Each time we visit a property, a new sighting or experience awaits. Some days the call of a Pileated Woodpecker graces our ears. Other times, we get a rare glimpse of a moose in a wetland. In a lot of cases, it’s the signs that are left behind that help us with identification such as footprints or feathers.
Today I’d like to share with you three places to go in your own search for wildlife and other species. All of these suggested properties have walking trails established and the public is welcome to enjoy through passive nature appreciation.
Margaret Atwood donated this special property set within the forested hills of the Oro Moraine to the Nature Conservancy of Canada. An additional 7 hectares were purchased to consolidate a large block of forest habitat around the Reserve by linking to adjacent properties owned by the County of Simcoe and the Orillia Fish and Game Conservation Club. The Couchiching Conservancy signed a stewardship agreement in 2003 for the 35 hectares with the Reserve.
A section of East Coulson is a provincially significant wetland and vernal pools provide ideal conditions for many species of frogs and salamanders.
The most notable historic site in the village of Shanty Bay is St. Thomas Anglican Church, built in the early 1803 from wood cut from nearby forests. Immediately behind this historic structure is The Church Woods, a 10 hectare stand that has been in the O’Brien family since 1832. In 2006, the far-flung descendants of this family decided to sell the Woods, and offered it at a reduced price to the Shanty Bay neighbours. A group of neighbours enlisted the Conservancy to assist and led a community fund-raising drive to collect nearly $600,000. The Townships of Oro-Medonte provided a supporting grant, and the O’Brien family generously donated the remainder of the land value.
The Woods has 33 species of trees, including Butternut, which is now considered endangered in Canada because of a rapidly-spreading disease.
As of spring of 2014, Cameron Ranch became part of the Carden Alvar Provincial Park. This property was purchased by a coalition of conservation organizations working in partnership with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. The ownership of this 1,214 hectare site, characterized as “Ontario’s Serengeti” because of its extensive grasslands, was transferred to Ontario Parks in April 2003. The Couchiching Conservancy contributed $204,000 raised from local sources to help this exceptional purchase and is now assisting with its management.
One of the interesting features of this property is that it’s the largest intact natural properties on the Carden limestone plain. We have had Eastern Loggerhead Shrike nest in the area as well.