Category: Field Notes

A Fall Trip to in the Kawartha Highlands

On September 28th my partner and I ventured into the Kawartha Highlands for several days. We intended to spend some time exploring the northern portion of the park. Neither of us had visited this section of the park before and were quite excited to visit. Traveling between Anustruther Lake and Serpentine Lake there is an elevation gain of nearly 50m, more than the height of the Statue of Liberty! Along the second portage there was a beautiful waterfall that ran along the trail.

Some of the coolest sightings along our trip were in a small wetland between Copper Lake and Rathburn Lake. As we crossed the lake on the way back there were several dozen young ducks fluttering in the water and kicking up water, it seemed as though they were learning to fly. We also saw numerous spiders that had cast sails made from silk and were flying across the lake. I’d never noticed this before while I’d been out paddling but it was quite splendid to see! As a final showstopper, on our way out of the lake, a belted kingfisher shot down from the trees to splash into the water right in front of us and emerging moments later with fish in beak! It was a great trip with the fall colours starting to appear throughout the highlands. Fall is truly one of the best times to go camping in Ontario!

Dunes of Point Clark

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I’ve spent the last several days on Point Clark near Kincardine and it’s been quite a treat to explore the dunes and the shoreline! It seems that this area was replanted with red pines to prevent erosion of the sandy slopes. Although surrounded by agriculture, this little forest retreat feels is quite secluded.

The Mayflies are out and mating, they do a fascinating dance along the shoreline moving up and down. When two lock together, presumably to mate, they fly away from the shore together before releasing each other and returning to the shoreline. It seems that one female is willing to mate with several males.

The sandy shores are difficult to walk along this year. Much of the sand is made up of shattered zebra mussel shells and it cuts at the skin. Also the lake is extremely high! In many places the beach has disappeared entirely below the water level.

This morning as Aimee and I went for a walk, all of the “dancing” mayflies had passed in the night and littered the beach and nearshore areas. Their corpses had piled up from the waves. I was certainly a large amount of biomass that was brought up from the lake and deposited on the shore.

Two Great Long Weekend Hikes

This long weekend my partner and I had the opportunity to visit 2 beautiful but quite different locations in the Kawarthas. We started by visiting the Millbrook Valley Trails. On our way down we came across 3 turtles near the Peterborough Airport. The flooded lands surrounding the roadway must be making perfect habitat for them! During our afternoon picnic we were greeted by twittering chimney swifts, turkey vultures, and orioles near the millpond. Medd’s Mountain was a delightful show of spring wildflowers. Along the trail they were placed out as if they were exhibits at a museum. Bloodroot and Trout Lilly were both particularly showy on this day. On the way out we came across an incredible mass of roots perched above the ghost of a stump, a great indicator of old growth forest.

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Spring Flowers in Walter’s Falls

You may have figured out by now that I love spring wildflowers. (It will actually be the theme of tonight’s quiz at the Peterborough Field Naturalist Meeting) This past weekend I visited Walter’s Falls on the Bruce Trail for the first time. I will say that it was one of the nicer hike’s I’ve been on in Grey County and that is saying a lot! The lovely hiking loop is about 5.5km in length and meanders along the river valley through both mature and young forests. Excellent views of interesting geology and a great little spot to dip your feet in the water at one end of the loop. Not to mention the magnificent falls at the top of the valley. There are several spots to access the trails, but we started at the Inn near the falls. The first segment of the trail was awash with freshly emerged wildflowers including my personal favorite, Bloodroot. Here’s hoping to see many more wildflowers in the weeks to come!

Spring Wildflower Scouting in Jackson Park

This time last year, wildflowers were in full bloom across the Kawarthas. This spring has been rather slow to start the bloom. I wanted to be prepared for the eventual blooms of wildflowers throughout the city, so I started with the closest park. Jackson Park isn’t exactly prime wildflower habitat, I suspect that nearly a century of heavy human use has probably had an impact on their diversity in the area. Nevertheless I was able to find some early signs that Trout Lillies and Marsh Marigolds will be blooming soon in Jackson Park!

The willow is starting to put out buds and the poplars and birches have catkins weighing down their branches. I also noticed that two of the mighty white pines adjacent to the pond are in rough shape, and may in fact be dead… A sad day for sure. Also plenty of signs of woodpeckers in the park. Noticed a beautiful Pilliated Woodpecker high up on a dead tree.

I’m a sucker for little streams and creeks. So beautiful and peaceful.

Salamanders at Ingelton Wells

It was a warm overcast evening at the Ingelton Wells Property with the Peterborough Field Naturalists. The ground was saturated with water throughout the forest and meadow. Had a great deal of success finding blue spotted salamander, red backed salamanders and 2 egg masses from spotted salamanders (One mass being infertile). Located a pair of buried wood frogs that did not survive the winter.

On the other side of the property It was possible to hear a modest chorus of spring peepers, distant coyotes, woodcocks, and what I believe was a great horned owl.

Birds in the City

Nice day today and yesterday. Went for two walks around downtown. Jackson Creek was high, but not full. Turkey vultures and crows around Hopkinsville neighborhood today. About 2 dozen sparrows of different varieties and a cardinal around the feeders in front of the credit union. Mostly sunny with an ocasional dramatic cloud passing by. The last of the snow is disappearing!

Winter Storm at the End of March

Woke up this morning to an incredible winter wonderland. Stepping into the backyard it was as if I was stepping into a large room, the snow had enveloped the space as if it had plastered the trees. Sound traveled in funny ways as if I was in a recording studio.

Foxes and an Impressive Storm

Great storm passed through town today dousing the streets and melting away the last of the snow that remained hiding in shadows. A small fox wandered into the neighbor’s backyard. I suspect that it was searching for a meal from the chickens. Chickadees and starlings abound in the backyard.