Keeping up with the Canada Jay

Today’s blog post comes from bird researchers Alex Sutton and Koley Freeman, PhD candidates at the University of Guelph.

In the world of Gray Jays, winter means one thing: it’s breeding season!

Gray Jays, also known as Canada Jays, are common in Algonquin Provincial Park. Continuing a 54-year-old tradition, a dedicated team of researchers is monitoring breeding pairs. This is the longest study of its kind in the world!

With each passing year, more is learned about the breeding behaviour and life history of these remarkable birds.

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The IBAs of Polar Bear Provincial Park

This installment of our 2017 blog series IBAs in provincial parks — brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada — is very “cool.” 

Welcome to our year-long blog series! For our inaugural spotlight, we are staying in the winter spirit and focusing on Ontario’s far north. That’s right: our worlds collide up there in a big way.

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Happy World Wetlands Day!

Bog. Swamp. Fen. Marsh. Muck, mud and mire…

It sounds terrible, doesn’t it? When movie directors want to make things hard for their characters, they sometimes pick a wetland to chuck them into – think Humphrey Bogart in the classic movie “African Queen”, where he struggles day after day to pull his boat through an impenetrable swamp.

Wetlands get a bad rap, but they are hugely important to all of us. Without them, things would be a lot more difficult on old Planet Earth.  Like big sponges, they store water from snows and rains, and then let it out when things get dry. They provide rich habitats for plants and animals to live in, and they create “biodiversity”: the variety of life.

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Winter track surveys

In today’s post, Ecologist Corina Brdar shares the “best part of [her] job.”

I’m an ecologist for Ontario Parks. When people ask me what exactly it is that I do, I have a hard time answering – my job is so diverse and interesting.

So I like to give the example of my favourite job duty: doing winter track surveys for deer.

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What’s in a weir?

Neys Provincial Park recently removed an obsolete weir as part of its work to restore and maintain ecological integrity. Superintendent Allison Dennis has the story…

The term “weir” piqued my curiosity following my first review of the Neys Provincial Park Management Plan.

Turns out that a weir is a barrier constructed across the width of a river or stream which raises the water level on the upstream side to a specified height. Unlike a dam, which redirects excess water using spillways, a weir allows excess water to flow over the top of the structure and continue downstream.

So what does this have to do with a provincial park?

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A nature-lover’s New Year’s resolutions

Today’s post comes from Alistair MacKenzie, Natural Heritage Education Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.

Alistair at PineryAs we begin a brand new year, many of us make personal resolutions to try to better ourselves, or to help our families and communities.

I’ll be making several personal resolutions (darn sour-cream-glazed dougnuts!), but in addition, I am choosing 2018 as the year to make some resolutions for parks and protected areas. 

As I work and play in Ontario Parks’ many incredible landscapes, most of my efforts will take effect there, but I am not planning on limiting my efforts…I’ll include any green spaces I can find!

I’m just one person, so I would encourage you to help.  You may want to create a different list for yourself, but our parks can certainly use the help, so please consider giving back to our protected areas.

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Birds and biodiversity

Welcome to the final installment of  our 2017 series “IBAs in provincial parks,” brought to you by Ontario IBA Coordinator Amanda Bichel of Bird Studies Canada.

It’s been a terrific year sharing bird facts and stories about IBAs and provincial parks, but it’s time to step back and take a look at the bigger picture: biodiversity.

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The year of high water at Presqu’ile

Today’s post comes from Natural Heritage Education Leader David Bree at Presqu’ile Provincial Park

It was a wet year for provincial parks in 2017.

If you visited Lake Ontario this spring, you know water levels reached record highs. By early May, the lake was 10 cm higher than the highest it had ever been since records started in 1918. This is also a full metre higher than average.

The damage this caused has been well-documented. At Presqu’ile Provincial Park, we had flooded facilities, lost land to erosion, and had to close for four weeks in June to prevent more damage to our soggy landscape.

The flood was certainly an inconvenience to us, but what effect did it have on the nature and wildlife of the park?

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Fish stocking 101

If you like to fish and want to improve your chances of getting a good catch, your best bet is to head to one of Ontario’s 2,000 lakes and rivers that are stocked by Ontario Parks or the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.

The ministry has been stocking popular spots since the early 1950s with fish that are well suited to the area. Today, we operate nine fish culture stations, or hatcheries, across the province, where 12 popular sport fish (including walleye, salmon, trout and muskie) are raised.

Every year, we release about 8 million fish into Ontario waters!

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