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.

A hawk by any other name — is still a marvel of Nature

2021 09 12 hawke peregrine

By David J. Hawke — Here’s a nature riddle for you: A group of birdwatchers is making a list of birds they’ve seen so far that day. On the list are Duck Hawk, Marsh Hawk, Pigeon Hawk and Sparrow Hawk. What year is it?

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Aphids produce sugar poop treats for ants

2021 09 05 hawke aphids reduced

         By David Hawke -- Aphids on your garden plants can be a real drag, as aphids obtain their food by piercing the stem of a plant to get the sap. Most guide books and web sites offer oodles of ways to kill them, however, as with any species of wildlife, the closer you look, the more interesting things get!

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'We're outta here!'

2021 08 28 hawke migration

By David Hawke -- As we ‘swim’ through these humid days of late August, it is easy to overlook some of the winter preparations that are going on within our local wildlife populations. Yep, the days may be hot but the hard-wired senses of birds in particular mean it’s time to prep for colder temperatures.

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100-percent chance of drama in weather forecast

2021 08 22 hawke humidity

By David Hawke -- A trait shared by both weather forecasters and creative writers is the ability to accentuate the mundane or embellish the boring until it becomes quite exciting. To be a creative writer one does not need to be a weather forecaster, but to forecast the weather one does need a good aptitude for creative wordsmithing.

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It's a baby garter snake! Awww!

2021 08 14 hawke gartersnakes

By David Hawke -- Did you know that most snakes hatch from eggs? It may sound weird, but other reptiles such as turtles are well known for their egg-laying. Many a turtle nest I’ve found over the decades, but not once a snake nest. I feel incomplete as a naturalist.

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A slime mould thinks like an animal — but has no brain

2021 08 07 hawke slimeBy David Hawke -- If things are appearing in your garden like they are appearing in our garden, then today’s topic of slime moulds should be of interest. Actually, slime moulds should be of interest to everyone, I would think, so here’s the info you need to know.

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You can look, but you better not touch

2021 07 31 hawke poison.ivy

By David Hawke -- One of the telling characteristics of an active outdoors person is their ability to cope with, or not, poison ivy. Yep, by the start of summer there are usually a great number of weekend warriors, ardent birders, dirt-under-the-fingernails gardeners and sundry other woodsy types that are scratching and suffering due to this most interesting plant.

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Milkweed — from noxious weed to environmental star

2021 07 24 hawke milkweed

By David Hawke -- It’s always interesting to look at the love-hate relationships we have with certain species of wildlife; yesterday’s enemy “suddenly” becomes today’s poster child of environmental goodness. A somewhat recent example is the common milkweed, the wildflower that’s currently in full glorious bloom across our countryside.

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LDD moth plague — continued

2021 07 17 hawke LDDparttwo

    By David J. Hawke -- I had hoped to move this week’s topic along from yet another tirade about invasive species, but woe, I found some really interesting factoids about those fuzzy-wuzzy caterpillars, the gypsy moths. If the trees in your neighbourhood are as defoliated as mine, I’m hoping this information will be worthy of your attention.

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Phragmites spreads at frightening speed

2021 07 11 hawke phragmites

By David Hawke - Now that the gypsy moth caterpillars are cocooning and no longer bombarding your patio with their poop, you may be at a loss as to what to worry about next. Not a problem, always something of concern “out there.” This week it’s all about phragmites!

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The struggle with invasive caterpillars

2021 07 03 caterpillars          By David Hawke -- This week’s column is about gypsy moths; more precisely it’s about the caterpillar stage of the gypsy moth’s life cycle.

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Snap-worthy snappers

2021 06 28 hawke snappers

By David Hawke — Throughout June you have a very good chance of seeing a female snapping turtle sitting on the shoulder of the road. Hopefully it is still alive and in one piece when you see it… because sometimes they are not.

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Hay — watch out for that bobolink nest!

2021 06 19 bobolinks

By David J. Hawke — Back in the “old days” when we attended school inside a building and had a teacher at the front of the room, June was always a difficult month to get any classwork done. In elementary grades it was a time of field trips (in my area it was always Wye Marsh, Martyr’s Shrine, Ste. Marie Among the Hurons, Huronia Village and/or Simcoe County Museum).

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A tale of murder and domestic tyranny

2021 06 12 hawke wrens

By David Hawke -- With all the media attention these days seeming to be centered around murder, mayhem, family strife and other crises, I bring you a story of the Troglodyte family, consisting of a sweet charmer of a husband who murders to please his wife, and a wife who is so demanding that her husband has to build house after house until her satisfaction is met.

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Sweet-sounding bird songs indicate a war zone

2021 06 05 hawke territory

         Ah, sweet spring… the flowers are blooming and the birds are singing. What we perceive to be a peaceful, perhaps even tranquil, scene, however, is actually a war zone. Avian territorial boundaries are constantly being established, challenged, trespassed, defended and realigned. It’s a dynamic world out there!

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Anting — one of Nature's mysteries

2021 05 29 hawke antingBy David Hawke -- It’s always exciting to learn something new, even if it’s something that others have already discovered and researched.

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True Love for our trilliums

2021 05 22 trilliumsBy David Hawke -- Without a doubt one of the most easily recognized signs of spring is the blooming of the white trilliums in our local woodlots.

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Daily drum roll marks the dawn

2021 05 15 hawke sapsuckerBy David Hawke — It's 6:30 a.m. and Lea remains snuggled in her bed.

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Visually striking loons have an eerie yodelling voice

  2010 05 08 hawke loonBy David Hawke — The common loon is a bird that is familiar to most if not all of us.

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Nature's feathered clean-up crew

2021 05 01 hawke turkeyvultures

By David Hawke — The word "catharsis" means to clean or purify, a word brought forward from the ancient Greek language. This word is the root that defines an unusual group of birds, one of which we see here fairly regularly. High in the sky is Cathartes aura, perhaps better known as turkey vulture, the roadside cleaner, the remover of messy road-killed animals.

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