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 Canada Jays, winter means one thing: it’s breeding season!

Canada Jays are common in Algonquin Provincial Park. Continuing a 55 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.

Continue reading Keeping up with the Canada Jay

Turtle eggs and salamander spawn: spring monitoring at Grundy Lake

Today’s article comes from Emily Wright, Discovery Program Leader at Grundy Lake Provincial Park.

Spring at Grundy Lake is a quiet time of year. The lake waters are cold from the melting snow and ice, birds are just starting to arrive from their long migrations, and visitors are few and far between.

Park staff, however, are busy and bustling about as they begin to prepare for another season of campers.

Continue reading Turtle eggs and salamander spawn: spring monitoring at Grundy Lake

Just roll with it: how one park adapts to an unpredictable shoreline

Today’s post comes from Amy Hall, a Resource Management Project Technician at Pinery Provincial Park.

Many of our visitors have been coming to Pinery for decades, witnessing the park change in many ways over time.

If you’ve been here in the last few years, you may have noticed that our beach is constantly changing month to month, and even day to day!

Continue reading Just roll with it: how one park adapts to an unpredictable shoreline

Why we should all aspire to be naturalists

In today’s post, Algonquin Provincial Park‘s David LeGros wishes everyone a happy Darwin Day!

Today, it seems that we know so much about the world around us: how it works, what lives there and what threatens it.

Truthfully, it would be arrogant to think that we know it all – we don’t.

Discovering and explaining how the natural world works involves a lot of observations, patience, note-taking, comparisons, and creativity. It means spending time out in nature, observing the changing seasons, looking at how organisms interact with each other, their prey and predators, and their respective habitats.

Scientists have documented a great deal of life on Earth, but many species still remain undiscovered and understudied, and lots are only described and named and we know hardly anything more.

Continue reading Why we should all aspire to be naturalists

Enhancing biodiversity in Killarney’s tree plantations

This article was written by Connor Oke, a marketing intern at Ontario Parks, using information provided by Ed Morris, Ontario Parks’ northeast zone ecologist. 

When Killarney Provincial Park was established in 1964, park managers faced a problem: what to do with old fields belonging to former homesteads within the park’s boundaries.

To prevent the spread of weedy species, they decided to plant trees, including White Spruce and Red Pine, and regrow the forests.

Continue reading Enhancing biodiversity in Killarney’s tree plantations

A naturalist’s letter to Santa Claus

One of our naturalists left his letter to Santa out on his desk, and we wanted to share a copy, in case anyone out there wants to lend Mr. Claus a hand this year.

Dear Santa,

I don’t really need a lot this year as I have the privilege of working in one of our great provincial parks: Presqu’ile. Perhaps you’ve visited or seen it as you fly over?

It is pretty easy to pick out from the air, sticking into Lake Ontario like it does. We get lots of birds landing here on migration to rest, which many people like to come and see. You’d be welcome to have a break here too.

Continue reading A naturalist’s letter to Santa Claus

Forever protected: why Mark S. Burnham belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every park belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, Social Media Specialist Alexander Renaud tells us Mark S. Burnham’s story.

For almost two centuries — as the area around Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park turned from wilderness to farm fields, and eventually, to a bustling city — the trees within its boundaries have remained relatively untouched.

This lack of development is a rare phenomenon in southern Ontario. The ecosystem within has been able to thrive and provide habitat for a variety of species, becoming one of the best-preserved old-growth forests in the county.

Today, the old-growth forest is also a refuge for the local community, providing space to reconnect with nature and self.

For these reasons, Mark S. Burnham belongs. Continue reading Forever protected: why Mark S. Burnham belongs

Butterball’s story

Today’s post comes to us from David Bree, our Discovery Program Lead at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

Butterball was a bit of a miracle child.

The way the year went, it was amazing that his egg was ever laid, let alone hatched. And he never should have flown.

But, somehow, he did.

To truly understand Butterball’s story, and the miracle it was, we must go back eight years. And oh yeah, you should know: Butterball is a Common Tern.

Continue reading Butterball’s story

Can you teach an old naturalist new tricks?

Today’s blog comes from Tim Tully, Discovery Coordinator at Awenda Provincial Park.

That is the question.

After decades of doing things a certain way, can I rally the forces of change and adopt a new way of recording species data? Should I submit species data to iNaturalist or not?

I decided to empirically investigate in an unbiased scientific way. Specifically, what is all the fuss about iNaturalist anyway?

Here’s what I discovered….

Continue reading Can you teach an old naturalist new tricks?

“Fall”ing into a new role at Sandbanks

In our “Behind the Scenes” series, Discovery Program staff across the province share a backstage glimpse of their favourite programs and projects. Today’s post comes from Carlin Thompson, Assistant Discovery Leader at Sandbanks Provincial Park.

When summer transitions into fall at Sandbanks Provincial Park, many campgrounds are closed for the season. Park Store and Discovery Centre hours are reduced, and snow fencing is placed along our popular beaches in preparation for whipping winter winds.

This year, as camping visitation waned and summer staff headed back to school, I was preparing to tackle a new challenge for the Discovery Program.

After decades of educating and entertaining campers with summer programs, Sandbanks’ Discovery Program is thrilled to refocus our efforts this fall to become a more active community partner with our local schools.

Continue reading “Fall”ing into a new role at Sandbanks