Notes from the Field Spring/Summer 2014

In Properties, Uncategorized by couchiching

Last Friday eight volunteers came together for the first time to form the Carden Water Quality Team. Our partners in this project, Lakehead University Orillia, hosted a training session on collecting water samples. This is a new initiative for the Conservancy that will involve us testing out how effective our stewardship projects in Carden have been at improving water quality in the Talbot River sub-watershed. The level of skill in this group of volunteers is amazing: from Hydrogeologists to former Biology teachers, current Environmental Science students, and those with a passion to learn. Photo courtesy of Lakehead University.

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October 30, 2014

New bridge at Church WoodsBruce Duncan and Kevin Binsted installed the bridge they had made into the Church Woods trail system. It looks fantastic! These guys also installed small footbridges at another muddy spot in the trail.

 

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October 21, 2014

Wolf Run Alvar Stewardship WalkJulia, Ginny, Tom and Garry ventured out on Wolf Run Alvar on Thursday morning for a Stewardship Walk. It was a rather wet and cold day, but they endured and hiked around the property for a few hours. Some highlights of the walk include hearing water flowing through the grykes and finding fossils.

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September 25, 2014

Unveiling the Margo Holt Nature Reserve sign Over 50 friends, family and supporters joined The Nature Conservancy of Canada for the Margo Holt Nature Reserve sign dedication. Kristyn Ferguson of NCC spoke of Margo and her love of alvars. Margo’s family, pictured here, unveiled the sign and spoke fondly of Margo.

The property links to the Carden Provincial Park and McGee Creek runs through one section. It is largely a hay field, and this past year, there were a number of nesting boblinks.

 

 

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September 21, 2014

14_09_21 Yang, Ingrid and Barb Our fight against garlic mustard continues…even in the rain. Volunteers combined forces and spent a few hours at Elliott Woods picking garlic mustard on a cool and rainy Sunday morning. While on the property, we saw a few Polydesmida Centipedes and a Red-Backed Salamander.

Over the years, volunteers and Stewardship Program Manager, Dave Hawke have identified and numbered ‘plots’ of garlic mustard. Each time they visit the property, they go to each plot, assess how much garlic mustard is present and then remove it. This helps to see how much of an impact we have made over the years.

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September 19, 2014

Carden pod pickersStaff and volunteers from Couchiching Conservancy joined forces once again with staff and volunteers from Nature Conservancy of Canada to battle dog-strangling vine on the Carden Plain.

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September 9, 2014

Private Stewardship visitDorthea Hangaard is working with several landowners in the Carden Plain to fence cattle out of streams yet provide alternative water sources. In this picture she is discussing the water quality that is provided via a solar powered pump.

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September 8, 2014

Holt Nature Reserve sign buildingVolunteers Ken Thomson, John Jenkins, Matt Thomson and Bruce Duncan have been working with Dave Hawke to build the sign kiosk for the new Margo Holt Nature Reserve. The dedication ceremony is on Thursday September 25.

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September 4, 2014

CTV News interviews Mark BissetScott Thomas (Ontario Parks), Mark Bisset (Couchiching Conservancy ED), Dave Hawke (Couchiching Conservancy Stewardship Manager) and Lou Probst (neighbor, donor. supporter) met at Cameron Ranch with CTV Barrie to announce the creation of Carden Alvar Provincial Park.   You can watch the CTV news broadcast here

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August 23, 2014

North Bear Stewardship WalkAn eager group met at the North Bear sign on Alvar Rd to go on a stewardship walk of North Bear Alvar. During the walk, they saw many new species such as Douglas’ Knotweed. This plant is ranked S4, where the ‘S’ stands for ‘sub-national’ which, in North Bear’s case, would be Ontario. The numbers run from 1 to 5 with 1 being the rarest and 5 being the most common. Most alvar plants have a ranking of S4. That’s because although common on the alvar, they are not common in other parts of Ontario.

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August 17, 2014

Dog Strangling Vine Clean UpVolunteers from the Couchiching Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy of Canada joined forces on the Carden Plain to pick unripe pods from dog-strangling vines. 16 large bags were filled in an attempt to slow the spread of seeds to new areas. Special thanks to Noella Storry, Lynn Russell and Judy Edwards for helping out. Photo by Dave Hawke (which is why he’s not in the pic).

Next pod-picking day is Friday September 19; contact steward@couchconsevancy.ca for more info.

 

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August 9, 2014

Agnew Stewardship WalkOn-going stewardship of thousands of acres of wild land is made possible because of dedicated volunteers and nature lovers. Pictured here is Noella Storry, Lisa Neville, Joan Berndt and Sue Campbell on the Agnew Nature Reserve. Joan and Sue generously arranged a part-donation/part-sale of an 85 acre property to The Couchiching Conservancy in honour of their grandfather, Thomas C. Agnew. The photo was taken by Gayle Carlyle, who is the property team leader for the Agnew property.

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August 8, 2014

Cattle and Coyote on WindmillThe steer carcass on Windmill Ranch continues to attract a variety of scavengers. About 12 turkey vultures are daily visitors, along with a pair of ravens. A coyote finally showed up early this morning, but did not actually feed on the carcass. Dave reports that the air is getting “a little thick” around the site.

 

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August 5, 2014

Hooded Lady TressesThe rare hooded ladies-tresses orchid was in glorious bloom when Tom, Ginny and Dave visited the North Bear Alvar. Yet another reason that precious habitats such as this need protection.

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August 1, 2014

Cattle on WindmillUnfortunately a young steer was recently struck and killed by lightning on Windmill Ranch. Fortunately we have a couple of trail cameras and Dave set them up pointing at the carcass. So far about a dozen turkey vultures, a pair of ravens and a blue jay have visited the site. We will keep you posted as to other visitors to this feast.

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July 30, 2014

14_08_01Tom empties boot on North Bear AlvarTom Wilson, Ginny Moore and Dave Hawke went orchid hunting on North Bear Alvar and had a great outing. Freshly dug areas indicated that black bears were close by, minnows (possibly red-bellied dace) were found in a puddle, strange rock formations were discovered and oodles of hooded ladies-tresses orchids were found in full bloom. And it was wet.

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July 20, 2014

Baby Moose on Cameron RanchOn July 20, we received a phone call about a baby moose. Somehow the moose got separated from its mom and was stuck inside the fencing on Cameron Ranch. Conservancy staff were notified and went in search of the baby, but it was no where to be found. Hopefully it was re-united with its mom. Photo by Lynn Pady.

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July 17, 2014

Barn swallows on nest cupWe were pleased to confirm that barn swallows will make good use of the nest cups we provided – this family of three fledged today on Bluebird Ranch.

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July 11, 2014

14-7-11 D. Hawke - clouded sulphurs and least skipper at Cameron RanchWhile driving along the lane that runs through Cameron Ranch, Dave Hawke found this congregation of clouded sulphurs gathered around a recently squished pile of cow manure. Suddenly a least skipper arrived at the party. And everybody was hopping and bopping at the cow-pie plop.

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July 3, 2014

Bear in CardenThis guy wandered across the road out in Carden (on CKL Road #6, just east of Fitzgerald Road). Dave was able to get a couple pics as he always keeps his camera ready in case such an opportunity comes along.

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July 2, 2014

Coyote den at Elliott WoodsWhile checking for garlic mustard at Elliott Woods, Dave Hawke discovered the coyote den that Dorthea discovered last year but back then Dave couldn’t re-find it and began to doubt Dorthea’s story but now that Dave has ‘discovered’ that the den really does exist he wants to give credit to Dorthea for actually discovering it.

p.s. the hat in the picture was placed there for scale… coyotes usually don’t leave debris on their front doorstep.

 

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June 14, 2014

Photo by Julia Wolst Bellegham

Steve Hynes, our Nature in the Neighbourhood Coordinator,  and Julia Wolst, volunteer,  spotted this lovely Red-winged blackbird nest while leadinga Nature in the Neighborhood Safari at Notre Dame Catholic School last week.

They were exploring the variety of habitats found right outside of their door. The students were excited to spot the eggs in the nest and learn about the ways that the small wetland on their own schoolyard was home to an entire ecosystem. They also learned to observe from a distance and not disturb the habitat.

If you would like Steve to visit your school, contact him at:  stevehynes.nin@gmail.com

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Friday June 6th, Carden

2014_06_06_Cattle at the new well

A private stewardship project with a rancher in Carden has re-introduced cattle to this 95 acre ranch which hasn’t been grazed in over 8 years.    Wildlife Preservation Canada, the Couchiching Conservancy, and the landowner teamed up to fence the property and put in a water system for the cattle.

Shrike are known to nest nearby, and it is hoped that cattle grazing will create the grassland habitat which Shrike prefer,  which will also benefit other threatened and endangered grassland species.  “Working grasslands” such as this have become key to sustaining grassland bird populations throughout North America.

 

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Monday June 2nd, Wolf Run Alvar

Clear-Winged moth on a Hairy Honeysuckle blossom

On a recent visit to Wolf Run Alvar, Mark Bisset, Dave Hawke and Linda Read discovered many alvar wildflowers in full bloom, as well as numerous clear-winged moths.

These unique moths are day-time flyers and may be mistaken to be hummingbirds as they visit flowers for nectar.

Photo of a clear-winged moth on a hairy honeysuckle blossom was taken by Dave.

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Tuesday May 15th, Wolf Run Alvar

2014_05_15_Tom Wilson & Wolf Run Sign (Dave Hawke photo)Despite the threat of heavy rain and clouds of blackflies, Dave Hawke and Tom Wilson  installed the new property sign on Wolf Run Alvar.  Tom  is the property team leader for Wolf Run Alvar.   Now hikers will know that when they get there,  they are indeed there.

Wildflowers were gorgeous. Did we mention there were blackflies?!

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Wednesday May 14th, Helen Butler Nature Reserve

A visit to the Helen Butler Nature Reserve, near Sparrow Lake, provided Dave, Al and Tony with a great springtime outing. Garlic mustard was pulled (year 4!) and an exploratory walk revealed trailing arbutus in bloom, a bounding white-tailed deer, a bog with pitcher plant and bog rosemary, and a couple of BIG piles of black bear scat. Also discovered an amazing wall of dog-toothed lichen, some the size of a dinner plate. Boundary survey bars were also located.

Al and blackflies_251 (2)Al and Tony at lichen wall_268 (2)

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Sunday May 11th, Grant’s Wetland

2014_05_11_White Suckers

While picking garlic mustard and casting threatening looks at the nearby phragmites reed, Tanya, Angela, Dave and Dave also found that the white suckers are spawning in the creek. Being directly connected to Lake Couchiching, these large fish arrive when the water temperature gets to plus 10. Also observed yellow-rumped warblers and mallard ducks.

 

 

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Friday May 9th, Scout Valley

2014_05_09_ Scout Valley Tim, Pat, Barry, Brittany, Bob, Dave (photo by David J. Hawke)

 

Tim, Pat, Barry, Brittany, Bob and Dave spent some quality time at Scout Valley picking garlic mustard around the Regan House.

Other highlights included hearing toads trilling, peepers peeping, a tree frog calling and a few garter snakes scooting. And noooo blackflies or mosquitos yet!

 

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Thursday May 8th, Alexander Hope-Smith Nature Reserve

2014_05_08_Volunteers fixing the bridgeThe Alexander Hope-Smith Property Team  came out for a garlic mustard pull on May 8th. Although  local infestation by this plant is limited, it was important to pick the site clean to control further spread. After picking garlic mustard, many also continued with a trail maintenance work party, adjusting trail markers and repairing a broken bridge.

Highlights of the day included seeing water snakes emerge from their hibernaculum, finding a false morel and seeing the spring wildflowers burst into bloom.

 

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Wednesday May 7th,  Thomas C. Agnew Nature Reserve

Gayle Carlyle and Lisa Neville installing the new sign at TC Agnew

Gayle Carlyle and Lisa Neville installing the new sign at TC Agnew

Gayle and Lisa assisted Dave in installing a new property sign. This one is on the hydro line corridor where ATVs sometimes venture in. They saw an osprey up close as it flew from a perch in a nearby boggy wetland.   Gayle is the T.C. Agnew Property Team Leader, and Lisa Neville is also on this property team.

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Stewardship Program Manager Dave Hawke reports that he is delightfully surprised at the success of the garlic mustard control project. He established several control plots in Church Woods and Elliot Woods to monitor the effect of annual picking. The teams of volunteers who have relentlessly tackled the control of this invasive plant can take pride in knowing that 90% of the patches revealed NO PLANTS this spring! Monitoring will continue as new growth will occur over the summer of 2014 (and they will be pulled in November).

For the first time in 7 years the teams can enjoy a springtime visit to their respective properties without having to pull thousands of garlic mustard plants. Congratulations to all the volunteers who have contributed their time and energy to achieve this milestone event.

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Monday May 5th, East Coulson Swamp Reserve

Anne Ross, team leader for this property in Oro-Medonte Twp, led the monitoring visit. Attending were Jamie Ross, Paul McCreath, Leanore Wianko and Dave Hawke. The highlight of the outing was the discovery of dozens of red-spotted newts breeding in the large pond. A large blue-spotted salamander was also observed. Observations of painted turtles, wood ducks and golden-crowned kinglets added to the enjoyable visit.

Jamie Ross, Paul McCreath & Leanore Wianko are all on the East Coulson Swamp Property Team

Jamie Ross, Paul McCreath & Leanore Wianko are all on the East Coulson Swamp Property Team

Red Spotted Newt were breeding in the large pond on the property

Red Spotted Newt were breeding in the large pond on the property

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Sunday May 4th, Prospect Marsh and Turnbull Easement

Team leader Noella Storry tackles Common Buckthorn

Team leader Noella Storry tackles Common Buckthorn

Team leader Noella Storry led an outing to Prospect Marsh Nature Reserve to take a look at the invasive common buckthorn. Several shrubs were encountered and many were clipped off. This process had been done about 4 years ago, and at that time RoundUp had been applied to the stumps; not much success in killing the shrub as most of the ones found Sunday were regrowth. Assisting Noella were volunteers Lou and Judy Probst and staff member Dave Hawke.

While monitoring the Turnbull Ranch Easement, Dave Hawke discovered a large infestation of garlic mustard. Particularly disheartening was seeing round-lobed hepatica being “pushed out” by this invasive plant. Plans are afoot to deal with the garlic mustard, but it will be many years before it can be brought under control.