When the sun goes down at Killarney

In today’s post, Biologist Intern Michelle Lawrence gives us an insider look at Killarney’s “nightlife,” and shares how staff are working to protect the park’s bat populations.

Killarney Provincial Park has been called “a crown jewel of the provincial parks system” by some, and it’s not hard to see why.

With white quartzite mountains and sparkling blue lakes, Killarney is truly a sight to behold. In Killarney’s wilderness, White Pine grow, live, and die; Moose munch on water lilies; and the forests and wetlands teem with warblers and other songbirds.

But when the sun goes down, not everyone in the park goes to sleep…

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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.

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A wriggling invasion

In celebration of World Soil Day, we’d like to highlight one of the greatest threats to Ontario’s natural soil systems – earthworms!

Yes, you read that correctly. Many of us have a hard time picturing earthworms as a destructive force. After all, who hasn’t been told that they’re natural composters, food for cheerfully bopping robins in the spring, and great recyclers in our gardens?

But there’s one important fact about earthworms that most people aren’t aware of: they’re not supposed to be here.

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Don’t leave it hanging

Pretty much all the leaves have fallen off the trees, a chill has filled the air, and people may be thinking about decorating trees for the holidays.

Our trees are spectacular organisms. They make oxygen, can live to be quite old, have beautiful foliage, provide homes and food for countless wildlife, and through transpiration of water through their leaves, can even influence the weather.

Maybe our trees do deserve some form of decoration or recognition?

I was out in my park the other day, and with the leaves gone, I did notice some brightly coloured decorations on a tree down the trail.

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Birds and biodiversity

Welcome to the final installment of  our 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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Rolling out the red carpet at Pinery

Today’s story comes from Alistair MacKenzie, Natural Heritage Education and Resource Management Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.

I started out my career saving lives.  It was a hard job. Working conditions were awful. I was constantly being asked to bend and twist to what someone else needed me to do. I was dragged through the mud and poked with sticks, even burned with hot embers.

Despite these hardships, I loved aspects of the work, but eventually I just couldn’t keep up, and they pulled me back to base to run me through some tests. Sadly, I failed, and they unceremoniously stripped me of my field approvals and cast me aside.

I thought it was all over, until they boxed me up and shipped me to Pinery Provincial Park.

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What a difference a year makes!

Today’s post comes to us from Naturalist Yvette Bree of Sandbanks Provincial Park.

Many visitors to Sandbanks may remember 2017 as the year of high water levels.  Along with many other lakes, Lake Ontario reached record highs in the spring and early summer, resulting in widespread flooding.

As a result, it definitely wasn’t “business as usual.”

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Tidewater Provincial Park and Pei lay sheesh kow IBA

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

It’s always exciting when we can announce a new Important Bird & Biodiversity area!

Today’s IBA started out as an area of seven IBAs and is now an amalgamated site with an added 716 km2 of area.

Tidewater Provincial Park and the tail end of Kesagami Provincial Park fit comfortably within our new IBA: Pei lay sheesh kow.

“Pei lay sheesh kow” means “an area that abounds with birds” in Cree. That couldn’t be more true!

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Arrowhead staff say, “Hold the mustard!”

Garlic Mustard may sound like a gourmet condiment, but it’s actually an invasive species in North America, introduced from Europe over 100 years ago.

It is a major enemy in the ongoing battle to maintain biodiversity in Arrowhead Provincial Park and many other provincial parks. It’s considered one of Ontario’s greatest forest intruders.

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Batmobiles in the northwest!

Today’s post comes from Evan McCaul and Steve Kingston, ecologists with Ontario Parks’ Northwest Zone.

Did you know that bats play important roles in our ecosystems and are unique in being the only type of mammals that can truly fly?

All bats in Ontario are nocturnal predators that feed primarily on insects like moths and mosquitoes. There are eight different bat species across Ontario, including three species at risk: the Little Brown Bat, the Northern Long-eared Bat and the Tri-coloured Bat.

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