[NatureNS] comment re Empty Forests-butterfly atlas data

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Has the Butterfly Atlas in the Maritimes or elsewhere in NA been going
on long enough to provide any useful data on population trends for
these species?


On Thu, Aug 15, 2013 at 8:39 PM, David & Alison Webster
<dwebster@glinx.com> wrote:
> Hi Jim & All,                                    Aug 15, 2013
>     With regard to few insects this year I wish to recap several recent
> comments. As Fred, Steve & perhaps others have noted, this year has been
> different in many respects. In our neck of the woods, the Sweet Cherry
> seedling (now about 35' tall) usually is loaded with cherries but this year
> was almost entirely bare in spite of snow-ball bloom. Our seven Black
> Currant bushes had about 1/10 the normal crop. Most berries did not ripen
> before becoming shriveled husks. Those that did ripen had many maggots (some
> busy flies apparently). Chokecherries are a washout; <1/5 normal set.
> Blackberries are small, sour and seedy. And so it goes. It has been a tough
> year to live outdoors and most insects have to make a living outdoors.
>     So in addition to a long-term downward trend, this year has the added
> wrinkle of an exceptional downward drop. Deer Flies are way too abundant for
> my comfort but I encountered few Black Flies this year.
> Most and perhaps all insects will rebound at least to the downward trend
> line. I saw two small reddish Dragonflies in the NA woods today so they must
> have been geting something; Deer Flies I hope.
>     Biological inventory of most invertebrates in NS is about where birds
> were 200 (500 ?) years ago. As Dave M observed recently, we don't even have
> a species list of Spider Wasps for NS and many of these are.large,
> conspicuous and common. Most tiny, cryptic and rare creatures will have to
> wait even longer before they are recognized.
>     So there is a great opportunity now, given the expanding resources on
> the internet, for anyone who is interested in the natural world to
> contribute to this task, provided they have spare time, are not allergic to
> effort and are prepared to keep accurate records.
>     To make a few comments of a personal nature, I noticed in the 50's that
> humans and the rest of the natural world were on a collision course here and
> feared the consequences. At the first opportunity, after some preparation,
> I started collecting beetles (Apr 3, 1960). Over the next 35 years
> collecting opportunity was variously interrupted by things like going to
> graduate school and earning a living. With meager printed resources I
> frequently could key only to Genus, sometimes only to Family, and usually
> had no way to verify that I was on the right track.
>     This all changed for the better when Christopher Majka, Inspired I
> expect by Andrew's enthusiasm, undertook an examination of all available
> Atlantic Provinces beetle material, including private collections such as
> mine. The numbers and diversity of beetles that he processed for this
> project is staggering, led to a quantum advance in our knowledge of beetles
> of the region and a large number of publications. Dave McCorquodale
> co-authored several of these as did many specialists from around the world.
> And so far as I know there are still more to be written.
>     In spite of this huge acomplishment, the slate in much of the Atlantic
> Provinces is still relatively clean. As a very rough guess, with respect to
> beetles, we are about where Sweden was in the late 1800s.
>     My starter book was Coleoptera or Beetles east of the Great Plains,
> J.G.Edwards, 1949; a key to Famlies with comments about common Genera.
> Available free to anyone who can arrange pickup.
>     I very seldom collect vascular plants these days, the penultimate being
> 9 years ago but I recently noticed a different looking Carex in the North
> Alton woodlot so keyed it out and then collected it. The Carex key, after 6
> decades of forgetting, is very unfamiliar territiory and I may have taken a
> wrong turn but it appears to be C. swanii, a 4th collection in NS. Ruth
> Newell has it now and if I turn out to be incorrect then I will learn what
> it is.
>     Authoritative identification of difficult groups will always be in the
> hands of specialists but the non-specialist can contribute by sweeping with
> a wide net near home base.
> Yours truly, Dave Webster
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: James W. Wolford
> To: NatureNS
> Sent: Monday, August 12, 2013 5:06 PM
> Subject: [NatureNS] comment re Empty Forests
> Here is a relevant note I wrote myself on Aug. 7:
> AUG. 7, 2013 - I walked along the Wolfville Rail Trail this afternoon, as I
> often do, and noted just a few butterflies (mostly whites) flitting among
> the huge array of plants in flower, especially Queen Anne's lace, common
> tansy, knapweed, etc.,  from Wolfville Harbour but especially from Elm
> Street out to the Acadia Arena.  BUT what really struck me was how very few
> other insects I am noticing  on the flowers as I walk.  Thinking back a
> couple of decades (or more?), I used to see a wide variety of insects and
> spiders on the flowers, and now I am seeing few to none, plus the few
> butterflies.  Has anyone noticed the same thing?  And does anyone know of a
> database somewhere out there in our world of information that has decades of
> data like we have for breeding birds?
> Begin forwarded message:
> From: Blake Maybank <bmaybank@gmail.com>
> Date: August 12, 2013 2:52:49 PM ADT
> To: naturens@chebucto.ns.ca
> Subject: [NatureNS] Empty Forests
> Reply-To: naturens@chebucto.ns.ca
> 11 August 2013
> I was part of a group that hiked a trail near Moses Mountain in the
> beautiful Avon Valley in Western Hants County yesterday.  Despite walking
> more than 12 km through beautiful deciduous and mixed wood forests, we
> encountered very few birds. While I suspect that most of the migrant
> breeding birds had departed, why were we unable to detect a single
> chickadee, nuthatch, or Blue Jay? We heard a couple of vireos and a pewee,
> and one flicker.  The one highlight was a soaring Turkey Vulture, a new
> species for my Hants County list.
> Plenty of Goldenrod, knapweed, and other often flowers lined the trail along
> most of our hike, but we did not encounter a single butterfly. And there
> were very few bees in evidence as well, which was also discouraging.
> On such a beautiful day it is hard to account for the paucity of birds and
> butterflies and other wildlife.
> --
> Blake Maybank
> 144 Bayview Drive,
> White's Lake, Nova Scotia
> (902) 852-2077
> My Blog:  CSI: Life
> Organiser, Maritimes Nature Travel Club
> Author, "Birding Sites of Nova Scotia