Learn to star gaze, tag butterflies and more

If you’re in or near eastern Ontario, one of the best places for star gazing is Charleston Lake Provincial Park near Brockville, Ontario. Amateur star gazers flock to this park’s unique Astronomy Field. Terence Dickinson, a famed Canadian astronomer leads Star Gaze, an annual astronomy event here every year. It’s a chance to learn some backyard astronomy with skilled astronomers as your guide. This year’s Star Gaze takes place on August 20.

Bats are the earth’s only flying mammals and vital to a healthy environment, yet they remain mysterious and often misunderstood. At Rock Point Provincial Park, on Lake Erie, park staff hope to dispel many bat myths with a Mysterious and Misunderstood bat workshop. On July 8 at 8:30 pm special guests from the Ministry of Natural Resources will join park staff and demonstrate how a mist net and acoustic detector are used to net and band bats before their release back into the wild. Craigleith Provincial Park near Collingwood will also host “Bats in the Afternoon & Evening” on July 19. Activities begin with bat games and crafts in the afternoon followed by an evening slide show and live bat catch and banding demonstration.

Near summer’s end, Monarch butterflies begin to migrate south to Mexico. Darlington Provincial Park is part of a greater Monarch conservation program and tags Monarch butterflies at its annual migration festival held in early September. This popular event attracts young families who are encouraged to help with the tagging. Even though up to 100 million Monarchs migrate every fall, this butterfly is threatened by pollution. Tagging the Monarchs helps to track their numbers. This year’s Monarchs & Raptors Weekend at Darlington Provincial Park runs September 4-5.

If you plan to be in Algonquin Provincial Park anytime this summer and are looking for a unique way to experience the park, drop by the Algonquin Art Centre at km 20. Every day, visitors of all ages can try one of the centre’s daily art activities from $2-$25. Add your painted art to a canoe mosaic on display at the centre (seen in this canoe photo), build your own mobile with wood pieces or sculpt in clay. You can also paint your own miniature paddle, birchbark canoe, or piece of Canadian Shield. If you’re looking for a more substantial artistic pursuit, try one of the centre’s lakeside art classes. Led by local artists, these sessions are nominally priced and include a variety of mediums. Classes are held Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays throughout the summer.

Who’da thunk it? A “Learn to Build a Dry Stone Wall” workshop in an Ontario Park. But that’s exactly what is planned for this August at Ferris Provincial Park. The Campbellford-area park is planning a two-day workshop on how to build and repair dry stone walls. Registration is $250 with lunch and free camping in the park is included. For more information, see www.dswa.ca