Despite the cooler temperatures and more frequent rain, there’s still a lot of insect activity in the garden on late-blooming asters and goldenrods. Also, some new birds have been visiting the stream.
Facebook memory: Rose-breasted Grosbeak eating Jewelweed seeds (September 17, 2020)
A couple of years ago I planted Jewelweed, an annual native that is rarely available to buy, even at native plant nurseries. In mid- to late-summer, its bright orange, nectar-rich flowers attract hummingbirds. Sadly, I didn’t manage to get any photos of hummingbirds this year.
Much to my surprise, I did get photos of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak visiting my plants in the backyard. I had no idea what it was doing — eating flowers, insects? I learned that Grosbeaks eat Jewelweed seeds. In a few of my pictures, you can see seeds in its mouth.
I remember popping Jewelweed seeds when I was a kid. When the seed pods are ripe, a gentle nudge causes them to explode, curl up, and jettison seeds up to 2 meters away. I wonder if Jewelweed seeds are as fun for this bird to eat as Pop Rocks are for us.
Eastern Comma butterfly (September 24, 2022)
I don’t think I’ve ever seen an Eastern Comma butterfly in our garden before. It is named for the small white ‘C’ shape on the outside of its wings. I believe this is a ‘winter form’ — the second generation of the summer that overwinters as an adult butterfly. It will soon seek a hiding spot under leaves or bark for the winter months.
This Comma is sitting on its host plant, Stinging Nettle. Each time I get stung by this plant, I resolve to dig it all out. Now, I guess I will put up with it. It’s interesting that the butterfly is sitting on Stinging Nettle, even though it wouldn’t be laying eggs on it until the spring. Perhaps it intentionally overwinters near its host plant to prepare for next spring.
Commas are odd butterflies because instead of visiting flowers for nectar, they feed on rotting fruit, dung, and tree sap. I can’t imagine what this butterfly is eating in our yard.
White-throated Sparrow (September 25, 2022)
While many migrating songbirds have already passed through Eastern Ontario on their way south, another wave of birds has arrived. Now in our backyard we have a little flock of White-throated Sparrows, as well as a few thrushes, and a Yellow-rumped Warbler.
The White-throated Sparrows are bigger and rounder than the sparrows that frequent our in the summer. The white patch on their necks, as well as the white/yellow and black stripes also distinguish them from the other sparrows. The last photo is an immature bird that lacks most of the distinctive markings, but does have the right shape and a faint neck patch.
These new sparrows are delightful guests. They have a pretty little song, and boldly hop all over the yard looking for seeds. They’re also big bathers, using both the stream and the ground-level birdbath.
Bumblebees on Heart-leaved Asters (September 17, 2022)
In late September, Heart-leaved Asters add clouds of small, pale blueish-purple flowers in shadier parts of the garden. I let these self-seed anywhere they like because the bumblebees and I enjoy their delicate flowers so much.
I often see Heart-leaved Asters on woodland trails. I’ve also been inspired to add more to my garden after seeing photos of Le Jardin Plume (France) in the fall.
Yellow-rumped Warbler visits the stream (September 25, 2022)
I thought all the warblers had headed south already, but I spotted this Yellow-rumped Warbler at the stream a few days ago. I didn’t get any clear photos of the yellow patch above its tail, but I did see it while the bird was bathing.
Looking through old photos, I saw a Yellow-rumped warbler at the stream on almost the same date last year. I guess they’re just later migrants.
Bees at New England Asters (September 17, 2022)
The New England Asters were at their peak in mid-September. Now they’re waning and the Smooth and Aromatic Asters are starting to bloom. New England Aster flowers vary in colour. Some are darker purple, while others are pinkish or almost white. The bees enjoy them all.
While I only saw bumblebees visiting Heart-leaved Asters, I noticed a wider variety of bees at the New England Asters. I guess it is too late for bees to be gathering pollen because I only saw them drinking nectar.
Curious Chickadee finds a snack (September 25, 2022)
While the early bird gets the worm, the curious Chickadee gets the spider. I really can’t tell what kind of insect this little Chickadee found, but it must have been tasty because it spent quite a while poking around under our bistro table looking for more.
Chippy gathering crabapples (September 25, 2022)
The resident Chipmunks are very busy gathering crabapples to store for the winter. I wonder how many crabapples they can stuff into their cheeks at once.
Still hangin’ around (September 29, 2022)
I was surprised to see this Red-eyed Vireo still hanging around the backyard. I added 5 more Red Osier Dogwoods to the yard this spring, so it may be eating the berries to fatten up for migration.
Facebook memory: Zigzag Goldenrod (September 28, 2020)
2022: Every year I take dozens of photos of pollinators on my Zigzag Goldenrod plants. It is still my favourite goldenrod because it blooms so late, is fragrant, and attracts such a variety of insects. Right now, a few of my Stiff Goldenrod plants that are in some shade, as well as Solidago Rugosa ‘Fireworks’ (aka Rough Goldenrod) are also blooming.
2020: My favourite goldenrod is Zigzag Goldenrod. It grows in dry shade to part-shade, and is covered in tiny yellow, fragrant stars that pollinators adore. Here are a few different insects that I found on my plants yesterday.
Facebook memory: a variety of wasps at the Zigzag Goldenrod (September 28, 2020)
There were so many different wasps at the Zigzag Goldenrod that they needed their own post.
Eastern Phoebe (September 25, 2022)
This Eastern Phoebe sat in the hedgerow looking for insects. I later watched it near the meadow swooping down to catch insects in flight.
Mourning Dove: Blue eye liner and pink feet (September 24, 2022)
At first glance, Mourning Doves aren’t the most interesting-looking birds. A closer look though proves that they’re actually quite pretty. Their buff coloured feathers show off their baby blue eye rings and bright pink feet. I never noticed these details before.
We don’t have Mourning Doves in the yard very often, even though they nest elsewhere in the neighbourhood. This particular bird has been here for a few weeks pecking around the ground for seeds and visiting the stream for drinks. I’ve never seen it bathe.
The last few photos show it nestling into the warm rocks behind the stream to rest and sun itself. It’s a funny bird with lots of personality.