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.

Gather round the fire, and hear the tales

2021 11 27 hawke snow

By David J. Hawke -- While flipping through a Natural History magazine (circa 1995… see, we do so read our magazines) I came to an article written by Stephen Jay Gould, of Harvard University, that addresses the ages old question, "What is man, that thou art mindful of him?"

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Your feeding station could be a winter highlight

2021 11 20 bird feeders

By David Hawke -- The sassy call of the lone chickadee flitting above my head did a better job of announcing that the feeder was open than any 'bells and whistles' I may have thought of.

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The real snowbirds are arriving here

2021 11 13 buntings

By David Hawke — It's November. It’s wet and cold outside. This, dear readers, is considered paradise to some of our wintertime visitors. They actually seem to revel in this stuff. But then again, they are birds.

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Autumn icons show that Nature carries on

2021 11 07 hawke Autumn icons

By David Hawke — Judging by the pile of coats, jackets, hats, boots and gloves just inside the door, I'd have to say that we are smack dab in the middle of autumn.

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Shy fisher takes on formidable prey — and small pets

2021 10 31 hawke fisher

By David Hawke -- The animal that crossed the road in front of me was big. Well, not bear-sized big, but big in comparison to most of the local mammals. The dark body was about the same dimensions as a fox, but with much shorter legs. What really gave away its identity was the undulating flow of its body as it ran across the view as seen from my windshield. Fisher!

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Home invaders on tiny feet

2021 10 23 hawke mice smaller

By David Hawke — Signs of autumn: geese flying south, leaves turning colour, drop in air temperature… and, oh yeah, mice moving into our houses. Seems inevitable as each October night once again brings that annoying “scritch, scritch, scritch” from somewhere deep inside the walls.

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Mushrooms as natural works of art — not food

2021 10 16 hawke mushroomsBy David Hawke — It’s ‘shroom season and across the land can be heard the murmuration, “Can I eat it?”

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Remarkable increase in sandhill crane numbers

2021 10 10 sandhill.cranes

By David J. Hawke -- As a nature-loving kind of guy I like to think that a report of a species strengthening its population is a good thing. So often the story is in the other 'direction', in that one species after another is dwindling to a point of possible extinction. And so, it has been a bit of a surprise to watch the ever-growing flocks of sandhill cranes that are passing by, quite noisily, high overhead.

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'Butt breathing' is turtles' secret to survival

2021 10 03 hawke turtles

By David J. Hawke -- While stepping with great care and caution into the canoe (I have to reluctantly admit that I’m not as agile as I used to be) my enthusiasm for the adventure ahead had to be held in check and focused on the task at hand. Getting a soaker, or worse, before even leaving the shore puts a real damper on the day. (Get it? Soaker… damper?)

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Future uncertain for delicate beechdrops

2021 09 25 beechdrops

By David J. Hawke -- Over the past few months, more than 500 species of local flowering plants have put forth their blossoms in hopes of creating seeds for future generations of itself. As we slip into late summer the last on the list of wildflowers have been producing flowers and seeds at a great rate.

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Autumn — a good time to learn about harvestmen

2021 09 20 harvestmenBy David Hawke --  A few things in nature look like they got in the wrong line for their identification documents.

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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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