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.

Connections of life

2022 09 03 hawke skunks and apples smaller

          It’s always interesting to see how certain events are linked to other events, especially within the natural order of nature. What are the ripples of effect and their impacts when set in motion by a random act, such as a blue jay pecking at a ripe apple?

Continue reading
  256 Hits

Awash with mystery

2022 08 27 hawke beetle

          I’m deep into a relaxing bath, a lovely refresher after a hard hike through the local forests, when I cast my gaze across the room and suddenly feel not so relaxed anymore. My pants are hanging on a hook, and hanging on the pant leg is a large copper-coloured… something… with legs.

Continue reading
  245 Hits

The challenge of uninvited guests

2022 08 24 hawke family

          Event planning and preparation these days can be challenging, what with supply chain issues, travel challenges and severe weather events all conspiring to thwart your best laid plans. As I write this, we are the throes of pulling together a “Celebration of Lives Well Lived” for my late in-laws, Matt and Jane Valk.

Continue reading
  153 Hits

Lazy, hazy days of summer insects

2022 08 14 hawke insects

As we are now into the hot and hazy days of summer, the birds have quieted down, the wildflowers are just sitting there, and it seems that Nature has engaged the summer vacation mode. But don’t be fooled into thinking “there’s nothing going on out there” —  the insect world is hopping busy.

Continue reading
  230 Hits

More than milkweed needed to save monarchs

2022 08 06 monarch butterf y hawke 5

Can bad news also be good news? How much spin does one need to apply to make a bad news story a good news story? This interpretation of an event is somewhat commonplace in our interactions with nature.

Continue reading
  243 Hits

Who was eating crow?

2022 07 30 hawke crow

A countryside walk will often reveal loose bird feathers. As molting takes place the old feathers are shed as new ones grow in. And not wanting to be flightless, most birds molt one feather at a time thus always remaining protected from the rain and also retaining the ability to fly.

Continue reading
  308 Hits

Doing the 'orchid happy dance'

2022 07 26 Hawke Orchids on the Plain

Orchids are a fussy bunch of plants. They grow only if the soil pH is just right, if the moisture is just right and if the amount of sunlight is just right, and they reproduce only if the right kind of pollinators are in the neighbourhood. There is no wonder why botanists get a little excited when they encounter a real live orchid in the wild.

Continue reading
  285 Hits

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.

Continue reading
  262 Hits

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.

Continue reading
  371 Hits

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.    

Continue reading
  390 Hits

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.

Continue reading
  326 Hits

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.

Continue reading
  320 Hits

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.

Continue reading
  366 Hits

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.

Continue reading
  493 Hits

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!

Continue reading
  318 Hits

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!

Continue reading
  496 Hits

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!”

Continue reading
  401 Hits

A sucker for signs of Spring

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

Continue reading
  568 Hits

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.

Continue reading
  386 Hits

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!

Continue reading
  641 Hits

Get Your Free Subscription! Delivered Straight to
Your Inbox.

Enter your email to receive updates from us. You can unsubscribe at any time.