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Nature Walk – Marie Curtis Park

 

DSC03411.jpgToday’s nature walk with Miles Hearn was close to home – Marie Curtis Park. Living in Long Branch, we’re very fortunate to have two fantastic parks – Col. Sam Smith Park on the west and Marie Curtis Park on the East. It was a beautiful day to be out, with temperatures in the mid-20s and a bright sunny sky.

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Double-crested cormorant

Our leader identified 30 species of birds today. Here’s his list:

double-crested cormorant, Canada goose, mallard, red-tailed hawk, ring-billed gull, rock pigeon, belted kingfisher, northern flicker, red-bellied woodpecker, hairy woodpecker, downy woodpecker, tree swallow, barn swallow, blue jay, American crow, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, American robin, European starling, warbling vireo, yellow warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, house sparrow, red-winged blackbird, brown-headed cowbird, Baltimore oriole, northern cardinal, American goldfinch, savannah sparrow, song sparrow.

I think without help I might have been able to find and identify about 18 of these, so I have a lot of learning yet to do.

For the first time on these walks, we saw snakes – two little brown snakes (yes that’s what they are called). DSC03445.jpg

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I learned two butterflies, but failed to get photos of either. They are the cabbage butterfly and the mourning cloak butterfly. Next time maybe I’ll be faster with my handy-dandy point & shoot camera.

There were two beavers swimming about in Etobicoke Creek. Here’s a shot of one of them.

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Miles identified so many plants today. I was able to recognize some from previous walks, and I felt pretty good about that – I’m managing to retain at least some of the identifications. I think it’s going to take some repetition as well as seeing some of these plants in the various seasons before I really get the hang of what’s what.

Here’s one I know now, or at least I know it when it is in bloom, and that’s Coltsfoot.

 

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There is a lot of Japanese knotweed around Marie Curtis Park. It’s an Asian plant and an invasive species here in Canada. Here are some new shoots.

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Trout lily is one plant I didn’t need any help identifying.

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Field horsetail is an interesting plant. The tan stalks are the males and the green ones are the females.
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There was plenty of garlic mustard around and in some areas we could see last year’s growth beside new growth. It’s an invasive plant brought over from Europe for use as an herb. Each year I pull loads of it from the woodland part of our back yard. It’s very difficult to get rid of once you’ve got some established.

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The next shot shows a plant called Virginia Waterleaf. Although not in bloom now, it’s an Ontario wildflower and I hope we’ll see it in bloom on future nature walks.

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I’ve seen these wooden structures many times in the area known as the Arsenal Lands, attached to Marie Curtis Park. During WWII, there was a munitions factory making machine guns and out back they had a shooting range for testing. The wooden structures were apparently sound baffles, to take the edge of the machine gun fire.

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