Winter track surveys

In today’s post, Ecologist Corina Brdar shares the “best part of [her] job.”

I’m an ecologist for Ontario Parks. When people ask me what exactly it is that I do, I have a hard time answering – my job is so diverse and interesting.

So I like to give the example of my favourite job duty: doing winter track surveys for deer.

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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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A nature-lover’s New Year’s resolutions

Today’s post comes from Alistair MacKenzie, Natural Heritage Education Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.

Alistair at PineryAs we begin a brand new year, many of us make personal resolutions to try to better ourselves, or to help our families and communities.

I’ll be making several personal resolutions (darn sour cream-glazed dougnuts!), but in addition, I am choosing 2020 as the year to make some resolutions for parks and protected areas.

As I work and play in Ontario Parks’ many incredible landscapes, most of my efforts will take effect there, but I am not planning on limiting my efforts…I’ll include any green spaces I can find!

I’m just one person, so I would encourage you to help. You may want to create a different list for yourself, but our parks can certainly use the help, so please consider giving back to our protected areas.

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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.

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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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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 great 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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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

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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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.

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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?