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.

Ruffed grouse get ready for winter

2019 10 26 Ruffed Grouse small

By David Hawke -- It's just after a rain, and I'm walking along an old logging road, my boots absolutely silent as they press against the wet layers of fallen leaves. Tall poplars line each side of the roadway, their butter-yellow leaves spread thickly on the ground before me. Brambles hang over the trail's edge and clutch at my clothing as I pass by. Occasionally a raspberry thorn catches my attention and then, with exaggerated annoyance, I stop, back up, and disengage it from my sleeve or pant leg.

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Stunning colours this year - even on the forest floor

2019 10 20 Geastrum triplex Collared Earthstar 20191007 40 Acres Hawke 1

By David Hawke -- Whether your daily walk takes you around the yard, around the block or through the woods, there is a good chance that you will have noticed a mushroom or two growing by the wayside. Depending on your character, you may have looked upon said mushroom and thought: 1. Eww, something rotting is going on here; 2. Hmm, wonder if I can eat it... or maybe it's poisonous; or 3. Wow, look at the form and colour, what a beauty!

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Beware of the unseen daggers!

2019 09 17 Dagger Moth Hawke

By David Hawke -- "Beware the dagger moths! Beware the tussock moths!" is the cry that is going across the land this fall, and for good reason.

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Our wildlife depend heavily on forest 'mast'

2019 10 05 red oak leaves and acorns4

By David Hawke -- When a recent caller requested a column about mast production, I assumed she had me mixed up with someone else. What did I know about building sailing ships? But as the conversation went on, it became obvious that she was indeed on the right tack, as “mast” is a word to describe the fruiting bodies of trees -- acorns, beechnuts and such.

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More than one kind of mantis in the meadows

2019 09 30 Praying Mantis vert

By David Hawke -- Just when you think you know everything, along comes something new.

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Tracking the ebb and flow of life

2019 09 23 ducks1

By David Hawke -- Once upon a time in my personal timeline, Sept. 25 held a special meaning: it was the carved-in-stone official first day of the fall hunting season. Ducks, geese, grouse, rabbits... you name it and I and my buddies were probably licensed and loaded for it. But that was then and this is now.

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Treasure your early autumn walks

2019 09 14 Spot wing Fly Gall Hawke 2

By David Hawke -- As summer winds down and autumn slowly makes its presence known, a walk out of doors can be a rewarding time. Gone is the oppressive humidity, gone are the biting insects, and instead of green, green, green surrounding you, there are now splashes of colour highlighting the scenery.

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The world needs more malacologists

2019 09 08 snails

By David Hawke -- As another school year dawns upon us it would be nice to know that somewhere out there a student or two is studying hard to become a malacologist

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Excellent lawn care assistants

20190810 Valk Valley Pelecinid Wasp Hawke

By David Hawke -- Did you catch my “mistake” in last week's article? Today that mistake is corrected and further information embellished for your reading pleasure.

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Predator wasps are helpful, not harmful

          20190810 Valk Valley Pelecinid Wasp HawkeBy David Hawke -- There are wasps... and then there are other wasps.

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Cottontails abundant and easy to see this year

20190808 Valk Valley Cottontail Rabbit Hawke 4

By David Hawke -- The vegetable garden had looked great the evening before... not so much the next morning as almost the entire row of green beans had been mowed down.

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‘Smells detonate softly in our memory’

2019 08 11 Pineappleweed

By David Hawke -- As outdoorsy people, we are all no doubt aware of how important our five senses are to us: sight and sound especially for birdwatchers, while touch and taste are essential to herbalists and those with a wild food culinary bent. Yet we sometimes take the sense of smell for granted.

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Not much that is ickier than a tick

2019 08 04 tick

By David Hawke -- Ticks. OMG! Can there be anything ickier to have to deal with in the out of doors?  In my 60-plus years of wandering around most every nook and cranny of the wilds of north Simcoe County I have never laid eyes on a tick... until this year. Now they seem to be everywhere! Yuck!

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Be prepared for surprise encounters in the woods

2019 07 27 bearBy David Hawke -- Depending on who you are, where you are and what the situation is, encountering a black bear can elicit any range of personal responses.

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Luna moths are the show-stoppers of the moth world

2019 07 20 lunamothBy David Hawke – They are big, green, elegant, and look like they belong in a tropical jungle.

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Protected wetland is a haven for bug-eating dragonflies

20140713 Ken Reid CA 1

By David Hawke -- As we sat by the lakeshore, basking in the setting sun, we marveled at the air show being performed in front of us. The loop-the-loops were incredible, the mid-air formations almost heart-stopping, and the assertive manoeuvres to claim air space certainly demanded respect. A bonus to this event was that there were no screaming jet engines, no withering exhaust fumes or tell-tale contrails, just a ballet of motion.

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Tips for watching the elusive butterfly

   2019 07 03 butterflies          By David Hawke -- Although birdwatching is certainly a year-round activity for naturalists,

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Orchids are the 'superstars' of wildflowers

2019 06 23 orchidsBy David Hawke -- In the world of wildflowers, orchids are the 'superstars'.

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Coy violets abound in Nature's garden

2019 06 23 violets

By David Hawke -- Each spring we (well, okay, my wife Julie) tries to "improve" the looks of the landscape around our home, the most obvious endeavor usually being the flower gardens.

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Watch for the ‘flicker’ of yellow wing feathers

2019 06 14 flicker2Here's a new one for you... "When is a woodpecker not a woodpecker? When it's a flicker!"

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