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?

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Keeping turtles off the hook

Today’s post comes from Amy Tanner, Biology/Ecology Intern with Ontario Parks’ Southwest Zone. 

Before heading out for a fun day of fishing, we all go through our checklists. Have we got:

But here are two questions many people don’t ask:

  • what other living things could I accidentally catch while fishing?
  • do I know how to handle an unexpected catch?

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Just keep swimming: the perilous journey of turtle hatchlings

Today’s post comes from Olivia Pomajba, a summer student at Rondeau Provincial Park.

A turtle hatchling making its way to water reminds us of the perilous journey we all face in life.

The world must seem incredibly vast to these centimetre-long hatchlings, and they face many challenges.

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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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5 cool facts about skinks

If you’ve ever seen a Five-lined Skink, you know just how cute they are!

The Five-lined Skink, which looks a bit like a salamander, is the only lizard species native to Ontario. And while researchers continue to study skinks, we still don’t know very much about what they do on a day-to-day basis, particularly from September to May when they’re hibernating.

Here are five cool things we DO know about Five-lined Skinks, courtesy of Alistair MacKenzie, Resource Management Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.

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Bobo-what?

When Bobolinks are mentioned in mixed audiences, you invariably get muffled laughter, quizzical looks and finally the question, “A bobo-what?”

Bobolinks are small songbirds in the same family as grackles and meadowlarks.  The breeding male is most recognizable by its black body and white back with a buff patch at the nape.

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7 amazing citizen science apps

You’re out in the woods and a bird flies by. Not sure what is it? There’s an app for that.

Today’s smartphones make ideal field guides. Photograph a butterfly sipping nectar. Video a slow-moving turtle. Record a birdsong. Then look it up, find a match, and enter your geotagged observations in a virtual field book.

These virtual field guides often support citizen science. You just share what you see. Scientists, researchers and conservationists use the crowdsourced data to look at climate change, track migration and monitor species at risk and sensitive ecosystems.

Here are a few popular apps:

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5 small ways we protect what’s precious

Here at Ontario Parks, preserving the province’s ecological integrity is always on our minds.

You’ve heard about our bigger projects, like:

But did you know ecological integrity is part of our everyday jobs?

Check out these five “mini” ecological integrity tasks:

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Turtle doctor helps Blanding’s preemies

By: Corina Brdar, Southeast  Zone Ecologist, Ontario Parks

There is some cutting edge research on preemie health and survival taking place in Ontario Parks.  The “preemie” babies in question are Blanding’s turtles –a species at risk in Ontario.  Each year the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre (KTTC) in Peterborough takes in injured (or sadly, dead) female Blanding’s turtles and rescues their eggs.  Injured turtles treated at this unique animal hospital are “induced” to release their eggs using oxytocin, just like an expectant mom would be.  The eggs are hatched at the centre and raised until they are 2 years old.

Left: Hatchling room at KTTC Right:Lynda Ruegg, a conservation technician with the KTTC, collects data on a headstarted Blanding’s turtle that she’s following in a provincial park.

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