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July 7, 2012

A couple of months ago I had a conversation with an acquaintance about my interest in birds and my career as an avian field biologist.  He expressed wonderment that I could be so focussed on one thing.

But as I tried to explain, I’m not only interested in birds.  Yes, I take jobs studying them.  I use the chance to volunteer with them as an excuse for travelling.  I go birding as a hobby.  I photograph them.  And I even decorate my house with them.  It is true, birds are my special favourite,  but I am also quite fascinated by nature as a whole.

I am very much enjoying working in the boreal forest this summer.  It was hard leaving Vancouver Island, where spring was well on its way, and arriving up north where the trees were still without leaves and the plants were just starting to grow again.  But things greened up nicely and it has been a real pleasure rediscovering old familiar plants  as well as finding new species as they come into flower.

Western Wood Lily, Lillium philadelphicum var. andinum

I haven’t seen them since 2008 when I went to visit my gramma in Manitoba; I was pleasantly surprised to see how common they are along some of the roads around here.

Another nice surprise has been the orchids.

Northern Green Bog-Orchid, Platanthera hyperborea  (formerly Habenaria hyperborea)

I’ve found these at several of our banding sites, and taking a walk in the campground I discovered that one could almost consider them abundant along some stretches of the road.

Round-Leaved Bog-orchid, Platantherea orbiculata  (formerly Habenaria orbiculata)

I have only seen one of these so far, by one of our net lanes.

Roundleaf Orchid, Amerorchis rotundifolia (formerly Round-leaved Orchid, Orchis rotundifolia)

This was the first species of orchid I found up here, just as it was being stepped on by a visiting biologist!  I didn’t get a photograph of that one so when we returned to that site today I kept my eyes peeled as we passed through the area where it had been.  Sure enough, we found this one and one in poorer shape (perhaps just older, or perhaps it was the stepped on one.)  If I were in charge of naming it, it wouldn’t have been after the leaves– Freckle-flowered Orchid would be better, I think. 😉 (Speaking of names, it is ridiculously confusing how many common and scientific names each plant seems to have! Also, if anyone disagrees with my i.d.s, please, let me know.)

Just as we were picking up our gear to continue hiking out, somehow I spied a tiny plant a few metres from the orchids, and recognized it as a sundew from my trusty plant guide.  Earlier this year Gabrielle had shared some of her hopes for the summer, which included seeing a moose (we saw one in the ditch around 3 a.m. yesterday morning on our way to our farthest site) and seeing a carnivorous plant.  Well, here was the answer to that second desire!

Round-leaved Sundew, Drosera rotundifolia 

There were quite a few of them in a small area.   I had never seen them before either and as geeky as it might sound, I was quite excited.  If you want to learn more about them, see the Wikipedia article.

Any butterfly buffs who can i.d. that butterfly on the lily for me?  The internet has failed me so far.

What parts of nature  fascinate you?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennie Frances permalink
    July 7, 2012 9:06 pm

    Very interesting Jillian. I have never seen the spotted one, Round-leafed orchid before. I could tell you that you have seen the sundews before but am sure you wouldn’t remember them. They were in the ditch on the way to Beatty Lake. That was the first place I saw them.

  2. July 8, 2012 4:35 pm

    I love orchids and I have never seen these kinds before. Very cool.

  3. Julian permalink
    July 8, 2012 10:09 pm

    Hi Jillian,
    We’re thinking the butterfly is a tawny crescent (Phycoides batesii).
    Just getting into butterflies more now that the BC Butterfly Atlas is underway!
    Caught my first one today; a margined white!
    The lilly is beautiful. Chris remembers them from Saskatchewan.

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