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.

Predators: Cruel or simply part of nature?

2020 12 05 squirrels

By David Hawke — If you have observed wildlife for any length of time, you may have realized that life for these critters can appear to be cruel and unfair; very few, if any, wild animals die of old age.

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Tracking our feathered visitors

2020 11 28 red breastednuthatch

By David Hawke -- That last blast of snow no doubt encouraged you to get the bird feeders up and filled.

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Melancholy moments as fall turns to winter

2020 11 21 hawke winterwoods

By David Hawke -- This month feels so much like a recently completed festival -- coloured leaves are gone, wildflowers have been killed by frost, Thanksgiving and Halloween are over, Indian summer has come and gone, and most of the birds, mammals and insects have either migrated or are hibernating. Nothing left but memories.

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The autumn hunt -- both a tradition and a controversy

2020 11 14 hawke hunting2

By David Hawke -- BOOM! BOOM! KA-POW!  Yep, autumn has arrived and with it comes the annual tradition -- and associated controversy -- of hunting.

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Tamaracks shine through in gold and amber

         2020 11 07 tamarack2 By David Hawke -- Nature’s annual autumn colour party was well done this year, with the local maple trees sporting posh crimsons and oranges, splashed against the more somber yellow cast.

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A wee mouse in our old house

2020 10 31 mouse2

          By David Hawke -- CLACK! Scitter-scitter. Silence. I open one eye and look at the bedside clock... 4:02am. Good, got another one, same time as yesterday's capture. The recent arrival of mice in the house has caused me to set out a trapline of defence.

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Take a closer look at migrating ducks and geese

2020 10 25 hawke ducks By David Hawke -- Birdwatching is definitely a spring thing. That’s when the birds are in their colourful breeding plumage

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Loon sighting caps autumn paddle

2020 10 17 loonsBy David Hawke -- Loons and canoes seem to go together in a proper order, like a hand in a glove type of feeling.

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Snakes scale back food to survive winter

2020 10 11 snakesBy David Hawke -- Looking back on last week's weather only confirms the suspicion that autumn is trying to descend upon us.

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Forest floor's fascinating fungi

2020 10 04 hawke mushroom

          By David Hawke -- As late-summer September drifts into early-autumn October there is a fair bit of excitement in the natural world. Birds are migrating, mammals are stocking up on their winter cache of food and fat, and many insects have found either a cozy place to hibernate or at least a protected spot to lay their eggs. But for many of us the thrill of autumn is found on the forest floor… it’s mushroom season!

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If a tree falls in the forest...

2020 090 27 fallentrees2

          By David Hawke -- “If a tree falls in the forest, and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?” was the question introduced by George Berkeley in 1710. Surprisingly, this was in the context of perception, not forest management. Nowadays I suppose the question is, “If a tree falls on a power line, and no one has electricity, how do you call Hydro One?”

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Oh, deer -- what happened here

2020 09 19 antlers

          By David Hawke -- White-tailed deer have always lived around our farm, occasionally seen grazing in far corners of the pastures or bouncing across a meadow as they move from one woodlot to another. Nice to see, and nice to know that they are comfortable enough with our presence to continue living here. However, events are building that may cause some friction between us.

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The secret to homeschooling

2020 09 12 bee.on.goldenrod

By David Hawke -- Here’s a little word-association game that many parents are doing this year: September. School. Homeschooling. Fear.

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Spooky shapes woven by webworms

2020 09 07 webworm2

By David Hawke -- As I drove along the not-as-quiet-as-it-once-was back country road, the ghostly shapes that lined the roadside gave me the creeps. Tall trees, once resplendent in their green foliage, now appeared like mummified corpses, as they were wrapped from trunk to crown in grey-white fabric. Wow, the fall webworms are thick this year!

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The goldenrod challenge: Identify that plant!

2020 08 29 goldenrods

By David Hawke -- I read somewhere, once upon a time, that "if a botanist is ever condemned to the severest punishment that the underworld can mete, the penalty will be to write a monograph accurately describing and identifying all the known goldenrods." This mythical threat is not too far off base, as more than 50 kinds of goldenrod are found in southern Ontario, and many hybridize with each other.

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Catching some life-giving rays

2020 08 22 painted turtle

By David Hawke -- Have you been catching a few rays? Soaking up the sunlight? If so, it could be said that you are turning turtle. Basking in the sunlight is a pastime enjoyed by many of us, but for turtles it can be the balance between life or death.

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Seeking the shy, elusive skink

2020 08 16 skinks

By David Hawke -- Skinks suffer from onomatopoeia, as do sloths. You will no doubt recall from English class that onomatopoeia is when a word sounds like its meaning (or maybe you skipped that class… was it worth it? Bet you're sorry now... ).

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Rain, sun, heat make it a berry good year

2020 08 08 black cap raspberry
2020 08 08 Red Raspberry
2020 08 08 Thimble berry
2020 08 08 Dwarf Raspberry

By David Hawke -- It’s berry picking time and there is often opportunity to indulge in a bit of trailside nibbling. While I am usually loath to wander into the topic of edible wild (especially mushrooms) the juicy fruits of the raspberries are unmistakable.

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Passing along the passion for wild creatures

2020 08 01 mothBy David Hawke -- Breakfast is usually shared with my grandson, 11-year old Toby, who wanders over from the farmhouse just across the yard.

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Here be dragons -- and damsels

2020 07 25 wetland

By David Hawke -- As the Grade 6 class followed me along the winding path down to the edge of the marsh we gave the appearance of a medieval troop of wood gnomes off on a quest. We were in search of dragons and damsels, predators and prey, things hidden and hiding. Long-handled dip nets bristled forth from every other student while collecting bowls were handled by those in between like careless shields. Excitement, some of it nervous, was in the air.

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