Whether you are new to gardening or a horticultural expert, after this long winter, you’re probably eager to start planning your garden. However, before choosing plants, you may want to consider the issue of invasive plants.
Spring has, technically, arrived in Ontario, though below-freezing temperatures would suggest otherwise. Nevertheless, robins and cardinals are singing, killdeer are flying overhead, and the red-winged blackbirds’ unmistakable trilling song has returned.
While many southern Ontario residents lament the low temperatures and high snowfall we’re experiencing this winter, my family and I are reveling in the opportunity to experience a new side of nature. As lifelong winter enthusiasts, my husband and I know that there is plenty of nature to enjoy during the cold months, and we’re eager to share it with our young daughter, Kathleen. This is not always easy because Kathleen’s physical disability restricts her to a wheelchair. But with careful planning and a custom-made sled, we’ve staved off cabin fever with regular outdoor treks.
When I started birdwatching, I had no idea that it was a year-round sport. Although winter birding lacks the tremendous variety of spring birding – with its flashes of multi-colored warblers – it has a great deal to offer.
For as long as I can remember, I have opened my eyes each morning with an immediate need to see what is going on outside. As a pre-schooler I remember knocking on doors early in the morning, hoping that another child would prefer being outside to watching cartoons. Parents didn’t appreciate my free-spirited enthusiasm at 8:00 a.m. and so my adventures were often solitary in nature.
Tiny and adorable red-eared slider hatchlings are frequently bought as pets and then later released “into the wild” when they out-grow their aquariums, or when their owners tire of them. This species is native to southcentral United States and northern Mexico, but – thanks mainly to their release by pet-owners – are now found in many other places, including Canada, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Greece, Netherlands and Israel.
I recently did something I never imagined I would do. I went to bird camp. Last month, I spent a week studying fall migration at Hog Island Audubon bird camp on the coast of Maine. Led by renowned naturalist and writer Scott Weidensaul, the week in Maine made me rethink my relationship with birds.
We all lead busy lives and it feels like there is never enough time to get outside and enjoy nature. More often than not, I fall into this category. And in the little spare time I have, I am often buried in a list of chores. But over the Thanksgiving long weekend, I decided it was time to get outside and enjoy the beautiful fall colours. Sunshine, fresh air and a canopy of orange, red and yellow – nature did not disappoint.
Don’t look now; the Ontario government is quietly doing a hatchet job on environmental protection. Under the guise of Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) “transformation” and achieving a “balance” we are witnessing a period of rapid environmental deregulation. Speaking truth to power, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario Gord Miller blasted the government today for absconding from its responsibility “to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soils in which we grow food, and the natural resources that support our communities.”
From a young age, I have been interested in birds. I enjoy watching them at feeders, observing them in the woods and reading about them in books. I even chose raptors as the topic for two speeches I gave in primary school. Despite this, I only started birding this year, thanks to the 2011 movie with Steve Martin and Owen Wilson called “The Big Year”. I had never heard of a big year, which is competition or personal goal to see or hear a large number of bird species within a single calendar year, but the idea intrigued me. Coincidentally a new year was about to begin, so I decided that I would forgo a New Year’s resolution and begin a big year instead.