ALUS tour features projects new and old

Wetland at Van Til Farm

Wetland at Van Til Farm

Many of us know that when farmers and conservationists work together, both agriculture and nature benefit. But how many of us have seen this in action? I became one of the fortunate few when I attended the 9th annual Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS) farm tour in Norfolk County. Continue reading

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Ode to Ontario Nature

Modelling Ontario Nature gear with coworker, Maggie Janik.

Modelling Ontario Nature gear with coworker, Maggie Janik.

Even though a grand adventure was on the horizon, I dreaded leaving Ontario Nature last month. On my last day, I was sappy one moment, numb the next.

Let me explain … Continue reading

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Conservation on the farm

Adrian Op’thoog and children on their farm near Feversham.

Adrian Op’thoog and children on their farm near Feversham.

As an Ontario Nature intern this past summer, I had the opportunity to visit farmers in the ALUS Ontario community of Grey-Bruce, one of four such communities in Ontario. ALUS is short for Alternative Land Use Services, which is a community-developed, farmer-delivered program that supports the enhancement and maintenance of nature’s benefits on farms. Continue reading

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Strong evidence on neonics demands action despite ongoing debate

Bumble bee on purple coneflower by Matt Jenkins.

Bumble bee on purple coneflower by Matt Jenkins.

I am sipping coffee and munching an apple as I write this blog. To enjoy such daily pleasures, we rely on pollinators.  In fact, about one of every three bites of food we eat depends on insect pollinators. Unfortunately, the populations of insect pollinators like bumblebees and honeybees are declining. Continue reading

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Big Bay Bioblitz – a big success!

Big Bay Bioblitz photo by Jenn Kehoe.

Big Bay Bioblitz photo by Jenn Kehoe.

It was a warm Saturday afternoon in June when we gathered at Keppel Croft Gardens for a 1.5 hour bioblitz focusing on reptiles and amphibians. Our enthusiastic leader was Ontario Nature volunteer Ryan Lauzon, and our gracious hosts were Dawn and Bill, Keppel Croft’s owners. All three are serious nature lovers, and Ryan is particularly enthusiastic about herpetology. Some of the kids in the group had previous herping experience. One boy told the group that he had spotted 17 salamanders at his cottage nearby. Continue reading

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Birding the Carden Alvar

golden-winged_warbler_header_copyright_noncommercial_David_Cree

Golden-winged warbler. Copyright David Cree

You know you have a birding problem when a recurring blue-winged warbler song enters your dream. The problem isn’t so much the song, but the accompanying panic related to an upcoming Carden Alvar trip and your inability to recall the song of the blue-winged warbler’s close relation – the golden-winged warbler. This is the bird you are desperate to hear and see.

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Huron County counts its lucky salamanders

Huron Bioblitz, June 2014 by Devin Sturgeon

Huron Bioblitz, June 2014 by Devin Sturgeon

Enthusiasm can be curiously catchy. Before heading out on my first-ever bioblitz last Saturday in Huron County, I was mildly interested in reptiles and amphibians. To be clear, I wished these critters no harm. In fact, I worried about their survival in this face of habitat fragmentation, pollution and climate change, but I did not yearn for encounters with them.  Continue reading

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Where do they stand?

Bald eagle, Terry-Alex

Bald eagle, Terry-Alex

Ontario Nature asked Ontario’s four major political parties five important questions about their plans for nature to find out where they stand on critical environmental issues that will impact the future health of the province.

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How to process a 45-pound snapping turtle in 10 (not so) easy steps

megan snapper resizedStep 1.  Scoop the turtle into your net.

Step 2. Lift the turtle into your canoe. Word of warning – this is easier said than done. Be prepared to need the strength of two people, and bend at the knees so you don’t put your back out. Continue reading

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The thrill of the chase

Louisiana waterthrush by Kelly Colgan Azar c/o Flickr.com

Louisiana waterthrush by Kelly Colgan Azar c/o Flickr.com

It’s not often that birding becomes an adventure sport, but some birds are worth chasing. And by chasing, I mean sliding through mud, crossing creeks and coming home slightly battered and dirty. But there’s a pride to showing-off the scrapes and bruises acquired in the pursuit of an elusive bird. Continue reading

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