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 dragonfly hunter

Sonje Bols is an interpreter and naturalist with Ontario Parks, and coordinates the Discovery Drop-in program at a number of parks in Northeastern Ontario. She loves dragonflies: watching them, catching and identifying their species, and pretty much everything else about them.

As soon as it’s warm enough to be outside in a t-shirt and shorts, chances are you’ll find me out “odeing.”

Odeing? Is that a typo?

The root of the word – ode – is the short form many naturalists use for Odonate, the scientific family name for a group of insects made up of dragonflies and damselflies.

To go “odeing” is to venture outside to catch and identify these insects.

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Hitting the MOTHerlode at Rondeau

Today’s post comes Kevin Gevaert, senior Discovery staff at Rondeau Provincial Park

Not too many people are fond of the idea of staying in the forest when it gets dark.

It might sound sound discouraging or even scary to most, but experiencing Rondeau Provincial Park’s forest at night is something you won’t soon forget!

The billions of stars in the night sky, the sound of owls hooting, coyotes howling in the distance, and the odd mosquitos buzzing are all part of the magic that makes nighttime here at Rondeau so special.

Things really start to appear when we shine a bit of light on the subject!

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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.

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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:

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Open eyes, open mind: nature journaling with kids

In today’s post, Discovery Leader Carlin Thompson from Sandbanks Provincial Park shares her top tips for nature journaling with kids.

We did it, parents! We made it through another winter.

The struggle of tackling young children into layered outerwear and the scavenger hunts for matching mittens now seem like a distant memory. What sweet relief.

But before the unbridled joy of shucking the outerwear gives way to sunscreen-application-induced carpal tunnel and the din of summer boredom, let’s capitalize on our children’s excitement to be outside.

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Just for the gull of it!

In today’s post, Awenda’s Chief Park Naturalist Tim Tully defends what some may think is the undefendable: the gull. 

If there was ever an animal that gets a raw deal, it’s the gull.

It’s time to set the record straight and come to the defense of this unfairly maligned avian “underbird.”

For starters, we can’t even get the name right. I hate to tell you, folks, but there is no such thing as a seagull!

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Mattawa River: sculpted by time

Today’s post comes from Mat St-Jules, a park interpreter at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.

The sights of the Mattawa River keep drawing me back.

I find incredible beauty in a scraggly cedar clinging to sheer rock or in the gleaming coat of a river otter standing on a sandbar. But, of course, these marvels don’t stand on their own.

Below the wildlife and past the trees is the foundation of this land: the geology it all rests on.

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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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