A naturalist’s letter to Santa Claus

One of our naturalists left his letter to Santa out on his desk, and we wanted to share a copy, in case anyone out there wants to lend Mr. Claus a hand this year.

Dear Santa,

I don’t really need a lot this year as I have the privilege of working in one of our great provincial parks: Presqu’ile. Perhaps you’ve visited or seen it as you fly over?

It is pretty easy to pick out from the air, sticking into Lake Ontario like it does. We get lots of birds landing here on migration to rest, which many people like to come and see. You’d be welcome to have a break here too.

Continue reading A naturalist’s letter to Santa Claus

Forever protected: why Mark S. Burnham belongs

Our “Forever protected” series shares why each and every park belongs in Ontario Parks. In today’s post, Social Media Specialist Alexander Renaud tells us Mark S. Burnham’s story.

For almost two centuries — as the area around Mark S. Burnham Provincial Park turned from wilderness to farm fields, and eventually, to a bustling city — the trees within its boundaries have remained relatively untouched.

This lack of development is a rare phenomenon in southern Ontario. The ecosystem within has been able to thrive and provide habitat for a variety of species, becoming one of the best-preserved old-growth forests in the county.

For these reasons, Mark S. Burnham belongs. Continue reading Forever protected: why Mark S. Burnham belongs

F.B.I.: the not-so-Secret Service of Ontario Parks

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

When you visit a provincial park, you will likely interact with staff from several departments.

From the gate staff who greet you to the maintenance crew that keep facilities clean, the park operates smoothly because everyone has a role to play in keeping the machine operational.

But there is one team who works so quietly that many of us don’t realize we are witnessing their efforts every day.

That team is the Ontario Parks F.B.I. unit, otherwise known as fungi, bacteria, and invertebrates.

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Squirrels for sale: the incredible history of squirrels at Rondeau

Today’s post is by Jess Matthews, the chief park naturalist at Rondeau Provincial Park.

One hundred years ago, there was a lot we didn’t know about managing parks.

The idea of maintaining ecological integrity is relatively new. Ontario’s first parks were primarily established for recreation and tourism.

During the first half of the 20th century, wildlife was often seen as a tourist attraction or a nuisance. There was little understanding of how animal diseases spread, or how local populations were adapted to the places they lived.

Because park managers didn’t know about any of this, some animals found themselves packed up and shipped off far from their homes.

This is the story of squirrels from Rondeau Provincial Park that, due to their fashionable coats, traveled as far as the White House lawn.

Continue reading Squirrels for sale: the incredible history of squirrels at Rondeau

Why do we leave dead trees in the forest?

Today’s post comes from Sheila Wiebe, a marketing and development specialist at Bronte Creek Provincial Park.

Provincial parks are all about protection.

We protect significant natural ecosystems and habitats while offering many outstanding and sustainable recreational opportunities for the people of Ontario.

This isn’t always an easy task. Invasive species have challenged our ecosystem management, knowledge, and skills. Keeping an area safe for park visitors while allowing natural processes to happen can be challenging.

This is especially true for managing our forests. We are often asked by our visitors: why do you leave fallen, dead trees in the forest?

Continue reading Why do we leave dead trees in the forest?

Butterball’s story

Today’s post comes to us from David Bree, our Discovery Program Lead at Presqu’ile Provincial Park.

Butterball was a bit of a miracle child.

The way the year went, it was amazing that his egg was ever laid, let alone hatched. And he never should have flown.

But, somehow, he did.

To truly understand Butterball’s story, and the miracle it was, we must go back eight years. And oh yeah, you should know: Butterball is a Common Tern.

Continue reading Butterball’s story

How to practice proper pumpkin etiquette in parks

Today’s blog comes from Jessica Stillman, school outreach coordinator at Bronte Creek Provincial Park. In the fall, if she isn’t outside with students learning about mushrooms or how animals prepare for winter, she’s inside baking up a pumpkin treat!

Spooky season is upon us!

It’s time for cobwebs, witches, and skeletons to adorn our lawns and porches. Who doesn’t love admiring the creative carving of a jack-o-lantern, its toothy grin lit by a flickering flame?

These hauntingly fun decorations are part of the Halloween spirit, but what happens to them once November 1 rolls around?

Continue reading How to practice proper pumpkin etiquette in parks

Turtles: the ultimate survivors

In today’s post, Discovery Leader Olivia Bennett discusses turtles’ impact on Grundy Lake Provincial Park — and vice versa!

When I first started working at Grundy Lake, I was talking turtles with our park superintendent when someone asked, “Why do you care so much about turtles here?”

The answer is simple: while the park boasts a healthy turtle population and quality habitat, other areas are not so lucky.

This is only the beginning of why we should all care about turtles.

Continue reading Turtles: the ultimate survivors

Uncovering the “birdiest” trail at Pinery

Today’s post comes from Habitat Stewardship Technician Justin Johnson from Pinery Provincial Park. Justin has a M.Sc. in biology with a focus on bird acoustics. 

Birders are an interesting breed of people. Sometimes everything they do seems to subvert the norms of society.

Sleeping in? Rather not. Too much coffee? No such thing. $4500 binoculars? Yeah, I’ve seen it.

Birders’ bread and butter is local natural spaces and their trails. They can be very particular about which trails they walk. Seasoned birders often only use trails they perceive as “birdy,” neglecting those off their sacred path.

But how do we really know which trails are the “birdiest?”

Continue reading Uncovering the “birdiest” trail at Pinery

9 tips for eco friendly Halloween decor

Many campers like to jump into the Halloween spirit by decorating their campsites.

But certain decorations can be harmful to the environment.

Here’s how you can create a super spooky campsite AND protect Ontario’s ecological integrity at the same time.

Continue reading 9 tips for eco friendly Halloween decor