August 23 finds me in a 50 metre long, tear-drop-shaped bog on the plateau between McKinley Creek and Oliver Gulch in the Caledonia Gorge Protected Natural Area. It's a warm, sunny day so I'm in the shade of the forest on the south side, looking out to three snaggly tall spruces in the centre. These trees may be 200 years old or more, though they're only a foot in diameter. They are attended by young Spruces, one of which is being gestured to by the long arm of a tall gaunt one. Most of the Bio-blitz participants have come here today, because when Aaron was out with the mammal collectors a few days ago he glimpsed an ant of a species not previously known from the PNA, and everyone is out to help look for it. They all disappeared to the west as I was setting up to paint, and left me alone in the bog.
I am standing at my easel. A Red Squirrel churrs in the forest behind me, and a blue Dragonfly courses past in the sunshine, darting around the low, Moose-browsed Spruce branches and out of sight. A Nuthatch "Ank"s persistently in the distance. The breeze rises, soughing in thetreetops, and down here, flies buzz about the Leatherleaf and Myrica Gale. There are a few blackflies but no mosquitoes. At my feet the pale yellow-green Sphagnum is soft and damp - no standing water in this bog now as the summer has been dry. Royal Ferns with stiff yellow stems are yellow-green fronded in the open, and richer green in the shade.
At 15:00 the returned Bio-blitz explorers gather round, sitting in the woods and talking as I put the finishing touches on my painting - very pleasant change from the quiet solitude in which most of the painting was done. They found the ant, and another species besides, and collected dragonflies, lichens, and moose bones as well. I am happy to have "caught" a painting!