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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Underground, underwater or frozen solid: how do frogs & toads spend the winter?

Today’s post comes from David LeGros, one of our Algonquin Provincial Park naturalists.

As the crisp fall days get colder and the occasional dusting of snow whitens the landscape, we know that winter is just around the corner. For the countless songbirds of our forests, they avoid our cold winters and lack of food by migrating south.

Other animals are adapted to the cold conditions and may grow a thicker coat of fur or feathers. Some, we think, have the enviable ability to sleep away the long Ontario winter by hibernating.

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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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The curious Conopholis plant

Today’s post comes from Maddie Bray, a naturalist at Awenda Provincial Park.

As park naturalists, we get asked all sorts of questions about various organisms that live within the park. Campers will describe the call of a bird they didn’t quite see or the colouring of an insect that was just too quick to photograph.

One of these questions in particular always seems to come up in the summertime – what are those pale yellow things sticking up out of the ground?

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The superpowers of owls

Today’s post is from Alistair MacKenzie, our Natural Heritage Education & Resource Management Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park.

I’ve been bird watching since the age of six. My dad was the main reason I began bird-watching, and he and I spent many hours in search of another species for our lists.

From the start, I was always fascinated by owls and to this day they are, hands-down, my favourite group of birds.  You have to work hard to find owls given that they are usually solitary hunters and most do not roost together in communal groups. Many, but not all, are nocturnal and they are generally shy and reclusive.

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Owl-induced whiplash

In today’s post, Alistair MacKenzie, Naturalist Heritage Education Supervisor at Pinery Provincial Park, recounts a dramatic encounter with an Eastern Screech Owl.

We desperately needed to confirm breeding evidence for Eastern Screech Owls in our survey squares for the Ontario Breeding Bird Atlas back in 2005.

It was our last chance given that the atlas was wrapping up the collection period and I was frustrated since I confidently knew that screech owls did indeed breed in the park, but sadly we just hadn’t managed to be in the right place at the right time to confirm it.

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