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.

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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Spreading info on invasives

2022 02 12 hawke invasives part 2By David J. Hawke — A couple of weeks ago this column mentioned that there are a lot of conferences going on right now; and the trend continues!

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Love is in the air

2022 02 05 hawke foxBy David Hawke -- Ah, mid-winter and love is in the air.

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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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