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Dispatches from Petrie Island 2001

Here are reports filed by various Friends of Petrie Island on what is currently happening on the island.

29 December 2001 (Jim Robertson)

Well ice fishing time is with us again. I would not have thought the ice was thick enough, but when I arrived at 7 AM, there were already 4 vehicles parked by Crappy Bay. When I left three hours later, there were 8-9 cars and about 10 people out on the ice sitting on stools or chairs fishing. No fishing huts are out as the ice is obviously not thick enough for them yet. 
The main river had a mist rising over it. The flowing water produced the noise of fresh river ice scraping the ice extending out from shore. It was odd to hear noise other than birds. 
The ice breaking beavers (See Dec. 22) have apparently lost their battle with the ice, guess they spent to much time in the lodge over Christmas opening presents. All of the internal waterways were frozen over with some very few small slushy looking areas. 
There were no animals in view, but lots of tracks. While the dogs and human walkers or cross-country skiers covered many of the tracks, rabbit and squirrel tracks were still in evidence. Off the main trail, where no people or their dogs had travelled, there were unidentified tracks along the shore's edge and some inland. Identification was difficult as there had been some light snow in the past day. 
A few chickadees were seed searching and a solitary hairy woodpecker showed up for work at a relaxed hour of 8:30 AM 
The water level is down another 3-4 inches. "Old" ice is still stuck to trees above the snow line. Walking in flooded areas was interesting as your boots fall through the old ice, down through an air pocket and then either into fresh ice, water or mud. 
There was a nice sunrise, the first for over a week, which played nicely off the hoar frost leftover from the last two days. But at 8:45 a fog banked rolled in from nowhere and enveloped the snow covered trees. Twenty minutes later, the fog was gone as quickly as it arrived.

22 December 2001 (David Villeneuve)

I got to the island well before Jim and Bill.  I was the first one on the trail, so I got to destroy the tracks in the fresh snow.  The early bird gets the worm.  I saw tracks of squirrels, rabbits, and what appeared to be a medium-sized dog.  Those tracks went west only, I didn't see them returning, which makes me think it wasn't the dog from the house.  Maybe the wild black cat with half a tail that lives on the island?  Bill suggests a fox or a coyote.  Whatever it was, it was dainty, because it used the 2x8 plank to cross the water channel rather than going across the ice.

The woodpecker (I would have said red-headed woodpecker, but the experts below say pileated) flew right up to the tree beside me, oblivious to my dog who took verbal offence to him.

I was leaving just as the sun rose, and met Jim, who must have overslept.  My golden retriever had a quick swim in the main river, followed by a roll in the snow.  It must be nice to be immune to the cold.

22 December 2001 (Jim Robertson)

This morning, at -12°C, was the coolest one yet. But there was still open water on Turtle Pond and Muskrat Bay when I arrived at 7:15AM. The water level was down about 4-6” as evidenced by the broken flat ice clinging to the trees above the current water line. 

It had not snowed for a few days, but there were very few animal tracks and far fewer human footprints. There were a few squirrel and rabbit tracks, along with some relatively small unidentified paw prints. As well there were signs of the usual trail crossovers by beaver, but not as many as in past days. The beavers have been limiting their wood harvesting activity; I saw only one sapling freshly chewed off, and one 16” tree is continuing to be worked on. 

There was a muskrat out for its morning swim in Turtle Pond’s open water as I started down the trail. There was no visible activity along the Beaver Trail, but again there were fresh mud workings around the last year’s beaver lodge. No fresh mud on the lodge, but lots of tracks around the lodge and signs of mud gathering. Maybe the workers could leave us a note as to what they are doing. 

Walking around to the new beaver lodge, I noticed that there was more open water near it today than last week. A possible answer for that revealed itself shortly. A beaver surfaced under the edge of some fresh ice forming off the thicker ice. It then proceeded to swim around like a miniature ice breaker. When I walked east, past the lodge to the dip between Muskrat Bay and the south channel, another beaver was working the ice on the shoreline along the channel. There was also a 30 foot diameter opening in the ice on the north side of the dip. While I was keeping an eye on the beaver on the south side, I heard, almost felt, a “kersplash” as a beaver had surfaced 15 feet behind me, spotted me, sounded the alarm, and dove before I could get a good look at him. 

The pilated woodpecker was busy working several trees, but too shy to allow a picture to be taken. Several chickadees were around as well of course. In the river were several groupings of ducks, either male mergansers or buffleheads - they were too far away to tell. There were likely 30-40 in total. One group took off with their wet white feathers brightly reflecting the low rising sun. 

There had been a breeze overnight and the during the day before so many of the bushes along the flooded shoreline were coated with heavy icicles. 

When returning to the car at 9:45, I noticed that the open water from 7:15 on Turtle Pond was now lightly frozen over. There were only a few square metres in a few spots that had not congealed during this, the coolest time of the day. (“Coolest” in both senses.) 

22 December 2001 (Bill Bower)

Looks like I was in about 5 minutes after Jim left. I saw fresh Jim tracks.

A couple Otters had crossed the path just past the house. All the birds I saw (Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers (Hairy and Pileated) and Brown Creeper were on the Beaver Trail next to the water. It is always warmer in that area.

I went after the Cottontails near the sand hills to try and get some pictures, but no luck. They are adapting well to Petrie Island or watching too much TV lately, I'm not sure which. They were all in caves or underground bunkers. I could see where they were but they weren't coming out. A couple were in those old log piles and well protected.

There is a small house cat out there which explains some of the smaller paw tracks. There is a fox around and I think one coyote also, judging by the tracks. They will likely move on now that the ice is getting thick enough to hold their weight.

I left at noon but had the place to myself until then.

16 December 2001 (Jim Roberston)

After losing what little snow had fallen several weeks ago, 1-1/2" of fresh wet snow arrived over night Friday. That made it very easy to see where the four legged creatures had been during the night: 

The old "raft/dock" at the west end of the Turtle Trail was trampled over, presumably by the two muskrats with their home in the bank of the pond. Both muskrats were out for their morning exercise Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

The snow on the south side of the top of the culvert on the main trail was also well trampled, assumedly by the muskrats that have burrowed a home into the ground under the Ninebark shrub. 

There were many icy trail crossovers where beaver, (otters, mink, or muskrats) had been travelling between water spots during the night. 

A 3' by 10' section at the last year's beaver lodge was cleared of snow and the ground nicely churned into mud. Not sure what the theory was behind that activity as there was no new mud on the lodge. 

A good number of two footed creatures were also evidently on the trails Saturday, but not many ventured too far west . No one crossed the "bridge" at the dip at the west end of Muskrat Bay. 

There were some good sized paw tracks in the snow in an area that no humans or domestic dogs had been into. There were some tracks suspiciously like deer, but it was hard to tell as there is too much undergrowth that still comes through the snow and obliterates the tracks. 

The early morning sun spot lit the many snow covered muskrat lodges hidden amongst the reeds in the marsh to the west as you drive down from the Queensway. There must easily be 10-15 throughout the marsh. 

I also noticed a muskrat lodge in the bull rushes by the old beaver lodge on the trail. Sunday morning there was either a muskrat, or one of the minks inhabiting the old lodge, swimming under the ice amongst the bull rushes. There was a sound of something in the bull rushes but no movement. It would stop, then quickly sound again about 10-15 feet away, stop and start again quickly some distance away. 

There were a few ducks around in the open water of Turtle Pond Saturday, but none to be seen or heard on Sunday. The pilated woodpecker was patrolling Turtle Pond Sunday morning rather than Muskrat Bay as it did Friday morning. 

On both Saturday and Sunday morning there was an open "trail" through the ice on the small pond at the end of the main trail, between the River and Muskrat Bay. It was less open on Sunday with the temperatures being lower than Saturday. Obviously the beaver had been busy working their trail through the tall grasses and into the pond as they moved constantly between Muskrat Bay and the River. 

It seems the beaver must have gotten their paws on a block and tackle. There was a 30 foot long tree that they brought down several weeks ago by "Duckweed pond", just NE of the old lodge on the main trail. The tree was stripped of its branches, the trunk left was some 20 feet long 6-8" wide at one end and 4-5" wide at the other end. The tree was a long way from any open water, and had fallen away from the self-contained Duckweed pond. A week or so ago the trunk was in Duckweed pond so it was assumed some helpful visitors must have decided to assist the beaver and tossed it, with some effort, in to the small pond. Maybe not !! Friday night, the beaver had managed to haul one end up out of the small pond trying to take it to Muskrat Bay. They had somehow dragged it up the 3 foot steeply inclined muddy edge of the pond and had a 6-8' section out of the water. It is not a small light piece of tree so they must have used a block and tackle to accomplish what they did. Saturday night they must given up trying to get the entire tree trunk up and over the trail to Muskrat Bay, as they had been busy chewing off two three foot sections to take to the lodge. Morning must have come sooner than hoped as they did not finish. But I am sure they will be back. 

Sunday morning produced some nice long frost crystals on dead ferns in some areas. The snow was protecting the bend over ferns, but there was warm moist air coming up from the ground under the ferns to produce the crystals.
The conditions must have been "just so" at about 8 AM Sunday. By the old lodge, you could watch fingers of fresh ice moving into the open water from the shoreline.

14 December 2001 (Jim Roberston)

Well it seems to be squatters' rights these days. As reported by Bill Bower and Paul Lefort, the mink are taking over the several years old beaver lodge, while the otters have squatted in last year's beaver lodge. (Just like owls will often squat in last year's hawk's nest.) 
Last Monday saw a bout of freezing fog just before sunrise which left a light coating of hoar frost on the grasses, shrubs etc. Some mushrooms on a fallen tree were well frosted. Virtually all of Turtle Pond, and most of Muskrat Bay, was frozen over. 
A rabbit was scooting by the bait house at 6:30AM. I haven't seen a rabbit for several weeks now. Not sure where they all are. They are around in the winter, so why not during the run up to winter? 
This morning a small otter, or large mink, decided to play a frustrating game of peek-a-boo with me by the active beaver lodge. I was watching two muskrats swimming by the lodge and snacking on its larder, when out of the corner of my eye I spotted a slinky catlike face peering over a log on the top of the lodge. The face appeared many more times over the next 30 minutes from various parts of the lodge or from within the tangled larder. It was more of a curious look that I was being given, which is more otter-like to my mind. The owner of the face never did present a full body view. 
While watching the beaver lodge antics, I could see, and hear, the pilated woodpecker flying back and forth along the length of Muskrat Bay. It almost sounds like a squirrel at times. Three other smaller woodpeckers played tag over my head by the lodge. 
There were a good number of muskrats out and about this morning. Aside from the two at the beaver lodge, two more were by the culvert on the main trail and quickly swam into their abode, in the shoreline under the trail. Paul LeFort reported one on a log by the start of the trail, only he had a bonus, a marten was also close by watching him. 
A black squirrel was obviously anxious to get by me while I was watching the muskrats at the culvert. The trail at this point is very narrow with water on each side. He would move towards me, stop, back a little, them move forward again. I stood absolutely still and he finally got up enough nerve to approach hesitantly, coming within 2 feet of me, and then scurried past on down the trail. 
Some of the large ferns seem to think summer is around the corner. One or two of them had their spring light brown skin on top, rather than their much darker late fall colour. Parting the light skin covering exposed tightly curled fiddle heads thinking about putting in a appearance. 

12 December 2001 (Paul LeFort)

As I walked along the Main Trail, I kept hearing the sound of ice breaking. Further investigation along the Beaver Tr. produced a most entertaining encounter with two river otters, who took turns popping up through the ice, about two meters from shore, near the abandoned beaver lodge. I am assuming the latter has become an otter lodge.

When they pop out, they sniff and snort loudly before diving again. The camera? It was in the car, pursuant to section 23, paragraph 4 of Murphy's Law.

8 December 2001 (Bill Bower)

The muskrats were over by Wood Duck box #7 trying to get up on the ice to eat. A mink came out of the same water hole and ran over the ice to where I was standing on the trail (by that very old beaver lodge). I was within about 8 feet of it. It gathered dried leaves and took them inside so I had a good look at it. It was a small mink and just had a few white hairs on its chin. My experience has been that weasels are either completely white by now or nearly all white. After I got my camera out I couldn't get it to stick its head out again. That's usually the way.

7 December 2001 (Jim Robertson)

This morning water was flooding onto the trails in areas that were never flooded last spring. The water does seem to be receding again though. There were parts of the trail that were flooded from Turtle Pond, but were about 1” higher than the main river. There were several small rivulets across the trail. A small torrent of water was flowing through the culvert at the western end of Turtle Pond.

The City’s Building Department must be working overtime issuing permits for the all the new muskrat lodges being built through the island. The muskrats are very helpful though in that they incorporate paper, dropped by human visitors, into their lodges.

Earlier this week, it looked as though the beavers on Muskrat Bay might be starting a new lodge very close to the one that has the larder outside it. There is an approximate 6 ft by 6 ft mud platform built well above the water, next to a windfall. It looked new, and thinking the beavers might be flooded out of their lodge, we were sure that they were starting another, higher, one. But no further work has taken place on the platform, so maybe it will not be a new lodge after all.

The longer it takes winter to arrive, the more trees that will lost. Several 12-15” tree were newly gnarled in the last day or two.

Several muskrats have been out for a swim in various locations, but this morning one was joined by what seemed to be weasel. The animal was too elongated to be a muskrat, but too small to be an otter, so I concluded it was a weasel. But what is was doing swimming and climbing up on various sticks and fallen branches, I am not sure.

A rough legged hawk was reported last weekend, it was still around during the week on the south side of the island. The pileated woodpecker was still around as was a midsize flock of gold finches

There was a morning of fresh ice earlier this week, and as before, it was forming on the north side of Turtle Pond only. The ice was a little different this time in that it had more texture to it. Often looking like tree bark, or in places, like ferns.

Humans and their pets/toys left their mark this week as well. A good-size dog made some very large holes in the sand of the turtle laying areas. An ATV (?) laid its tracks from the parking lot all along the trail as far west as the dip in the trail at the end of Muskrat Bay. Fortunately it did not tear up too much terrain.

2 December 2001 (Jim Robertson)

At this time of year the changes on the Islands are very slow. There are several more muskrat lodges in Turtle Pond and in the main marsh on the west side coming down from the Queensway. They must be trying to tell us that winter is finally coming.
The beavers seemed to have added a second storey to their lodge on Muskrat Bay. They must be responding to the high water levels. Their larder must be well anchored as it has not floated away. Signs of the beaver collecting branches, large and small, is evident over an ever increasing area.
One large tree, weakened by the beavers last year, fell into Muskrat Bay. The beavers have been tightrope walking, over the water, along the horizontal trunk to eat the bark and collect branches.
The pileated woodpecker, along with the hairy and downy woodpeckers, continue to attack many trees. In some places the bark has been shredded into falling strings.
One of three hornet's nest that I have seen is still intact. The other two have been torn apart by the wind (or whatever). The absence of leaves have revealed a baltimore oriole's sock-like nest hanging over the trail.
A good size murder (that's what a flock of crows is called) of crows noisily flew over one morning. Usually the crows are only around in 2-3's. Some seemed big enough to be ravens, but I have not had a close enough look at their tail feathers yet to determine if they are ravens.
The rain, wind and high water levels on Saturday washed a lot of the sand off the beach, as well as eroded some of the shoreline west of the cottage.
Sunday saw a group of about 6-8 hardy souls (kids and adults). They went for a walk along the wet, muddy trail and then came back to a picnic bench to enjoy hot chocolate and lunch on a Coleman stove.

20 November 2001 (Jim Robertson)

I was down at Petrie a couple of times over the past week. Last Tuesday, with no wind and a temperature of -5°, there was a fresh layer of ice over most of Turtle Pond. Muskrat Bay, however, had very little ice. Must be something to do with the depth of the two bodies of water. This morning no frost in evidence until about 7:45am when the mulleins and other leaves started to turn crystalline white as the temperature dropped below zero.

The black cat, that I had not seen for over a month, made a flitting appearance, guess it is finding enough mice to eat. A groundhog was busy bringing in additional grass to cushion its lair. Br’er rabbit was about as well. He was in the raised briar patch of all the burrs on the north side just after the main trail starts. I found a dead mole on the trail up by the old beaver lodge. It seemed to have no bit marks on it, so I am not sure brought about it demise.

The beavers continue their clear cutting, and some selected cutting as well. While there are no lodges in sight on Turtle Pond, the beavers have been actively snipping off saplings along the shoreline. On the main channel south of Muskrat Bay, several large trees are still being worked on, some having fallen in the past week. One tree that the beavers are attacking, is about 20” in diameter at the base. But 12” above, the tree had branched out into three separate trunks, two of which have been gone for at least a year. However one 6-8” trunk remains. If the beavers brought a stepladder along with them they could bring it down in a quarter of the time they will have to spend at the much thicker base.

There are a good number of ducks in the marsh still, but fewer in the “interior”. About 25 mergansers swished in for a landing on Muskrat Bay, but as soon as I tried to get closer, they left in a hurry. Bill Bower reported that some green-winged teals are still in the area.

The pilated woodpecker was very agitated this morning and would not sit still at all. One small tree has its bark torn off it, it is hanging there in tatters. At first I though it had been clawed off, but upon looking closer the telltale signs of woodpeckering was evident.

A couple of muskrats were out for a swim this morning. One dove below the surface and came back up at my feet along the shoreline. Little did I know I standing on over top of his hole in the bank. Both of us were equally surprised. There seem to have been two muskrat condos (lodges) completed for the winter.

Pat Laforest, out in his canoe a week ago, reported seeing a deer and fawn on the Island.
With the water having receded a good 4-6”, some secondary and tertiary trails are now accessible again. It is amazing to see the new beaver trails through the tall grass that had been flooded. The trails have been worn down more over the past few weeks than some of the human trails all summer.

11 November 2001 (Jim Robertson)

It was a cold windy morning with a heavy overcast, so not much was about. The four legged animals were the smart ones - in their cosy homes, asleep. 
There was a flock of ducks in the marsh area to the west as you descend from the Queensway. Most of the ducks had their derrieres stuck up in the air as they were feeding on the weeds below the surface. 
I was hoping that I might see a deer, as some deer have moved into the corn fields adjacent to the Queensway, just west of Orleans. I hoped one deer might have swum across the river and landed at Petrie. No such luck. Not even any deer tracks like the ones I saw during the summer. 
All the leaves are gone from the trees except for a young silver maple, a tiny birch tree and one or two oak saplings. 
There were a few seagulls and crows around and one lone chickadee. There was one squirrel to be seen - a small red squirrel in an isolated area by the south channel of the river. A woodpecker had been busy working on a tree by one of the western beaches. It had pecked a hole about 5 inches high, 2 inches wide and 4-5 inches deep into the tree. I suspect the pileated woodpecker was hungry one day. 
There was no frost despite the moisture from yesterday's rains, but there were frozen droplets on the bowed-over tall grass in sheltered areas. There was a thin covering of fresh ice on some puddles. 
The river level, while still up a good 6-8 inches, was down enough that one almost did not need rubber boots in some of the areas past the end of the main trail. I say "almost" as there were a few areas I was glad I was wearing them. 
The beavers have continued to be busy during the past week. More large trees are down in several areas, lots of young saplings have been chewed off from the base of many trunks; several left with a curly kew from the beaver pulling the sapling off and tearing the bark where they had not quite chewed through. The beavers have seemingly deserted some half chewed through trees in one area in favour of larger ones closer to one of lodges and the water. But as much as that would make you think they are smart, you then find a tree brought down in the middle of a densely vegetated area well away from the water. 
There were five cars in parking lot at 8:30 AM despite the weather. One couple and their dog, who are regular early Sunday visitors, were there with their Tim Bits and coffees, sitting on a picnic table wearing parkas and wrapped in a blanket bracing themselves against the north wind off the water.

5 November 2001 (Jim Robertson)

Again this week I have been dropping by the Island every day or two to keep an eye on the beaver activity. They appeared to be leaving the larger trees, that they started chewing on a week or two ago, alone, but Saturday night one was felled by the Beaver Trail. The beavers had been chewing on it intermittently for about 2 weeks and unfortunately for them, and we humans, it fell away from the water and across the main trail. Earlier in the week, a large 12-15 inch tree was felled along the river channel south west of Muskrat Bay. It looks as though a school of piranhas attacked it. It has been stripped bare of bark along most of its trunk. Other trees on the south shore Muskrat Bay are also showing signs of being chewed.

Sunday morning a beaver was out for a swim in the main channel on the south side of the Island. Despite attempts to keep myself hidden, it knew I was there and just swam back and forth for over 30 minutes, just out of camera range, flapping its tail and diving every 5 minutes or so. I then gave up.

Every night or so the beavers are very active bringing branches across the main trail; the drag marks are there to be seen the next morning on the trail. New animal trails through the bull rushes and newly flooded grass areas are appearing each day.

The water level continued to rise all week, but finally lowered a little Saturday night. The trail has been well flooded in spots. Getting through some areas on the clay trail west of Muskrat Bay needs high boots (preferably without rips in them - but that is another story). The high water must be coming from the French/Sturgeon River systems as that area has had 14” of rain since September.

I am not sure how the beavers are adapting to the high water levels. Their lodges must have been built with the normal water level in mind, but with the water now being over a foot higher it must be getting crowded in the lodges. I suspect the lodge on the north side of Muskrat Bay has been abandoned - perhaps too many human visitors on top of their lodge during the summer ?

While most of the wildlife has disappeared, the spiders are still spinning their webs at night - usually at human face height across the trails! Some morning no ducks are around, other days there are quite a number. One morning there were 3 black squirrels, a grey squirrel, a red squirrel and a chipmunk all peacefully (!) foraging together at the end of the west end beaver trail. The red squirrel has a nest in a tree just west of there. He disappears into a 2” hole in the tree, about 6 feet up the trunk, and then appears well up the tree on a branch.

There have been two days with frosty mornings. The first year mullein plants are very showy when coated with frost, especially when the early morning sun hits them. There has even been a light covering of ice in calm spots along the shoreline.

Next year’s buds have set on the silver maples, and a few golden rod managed a late bloom. The pileated woodpecker hung around long enough to have it's (distant) portrait taken finally. It has always been too skittish before. The few remaining lady bugs manage to get airborne when the sun warms them up. They look like miniature split football helmets when flying.

29 October 2001 (Jim Robertson)

Hey !!  How high can it go ??

The water is continuing to rise little bit by little bit. We'll soon need a raft to cross the dip at end of the trail. (grin). Several spots on the trails are now flooded to the point that I will have to wear my rubber boots, rather than my ankle high hiking boots from now on. Another inch or so rise and Turtle Pond will be joined with the main channel of the river. The main turtle resting raft has been floated off its moorings and is nestled against the shoreline. A bonfire some kids had Saturday night up past the end of the main trail was flooded over this morning.

The beavers, again, had left the larger trees alone overnight, but about 10-15 saplings disappeared around the old beaver lodge on the trail.

There were lots of ducks this morning, concentrated  in two areas; One group of 20-30 by the shore in the main river at the sandy expanse just before the Beaver Trail, and a second group at the end of the main trail in the “new” inlet. Neither group would let me get very close before they flew off. The group in the new inlet were deep in the bushes and reeds, so they was quite a rustling of wing flapping as they attempted a vertical takeoff through the vegetation.

There have been no herons around since the water rose a week ago, but there are still lots of chickadees, finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers. Four gulls flew over about 50 feet up just as the sun was coming over the horizon. The gulls were a brilliant red with the light reflecting off them.

Spotted a few fresh Chicory blooms this morning. They are having one last fling before the winter I guess. The Goat Rue seems to be working hard at grabbing new territory as its dark green leafy branches are spreading wide and far.

There were also a few lady bugs on the Sweet White Clover. They must be the hardy ones that have not been captured by the remaining dragonflies, or have not sought shelter in people’s houses.

28 October 2001 (Jim Robertson)

Things have slowed down a little this week, although with the wind Wednesday, Thursday and Friday you had to wonder.

I checked out the beaver activity daily. Hoping I might actually see a beaver up on shore (ha !!), but more to check on progress as they chewed away on trees. There were three small groups of trees being worked on earlier in the week, not much has happened since though. There was one 6" tree that came down Wednesday (but it was almost fully chewed through from last year, so a couple of good bites and down it came). It fell against the wind, so I am sure it was not a "windfall". One 9-10" tree that was felled about a week ago, had been hung up in other tree branches, but the wind on Thursday untangled it and it was laying flat on the ground Friday morning. By Sunday the top 15-20 feet of it had been chewed off and removed by the beaver.

There has been some added activity during the week at the pond north of the tip of Muskrat Bay, at the end of the sandy area. One 3" tree came out Monday, and another 2" came down Thursday night. There is a largish tree on the south side of Muskrat Bay, west of the "improved" south-side beaver lodge, that was showing, even from 100 yards away, bright fresh chewing through the wind, rain and general dullness of the day Friday.

The larder by the "improved" lodge has been growing each day. The occupants, assuming there are still some, of the lodge right by the Beaver Trail seem a little less concerned about the coming winter, although on Friday there were a few new small branches just off shore. Whether that was the beavers or the wind, I am not sure.

By Sunday morning, still no change was occurring with the larger trees, but two new areas being harvested - by the old beaver lodge next to the main trail. Several 3" trees were gone, plus several new growth limbs on previously downed Basswood trees. There was a very clear new animal trail through the reeds at the water's edge. The second area, just south of the trail at west end of Muskrat Bay; several small silver maple trees are being worked on.

The water is still very high. It has been going up and down a little each day. Friday, the flow in the dip of the trail at the tip of Muskrat Bay showed the water level was rising at 2:30PM, but by 3PM it was flowing back out ! Sunday morning required a bit of a running leap to cross the dip as the water was back up, and then some.

There were many small frogs hopping about in the newly flooded grassy areas on Tuesday. Thursday, despite the wind, there were several meadow hawk dragon flies flitting about.

The bull rushes at the eastern end of Muskrat Bay have gone to seed, but the ones on the north side of the main trail by the Beaver Trail, are showing no signs of following suit.

The only four legged critter (other than squirrels) seen all week was a single muskrat in Turtle Pond Friday and a beaver out for a pre-dawn swim in Muskrat Bay Sunday. There have been lots of chickadees and woodpeckers flying about.

Sunday morning saw lots of ducks in the marsh coming down from the Queensway as well in the new inlet at the west end of the main trail. There
was heavy hunting on the Quebec side, so maybe the ducks were seeking shelter at Petrie.

There were still some asters blooming as well as a few Sweet White Clover springs.

PS: Thank you City for finally grading the road, it had been getting quite rough, putting it mildly !

22 October 2001 (Jim Robertson)

OK, who opened the floodgates??!!  The river seems to be up 6-8 inches. It must have occurred overnight as there was a small “torrent” of water flowing across the dip in the trail at the very tip of Muskrat Bay (where the sandy trail ends). I guess Ontario Hydro must have opened a dam up the valley. You no longer can walk back from the end of the trail along the north beaches unless you are wearing calf-high boots.

There are now many more leaves on the ground than up in the trees. The rain and wind this past week took its toll. Along the turtle trail, there is one tall silver maple though that still has many leaves, with the leaves being a very pretty mottled red and yellow.

There was a mist on the river and ponds that nicely caught the sun’s rays. It was cool, but at about 7:45, just after the sun started to catch a few tree tops on the island, it seemed to suddenly get chilly. I looked down at the leaves on the ground where I had been working for a few minutes trying to get one shot, and noticed that they were all lightly frosted. I was sure that a few minutes before they were just wet with dew !

There were a few bull thistles trying to beat the fall temperatures. One plant that had bloomed many weeks ago and whose seed pods had all opened, had two more small blooms on it. There was a second plant, that looked brand new, with 4-5 purple thistles on it, plus a wet, sleeping bee.

There were a few rabbits out and about this morning after an absence of a couple of weeks. The usual chickadees, finches, etc., plus a few ducks were on the internal waterways. Bill Bower spotted a good size mix flock of ducks out on the river. There were several buffleheads in with the mallards and blacks.

With the higher water level, the heron seemed to be confused this morning. Instead of fishing it is usual haunts that were now deep enough to prevent it walking easily, it kept in the trees, moving each time I came close to it.

The beaver seem to have sniffed cold coming and are working a little harder to prepare for winter. The newer beaver lodge on the south side of Muskrat Bay has a “kitchen larder” starting to appear 10-15 feet off shore by the lodge. Evidence of beaver chewing small and big trees, along with new trails through the grass has appeared in several spots. They have started in on a 16” tree, we’ll have to see how many nights it takes to bring it down !

The wasp nest has been abandoned and half torn apart. The combs are exposed with the outside wrapper having been torn off much of the hive/nest .

14 October 2001 (Jim Robertson)

Did the weather office really goof !! It was supposed to be raining over night and all day. The stars were out at 6 AM and the sun came up through a beautiful red sky. You didn’t even need a jacket.

The trees have really turned in the past week. There is very little green left, the leaves are mainly yellow and orangey-red. The wind was blowing them about, and water that was out of the breeze, was covered with freshly fallen leaves.

There were few birds to be seen or heard for about 2 hours after sun rise ! There were very few shotgun blasts from the Quebec side duck hunters. By 9:30 there were a few chickadees and a finch or two around. Bill Bower reported seeing his first Cardinal on the Island this morning. He also mentioned finding some 20 wood ducks on a small rained renewed pond during the week. Too bad I missed that !

The beavers have suddenly shown some interest in 5-6 small trees west of end of the easy walking trail. About 20-30 yards in from the channel leading to the culvert, there is one tree that has been toppled and disappeared, another toppled but hung up in another tree, and several trees on which  chewing has commenced. There is no sign of a lodge anywhere, but there are several new trails through the grass where the beavers have dragged out their trophies.

There are few more fungus about with the damp weather. I found a nice clump of Bears Paw fungus along the edge of the Beaver Trail.

Aside from the deep blue asters still blooming there are few late stragglers of Sweet Clover, Evening Primrose, Campion Bladder and a little pink still showing on some Joe Pye Weed.

The weather was so nice that the parking lot filled quickly  and the FOPI cottage had many visitors to the Open House displays.

9 October 2001 (Jim Robertson)

The first fall frost hit this morning along with some heavy patchy fog. The frost had taken hold along the North Service Road well before the sun was up, but down on the Islands, the frost did not make its general appearance until after the sun was above the horizon, but still behind the trees. The sun was warm enough that the frost, once touched by the sun’s rays, quickly turned into a heavy dew.

The sumacs are all showing some colour, many having turned red in the last few days. The more mature silver maples are showing some reds, but more yellows. Many more poplars are now dressed in yellow leaves.

There are quite a number of tall dark blue asters around, they were glistening with dew as the frost thawed. The purple loosestrife leaves have taken the hint from the trees and switched from green to red.

The cold seemed to be keeping the four footed animals in their burrows. There was not a rabbit to be seen anywhere, although a squirrel did finally show up. A garter snake was trying to warm itself on the trail around 9 AM, but managed enough energy to move into the grasses as I approached it. There were lots of chickadees gathering seeds.

There seemed to be only one heron this morning, he was hunkered down in the reeds in Turtle Pond. It moved around a little, but never did stretch completely to its full height. His feathers seemed quite puffed up. The ducks, mallards mainly I think, were in Turtle Pond and Muskrat Bay in the early morning, but by 10 AM they seemed to have moved over to the marshy area south of the culvert. One minute you saw a duck’s head, and the next you saw the duck’s derrière sticking up as it feed on the shallow reeds.

One lone dragonfly was sufficiently warmed up, and dried off, by 10 AM to make a fly by.

There is no sign of widespread beaver activity yet, but one large tree brought down about two weeks ago now has most of its top branches removed. There is a new trail in the grass from the water’s edge to the tree as the beavers trudged back and forth with their cuttings.

30 September 2001 (Al Tweddle)

At 2:05 p.m. on Sunday, Sept 30, 2001, the person representing 60,000 hours of use came to the Picnic area!! This figure was estimated by FOPI based on car counts over the summer. The number was confirmed by Tony Turtle, based on the number of time he had to jump off his log as people disturbed his sunbathing!!!

30 September 2001 (Jim Robertson)

The rabbits living by the bait shop are obviously being well fed. They are twice the size of their cousins living on the north side of the culvert. This morning there were 4 “giant” cotton tails playing by the bait shop that seemed oblivious to traffic as they crossed right in front of two cars that had to slam on their brakes to avoid hitting them.

It was a cool morning, 5°C, with some fog out on the Queensway, but only a light mist rising off the water on the Island. About 2 hours later the sun was warm enough to generate steam from the buttonbushes at the end of Muskrat Bay.

There are many common sunflowers in bloom just north of the culvert by the entrance to the bike path. A few plants bloomed about a month ago, but there are about 20-30 plants standing 6-8 feet tall all with blooms or buds. Fall asters are the only other flowers blooming to an extent, they range from small white ones up to 1” sized dark blue ones. Again this week, one particular aster seems to be the sleeping quarters for bees. At 7 AM when I walked by it, there were 5-6 dew covered bees hanging from blossoms waiting for the sun to warm them up. By 9 AM on the way back, the bees had warmed up enough to move around slowly looking for nectar in the white blooms.

The milkweed seed pods are starting to pop without the aid of a human touch. There were several nicely back lit dew covered silky seeds hanging out of their pods.

There seemed to more activity in the water this morning than on other occasions. A muskrat was out collecting reeds, something was thrashing about in the water for about 15 seconds in Turtle Pond. There was so much water splashing up, that I could not make out who was making a fuss about what. A kingfisher found itself breakfast diving into the water by the culvert and flying off to a fallen tree on the far side of the pond. Quite a few ducks flew up as I walked by on the trail, as did the heron who seems to like hanging out by the first narrows on the trail.

There were heron tracks on one of the western beaches. The trail of tracks led in and out of the water for about 100 yards, raccoon tracks seemed to be following the heron, but the raccoon did not venture too far out into the water. Maybe the raccoon has taught the heron to provide food for it ?

While there is not a lot of beaver pre-winter activity in evidence yet, but there is a new lodge being started on the south side of Muskrat Bay, and a 14” wide tree was dropped recently along the Beaver Trail. There is a very well beaten down 60-80 foot trail from Muskrat Bay to the base of the fallen tree with plenty of chips scattered about. The turtle crossing by the end of the main trail also showed signs of having had a lot of traffic across it during the night

23 September 2001 (Jim Robertson)

It was such a damp, somewhat misty morning that a few mosquitoes came out to say hello. They had not, thankfully, been seen for many, many weeks!

The duck hunters were blasting away on the Quebec side; I may have been dreaming but was that why there were so many ducks visiting Petrie this AM? There were a good number of mallards and at least 10-15 wood ducks. I felt a little guilty disturbing them in their sanctuary.

There were plenty of other birds around as well. An osprey flew over quite low - when I was changing the film of course! A black-crowned night heron was sitting up in a tree flinching every time a shotgun sounded from across the river. The blue jays were making quite a ruckus, over what I am not sure. A few chickadees must have migrated from Mer Bleu as some of them seemed to be looking for a handout of sunflower seeds. There were lots of sparrows, a few robins and warblers as well as a small flock of juncos towards the west. The usual herons were around; one left its tracks in the wet sand on a north side beach about halfway along the islands.

There are not a lot of flowers blooming; mainly asters, but a few summer stragglers including vetch, bird’s foot trefoil, morning glories were showing their colours. The jewel weed blossoms seem to have all turned into the “touch-me-not” seed pods that spring open flinging their contents when touched. A few of bright red bunches of berries from the jack-in-the-pulpits stood out against the long green grass.

Winter must still be a way off yet as there are no signs of the beaver starting to harvest trees for their winter larder, but many of the oak trees appear to have been striped of their acorns by the squirrels.

While most of the trees on the North Service Road have changed to their fall yellow colours, the trees on Petrie are still very early in the process of turning. There are lots of individual leaves and branches that have turned red, or yellow, but no mass changes yet. A few of the poplar branches have had their leaves turn coppery-red.

The ground hog by the FOPI “cottage” was in a friendly mood this morning as he came partially out of his hole and sat for his portrait from about 15 feet away. No rabbits felt so inclined though.

17 September 2001 (Jim Robertson)

It was VERY foggy this morning. The air was clear at Place d'Orleans, but east and west was solid fog. Petrie Island itself was heavily fogged in. You could not see twice the length of the parking lot.

There were a few rabbits around but not much other wildlife in evidence on first arrival. Numerous individual turtlehead white blossoms were standing out in amongst the green shrubbery. Unfortunately some party goers had managed to toss the bench overlooking Turtle Pond into the water.

It quickly became apparent that Petrie's entire spider population must have been busy throughout the night. While early fall is the time to see spider webs, I have never seen so many in one place !!

It seemed that there was not a stick of vegetation that did not have a spider web strand attached to it. Spider webs took many shapes from the usual circular ones to funnels to masses of strands in no particular patterns. Some trees were masked with individual webs as high as 30-40 feet up into the foliage. The largest circular web I saw measured 17" in diameter. There were lots much, much smaller. Oddly there were no insects caught in any web, nor were there any spiders to be seen

There was some moisture on the webs at 6:30, but by 7:30 as the cooling air became very damp with the fog, the webs became jewelled with dew drops. A slight breeze wafted the webs gently (enough to make photography difficult darn it).

At 9:00, the sun started to show itself through the fog, and by 9:15 the trails were lined with beautiful necklaces of water droplets, many spectacularly backlit.

During the three hours it took to cover the less than one kilometre walk from the parking lot to the Beaver trail, several ducks flew up from the reeds and a grey squirrel had come bounding down the trail not really watching where it was going. I stood absolutely still to see what would happen as he approached me. The squirrel came to a sudden halt about 7-10 feet from when it realized there was something on the trail. It did not run away, but stopped to sniff the air, looked to see what options it had to go by me. Backed up a few feet, came forward to within 3 feet and then when I slowly reached for my camera, it scampered off into the tall grass beside the trail.

The bird population showed itself, aside from the ducks, with a flyover by about 10 blue jays, lots of sparrows and some gold finches along with the numerous chickadees. A few kingfishers were around as well. The black-crowned night heron I saw last week did not put in appearance.

7 September 2001 (Jim Robertson)

The turtles are arriving !!!  After seeing signs last week of some turtle eggs having survived the raccoon, skunk and weasel feeding frenzies in May and June, there seems to have been a turtle hatching party last night !

Baby snapping turtles hatched, and emerged, from at least four “nests” last night. Each of the four nests had at least 2-3 (tail and feet) tracks made by individual turtles leading away from the edge of the hole and leading towards the ponds.

There did not seem to be fresh predator footprints about, so chances are that most of them made it to the water.

In one nest, two hatchlings had not yet made the climb out. The morning sun was getting quite warm so I helped the little guys get to the water, but only after they posed for the required portraits.

I noticed a new animal on the Islands this morning: a very shy, young black cat, likely 3 ± months old on the main trail, west of the Beaver Trail turnoff. I hope for its sake that it is only a short term visitor and not taking up residency.

There were several Long-jawed Orb Weaver spiders checking out their webs in the tall grass to see what was available for breakfast. A  large (3 inches plus) Green Darner Dragon Fly, in no hurry to move on, let me move him on to my finger before finally flying away.

A few rabbits were around, though no muskrat or beaver to be seen. Another Snipe/Woodcock startled me with its quick takeoff from the underbrush as I passed by. A Pilated Woodpecker was looking for breakfast in an old tree and then flew off. They are not the most graceful flyers. One of the herons was in same oft-seen spot actively fishing; two more flew up, squawking noisily, from one of the ponds towards the west end.

Some of the north shore beaches midway down the islands to the west, have many small yellow aster/daisy blooms appearing in the sand. Ground nut vines and blossoms are cropping up in many places, as are the Turtlehead flowers. Some late blooming White Sweet Clover and Crown Vetch  are around.

While there are no trees having turned to their fall colours in their entirety, there are many silver maples starting to show individual leaves turning red.

29 August 2001 (Jim Robertson)

At 10° C, it was the coolest morning we have had this summer, the rabbits must have been in their burrows keeping warm as there was not one to be seen !

There were a few muskrats out snacking on water weeds. One heron was fishing for breakfast in the reeds south of  the culvert. The duck population is continuing to increase; they must be gathering slowly for the big trek south. I counted 32 ducks this morning. A very, very low count from the spring, but higher than midsummer.

The Cardinal Flowers are virtually over, but there are still a few flashes of red along some shorelines. Some Butter and Eggs blossoms have appeared in the past week and the deep blue fall Asters are budding. The seed pods of the Jack-in-the-pulpit have opened to reveal their bright red berries.

Despite the carnage at turtle egg laying time in June, a few eggs seemed to have escaped the appetites of the raccoons, skunks and weasels. At least two turtles hatched overnight leaving holes in the sand of the main turtle egg laying area as evidence.

I have assumed that there must be deer at Petrie from time to time, but I have never seen any signs of them. But this morning deer tracks were on one of the western beaches on the north side. Maybe the deer had swum over from Quebec.

22 August 2001 (Jim Robertson)

There had been a fairly heavy dew overnight as it was relatively cool. Several bees were still sleeping on thistles at sunrise. Dew-covered sulphur butterflies were immobilized on tall grass. At the west end of the trail, in the tall grasses, several very large blue-bodied  dragonflies were darting about after insects and protecting their turf. They would not take a break and stop on a blade of grass for their portraiture to be taken. They looked like small birds when backlit by the sun.

There seemed to be no monarch caterpillars to be found, but there were several Milkweed Tiger Moth caterpillars on the underside of some milkweed leaves.

The early/mid summer flowers are almost all gone, there are still a few Bird’s Eye Trefoil left, but most of the loosestrife has gone to seed. Some Pickerel Weed is still blooming as are some Golden Rods. The Jewelweed, Turtlehead, early Asters, Broad-leafed Arrowhead, and Tick Trefoil are some of the flowers in bloom now. At the far west end there were some fresh Bindweed/Morning Glory blooms and buds.

The Duck population seems to be increasing with each passing week. This morning there were 16 black or mallard ducks scared up from the reeds in Turtle Pond. There were several groups of basking turtles, all seemed to be good-sized painted turtles. A good number of Sandpipers were patrolling the beach shorelines towards the west end of the Island. Three Cormorants flew over heading west. Only one Heron was in evidence today, he insisted on moving west as I walked west so he was constantly flying away as I came closer to him.

The new acorns on the oak trees are keeping the Chipmunks and Squirrels quite happy.

14 August 2001 (Jim Robertson)

It was unusually quiet this morning, only one rabbit out to greet me at 6 AM. A light layer of mist was over the water with the rising sun casting its rays through it. All the vegetation is looking very sorry, the water level on the river seems to be getting marginally lower each day.  There was a fly-pass of three herons, about 30 feet up, at the narrows on the main trail. A reduced number of flickers were about, but three nuthatches were poking around a tree trunk looking for bugs. A few chickadees were busy as well, as were the woodpeckers. A snipe/wood cock exploded out of the underbrush as I was walking along one of the lesser used trails. Sure wakes you up in a hurry !!!

The black (or mallard ?) duck population seems to be increasing. There were several small groups totalling 10-12 birds in Turtle Pond, I did not see the duck family in Muskrat Bay.

Despite the dryness, I found a few largish fungus and mushrooms growing out of two different fallen logs.

The "usual" turtle trails were crossing the trail between two ponds towards the west end; it looked as though 2-3 turtles had crossed it during the night. Raccoon tracks were along the trail in a few spots as well as on the some of the beaches to the west.

A large green frog was silently basking in the sunlight on a log in the middle of one of the landlocked ponds. About 5-6 turtles were up on an old stump at the trail narrows as well. There was one quite large one, likely a map turtle. They are very skittish and head for the water very quickly.

I managed to find one turtlehead flower blooming, looked for others but to no avail. But while looking, several Dragon Fly varieties and grasshoppers were in the tall dew covered grass.

On the way back to the parking lot, three garter snakes slithered by me on the trail. Just to prove to me that they do exist on the Island. I had only seen one in the past year.


8 August 2001 (Jim Robertson)

Everything is looking very parched - no wonder ! The ferns are browning at the edges, some all over, the tall grass is not springing back when stepped on, the flowers are not lasting as long as they could.

Today seemed to be "young animal day" with several young rabbits out with their mother, a young ground hog rounded a corner to see me 5 feet away.  The staring contest lasted 20 seconds when it blinked first. A young muskrat was gathering grass at the water's edge. The black duck family was still in Muskrat Bay. There were no young beavers in evidence though around the lodge on the Beaver trail, only two adults were out for a swim.

There were several hairy woodpeckers working away in the early morning "coolness" on dead trees. As well, black and grey squirrels making their rounds.

The tent caterpillar webs are starting to multiple. There were probably some 10-15 easily seen ones this morning.

The Purple Loosestrife is starting to lose its freshness, although a Monarch (or Viceroy) butterfly did not seem to mind. A red Admiral butterfly was working its proboscis well into the buttonbush blossoms. The Joe Pye Weed is well past its prime, the Yellow Loosestrife is gone, although there are still a few Fringed Loosestrife blossoms to be found. The Golden Rod seems to be peaking, which is early, most of the Cardinal Flower is past its best. But the white blossoms of the Broadleafed Arrowhead are looking very new. The green with black stripes berries of the Starry Solomon Seal are looking very fresh.

The Long-jawed Orb Weaver spiders have worked their webs on most of the tall grass and bent the seed tops into semicircles to ensnare their insect food.


26 July 2001 (Jim Robertson)

The mosquito welcoming committee are no more, and have seemingly been replaced by rabbits. Two rabbits greeted me in the parking lot at 5:30AM, but stopped short of coming for a handshake. They watched me, from less than 10 feet away, get out of the car, load the camera and head out the trail.

I stopped counting cotton tails when I reached 35, and was only just past the FOPI cottage ! There is one rabbit a little further along the trail that has several times come with in 5-10 feet of me if I stand very still while taking his photograph.

Another repetition is the turtle track/trail across the trail between the two ponds past Muskrat Bay. The track is there often with no foot prints on it, so the turtles were obviously moving between the ponds at night. This morning there was evidence of at least three turtles making the passage.

The tent caterpillars, or their cousins, are beginning to build their spidery webs over several branches. No sign of caterpillars within the tent yet.

Lots of yellow warblers, goldfinches and chickadees as well this morning.

Very few flickers unlike the last few weeks.

The water level is continuing to drop both in the river and some of the landlocked ponds.

Common evening-primroses have suddenly made an appearance along with the golden rod in the last 4-5 days.

A couple of red squirrels were kind enough to pose for portraits this morning in much better lighting conditions than on previous occasions.

I was beginning to think the snake stories at Petrie were "old wives tales", but finally one was sunning itself on the sandy trail this morning, guess he found the morning a little cool after the last few days.


21 July 2001 (Jim Robertson)

The sun was a big red ball for 20 minutes at sunrise due to the  haze/pollution. There were already several keen people fishing by 5:30a.m.

A few muskrats were out for an early morning swim and the bull frogs were croaking.

Lots of birds were in evidence: flickers, robins, redwing blackbirds, one baltimore oriole, chickadees, yellow warblers, downy woodpeckers etc. etc..

There were two loons (or were they cormorants?) swimming and diving about 100 yards offshore.

Yellow St John's wort, and evening primrose are in bloom. The yellow loosestrife and white buttonbush are also blooming. As are the purple loosestrife, pickerel weed, white and yellow water-lilies and daisies amongst many other flowers. The burdock are blooming as best they can.

The milkweed pods have started forming, but there are still some haggard looking blossoms.

There were some American lady butterflies flitting through the tall grass.

A football sized wasp nest is hanging about 12 feet off the ground in a tree by the Muskrat trail.


10 July 2001 (Al Tweddle)

Report from the Night patrol: Last Friday I was at Petrie at 9:30 p.m. and noticed movement down the gravel road. It appeared to be a floating blanket. As it approached me it turned out to be six young skunks bouncing down the road chattering away to each other. Fortunately they headed down Turtle Trail before they got too close to me. I was wondering if we had a volunteer who could train the skunks to like the smell of beer and hence take care of our bush parties!!

8 July 2001 (Jim Robertson)

Hurray! the mosquito population is down !!! The birds and mother nature have been doing their thing.

Seems to be more four footed furry critters around: several ground hogs were about as were at least 5-7 chipmunks in various parts of the Island. Several young red squirrels were seen as well. The rabbits are especially plentiful in the early morning around the parking lot and along the main trail. Some are very shy, but a few, if you are quiet, will let you get to within 10 feet of them. A few skunks have been seen by yours truly and others. The Beaver, Otters and Weasels are not around as much to be seen though.

Many of the baby birds have grown up and are busy foraging for food.  Warblers, Fly Catchers, lots of Flickers, Robins, Downy Woodpeckers amongst others. There always seem to be one or two herons fishing.  A family of ducks (black or mallards) are at the east end of Muskrat Bay.

The Purple Loosestrife is coming into full bloom, there is some Yellow Loosestrife as well. Pickerel Weed, white and yellow water lilies are along the shorelines. The Joe Pye Weed is blossoming in several spots. The milkweed blossoms are looking very dry. The yellow spikes of the Mullein are becoming very evident. The pink Morning Glory (or is it Bindweed ?) are entwining themselves to the vegetation. The White Sweet Clover is lining many sections of the trail.

There are a few Small Eastern Milkweed Bugs are on the underside of the Milkweed leaves.

Brown-eyed butterflies as well as Viceroy have been flitting about.

25 June 2001 (Jim Robertson)

The marsh on the east side of road between the Queensway and the culvert is a blanket of mauve. There is well over an acre of Flowering Rush throughout the marsh. Lots of white water lilies are around too.  A solitary beaver was out for its more swim past at the culvert at 6 AM, with the water so calm he left a perfect V behind him.  Three other beavers were swimming by the beaver lodge along the Beaver Trail

While the mosquito population seems to have fallen off somewhat, a few deer flies have dropped in to fill the void.  Gold finches and chickadees, along with the usual robin, red-winged blackbirds etc were much in evidence. Some unidentified small shorebirds made themselves scarce. Monarch, Red Admiral, and some Pearl Crescent butterflies were flitting about along with a few Milkweed Tiger Moths.Several varieties of dragon flies, both large and small are around.

A heron, busy fishing, and I mutually startled ourselves along the path east of the Beaver Trail. We were within 10 feet of each other on the shoreline, when we both looked up at the same time.

A little further along a river otter was resting on the trail, he gave me a curious look and then disappeared into the bull rushes.

While well hidden, the bull frogs were making whatever sound it is they make.

A few baby rabbits were out for a morning nibble of clover.

The ferns have almost finished growing, and hopefully the grass has as well. In some places it is over 7 feet high and almost obliterating the eastern most trails. But the grasses are very nice when back lit by the morning sun with their stamens full of pollen

A few fungi have sprouted with the damp weather of last week.

The flora display evolves almost every week, this weeks selection includes (amongst others):

- Birdsfoot Trefoil just passing its peak

- A few Purple Flowering Raspberries blooming

- a concentrated mass of Sweet Pea along the main trail

- Several vetches including cow and crown vetch

- Oxe-daisies

- Bladder Campion almost past

- Canada Anemones still blooming

- Morning glories (bindweed) starting up

- some fleabanes still out

- Dogbane

- Purple Loosestrife putting in its appearance

- Flowering Rushes in various stages from bud to full bloom

- Some Joe Pye Weed showing some coloured buds

- the Milkweed starting to blossom

- cat tails starting to appear on the bull rushes

- Mullein up about 2 feet

- a few Bull Thistles in bud

- the moccasin flowers are over of course, but there are some 10 plants growing in one small area

The raccoons have been very busy digging up turtle nests. Anywhere there is soft sand, broken eggs shells litter the area. One has to wonder if the raccoons have missed any nests at all.