Photo of the white five-petal blooms of the Soaport plant

Trail Talk – August 1, 2018

On Thursday July 19th at the bottom of River Line I surprised three Great Blue Eastern Herons, I believe two were juveniles, I don’t recall having ever seeing more than one together.

On Monday July 23rd I hiked in from Sharpes Creek Line into the Nature Conservancy area and surprised a rabbit and a wild turkey and I also found a clean golf ball – a long way from any golf course. There is soapwort growing near the trail, it has five petals and looks like a phlox. However, it is an alien plant of the carnation family, also known as bouncing-bet. By chopping up the leaves and boiling the leaves or roots in water a lathery liquid can be produced for a mild liquid soap suitable for cleaning delicate fabrics. Bouncing Bet is an old-fashioned nickname for a washer woman. Wort is an old English name for a plant , hence soapwort, bellwort, toothwort, St. Johnswort.

Photo a CicadaOn Monday we had a cicada in the greenhouse, a large insect (about 2cm long) that lives in trees and therefore is more often heard than seen. They sing in the heat of the day and at night and their song, which is only made by the males, is a loud buzz produced by vibrating drum-like tymbals (a corrugated exoskeletal tructure) rapidly. There is another family of cicadas that appear in large numbers on a 13 or 17 year cycle.

Spotted Joe-Pye weed is common in the wet areas near the trails. Folklore tells that a native “Joe Pye” used this plant to cure fevers.

Although black squirrels are a common sight here, they were never seen in Washington D.C. until Canada swopped eight black squirrels from Rondeau Provincial park for some gray squirrels in 1902 , and then more in 1906. Many visitors are surprised to see black squirrels in the U.S.A. capital as they are usually only seen in the more northern parts of the United States. According to “A Field Guide to Mammals”, the black squirrels is a melanistic colour phase of the Eastern gray squirrel as is the local white squirrel. The local white squirrels are not albinos just a colour variation of the gray squirrel. The other common squirrel is the red squirrel, which is quite a bit smaller, and the Eastern fox squirrel (a large gray or brown squirrel with a very bushy tail bordered with white tipped hairs). Thus both the black and the white squirrels are gray squirrels and many local gray squirrels are Eastern fox squirrels. (fox squirrels have a bigger 10-15” head and body than gray squirrels 8-10”). We have also seen a black squirrel in our garden that has a white tail. The nocturnal flying squirrel might also be in our area, but I am unfamiliar with them.

One insect you may see on milkweed, other than a Monarch butterfly, is a red milkweed beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus) it also manages to get some protection by incorporating toxins from the Photo of a red milkweed beetlemilkweed into their bodies.

Upcoming Hikes

Sunday August 5th Hike the Maitland Woods after eating a pancake breakfast at the Goderich Fire Station.
Meet at 8:00 AM in the Knights of Columbus parking lot at eh trail entrance nearest to the trailer. We then walk on the trail to the fire station, have breakfast and then finish the Maitland woods loop at a leisurely pace. Leaders Al Sanders and Patrick Capper.

Sunday August 5th 7:15 PM Port Albert
A parade of bagpipers and drummers makes a grand entrance across the foot bridge to the area in front of the general store where a crowd of people wait in anticipation. Then they proceed down the road to the main beach with everyone following. Every year has a theme if you wish to augment the fun by creating a costume. This year it is SHREK. At the beach the band plays until sunset then walks into the water while finishing with Amazing Grace. Meet in the fisheries parking lot just below the bridge to sign in and you may have time to grab food, ice cream or a drink at our funky general store before the main event. Contact: Anne Storey 519.529.3050 to register.

August 18th 1:00 PM River walk at the Falls Reserve.

August 26th 8:00 PM join the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association on a night hike on the Woodland Trail

Saturday Sept 29th to Sunday Sept 30th MTA El Camino registration is now open Cost $25 adults $10 if under 18 detail www.maitlandtrail.ca/mta-el-camino-2018

Midweek Hikes

The Tuesday Trompers walk for about an hour at a moderate to slow pace starting at 9:00 AM. Contact Al Sanders at allan.sanders@hurontel.on.ca

The Wednesday hikes start at 9:00 AM for 1.5 to 2 hours at a moderately fast pace. Contact pcapper99@gmail.com

The Friday L.I.F.E. hikers usually meet at 8:10 at the Betty Cardno Centre in Clinton and hike for 1.5 hours to 2 hours, one group at a moderate the other group at a moderately fast pace. Contact cphillips@onecaresupport.ca

If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at pcapper99@gmail.com.