'évidence de communication entres adultes de l'espèce A. aurata.

A. aurata
This is one of the number of species referred to commonly as a sweat bee, apparently due to their attraction to the salt in human sweat. I hunkered down in the grass and photographed a number of bees visiting a particular stalk of goldenrod. I managed to capture a number of bees, including the particularly striking Augochlorella aurata. I also saw but was unable to photograph an Augochlora pura individual. I've always been reasonably observant but this was the first time I realized that there are not one, but two varieties of green bee in the area. I counted 15 different species of bee and wasp in 15 minutes of sitting by the goldenrod, which represents a truly stunning biodiversity. I was only able to get clear photographs of three of the 15 varieties (1/5), but I suppose I'll just have to go out again!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yarrow - Achillea Millefolium - Herbe à Dinde

A. millefolium inflorescence
Cette plante est très commune dans la région. Elle est facile à identifier et préparée comme thé était utilisée part les aborigineaux pour réduire la fièvre et pour aider à dormir. Je met cette plante dans mes tisanes, mais elle a un goût très fort donc je conseille les gens de l'utiliser de manière restraint. Avant d'y goûter, on devrait s'assurer qu'on n'a pas de réaction négative à cette plante, auquelle il y a parfois des allergies. Je suggère qu'on frotte la plante délicatement sur la peau et attende plusieurs heures; si la peau réagit, ne pas ingester la plante. Il faut toujours faire attention en ingestant des plantes sauvages et je n'encourage à personne de consommer des plantes sauvages sans s'assurer de n'avoir aucune allergie dangereuse et d'avoir aucun doûte de l'identification de la plante.

L'herbe à dinde est utilisée pour traiter de divers conditions et maladies. Un petit dix minutes avec Google montre que le monde crois à toutes sortes de bénéfices à cette herbe. Je vous encourage à évaluer les prétentions avec caution; beaucoups de ces prétentions ne sont aucunement prouvés et il faut exercer son jugement pour évaluer l'évidence. Nous savons que l'herbe à dinde contient de l'acide salicylique, qui peut réduire la fièvre et réduire la douleur. Il faut se souvenir qu'il est très difficile de contrôller la dose d'une substance qui se retrouve dans une plante sauvage et que ceci n'est pas un bon substitut pour des médicaments à dose controllée.

A. millefolium lateral view
Yarrow (also called: arrowroot, bloodwort, nosebleed, soldier's woundwort, & many other names)  is a very common plant in this region. It's easy to identify and as a tea was used by aboriginal people to reduce fever and help with sleep. I put this plant in my herbal teas, but it tastes quite strong so I suggest that people use it only moderately in tea unless you want your tea to taste like nothing else. It can cause allergic reactions so I would suggest that you rub some on your skin and check back in a few hours to see if you have a reaction before ingesting it. Also, the usual disclaimer about not ingesting wild plants if you have dangerous allergies and never to ingest a plant you don't have an absolute positive identification of.

There are a lot of claims all over the internet about the various (semi-miraculous, to hear some tell it) properties of yarrow. I would recommend that these claims be judged on their merits and on the weight of the evidence. We know that yarrow does contain salicylic acid, so the fever reduction and pain relief properties are likely to be true. All other claims need to be similarly evaluated on their merits. It's important to remember that even when we know that a plant contains a compound with known medicinal properties, the wild plant will always be a worse form than the pill because of issues controlling dosage; yarrow tea is not an improvement over acetaminophen, it's a step down because dosage is not known (less effective and less safe;  if you have the pill, don't substitute the herb).

A. millefolium bottom view
I'm taking time at the lake to try to recuperate. I'm working away at a number of things. Saw a deer with two young this morning. I'm snuggling my grumpy old Molly cat, who seems old now in a way she didn't last year. Still, I suppose she had to start acting like an old cat sometime and I guess if she starts in her 20th summer I shouldn't complain. I have a sense of permeating loss, the feeling of summer fading away into autumn... It's a strange feeling to experience combined with the excitement of changing my program and pursuing what I really want out of life.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Water - Eau

I'm reminded of an Arrogant Worms song: Rocks and Trees. 'Cause in Canada, we have rocks and trees and water.

Here are some photos of the water.

Small falls

There are features like this all over the Canadian Shield. It's a common (beautiful) sight. These falls have no name, as waterfalls in around here only earn a name when they're quite big. Otherwise there'd be named falls everywhere. Maps would become impossible.

Bridal Veil Falls
This photo of Bridal Veil Falls was taken in August, when the water flow is close to its lowest. In spite of that there's plenty of flow. This photo only encompasses about half of the falls, as it wasn't possible to climb down to the bottom of the falls safely.

Turbulent creek

Shallow, turbulent water is another common and beautiful sight in this region. There are streams and creeks everywhere. I love the pebbled effect of the water as each small flat portion of the surface reflects a slightly different image from the bottom.

Creek

This is the creek where the turbulent water photo above was taken. It winds its way through the forest. The waterfalls above are both on this water system, as well.

Pink Lake colours

This is a photo of the intense colour of Pink Lake, the nature of which is explained on the web page I've just linked. Below is another photo showing the form of Pink Lake a little better.

Pink Lake

Canada is a beautiful country.

Le Parc de la Gatineau se retrouve sur la frontière du Quebec et de l'Ontario. C'est une région qui demeure sur le boucle Canadien, qui contient beaucoup de systèmes d'eau. C'est ici où j'ai grandi, entouré d'arbres et d'eau. C'est un paysage dangereux et difficile, où la saison d'agriculture est courte et les températures sont extrèmes, mais c'est aussi un paysage incomparablement beau.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Wood Sprite - Fée des Bois

So one of the things I found when wandering Gatineau Park was a stump which was deep, brilliant red. In some places it was the colour of blood and in others the colour of flames. I couldn't resist photographing it, of course.

Red stump
And when I got in close, I saw the shape shown below. It's things like this that make it easy to anthropomorphize plants or to imagine the existence of a sentient form of plant life.

Looks like a face
Of course, the human brain is particularly good at looking for faces (especially eyes) in things, so it's hardly surprising that gnarled patterns of grain in a piece of wood could end up looking like faces to us.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Moss - Mousse

Unfortunately, I can't identify the actual moss in these images (there aren't exactly a lot of field guides to moss identification). I've always found moss rather fascinating. I love the texture and appearance of mosses.

Moss gametophytes

Moss
 The second picture is my desktop background because I just love the texture. It's a fascinating-looking plant.

I've been very busy and stressed for a number of reasons in the last few weeks and I haven't been blogging much as a result. I still have tons of pictures to put up and things to say, I just needed to focus on the various crises that have laid themselves at my door.

The good news is, I've got everything sorted out for my change in program. I'm going into biology with a focus on ecology and agriculture. I have a qualifying year to do before entering a Master's program. I'm very pleased with my decision, in spite of the veritable avalanche of administrative crap I've been buried under getting everything sorted out. I've finally worked through all of it, save a last little bit to do next week which should take nothing more than showing up at my faculty to get registered in a course that's not part of my program.

I've been looking into field courses and I'm very eager to participate in a number. There are more field courses I want than time to take them all, but I suppose I'll just have to figure it all out.

There has been a death in the family and I won't be able to attend the funeral. I've been struggling with that a bit but I simply don't have the time to wallow; I don't have the breathing room to indulge in this, that's why I can't go to the funeral either. There are some extremely urgent matters I need to take care of.

I've finished my lab hours for the summer, so thankfully I should have a bit of a chance to rest now, if only briefly. I intend to take full advantage. I ease the stress with time in the woods; it works well.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Black-Eyed Susan - Rudbeckia hirta - Rudbeckie

The black-eyed susan (this one is: Rudbeckia hirta) is a very common and recognizable flower, which many find very showy and attractive.

R. hirta inflorescence
Black-eyed susans are a very distinctive class of flower, easy to spot and identify.

R. hirtaserotina inflorescence lateral view
The conical shape is quite evident in a lateral view.

Black-eyed susans are a good cut flower.

Today, I'm planning.