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.

Chickadee survival tactics revealed!

2019 12 21 chickadee

By David Hawke -- The wildlife of our area, if they are programmed to stay and survive winter, are subjected to a rolling schedule of feast then famine. Food abundance can and does disappear overnight, whether the cause be weather (hey, it snowed last night... a lot!) or migration (hey, where'd everybody go?). To get by until springtime many changes must be undertaken, sometimes physiological, sometime with behaviours.

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Red-bellied woodpecker rare but expanding in the Lake Simcoe area

2019 12 14 red belliedwoodpecker

By David Hawke -- I admit I was rushing when I went out the door... places to go, people to see... so my sudden appearance was indeed a surprise to the gathered flock of birds. Blue jays bolted this-away, chickadees flitted that-away and two black squirrels almost had a head-on collision as escape branches were grasped for! But then a new shape was noted, a new pattern of feathers, enough of a difference that I halted half-way across the deck for a better look-see.

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Winter reveals some of Nature's secrets

2019 12 08 hawke nest

By David Hawke -- If Mother Nature were ever to sit in on a card game, you could count me out! For Nature doesn’t like to reveal any secrets, and if they are revealed, it's only because it needn't be kept a secret any longer.

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How conifers cope with Winter's cold

2019 11 30 ScotchPineHawke By David Hawke -- Winter tires on? Check. Storm windows installed? Check. Snow boots, scarf and toque dug out from back of closet? Check.

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How deciduous trees survive the winter

2019 11 23 treemandala

By David Hawke -- Thank goodness for the rains of autumn! Nothing beats a good ground-soaker to help the trees prepare for winter. While most of us mobile creatures often bemoan the cold dampness of pre-winter, the stuck-in-one-place trees are, I’m sure, quite grateful for the additional moisture that’s dropped within their reach.

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Naturalist Bob Whittam, much missed

2019 11 16 Bob Whittam

In the photo, Bob Whittam, then Director of the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre, helps staff clean up. What's so special about that? Read on...

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The Dance of the Milkweed Seeds

2019 11 09 milkweed.seed      

By David Hawke -- As October drips into November our outdoor excursions can become a tad chilly and damp, and it really does take an extra effort to appreciate the gifts of the season.

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Elusive yapping drives me barking mad

2019 10 19 Trail cam Hawke 3

By David Hawke -- The barking started at 7:30pm, loud, sharp and annoying. And it continued, non-stop for a good 30 minutes. Now, I have a saying about dogs, and that is, "The dog is probably a nice enough animal, it's the dog owner that's the problem". Yes, there are some nasty tempered dogs out there, but most of the time it seems the dog is 'misbehaving' as a result of poor training, no training, or some level of neglect from the owner.

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Ruffed grouse get ready for winter

2019 10 26 Ruffed Grouse small

By David Hawke -- It's just after a rain, and I'm walking along an old logging road, my boots absolutely silent as they press against the wet layers of fallen leaves. Tall poplars line each side of the roadway, their butter-yellow leaves spread thickly on the ground before me. Brambles hang over the trail's edge and clutch at my clothing as I pass by. Occasionally a raspberry thorn catches my attention and then, with exaggerated annoyance, I stop, back up, and disengage it from my sleeve or pant leg.

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Stunning colours this year - even on the forest floor

2019 10 20 Geastrum triplex Collared Earthstar 20191007 40 Acres Hawke 1

By David Hawke -- Whether your daily walk takes you around the yard, around the block or through the woods, there is a good chance that you will have noticed a mushroom or two growing by the wayside. Depending on your character, you may have looked upon said mushroom and thought: 1. Eww, something rotting is going on here; 2. Hmm, wonder if I can eat it... or maybe it's poisonous; or 3. Wow, look at the form and colour, what a beauty!

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Beware of the unseen daggers!

2019 09 17 Dagger Moth Hawke

By David Hawke -- "Beware the dagger moths! Beware the tussock moths!" is the cry that is going across the land this fall, and for good reason.

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Our wildlife depend heavily on forest 'mast'

2019 10 05 red oak leaves and acorns4

By David Hawke -- When a recent caller requested a column about mast production, I assumed she had me mixed up with someone else. What did I know about building sailing ships? But as the conversation went on, it became obvious that she was indeed on the right tack, as “mast” is a word to describe the fruiting bodies of trees -- acorns, beechnuts and such.

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More than one kind of mantis in the meadows

2019 09 30 Praying Mantis vert

By David Hawke -- Just when you think you know everything, along comes something new.

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Tracking the ebb and flow of life

2019 09 23 ducks1

By David Hawke -- Once upon a time in my personal timeline, Sept. 25 held a special meaning: it was the carved-in-stone official first day of the fall hunting season. Ducks, geese, grouse, rabbits... you name it and I and my buddies were probably licensed and loaded for it. But that was then and this is now.

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Treasure your early autumn walks

2019 09 14 Spot wing Fly Gall Hawke 2

By David Hawke -- As summer winds down and autumn slowly makes its presence known, a walk out of doors can be a rewarding time. Gone is the oppressive humidity, gone are the biting insects, and instead of green, green, green surrounding you, there are now splashes of colour highlighting the scenery.

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The world needs more malacologists

2019 09 08 snails

By David Hawke -- As another school year dawns upon us it would be nice to know that somewhere out there a student or two is studying hard to become a malacologist

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Excellent lawn care assistants

20190810 Valk Valley Pelecinid Wasp Hawke

By David Hawke -- Did you catch my “mistake” in last week's article? Today that mistake is corrected and further information embellished for your reading pleasure.

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Predator wasps are helpful, not harmful

          20190810 Valk Valley Pelecinid Wasp HawkeBy David Hawke -- There are wasps... and then there are other wasps.

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Cottontails abundant and easy to see this year

20190808 Valk Valley Cottontail Rabbit Hawke 4

By David Hawke -- The vegetable garden had looked great the evening before... not so much the next morning as almost the entire row of green beans had been mowed down.

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‘Smells detonate softly in our memory’

2019 08 11 Pineappleweed

By David Hawke -- As outdoorsy people, we are all no doubt aware of how important our five senses are to us: sight and sound especially for birdwatchers, while touch and taste are essential to herbalists and those with a wild food culinary bent. Yet we sometimes take the sense of smell for granted.

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