It’s aster season!

Today’s post comes to us from Discovery Program Specialist Dave Sproule.

Around the middle of August, Ontario’s landscape starts to change colour. A bit of gold here, swaths of white there, and even a touch of purple in places. No, it’s not fall yet, although the odd maple tree may think so. It’s actually the “second flowering of summer,” and it lasts well into the autumn.

While many of the flowering plants in the landscape have quit for the season, the asters and goldenrods are just getting going.
Continue reading It’s aster season!

The not-too-alike lookalikes: the Massasauga Rattlesnake and the Northern Watersnake

Today’s post comes from the Discovery Program staff at Killbear Provincial Park.

Snakes: some people love them, some people don’t.

However you feel about them, they are an important part of our ecosystems, and you may see one when you visit us.

Here at Killbear, we get a lot of questions about snakes, and especially the difference between watersnakes and rattlesnakes as they are often confused for each other.

Continue reading The not-too-alike lookalikes: the Massasauga Rattlesnake and the Northern Watersnake

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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Five marvelous moth facts

Today’s blog was written by Jessica Stillman, school outreach coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Moths are marvelous!

While we may mock their desire to go towards the light, they lead interesting and diverse lives.

With over 2,800 species of moths recorded in Ontario on iNaturalist, we wanted to shed some light on five moth facts that we think you need to know this National Moth Week: Continue reading Five marvelous moth facts

How to be a Bear Wise visitor

Black Bears live across Ontario in forested areas where they can find enough food, shelter, and denning sites. Our provincial parks are their home, and over 90% of our parks are in bear country.

A safe bear sighting during one of your adventures with Ontario Parks can be a lasting memory. Educating yourself about bears before your visit is important and the mark of a responsible park visitor.

We want to share space with bears, keeping our human visitors and all our wildlife residents safe.

If you’re planning a visit, here are some important safety tips about Black Bears:

Continue reading How to be a Bear Wise visitor

“Leaves of three, let it be. Berries white, take flight.”

So goes the easy-to-remember rhyme that’s supposed to help you identify the infamous Poison Ivy plant.

Touching Poison Ivy can result in extraordinarily unpleasant itchy blisters. So identifying this species is an important outdoor skill.

While memorable, the popular rhyme is short on details.

Should you avoid every plant with three leaves? What if it doesn’t have white berries? What should you do if you think you’ve touched it?

If you’re heading into nature and wish to return home itch-free, you’ve come across the right blog!

Continue reading “Leaves of three, let it be. Berries white, take flight.”

Sparrows: It’s all in their heads

In today’s post, Rondeau Provincial Park Interpreter Shane Smits will take us through identifying just a few of the many sparrow species found in Ontario. 

For several reasons, whether rightfully so or not, sparrows are often overlooked when it comes to birdwatching.

For starters, they tend to be plentiful. There are usually many sparrows seen hopping around near the forest floor or within dense cover.

But seemingly the most common reason to overlook sparrows amongst beginner bird watchers — that “all sparrows look the same” — is actually a misconception.

This is admittedly something that I have said on multiple occasions. Here’s why it’s wrong. Yes, all sparrows have their similarities. But after spending some time getting to know these little brown birds, their differences become more apparent.

Continue reading Sparrows: It’s all in their heads

The magical world of Exploration Stations

Today’s blog was written by Jessica Stillman, school outreach coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Parks are magical places.

I don’t need to convince you of this.

But sometimes, we all need a little help unlocking the magic around us. That’s where Discovery Guides and Exploration stations come in!

Continue reading The magical world of Exploration Stations

Why are snakes so misunderstood?

We often hear our visitors say how much they fear or hate snakes.

Ophidiophobia, the name for an intense fear of snakes, is certainly a legitimate condition, and we do not judge anyone who struggles with it.

Many of our own staff are working through this fear. No one chooses to have a phobia. The outdoors should be a place for relaxation and rejuvenation, not the constant fear of a chance encounter with a native species.

Continue reading Why are snakes so misunderstood?