Friday, July 4, 2014

Devine Road Sunset Reflection (oil on canvas 8 x 16 in.)

27 April 2014 found us on Devine Road, 5 kilometres southeast of Carlsbad Springs. along a Beaver-influenced wetland, listening to a lively Spring Peeper chorus north of the road, and enjoying the sunset, reflected vividly in the roadside ditch. An American Bittern was thunder-pumping somewhere off in the Cattails behind the screen of European White Birch. Canada Geese passed overhead, honking, and a Redwinged Blackird announced his territory with a last few calls before dark. A Swamp Sparrow was singing as I decided on just the right composition with the help of my camera. This one would have to be started quickly onsite and finished in the studio.

We'd been out with Laurie McCannell to discuss surveys of the perimeter of this tract of land, where a landfill is proposed, and now we were circling the site, listening for calling frogs and birds. Since the “proponent” of the dump restricts access to the site, all the inventory work must done from perimeter roads. As the candy red sunset deepened, we added  the declining American Bittern to the inventory's list of birds.

Paints packed up when their colours could no longer be seen, and as dusk fell we returned to the van and ate supper to the tunes of Peepers, Wood Frogs, and Toads, and a couple of
Killdeer fretting about being disturbed on a communication tower's gravel pad surrounded by swampy/brushy woods northeast of the survey site. Fred's always interested in the growth forms of Dandelions, and he found that here they were flat dense rosettes where vehicles would have parked, but none in otherwise similar-looking areas where the gravel didn't show signs of being parked on – evidently a microspecies with very particular habitat requirements. The little plants were so dense that he foraged with difficulty for the greens for a sandwich.

After dark we listened around the Boundary Road, Devine Road, Frontier Road block, straining through “loud Highway 417 noise” to hear Woodcock, Snipe, Peepers, Wood & Leopard frogs, and Toads. At 21h09 in the ditches along the Stetson Fliers club field, we added Chorus Frogs to that list. Two springs ago, in North Russell, 4.3 km to the southeast, we obtained the first modern “east of Ottawa” record of this formerly widespread little frog, and now here it was in this eminently suitable habitat, the only expanse of open ground around, the grassy field and water-filled ditches of the model aircraft flying ground.

These Great Lakes-St Lawrence Chorus Frogs have recently been shown to be genetically the same as the Boreal Chorus Frogs of the north and west, and they're in decline throughout their range, in Quebec, Vermont, northern New York,  and Ontario from Cornwall to Renfrew, to Tobermory. Around home, we've found that they do well in years with wet Augusts, so last year must have been good for them here.

In addition to frog and bird calls, another way in which biodiversity data is gathered without trespassing on the proposed dump site is as drifted shells carried by spring rain and meltwater, and earlier in the day Fred and Laurie had gathered floating drift lodged in a fallen Alder/Cattail clump in the flowing brownwater ditch that is Shaw Creek. They saw large tracks and clumps of droppings where Moose had browsed on budding Balsam Poplar twigs.

Dear supporters and patrons of my art,

This 8 x 16 inch oil painting is available, framed, for $575 from Art Etc at the Art Gallery of Burlington.   
For more information, contact Rhonda Bullock,
Art Sales and Rental Coordinator, (905) 632-7796 #301

Sales of my paintings support our research and conservation work,

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