Drought Ferns (oil on canvas 12 x 16 in.) Sold

18 July finds me sitting at the foot of a Sugar Maple near the southwest end of Otty Lake, south of Perth, Ontario. This is the second day of the Otty Lake Bio-blitz. My painting site is right beside the road into a Scout camp, and within sight of the awnings and tables of the Bio-blitz headquarters. A steady straggle of people pass by me, singly and in groups. Participating in a 24 hour, all-taxon survey of the area, they are  dressed in hiking gear and carrying binoculars, insect nets, field guides, and checklists. 

My attention is caught by three drought-stricken fronds of of the evergreen fern Dryopteris marginalis, sprawling from the base of the tree, their leaflets crisply curled in on themselves. Fred points out the Polypodium virginianum ferns perched a little higher on the tree roots. Two fronds of the Polypody are curved downwards at their tips, with pinnae curled upwards.  A
passing botanist refers to them as "Resurrection Fern". Their moisture-stressed postures relax a little during the day as their roots and stems take up the rain that fell yesterday. I can see one small frond peeking out from behind the tree trunk, flat and bright. Polypody ferns are adapted to dry periods, living in shallow soil over rocks. Some of their species live on tree trunks and are used to drying out - but the Dryopteris fern here look like they will not recover. After a month of heat waves with no significant rain, it has succumbed, and we wonder if it will send up new fronds this fall.

Fred spent the day searching along the shore of Otty Lake for molluscs. If we'd been here for both days he would have made my painting site one of his 50 metre radius salamander and snail surveys, but all of the animals he would have turned cover to find are deep down in the soil now or in the cracks in the granite bedrock. The only salamanders that were found by others during the Bio-blitz here were a couple of Red Efts, which have dry skin, our least moisture-dependent salamander.

We won't know how many species were found by all participants from 1:00 yesterday to 1:00 today until all the tally sheets are entered and all photos and samples identified, but the Otty Lake Association and its partner organizations seemed very pleased with the event. A Bio-blitz provides a list of species identified by whoever is competent to do so, at one place, in one season, subject to current weather conditions. One always leaves a Bio-blitz feeling curious about what will be found if and when another one is held at the same place! 


  1. A fuller account of our visit to the bioblitz is on the Naturelist

  2. I like the way it was painted. Not the clear, too real type but a more blurry kind. Looks nicer for me.
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