Bissett Creek Waterslide

      August 4, 2023 finds me on the bank of Bissett Creek, 16.2 km west of Stonecliffe Ontario, painting the alternate ribbons of white foam and silky dark water of a sloped waterfall.

This is the week of DRAW (Dumoine River Artists for Wilderness) camp. John McDonnell of Canadian Parks & Wilderness Society - Ottawa Valley, writes: 

"Only 18 km separate the Ottawa Valley's two largest protected areas, Algonquin Park in Ontario and the Dumoine River Aquatic Reserve in Quebec. CPAWS-OV is working to fill this 'gap' in protection to ensure that species like moose, bear and wolves can continue to thrive and migrate across this landscape. Almost all this area is publicly owned Crown Land, where there is currently little to no development. CPAWS-OV hopes to see this area protected before development forecloses the opportunity. Bissett and Grant Creeks, on the south side of the Ottawa River, embrace an area rich in forests and wetlands, and offer a direct connection to the massive Dumoine watershed north of the Ottawa River. The wild land between these two creeks helps to connect the forests of Algonquin Park and the Ottawa Valley to the vast boreal forest of the north." 

The afternoon is pleasant, the sun shining from a hazy blue sky, and a nice breeze. Driving in along Waterloo Lake Road we were impressed by large Red Pines with 30 cm wide trunks that had been planted along the road perhaps fifty years ago. We parked trail near a bridge over Bissett Creek where a trail took us steeply down through the woods to the north side of the creek. I set up to paint, sitting on a fallen tree trunk while Fred went downstream to search for mussel shells among a tangle of branches at a bend in the creek. 

A perfect day for the Pine Sawyer Beetles to fly around looking for mates! I heard a whirr and looked up from my painting to see a Pine Sawyer Beetle land on the wild grape vine above my head. It perched vertically, head down on the underside of a leaf which drooped with its weight. A few minutes later I captured a nice photo of another, in the process of taking off from the end of a bare, Beaver cut branch beside Fred as he leaned against the bank, and we both watched its origami-ended  wings unfold for flight! Several minutes later a Sawyer Beetle flew up with drooping body, Hummingbird-like, to land on a Spruce branch above where Fred was sitting against the bank. 

I missed that shot, but spent some time taking pictures of one that had landed on the horizontal Pine trunk right in
front of me. 
There is a lot of variation in their appearance - from nearly black to hoary and  lichen-patterned. 

Then an hour later I got a nice video of a pair of Pine Sawyer beetles (Monochamus sp) mating on the underside of my fallen Pine trunk. At first it appeared that they were fighting, but the female quieted as the male licked the back of her thorax, and pivoted alongside her, then mounted. The part of the mating I was able to see clearly lasted for a little less than a minute and my video ended with the female moving out of sight, the male following with his forelegs still on her elytra. 

It has been a very exciting day for beetle-watching, but I must try to get more water painted before packing up, as it's a two hour drive home. This one will have to be finished from my photos in the studio. Notice the "nymph" in the upper right quarter of the painting - a crooked vertical line scratched into my underpainting - a pale grey-trunked young Ash tree in the finished painting. Keep checking in... this fall or winter I will paint a portrait of her from one of my reference photos of this scene.

"Bissett Creek Waterslide" has been donated to CPAWS-OV for their fundraiser in late fall of 2023. Information will appear on their FaceBook page with the date and location.  

For more information about this painting and others, or to commission a painting, please contact Aleta at <karstad @> - remember to remove the spaces in the address.



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