A walk in the woods

Written by  Lorraine Julien Thursday, 13 October 2016 01:17
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Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta Maculata) Spotted Water Hemlock (Cicuta Maculata)

Now that the heat of summer is finished and summer vacations for a lot of people are over, it’s a nice, quiet time to explore forests and fields.

The brown moths that evolved after the forest tent caterpillar invasion have gone into a dormant state or died off but I am concerned that they laid millions of eggs. Perhaps we will have a really cold winter that may destroy some of the eggs at least. I don’t really believe that but one can always hope!

After the dry, hot summer I was amazed recently to see an abundance of fungi of various types around our lake property. There had been an overnight rainfall so it was an ideal time to do some fungi exploring. There were clusters of little orange cups called, appropriately, Scarlet Cups. These are usually found growing on hardwood sticks and they’re fairly common. I also noticed Fairy Butter which is another orangey, jelly-like fungus looking much like folded petals. It is usually found on conifer logs and stumps.

I believe the fungus shown in the accompanying photo is called Lobster fungus. The Lobster fungi were quite numerous, sprinkled along the edge of a little laneway. These creations of nature come in mind-boggling shapes, sizes and colours but now that the leaves are falling, they will be difficult to find.

Recently I went for a hike in a conservation area on the edge of Lake Ontario. The area of old growth forest was teeming with birds of all types. The most dramatic sight was the dozens of raptors resting in high tree branches that lined the shore of Lake Ontario before making the arduous journey south over the lake. Blue jays and many other birds were gathering in large flocks preparing for their arduous journey south.

In other areas away from the lake, it was the delightful chickadees that captured our attention. I held my hand out and waited only a few seconds before the first chickadee landed on my hand to see what food I had to offer. The next time I visit I must remember to take a bag of bird seed as they were not especially fond of my popcorn.

We spied a family of wild turkeys, trying to be incognito, quietly eating under some low-hanging tree branches.

In a nearby field, I spotted some butterflies and, on closer inspection, saw that they were monarchs. It was exciting to see them as I haven’t seen more than one or two all summer long.

Throughout the walk, the stereophonic sound of crickets was almost deafening but wonderful to hear. A road under construction was only half a mile away but the crickets completely eliminated any road noise. Grasshoppers were jumping all over, with lots of squirrels and chipmunks gathering seeds and nuts for the long winter ahead. A large turtle was soaking up the sun before burrowing into the mud for the winter.

Trees are now dressed in their fall finery, with beautiful golds and reds sprinkled among the evergreens. The purple of wild asters and clusters of goldenrod added to the beautiful colour palette.

Take advantage of this time of the year and enjoy a nature walk!  


Please send your observations to Lorraine Julien at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Steve Blight at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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