Thursday, August 4, 2016

Summer in Northern Ontario

Spring is by far the best season to go out exploring when you love to observe birds, but summer has its advantages too.  

Here are 5 reasons why summer is a great time to go outside and explore in Northern Ontario:

1. Nesting birds.

I've never really spent much time looking for nests or approaching nesting locations... nests are made to be hidden for a reason.  But this summer, we came across some that were very impressive and I snapped a few photos from far away.

Great Blue Herons in nest
Remi Lake (10 July 2016)
Great Blue Heron - Part of a nesting colony
Remi Lake (10 July 2016)
This is how far I was when I took the photos.  I didn't want to disturb them.  From here, it looks like any other shoreline, the nests are well hidden.  There were at least 6 occupied nests with either adults or young in them, all in the same location.  With the sun in our eyes, the visibility was not great but it was really an interesting find.  There was also an Osprey nest very close to the Heron's nests.  The Osprey was in the nest, then flew and perched on a dead brach near there.  
Great Blue Heron nesting colony from our boat
Remi Lake (10 July 2016)
This Bald Eagle nest, on the undeveloped shores of René Brunelle Provincial Park, has been used for years.  One juvenile was still in the nest while an adult was perched nearby.  Most years they have 2 juveniles but this year I only saw one.
Bald Eagle nest with 1 juvenile
René Brunelle Provincial Park (10 July 2016)

2.  Frogs.  Another reason to love summer.  They are fascinating.  I'm still trying to learn how to i.d. them correctly.

Mink Frog?
Porcupine Lake (30 July 2016)

Green Frog
Porcupine Lake (30 July 2016)

3. Interesting plants.  If you take the time to look down, there are very interesting plants growing in Northern Ontario.

The Pitcher Plant is a carnivorous plant that attracts insects in their leaves (shaped like drinking cups) and digest them to get the nutrients they need.  

We found a little lake in Moonbeam that had no access.  We put our rubber boots and bug spray and hiked to it. I was amazed when I got there and found not one, but at least 50 of these amazing plants.  They were growing everywhere, with sometimes not even 1 foot separating them.  It was a challenge not to step on them. When we got there, it was already getting dark and we weren't sure we marked our trail well enough to find our way back so I had only 5 minutes to explore this spot.      
Pitcher Plant
Moonbeam (21 July 2016) 
The Sundew is another carnivorous, insect eating plant that we found growing near the Pitcher Plants.
Sundews (the red ones)
Moonbeam (21 July 2016)

4. Camping in Provincial Parks and watching breeding warblers.  

The best part about camping in a Provincial Park is that you can explore the natural world right where you are from the moment you wake up to the moment the sun sets.  If you are not a camper, I suggest going to spend a day in one of our local Provincial Parks.  It's worth it.

Spring migration is great for observing warblers but here in Northern Ontario, we get to watch them all summer long!  They breed in our Boreal forest and one of the best places to watch them are in Northern Ontario's Provincial Parks.
Blackburnian Warbler / Paruline à gorge orangée
René Brunelle Provincial Park (19 July 2016)
Bay-breasted Warbler carrying food
René Brunelle Provincial Park (19 July 2016)
Northern Waterthrush / Paruline des ruisseaux
René Brunelle Provincial Park (23 July 2016)

5. Sunsets.  What better way to end a summer day?  I photographed this sunset from a campsite at René Brunelle Provincial Park, where we camped for 2 weeks.

Sunset on Remi Lake
René Brunelle Provincial Park (July 2016)