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.

The dance of the hares

2020 03 29 hare

By David Hawke -- It is now well into March so I assume that you know what that means… it’s rabbit dancing season! The term ‘mad as a March hare’ was coined to describe the courtship antics of both rabbits and hares, at least for the male members of the species.

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Homes on flood plains prone to Spring flooding

2020 03 21 watersheds with pic

By David Hawke -- In the coming week, if you watch the 6pm news or, if you’re still young enough to stay up, the 11pm news, I predict that one of the top stories you’ll see has to do with, not the lack of toilet paper, but the abundance of water. Spring floods are upon us once again, and the TV reporters are digging out their hip waders and will soon be seen out standing in the field as they document the spring freshet.

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Amazing chickadees adapt as temperature drops

2020 03 15 chickadees

            By David Hawke -- So, how's your code? Ma ed id still pugged up, bud at lead ma node had topped running, foe adwhile endyway. Seems everbody I knowd god a sore troat, hed code, or duh flu. Yuck.

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Mourning doves already nesting

2020 03 07 doves

By David Hawke -- As I shovelled the snow off the deck once again, moaning and groaning sounds seemed to echo throughout our valley. But this time they weren’t coming from me (I’ve learned to moan and groan silently elsewise someone near and dear to me will suggest I go see the family doctor). No, this time the sounds were coming from the nearby grove of pine trees, and hearing this call actually made me happy.

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Voracious, venomous, creepy critter

2020 03 01 scutigera

What has 30 rather long legs, runs like greased lightning, is only a couple inches long at best, eats living prey, has venom in its mouth, is able to climb walls, shuns the light, and lives in your house? A character from a Stephen King horror novel? Nope, guess again.

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Love is in the air for great horned owls

2020 02 23 owlnestBy David Hawke -- The wind rattles bare branches and damp coldness fills the night air.

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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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