The waterways associated with the village of Washago have seen development pressure over the past several decades. However, a relatively large block of natural habitat is still intact in the area bounded by Riverdale Drive, between the Green River and Cooper’s Falls Road. This area includes a diversity of ecological communities typical of the southern Shield, as well as habitat for several species at risk.
At its south end, the Sanctuary takes in a small piece of the Carden Alvar, and the steep limestone slope created by the rough caress of the glaciers. At the foot of this slope, the Head River meanders across the reserve, its spring floods nourishing a rich floodplain forest. Beyond that is a band of mixed forest of oak, pine and birch on pockets of drier soils. But the northern half of the Sanctuary, north of Monck Road, is classic granite barrens with scattered trees and a mosaic of beaver ponds and wetlands. All on this one property, the ecological transition known as The Land Between is fully on display.
Seven American States have claimed the Northern Cardinal as, State Bird! Many sports teams have been named after it, producing some creative logos; images of cardinals appear on just about anything that can be sold! The bird is a marketer’s dream!
Named after the scarlet vestments worn by Cardinals in the Roman Catholic Church, we live in the Northern Cardinal’s northerly range. Few of these beauties are found much north of here. I remember even in the Toronto area when they were very scarce, as they are primarily a Southern bird. Today, Cardinals are fairly common birds in Southern and South Central Ontario.
Every piece of land has a story. Sometimes it’s a tale of fortunes made and lost or historic efforts great and small.
For green spaces, sometimes it’s a story of overuse and recovery but often it is a celebration of dedicated individuals who cherish the natural values of the land. This is one of those stories.
The red-shouldered hawk was once common in southern Ontario, but suffered a decline several decades ago. Through conservation efforts this magnificent raptor has made a strong comeback.
Its recovery owes much thanks to famed author Margaret Atwood, who donated 87 acres of wetland and woodland near Bass Lake in Oro-Medonte Township to the Nature Conservancy of Canada.