The joy of answering interesting questions

In our “Behind the Scenes” series, Discovery Program staff across the province share a backstage glimpse of their favourite programs and projects. Today’s post comes from Anna Scuhr, Discovery Program staff member at Lake Superior Provincial Park.

Many joys come along with being an Ontario Parks’ Discovery Guide. We work in some of Ontario’s most beautiful places, with coworkers who share our passions, and a job that is never dull.

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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?”

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Monitoring birds in northern protected areas

Today’s article comes from our bird recording specialists, Zone Ecologist Ed Morris and Zone Operations Technician Rebecca Rogge. 

Birds are interesting. Most are visually striking, with noteworthy songs to match their brilliant feathers.

They are also very important.

Birds contribute to the health of our environment. They disperse seeds, pollinate plants, and help to control insect populations.

They have direct and indirect effects on human health and well-being as well.

The medical community recognizes the health benefits of spending time with nature and for many people, their connection with the natural world is through birds.

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Saying farewell to summer with Learn to Camp

With the end of summer approaching, our Learn to Camp – Book an Ambassador program is winding down for the season.

Whether you learned how to build campfires, became familiar with Ontario’s wildlife, or participated in another one of our educational programs, our ambassadors hope to see you in our park next summer mastering your newly-learned skills!

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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.

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Worst of the worst: a naturalist’s list of the most harmful types of litter

Today Yvette Bree, a Discovery Leader at Sandbanks Provincial Park for over 30 years, shares some thoughts about this season. 

2022 will go down as — to put it mildly — a difficult year for many people.

Although affected by the world around me, I choose to acknowledge that I am pretty lucky: I live in a great country, a great province, and have enjoyed a career in a stunningly beautiful park.

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Sparrows: It’s all in their heads

In today’s post, Rondeau Provincial Park Interpreter Shane Smits will take us through identifying just a few of the many sparrow species found in Ontario. 

For several reasons, whether rightfully so or not, sparrows are often overlooked when it comes to birdwatching.

For starters, they tend to be plentiful. There are usually many sparrows seen hopping around near the forest floor or within dense cover.

But seemingly the most common reason to overlook sparrows amongst beginner bird watchers — that “all sparrows look the same” — is actually a misconception.

This is admittedly something that I have said on multiple occasions. Here’s why it’s wrong. Yes, all sparrows have their similarities. But after spending some time getting to know these little brown birds, their differences become more apparent.

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What it’s like to work the front gate at a provincial park

Our front gate staff are frontline heroes of park operations.

(If you’ve ever checked in at a bustling park on a busy Friday afternoon, you know exactly what we’re talking about!)

Gate staff work extremely hard to get you into the park as quickly as possible, all while balancing many priorities in a hectic environment.

Here are five things they’d like you to know about working in the gatehouse:

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What it’s like to be a washroom cleaner at Ontario Parks

In today’s post, our Algonquin Zone Marketing Specialist Andrea Coulter shares how a summer of cleaning washrooms turned her into a public washroom etiquette crusader.

After more than 15 years with Ontario Parks, I still remember my first position most vividly (you never forget cleaning poop off the beach…). I was eighteen years old, and spent the summer working maintenance with Ontario Parks.

After that season of wiping footprints off toilet seats, cleaning clumps of hair from washroom sinks, and scraping waste off the floor, there are some things I started doing (and some things I would never do again):

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