Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

David Hawke is a naturalist who is well known for his outdoor writing and photography. David has worked for several agencies and organizations around Lake Simcoe. In his weekly blog, he shares his observations and insights related to our local natural environment.

Have we learned anything about importing species?

2018 04 15 starling rev

By David Hawke - This week's blog started out to be about European starlings, those somewhat despicable birds that insist on nesting in your mailbox, over the porch entrance, or wherever a deficiency in the exterior of your house occurs. However, as oft occurs when one does research on a subject, distractions happen. This is such a story.

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Trees need moisture, and lots of it

2018 04 08 hawke trees


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Weasels go by many names

2018 04 02 skunk rev


By David Hawke - Weasels are known by many names, such as politician, ex-partner, sly competitor, unscrupulous land developer... oops, I seem to have gotten off-track.

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Screech owl - one of nature's wonders

2018 03 24 screech

By David Hawke -- I peered out the window, taking a long-overdue break from staring at a computer screen, and saw a lovely scene of natural wonderment. A pair of chickadees scavenged through the hop vines, obviously seeking whatever morsel they missed yesterday, while a red-breasted nuthatch kept them close company. I could feel my eyes relax as I followed their antics.

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Turkeys and Deer!

2018 03 03 Gill deer reduced

By David Hawke - There may still be snow in the valleys, but a couple of wildlife species are well into springtime behaviour mode. The past two weeks have produced daily observations of turkeys and deer, turkeys and deer, and more turkeys and deer.

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Are we really so different?

2018 03 0410 red Grey Squirrel

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Make Time For Tea

2018 02 25 sumac

By David Hawke -- Tea time! For many people that break from the daily routine to have a cup o' tea is a cherished moment: quiet time, warm drink, think for a moment, rest the weary legs and feet… it's obvious why this tradition is so valued.

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Winter Wildlife Olympics

2018 02 18 Deer

By David J. Hawke -- Good morning sports fans and welcome to Day 76 of the Wildlife Winter Olympic Games.

I'm Buck Boaring, your host for the day, and joining us to report from the field is Chip Underfoot. Yes, indeed, these 90-day Games are indeed proving to be as exciting as ever, with each event providing both crushing defeats and ultimate survivals. Let's go to Chip who's covering the early morning events at Bird Feeder Stadium. Chip, are you there?

          Hey Buck, Chip here, covering the early morning events at the Bird Feeder Stadium! Since dawn's early light there has been a quiet frenzy of activity as competitors ready themselves for the day's challenges! First up is the Seed Dash and Stash, and Team Chickadee have come on strong with their characteristic 'flit and grab' technique! Wow, these guys have been training every day and it's really starting to show as they manoeuvre for position around the feeder: dash in, grab a seed and flit out of the way just in time for a team mate to next make their move! This event is just underway with no clear winner yet, so back to you in the studio, Buck!

          Thanks Chip. Buck Boaring here with you providing coverage of Day 76 of the Wildlife Winter Olympic Games. We have an update on the overnight Cross Country Run event, with reports that Team Coyote and Team Red Fox have both pushed themselves to near exhaustion in their efforts to capture a reward. This is a tight one folks, as these competitors know they need to capture rewards along the way to sustain themselves to the end of this event. You may recall that last year's Games were fast and furious due to minimal snow coverage, but wow, this year has been a true test of their endurance and skills. Chip, are you there? What's happening over at Cedar Grove Coliseum?

          Yo, Buck! Chip Underfoot here, reporting live from the Cedar Grove Coliseum! It's been a morning of organized chaos here but a few winners are being made! What started as a fairly quiet day has suddenly turned wild! Team Snowshoe Hare entered the field with their usual quiet confidence when suddenly... BAM!... Team Horned Owl came out of nowhere and dominated the field! Team Hare are now playing with one member down and are hoping that Team Owl sticks to their strategy of taking just one player at a time! But you never know when some rookie owl will try for a second player in the same day, so tension remains high here at Cedar Grove Coliseum!

          Thanks for that Chip. Buck Boaring here with you, providing coverage of Day 76 of the Wildlife Winter Olympic Games. Perhaps I should mention that the beautiful Cedar Grove Coliseum was hand planted just 40 years ago to provide the venue for what we're witnessing today. I'm sure you'll agree that it has been an amazing job of habitat transformation. Let's go back to the field to join Chip Underfoot as he visits the Fence Jump venue. Chip, over to you.

          Uh, whew, hi, Chip Underfoot here as I approach the Fence Jump event at the other end of the Wildlife Winter Olympic Park! Yes, there it is! Okay, whew, let's see how this event is going! Team Deer have been tagged the favourites going into this, but Team Moose have been giving a strong showing of late! As I look along the fenceline I can see where several Deer have attempted the Fence Jump, yet only a few have actually had success! I can see contenders milling about in the thicket as if preparing for the next round!

          And Yes! One of the larger members of Team Deer is going to challenge the fence jump! He's posed, he's going to his inner place, looking across the fence! He's focusing on that magic point just on the other side of the road! He makes his approach! There's that last second pause! And yes! He clears the fence with just a brush of his hind hoof against the barbed wire!! He's floundering a bit in the roadside snowbank but it looks like he's going to make it! Whoa! Did you see that car dodge? What a player! Through that second snowbank, the final fence is within his reach! Up! Over! YES! Score one for Team Deer with that amazing final push!

          Okay Chip, thanks for that. Coming up, right here in the studio with myself, Buck Boaring, your host of the 76th Day of this year's Wildlife Winter Olympics, will be a member of Team Mouse to explain the difference between the 3-yard dash and the 15-yard dash. As you know, this is a very competitive event and some years Team Mouse comes out ahead, and other years there's the heartbeak of defeat. With all this snow this year, both Team Coyote and Team Owl have admitted that they are bit behind in their overall scoring, but are hoping that the recent thaw and freeze will create better track conditions.

          Coming up after the break, we will be providing extensive coverage of the Aerial Balance with Team Squirrel poised to be on the top of the podium, and later on the mass start of the Weed Seed Search, led again with last year's winners, Team Snow Bunting! For Chip Underfoot and all of us here at Day 76 of the Winter Wildlife Olympics, this is Buck Boaring wishing you well and reminding you to keep your guard up!

Photo: This image was taken during Team Deer's spring training camp. The Fence Jump demands tight focus and amazing agility. Disastrous results have been experienced. Photo by David Hawke

© 2018

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A Chippy Springtime

2018 02 11 chipmunkREVBy David J. Hawke  – As some of you may be aware, the fourteenth of February is a special day, a day that often marks the start of a fresh new season.

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Photoperiod... Yes!

2018 02 03 fleas


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Trailside Treasures

2018 01 28 antlers.reduced

By David J. Hawke — "Hi. I think there is a dead deer beside the snowshoe trail. I saw part of its head sticking out of the snow." The rest of the voice mail message gave a fairly accurate location which propelled me out the door and sent me hastily on my way. Any opportunity to learn about the wildlife of the area, whether it be dead or alive, is a good opportunity.

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Not So Wily Coyotes

2018 01 23 Coyote

By David J. Hawke —
Out in our neck of the woods, which is quite woody indeed, coyotes are often heard but seldom seen. The corridor of interconnected forests and quiet farm fields that stretches across this part of the township, provides a world of protection for these wild canines. So it was with delighted surprise that I actually observed two such animals within a day of each other. Both sightings were from the comfort of my car as I drove along well-travelled roads.

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Woods Work

2018 01 13 hawke Red Fox small

By David J. Hawke -

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Formation of Lake Ice

2018 01 09 Lake pan ice small

By David J. Hawke – It may be cold outside, but the legendary "Lake Skidoo-be-gone" is still claiming its victims, swallowing up motorized snow sleds on a weekly basis. The lake may look flat and solid… but often it isn't, much to the surprise of unsuspecting sled operators.

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