The beauty of winter birding

snowy owl, credit Ashley Hockenberry

snowy owl, credit Ashley Hockenberry

Winter and birding seem like an unlikely pair. “What is there to see in the winter?” people often ask.

The truth is that winter in southern Ontario offers some extravagant avian rewards. What better remedy is there for the winter blues than the sight of a bufflehead gliding across frigid Lake Ontario and flaunting his iridescent plumage? Continue reading

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Herping in December in Ontario? Absolutely!

Jon Boxall took this photo of a mink frog found during a Christmas Bird Count in Peterborough County.

Jon Boxall took this photo of a mink frog found during a Christmas Bird Count in Peterborough County.

On December 14th of last year, with temperatures hovering around 0 degrees Celsius, my friend Jon and I participated in the Minden Christmas Bird Count in Haliburton County. Continue reading

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Reflecting on the Greenbelt town hall meeting

Old apple tree on her family's property reminds Sarah Bale of the Greenbelt's rich agricultural heritage.

Old apple tree on her family’s property reminds Sarah Bale of the Greenbelt’s rich agricultural heritage.

On January 28th, as I was driving north from Pickering to Brougham for a town hall meeting hosted by the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance and Land over Landings, I passed by subdivision development south of the Greenbelt and Oak Ridges Moraine boundaries.

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Family Day fun on the Oak Ridges Moraine

Moraine buttonThis blog is the second in a series that celebrates the Oak Ridges Moraine and engages readers in the upcoming review of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan. Learn more about the moraine and plan review by visiting marvellousmoraine.ca. Continue reading

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Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas art contest

Ontario turtle sculptures by Rosemary Oliver.

Ontario turtle sculptures by Rosemary Oliver.

It’s time for citizen scientists to stretch their artistic muscles!

The Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (ORAA) welcomes creature sightings from anyone observing Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians, and our art contest is for everyone as well. You don’t have to be a professional photographer or artist to participate. Just grab your camera, brush or crayon and give it a go!  Continue reading

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Winter birding at my home in Coldwater

Black-capped chickadee photo by Lindsay Barden.

Black-capped chickadee photo by Lindsay Barden.

The early bird gets the worm, or at least that’s what they say. This past weekend I found myself awake and watching the bird feeders at my family’s home in Coldwater Ontario before the birds arrived. It was a cold and rainy morning – maybe that’s why they were late to begin their seed and suet feast. Continue reading

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The travelling atlas show

Photo of Monique speaking to school kids about snakes by Jory Mullen.

Photo of Monique speaking to school kids about snakes by Jory Mullen.

In spring 2014, I signed up as Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas (ORAA) area coordinator for the Ausable Bayfield Watershed.  ORAA is an ingenious tool that allows regular people to learn about and help monitor Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians, collectively known as herpetofauna or herps for short.

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There’s a hole in my atlas

Red-bellied snake photo by Scott Gillingwater.

Red-bellied snake photo by Scott Gillingwater.

Ontario is a big place to try and conduct a detailed herp atlas. Mapping the distribution of species using 10×10 kilometre grid squares carves the province up into big chunks. There are over 1,000 grid squares in southern Ontario alone. Trying to get coverage in all, or even most, of these squares is a challenge. As an atlas co-ordinator for the Ottawa area, I wanted to know how well we were doing covering the area and also where else we should be looking. Continue reading

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ESA regulation challenged in court

woodland caribou, photo credit: Bruce McKay

woodland caribou, photo credit: Bruce McKay

It is not easy to sit quietly in court while the opposing side takes a sledgehammer to your core values. For instance, as long as an endangered species doesn’t disappear from Ontario altogether, then Cabinet is free to approve any regulation it chooses under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recovery and benefit to the species be damned. As long as the minister formed an opinion, that’s all we are entitled to know – not how the opinion was arrived at. Transparency and process be damned.

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Marvellous moraine: A winter wonderland in our backyard

Moraine buttonThis blog is the first in a series that will celebrate the Oak Ridges Moraine and engage readers in the upcoming review of the Oak Ridges Moraine Conservation Plan. Learn more about the moraine and plan review by visiting marvellousmoraine.ca.

Continue reading

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