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Nature Walk – Rouge Hills

Today’s nature walk with naturalist Miles Hearn was at the Rouge National Urban Park. This place is one of the treasures of the Greater Toronto Area. I don’t have bird pictures today, not because there weren’t birds, but because these forest birds were mostly beyond the reach of my handy little point & shoot camera. Miles identified 26 bird species today: mallard, turkey vulture, American kestrel, pileated woodpecker, great crested flycatcher, least flycatcher, eastern pewee, tree swallow, rough-winged swallow, American crow, black-capped chickadee, house wren, American robin, red-eyed vireo, tennessee warbler, yellow warbler, bay-breasted warbler, common yellowthroat, eastern meadowlark, red-winged blackbird, Baltimore Oriole, brown-headed cowbird, northern cardinal, American goldfinch, indigo bunting, song sparrow.

For many of the bird calls or songs, Miles offers up a human approximation. For instance, the common yellowthroat says “wichita wichita wichita. The red-eyed vireo calls every 2 seconds. If it happens every 3 seconds, it must be the Philidelphia vireo. The bay-breasted warbler says see-see see-see. The wood thrush on the other hand says oooeeee oooeee bddddddddddddd. I’m learning so much on these walks!

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Little Rouge Creek

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Here’s a selection of some of the plants identified today (each is captioned):

I was hoping we would come across some morels but the only mushroom of note was a Dryad’s Saddle.

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Dryad’s Saddle

This mushroom, which smells kind of like watermelon, is edible when it is young and tender.

One of the most striking plants we came across was jack-in-the-pulpit.

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Jack-in-the-Pulpit

However, I’d say the yellow ladyslippers were the highlight of the walk.

 

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Yellow Ladyslipper

I’m trying to learn at least a little bit about many of the plants we identify but there are so many. My strategy is to take pictures and write down the names of the plants in my little Moleskin, then later I match up the names with the photos and look up some of the more interesting ones. Here’s more:

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There are 3 trails accessible from the parking area. We took the Vista Trail, which goes through forest, then comes out in a large field, with a viewing platform. If you visit this area, and I encourage you to do so, be careful of the generous quantities of poison ivy, often just to the side of the trail.

Next week, we’ll be close to home at Colonel Sam Smith Park. We’re coming to the end of the bird migration season but we should still be able to see quite a few interesting specimens in the park.

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