The cat and the Mudbug: a guide to using iNaturalist

Cellphones have changed our lives in many ways. It seems like there’s an app available to cater to our every need, from baking to banking and all things in between.

In Ontario Parks, we generally encourage green time over screen time, however there’s one app we believe every visitor should have on their phone.

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The Spotted Salamander, harbinger of spring

Salamanders are iconic and influential members of northern forest communities. As one of the most abundant vertebrates in eastern North American forests, salamanders are considered “keystone species” because of their disproportionate roles as predators and prey in regulating food webs, nutrient cycling, and contributing to ecosystem resilience-resistance.

In addition to fulfilling key ecological functions, amphibians are our modern-day “canaries in the coal mine,” serving as a measure of environmental health.

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Wildlife parenting strategies

This blog comes from Laura Penner, a Natural Heritage Education Leader at Rondeau Provincial Park. 

As a naturalist and a mother of three, I find great joy in catching rare glimpses of wildlife taking care of their young. This looks so different from species to species. It could be a female oriole meticulously weaving grasses into an intricate basket-shaped nest, or a Map Turtle digging test nests all over a campsite until she finds the perfect soil composition.

Each species has its own unique way to raise its young that best deals with the challenges in its environment. Let’s take a look at a few interesting ways wildlife care for their young.

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The scavenger hunt for survival

Today’s post comes from Anna Scuhr, a naturalist with Lake Superior Provincial Park. 

The arrival of snow and ice transforms the rugged landscape of Lake Superior Provincial Park into a stunningly beautiful, albeit unforgiving place to live.

As temperatures drop, the park can accumulate up to six feet of snow in the interior. The snow makes just about every aspect of an animal’s life more challenging.

Northern winters are a true test of an animal’s fitness. Let’s look at how they adapt to survive long, harsh winters.

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The astronomical origins of the calendar

Most of us live by our calendars to keep our schedules straight.

But did you know the calendar has astronomical origins?

While the constellations were, largely, created to help people remember significant star patterns, they have plenty of other uses. One of these is for the formation of the calendar.

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“Gathering” at Rondeau

Today’s post comes from Jess Matthews, a Natural Heritage Education Specialist at Rondeau Provincial Park.

A change was needed at the Rondeau Visitor Centre and we wanted it to be big.

So, we worked with three different local Indigenous communities over three years to generate something amazing.

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Emergence of the Dragonhunter

Today’s post comes from Evan McCaul, Ecologist with Ontario Parks’ Northwest Zone. 

While conducting an ecological inventory of Brightsand River Provincial Park, Ontario Parks staff witnessed and recorded a large scale emergence of dragonflies, including a Dragonhunter, the largest clubtail dragonfly in North America!

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Trailblazers of Ontario Parks interpretation

Last year marked Ontario Parks’ 125th anniversary: 125 years of campfires, hikes, nights under the stars, days at the beach, and unforgettable family memories of the countless visitors who use our beautiful park system.

This year marks two other important anniversaries – Rondeau Provincial Park’s 125th anniversary and 75 years of interpretation in Ontario Parks!

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Forever protected: why Holland Landing Prairie belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every park belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, Zone Ecologist Corina Brdar tells us Holland Landing Prairie’s story. 

“The mosquitoes have been exceedingly troublesome these two days past. It is almost impossible to sleep during the night, for they are quite as plentiful and every way as michievous [SIC] as during the day.”

Sounds familiar, huh?

This isn’t a comment from a frustrated camper – it’s a 200 year old journal entry by a Scottish explorer visiting what is now known as Holland Landing Prairie Nature Reserve.

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