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.

Snowshoe basics

2022 01 29 snowshoes

By David J. Hawke — My snowshoes gave a pleasing “whoof… whoof… whoof” sound as I broke trail after that recent dump of snow. The snowfall certainly brought about the need for these winter appendages, as without the webbed devices Julie and I would have been floundering a bit.

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Winter — a time to share field strategy

2022 01 25 hawke conferences

By David J. Hawke -- Ah, winter: that time of the year when all good field workers hunker down over piles of data sheets and screen shot after screen shot of last summer’s work.

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Red squirrel antics

2022 01 17 hawke red.squirrel

By David J. Hawke -- The pattern of holes in the snow revealed where a red squirrel had come forth from the distant sheltering spruce trees, tunneling under the fresh fallen snow for about a metre, popping up to get its bearing, then tunneling again for another metre or so. The lure of peanuts and sunflower seeds was strong, so the little imp risked this crossing of the open garden area, hoping to find food and not become food.

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Winter stories to discover

2022 01 08 hawke snow journal

By David Hawke -- It's nice to have time to read the Daily Journal, but just make sure you're dressed for the occasion. A parka is an asset and snowshoes might help at times. Despite the need to bundle up, a good read of the community news is most always rewarding and helps you keep abreast of what's happening around you.

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New year, new headgear for some creatures

2022 01 01 hawke antlers

By David Hawke — Around the time our calendars flip from December to January, the white-tailed deer of our area are succumbing to an annual miracle. At least the guy deer are. It starts with an itch, escalates to an obsessive notion to rub things and suddenly the top of their head falls off! Plop, plop, in the snow, just lying there.

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A question of survival

2021 12 24 hawk and dove

Julie finally had a day in which to get caught up on a few of the hundred or so little jobs around the house that needed her attention. As she worked by the window, sorting through a few decades’ worth of unlabelled family photos, she would look up occasionally to watch the antics of the birds and squirrels at the feeders.

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Talking turkey on Christmas Bird Count day

2021 12 18 turkeys and grapes

The nice thing about wild turkeys is that they are so big you can't miss them. Seeing them that is. Whether they're swarming your bird feeder or trudging across an open corn field, turkeys get noticed. For the birdwatcher trained to constantly peer into thick piles of brush to detect small feathered life forms, tripping over a flock of turkeys feels almost ‘other-worldly’.

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Nature is not always kind

2021 12 11 hawke heron small

By David J. Hawke -- The heron sits hunkered down in the yellow-brown vegetation, almost hidden from my view. Ice has formed all around the little cattail oasis, and snow hangs from the nearby tree limbs. The water at its feet remains open only because a small stream keeps enough current flowing to prevent a total freeze up. The heron does not look happy.

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Rooting out a new ecological disaster — wild boar

Dominant wild boar, sus scrofa, displaying on a hill near little spruce tree. Wild animal standing on a horizon on horizon on glade in forest. Strong mammal in wilderness.

Just because you’ve got the garden harvested, the snow tires on and the storm windows in place, you may think that you have nothing to worry about. Well, guess again… you need to be anxious about pigs.

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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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