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.

What lurks beyond the patio's glow?

2020 02 16 nightsky

By David Hawke -- A few evenings ago there appeared in the night sky a wonderfully lit half moon, surrounded by the sparkle and glint of thousands of stars. While standing outside in the new fallen snow I immediately went back (in my memories) to a similar night years ago when I had been asked by a local resort to take their weekend guests on a wintertime evening hike.

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Groundhog Day is a silly excuse for a winter celebration

2020 02 08 groundhog By David Hawke -- As you may recall, dear and faithful reader, about a decade ago I proposed a halt to this silly thing called Groundhog Day.

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Mystery winter visitor

2020 02 01 butterfly

By David J. Hawke -- Those of us who seek out nature either for pleasure or for business are often hard-pressed to discover something new during the winter months. Migration and hibernation took most species away from view, and the few critters that remain visible become, after a time, "same old-same old". Maybe a new bird will show up at the feeder, but this season is nothing like the late spring-early summer overwhelming rush of blooming flowers and singing birds.

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Local history, naturally

2020 01 27 nathistoryBy David Hawke -- When one stops to think about the history of an area, the usual first impression is of the people who populated the landscape and the results of their efforts.

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Snowy owls often photographed to death

2020 01 20 owl.brush

By David Hawke -- The provincial bird emblem for Quebec is the snowy owl, and there are a number of them hanging around southern Ontario this winter. That's okay for them to be here, as 'our' provincial icon, the common loon, frequents La Belle Province quite a bit in the summer months. Bit of a trade off.

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Many ways of adapting to winter

2020 01 11 hibernate

By David Hawke -- The shortest day of the year is in December and the coldest days are in February, but the month with the most short, cold days is certainly January.

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Life continues at a lively pace during Winter months

2020 01 05 owl

By David Hawke -- It seems fitting that the winter solstice, which marked the lengthening of daylight hours, coincided with this extended thaw. Within the big cycle of life, certain things happen in winter-time, whether or not the snowdrifts are piled over your car or barely over your boot-tops.

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On preserving traditional knowledge

2019 12 30 moon

By David Hawke -- If you look up at the moon and it's a lovely crescent shape... can you determine how long until the next full moon?

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Chickadee survival tactics revealed!

2019 12 21 chickadee

By David Hawke -- The wildlife of our area, if they are programmed to stay and survive winter, are subjected to a rolling schedule of feast then famine. Food abundance can and does disappear overnight, whether the cause be weather (hey, it snowed last night... a lot!) or migration (hey, where'd everybody go?). To get by until springtime many changes must be undertaken, sometimes physiological, sometime with behaviours.

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Red-bellied woodpecker rare but expanding in the Lake Simcoe area

2019 12 14 red belliedwoodpecker

By David Hawke -- I admit I was rushing when I went out the door... places to go, people to see... so my sudden appearance was indeed a surprise to the gathered flock of birds. Blue jays bolted this-away, chickadees flitted that-away and two black squirrels almost had a head-on collision as escape branches were grasped for! But then a new shape was noted, a new pattern of feathers, enough of a difference that I halted half-way across the deck for a better look-see.

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Winter reveals some of Nature's secrets

2019 12 08 hawke nest

By David Hawke -- If Mother Nature were ever to sit in on a card game, you could count me out! For Nature doesn’t like to reveal any secrets, and if they are revealed, it's only because it needn't be kept a secret any longer.

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Recent comment in this post
Guest — Gloria Hildebrandt
I enjoyed this column. I have a collection of birds' nests & have had knowledgeable birdwatchers identify them. Some nests were ob... Read More
Sunday, 08 December 2019 16:11
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How conifers cope with Winter's cold

2019 11 30 ScotchPineHawke By David Hawke -- Winter tires on? Check. Storm windows installed? Check. Snow boots, scarf and toque dug out from back of closet? Check.

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How deciduous trees survive the winter

2019 11 23 treemandala

By David Hawke -- Thank goodness for the rains of autumn! Nothing beats a good ground-soaker to help the trees prepare for winter. While most of us mobile creatures often bemoan the cold dampness of pre-winter, the stuck-in-one-place trees are, I’m sure, quite grateful for the additional moisture that’s dropped within their reach.

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Naturalist Bob Whittam, much missed

2019 11 16 Bob Whittam

In the photo, Bob Whittam, then Director of the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, helps staff clean up. What's so special about that? Read on...

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The Dance of the Milkweed Seeds

2019 11 09 milkweed.seed      

By David Hawke -- As October drips into November our outdoor excursions can become a tad chilly and damp, and it really does take an extra effort to appreciate the gifts of the season.

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Elusive yapping drives me barking mad

2019 10 19 Trail cam Hawke 3

By David Hawke -- The barking started at 7:30pm, loud, sharp and annoying. And it continued, non-stop for a good 30 minutes. Now, I have a saying about dogs, and that is, "The dog is probably a nice enough animal, it's the dog owner that's the problem". Yes, there are some nasty tempered dogs out there, but most of the time it seems the dog is 'misbehaving' as a result of poor training, no training, or some level of neglect from the owner.

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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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