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.

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.

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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.    

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!”

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A sucker for signs of Spring

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

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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.

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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!

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Spring is in the air at the Nature Centre





At this time of year, the pond at the Robert L. Bowles Nature Centre is alive with activity. Compared with the summer months, the pond is nearly double in size due to a high water table, runoff, and the spring thaw.

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See all the spring things!

2022 04 03 hawke spring

By David Hawke -- As we jump over that figurative seasonal puddle from March into April there can be noted a very dynamic shift within the natural communities. Winter things are disappearing and spring things are showing up in every habitat type from wilderness to urban.

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Really early Spring flowers

2022 03 26 hawke bloomsBy David J. Hawke -- The calendar has finally caught up with what wildlife have known for a few weeks… it’s spring!

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The robins are back!

2022 03 20 robins are back

By David J. Hawke -- The robins are back!

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As busy as beavers this Spring

2022 03 23 beavers

By David J. Hawke — The upcoming thaws will be a welcome change to the season for most of us, but for the local beaver families the soft ice and open water will be as exciting as the lifting of COVID restrictions have been for us. “Get me out of this one-room lodge!!”

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Surviving Spring

2022 03 05 hawke snowshoe hare

By David Hawke -- Let me do a quick recap of the recent winter weather: plus 5C thaw, rain showers, then minus 25C, four inches of snow, plus another six inches of snow, then minus 25C again, and now four more inches of snow.

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Wildlife Winter Olympics

2022 02 26 hawke winter olympics small

By David Hawke -- Good morning to all you wild sports fans and welcome to Day 76 of the Wildlife Winter Olympic Games. I'm Buck Boaring, your host for the day, and joining us to report from the field is Chip Underfoot. Yes, indeed, these 90-day Games are indeed proving to be as exciting as ever, with each event providing both crushing defeats and ultimate survivals. Let's go to Chip who's covering the early morning events at Bird Feeder Stadium. Chip, are you there?

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Explosion of snow and branches

2022 02 19 grouse explosion

By David J. Hawke

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