Trail Talk 98 December 25th 2019

Climbing Poison Ivy

Red is a favourite colour in the Christmas season, which made me think about when I have seen that bright red along the trails. My first thoughts were high bush cranberry berries and rose hips which are still visible along many of our trails. Earlier in the year were very bright red berries on jack-in-the-pulpits and green dragons. On reviewing my old photos I realized there are a lot of other plants with bright red berries such as pin cherry, baneberry, red elderberry, cotoneaster, deadly nightshade and false Solomon seal. I nearly forgot to mention those ripe wild strawberries and some of the apples.

Jack-in-the -pulpit berries

Several birds have at least splashes of red, including the downy, hairy and red-bellied and pileated woodpeckers and the less common red headed woodpecker, which I have yet to spot while hiking. There is also the very red male cardinal and the throat of the male rose breasted grosbeak.

The most common red wild flower is the cardinal flower which blooms in August.  In the fall there were also some bright red leaves on poison ivy and some maple and sumac

A Red bellied woodpecker

trees.   Earlier in the year scarlet elf cup mushrooms could be seen. An unusual sight was bright red blood on the snow from a recent bird kill.

Unnatural red sights are loggers marking on trees, flagging tape, various signs, hikers clothing, and a few years ago my lost pruners.

I have not included many other things that are red, but not bright red, e.g. red admiral butterflies as their colour is more orange than red and the fruit on the sumacs which never get  bright red.

Recent sights along the trails included a bald eagle. I often see tracks of mice or voles in the snow, but this week was one of the rare times I caught sight of one.  Canada geese and common mergansers were seen on both the Bayfield and Maitland rivers, the geese being uncommonly quiet.

UPCOMING HIKES etc.

Oct 1 –Dec 31 the Maitland Trail section from 9.4 to 10.5 km will be closed.

Wednesday January 1st 2 p.m. Falls Reserve.   Level 1, Medium pace, 1-1½ hours

Start off the New Year right (actively), clear your head and wear off some of the holiday’s excess munching by joining us to snowshoe/hike at the Falls Reserve Conservation Area in Benmiller. Dress in layers, according to the weather’s demands. Meet and park at the Falls Reserve Gate. (Free if you put your MTA membership card on your car’s dashboard.) Please let us know you are coming: Wendy Hoernig, 519- 525-6976