Fascinating fall fungi at Frontenac

From yeast fungi (responsible for leavening bread) to mold (we’ve all forgotten about food for just a little too long), the world of fungi is a large and fascinating one.

But the role fungi play in our natural environment is perhaps one of the most important roles of all.

Have you ever wondered how old tree stumps break down and are slowly reclaimed by the forest floor? Or how plants are able to obtain water and nutrients essential for their survival?

The answer is fungi.

Fungi are the powerhouses of forest ecosystems. They are the best wood decomposers found in the natural environment and form relationships with nearly 90% of the world’s land plants

At Frontenac Provincial Park, over 700 species of fungi have been identified in our forests.

Let’s find out some interesting facts about a handful of them:

Continue reading Fascinating fall fungi at Frontenac

Bats: The mammal, the myth, the legend

Today’s post comes from Ashley Hanas, a bat technician with the Friends of Pinery Park.

Bats are the only true flying mammal.

There are currently over 1,400 species and bats encompass 20% of the mammalian species on earth (meaning 1 in 5 mammals are bats!).

Bats are essential to the health of our environment, providing indispensable ecosystem and economic services in the form of prolific insect pest control, pollination of plants, and dispersal of seeds.

Their droppings, or guano, are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen, making it a highly effective fertilizer.

Despite the numerous benefits bats provide us, their reputations are marred by negative misconceptions.

Continue reading Bats: The mammal, the myth, the legend

(Don’t fear) The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Today’s post comes from Nicholas Ypelaar, former assistant Discovery coordinator at Awenda Provincial Park

“EW! SNAKES!” and/or accompanying fearful shrieks are phrases I’m all too familiar with.

In defense of all those who have zero affinity to the limbless scaled reptiles of the world, I can understand it. My grandmother grew up in Goa, India, where venomous snakes such as cobras and kraits are commonplace.

As humans, we tend to build fears based on what we perceive as dangerous to help us survive. However, we aren’t the only species trying to survive.

I’d like to dispel the myth that Ontario snakes are dangerous through the lens of a particular “bad actor,” the threatened Eastern Hog-nosed Snake.

Continue reading (Don’t fear) The Eastern Hog-nosed Snake

Where the wild things are: salamanders

Today’s post comes from Jazmin Gall, park naturalist at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park.

As park staff, one of our favorite questions to get from visitors is, “Where do insert various wildlife names live within the park?”

We love visitors who are as excited as we are about wildlife and we’re more than happy to share the knowledge we’ve gained!

In today’s blog, we’re going to teach you about the somewhat secret sites that salamanders like to call home.

Continue reading Where the wild things are: salamanders

Building a safe haven with Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park’s artificial turtle nesting site

Today’s post comes from Rose Brandt, a Discovery student at Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park. 

If you’ve been to Bagwa Day-Use Beach at Samuel de Champlain, you might’ve wondered what that seemingly random pile of sand beside the beach is all about.

That would be our artificial turtle nesting site!

Continue reading Building a safe haven with Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park’s artificial turtle nesting site

It’s August — what are Black Bears up to?

Ontario’s Black Bears are busy looking for food in August!

They only have a few a short months before they go into hibernation.

In August, Black Bears are focused on finding delicious berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Continue reading It’s August — what are Black Bears up to?

5 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 5 marvelous moth facts

5 common moths and how to identify them

Today’s blog comes from Murphys Point Provincial Park Assistant Superintendent Mark Read. 

With an ever-increasing interest in some of the smaller wildlife found in our provincial parks, moths are quickly becoming the new park stars!

In fact, when looking at Ontario Parks’ iNaturalist project, you can find five native species sitting right up there amongst some of the most frequently observed wildlife across our entire network of parks.

Here are 5 of the most common moth species found in Ontario Parks:

Continue reading 5 common moths and how to identify them

What makes the Great Lakes so great?

In today’s blog, Discovery Project Program Coordinator Jessica Stillman reflects on our mutual relationship with the Great Lakes.

Our human history is reflected in their waters.

The Great Lakes capture our past, influence our present, and inspire our future. 

Imagine the stories they could tell.

These bodies of water are called the Great Lakes for a reason: from their size (the largest surface freshwater system on Earth) to their role in our collective history, where do we even begin to share what makes them great?

Continue reading What makes the Great Lakes so great?

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?