Connecting Lake Simcoe's Community

The miracle of life for monarchs

2022 07 18 monarch chrysalis

It’s a great big (and sometimes nasty) world out there. Big stories hit us relentlessly as the reporting media tap into every nuance of information that may prove newsworthy. Much of it isn’t, of course, but that doesn’t stop some outlets from making it news anyway. Our instantaneous global connections can sometimes overwhelm us and send you running into the woods. Hmm, maybe that’s a good thing.

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Keep a sharp lookout for porcupines

2022 07 09 hawke porcupines

When it comes to finding porcupines, or at least signs that they are nearby, it’s usually in one of five ways: it’s sitting in a tree, dead on the road, there is a set of tracks dredged through the snow, a den inside a hollow tree is found with mounds of peanut sized pellet poops at the entrance, or a dog shows up with a face full of quills.

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Who knows what grows around the bend?

2022 07 03 hawke flower

Over the meandering course of my working life, I’ve had great opportunity to visit and work on thousands of acres of Ontario landscape. Woodlands, wetlands, rock barrens, old farms, stream systems… pick a habitat type and I’ve likely been on it or in it.    

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Speckles loves to play – can you keep up?


Speckles is a one-year-old, medium-size mixed breed who came to the Ontario SPCA York Region Animal Centre from a shelter in the United States that was at capacity and needed help finding him a home.

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Black Terns threatened by loss of wetlands

2022 06 27 hawke Black terns

This column usually highlights a species that can be found ‘in your backyard’, a way of providing some information about the myriad critters that share living space in your neighbourhood. But this week I am narrowing that scope down a bit, discussing a bird species that few of you have been lucky enough to have seen.

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Watch out! It's turtle season!

2022 06 18 hawke turtles

Mid-June is turtle season! All across southern Ontario the soil has warmed up enough to encourage female turtles to leave the safety of the swamp and venture forth to lay their eggs.

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Dumping on trash monsters

2022 06 11 hawke dumping small

          The trouble with a shared ownership, is that sometimes the other person with whom I'm sharing... is a slob. In this case the item being shared is Crown land, that glorious piece of real estate within Ontario, the lands, waters, trees and wildlife that are jointly owned by all Ontarians.

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The new buzz on mosquitoes

2022 06 06 mosquitoes

          Recently, I’ve had two very odd comments made to me. Actually, the subject was the same but came from two different people: where are the mosquitoes? While this should be a glad tidings comment, they were actually concerned if this meant less food for the birds.

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Unique Birds on the Carden Alvar

Bird watchers and seasoned birders joined us at the Nature Centre on a recent Sunday morning to observe and learn about the rare and endangered bird species that make the Carden Alvar their home.

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Alone time is worth the struggle

2022 05 28 Alone Time

          You may be retired, semi-retired or just hoping to retire; you may be hard at work or hardly working; you may be living at home with your parents or back living at home with your parents. No matter your situation, this time of year always brings forth that winsome spirit that declares it’s time to hit the road, go exploring and just get me the heck outta here!

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Trillium flowers are eight years in the making

2022 05 21 hawke trilliums

      At this time of the year, just about every walk in the woods or drive through the countryside will place you smack dab in the middle of a trillium patch. They are everywhere, and unmistakable to recognize. As our provincial emblem, nothing screams “Ontari-ari-ari-o” like a maple forest carpeted in white trilliums!

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Smart, friendly rabbit still looking for a home

2022 05 20 Lord Gossamer 1

Lord Gossamer the bunny is still looking for a home.

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Our local goldfinches begin to shine

2022 05 14 goldfinches

By David Hawke -- I have no doubt that most (many, all?) of you have noticed the vibrantly coloured birds of the spring season. The males of the species shine with feathered bling to attract an equally feathered mate, and also to outshine other males of the species. Those bright colours send out two messages: “Hey lady, look at me!” as well as “Hey dude, don’t mess with me!”

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Bubba the hedgehog needs a loving home

Bubba 4

Bubba is a two-year-old hedgehog looking for a loving home.

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A sucker for signs of Spring

2022 05 07 hawke suckersBy David Hawke -- How are you doing with your "spring things" checklist?

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Dendrology - 2 Weeks Later

Dendrology: The science and study of woody plants, specifically trees and shrubs.

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Mourning doves in the morning

2022 04 30 mourning doves smaller

By David Hawke -- Funny how a person can vividly remember an event from years ago yet forget why they just walked into the kitchen. One of my ‘moments’ was the sighting of a mourning dove, a bird that is super common these days but back in the late 1960s, pretty rare for this area.

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Winter Dendrology: The Study of Trees

Most of us learned about trees in elementary school. We learned how to identify them mainly by the shape of their leaves and on occasion, some teachers would talk about the bark of the tree. Recently, we had an in-field workshop, led by Bob Bowles. Bob taught us there are many other ways to identify trees, especially this time of year before leaf out.

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Itsy-bitsy spiders — and others

2022 04 23 hawke spiders

By David Hawke -- As you can tell from the accompanying photograph, this week’s column is about neither cute bunnies nor cute baby chickens. However, it is about a really interesting find in our woodshed… a ginormous-sized spider!

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Yunick is a big, goofy dog who loves to play

2022 04 07 Yunick small

Yunick is a three-year-old American Bulldog who is patiently waiting for his loving forever family to come along.

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