A Walk on the Ptui: Bugs and Weeds

The trees are getting desperate, hanging onto their leaves as long as they can. It's becoming harder and harder not to face the fact that Fall is here. So I thought we all could use some help in maintaining the delusion that October is just a particularly colourful part of summer. What better way than to wander through a semi-wilderness on a warm summer day?). Off to the Ptui (a.k.a. Leslie Street Spit) we go.

You may remember my first trip to the in May. The landscape was beautiful and since the park is a migration stop, we saw an incredible variety of birds. In the late summer, The Boy and I decided to go back to see if we could expand our list of Birds We Have Seen. Okay, I'm the only one maintaining such a list, but I'm doing it for both of us. Really!

At the end of summer, the Ptui was an overgrown wilderness with a path. We weren't the only ones on it — an awful lot of people had decided that it was a perfect time for a bike ride (click on the photos to see larger versions).



Every single plant was on steroids. At times, it was like walking through a low jungle. The place wasn't just a feast for the eyes, but also for the ears. It was a windy day and whenever we got close to the shore, we could hear the waves, which made me very happy.



Throughout it all, the song of the grasshoppers provided that distinctive and-of-summer soundtrack. That also made me very happy. We met a number of the singers and I started a new list: Grasshoppers I Have Seen (did you know there are 18,000 kinds of them worldwide? It's going to be a long list...).



As beautiful as it was, the intense state of the vegetation meant that we didn't see very many birds. The growth made it simply impossible to much of anything. We saw only three. One was a bird of prey, although it was soaring too high above to see what kind. I like to pretend it was the young bald eagle that has been spotted on the Spit, although its size spoke more towards a falcon or hawk. The second was a large white bird with long legs, most likely an egret. The third was a swan, but even there I got lucky. I've never seen a trumpeter swan before and that day, there were three. They mostly had their heads under water, eating weeds, but I caught one upright



With those three exceptions, the theme of the day was bugs and weeds. And a lot of both of them. They were everywhere and the bugs especially were in different stages of life. By which I mean caterpillars. Lots and lots of caterpillars.

 

One even showed up as an unexpected visitor on one of the few leaves that had started turning. I didn’t see the caterpillar until I uploaded the photos when we came home.



The dominant variety of the flora was ragweed. Tons of it. Everywhere. There were fields of ragweed. When we arrived at the location of the cormorant colony, the path was lined with it.

 
 Photo by David

Did I mention I'm allergic to ragweed?




Alas, all the cormorants had left, either for the day to hunt or perhaps they’d already started their migration. By this point, we had to turn around to go back so we wouldn’t miss our ride. We’ll leave the lighthouse at the end for next year.

Going back, we walked through the marshy area in the hopes of seeing some birds. On the way, we realized that this was a good fishing area when we saw the egrets had some competition




The theme of the day prevailed. We saw no birds, but more weeds


And more bugs. This included several more varieties of grasshoppers, camouflaged as befitted their habitat. One even landed on me. Those suckers are heavy.



Over the years, I’ve had ambitions to catch various insects with my camera. I’m happy with my bee shots, unexpectedly found a treasure trove of grasshoppers, but butterflies have been notoriously hard to capture, especially Monarchs. They move really fast and there are fewer and fewer of them every year. That day on the Ptui, I got one. Well, a good shot of the side of one hanging on for dear life in the strong wind.


It had been a lovely day and on the way to the exit, it got even better as we walked next to the lake. I was captivated by looking at the water, a beautiful two-tone of half Caribbean green and half Mediterranean blue.

 
Bliss.
  


Comments

AlisonH said…
You want to hear something funny? As I was scrolling down, enjoying immensely, there was this sudden startled doubletake till the scrolling got just a bit further on.

That last grasshopper? If you only see the upper part of the photo, it's the jaws of an alligator.

In its dreams!