Uncovering the “birdiest” trail at Pinery

Today’s post comes from Habitat Stewardship Technician Justin Johnson from Pinery Provincial Park. Justin has a M.Sc. in biology with a focus on bird acoustics. 

Birders are an interesting breed of people. Sometimes everything they do seems to subvert the norms of society.

Sleeping in? Rather not. Too much coffee? No such thing. $4500 binoculars? Yeah, I’ve seen it.

Birders’ bread and butter is local natural spaces and their trails. They can be very particular about which trails they walk. Seasoned birders often only use trails they perceive as “birdy,” neglecting those off their sacred path.

But how do we really know which trails are the “birdiest?”

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Join us for Science Literacy Week!

Today’s post comes from Jessica Stillman, school outreach coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park

What do a Polar Bear, a Prickly Pear Cactus, a Five-lined Skink, and a Bobolink all have in common?

Aside from their snazzy names, they’re plants and animals that require unique environments to survive. Some of these special spaces have been changing and disappearing throughout history.

That’s where Ontario Parks comes in. We protect important landscapes, and conduct research on how we can ensure the species living in parks can thrive.

This year, we’re excited to share the science of parks during Science Literacy Week.

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Turtles love water (bottles!)

What do turtles and reusable water bottles have in common? More than you might imagine.

Turtles need our help, and we’ve partnered with our friends at Chilly Moose (and their reusable bottles) to help meet the challenge! Continue reading Turtles love water (bottles!)

Wabakimi: the land of the grey ghosts

Today’s post comes from Shannon Walshe, biologist at Wabakimi Provincial Park.

Peering out from among the trees, I am certain these curious animals watched us as we paddled by.

We know they exist, but they’re so seldom seen that they’re referred to as “the grey ghosts.”

Wabakimi Provincial Park is home to the elusive creature known as the Woodland Caribou, at the southernmost edge of their range.

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Carnivorous Pitcher Plants found at Algonquin

Today’s post comes from Samantha Stephens, a science and conservation photojournalist who spent this past summer in residence at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station.

The excitement of discovery is a feeling everyone has experienced. Finding a new favourite hiking spot or adding a “lifer” to your birding list are some familiar examples for nature lovers.

For a naturalist, the most thrilling of discoveries comes from observing well-known species interact in a way that hasn’t been documented before.

That’s what happened to Patrick Moldowan, a PhD student from the University of Toronto who leads a long-term study of spotted salamanders in Algonquin Provincial Park.

Patrick spends his summers living at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station, documenting various aspects of salamander populations.

And that’s what led him to be a part of discovering that carnivorous plants are eating baby salamanders.

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The restorative health benefits of protected areas

Today’s blog post comes from Catherine Reining, a graduate in the Master of Environment Studies program at Wilfrid Laurier University.

We know spending time in nature offers a ton of health benefits like reduced stress, better sleep, and lower blood pressure.

But what is the role of parks and protected areas in human health?

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The 30×30 Challenge is good for you

Today’s post comes from Sarah McMichael, Ontario Parks’ Healthy Parks Healthy People Coordinator.

We all know that fresh air is good for us, right?

Time in nature has been proven to lead to better sleep, improved productivity, lower stress, increased self-esteem, better mood, lower blood pressure, a stronger immune system, and a lower risk of diabetes and heart attack. The research is clear: spending time in nature improves our physical, mental, and social well-being.

Imagine how much your health and happiness could improve if you spent quality time outdoors every day for a whole month. This is what the 30×30 Challenge is all about. Sounds like a great way to get healthy!

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Spring is turtle season at Grundy Lake

Many Ontario Parks have their “signature” wildlife: commonly-encountered and charismatic animals that most park visitors hope to catch a glimpse of during their stay.

Woodland Caribou Provincial Park is named for the iconic Woodland Caribou.  Murphys Point Provincial Park is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the elusive Gray Ratsnake. Rondeau Provincial Park is the place to see the rare Prothonotary Warbler.

But did you know Grundy Lake Provincial Park is the place to see a Blanding’s Turtle?

Continue reading Spring is turtle season at Grundy Lake

The importance of research in Ontario Parks

Ever wondered about or wanted to pursue scientific research in a provincial park? Today’s post from Northwest Zone Ecologist Intern Lindsey Boyd and Northwest Senior Assistant Zone Ecologist Evan McCaul should answer your questions.

Spread throughout Ontario, our 340 provincial parks protect 8.27 million hectares of land and 1.3 million hectares of lakes and rivers. There are also 295 conservation reserves that form a protected areas network along with parks. From mosses to moose, protected areas provide endless research topics and opportunities.

Scientifically speaking, protected areas are an excellent place to conduct research. They can be used as a reference site to measure natural conditions within a broader landscape study, or provide an excellent place to study climate effects on species and systems in a place with fewer human pressures like roads or high levels of noise, light, and air pollution.

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Beyond the light of the campfire

Today’s post comes from Park Naturalist Roger LaFontaine, a classically trained biologist and amateur Sasquatch researcher. He has spent nearly two decades researching and documenting the occurrence of Sasquatch in Ontario.

I have always had an interest in the creatures that others were not fond of: invertebrates under a log, salamanders in the soil, nocturnal creepy crawlies, and even a shy mammal that stays just beyond the light of my campfire.

My interest in obscure creatures began many years ago when I found a strange track along the bank of a river…

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