Trail Talk – July 11, 2018

Photo of the red and black berries of a mulberry treeHere we go round the mulberry bush, the mulberry bush the mulberry bush, here we go round the mulberry bush on ta cold and frosty morning. This is a familiar Nursery rhyme from my British childhood, however I can not remember ever seeing a mulberry bush until I moved to Goderich. I was pleasantly surprised on Thursday to see a red mulberry tree on the Maitland Trail at about 3.1km just loaded up with black mulberries and red (not quite ripe) mulberries. There used to be a white mulberry tree in the Maitland Woods trail but someone cut it down. The only other known ones on trails are on the GART and on the Woodlands Arboretum trail. The Woodland White Mulberry sign is right by a black walnut, but the White Mulberry is about 3m behind the sign.

Elberberry bushes are now evident with flowers or berries. There are three types red elderberry, common elderberry and European elderberry. All parts of the elderberry yield the poison Photo of white blossoms and greenery of the Native Elderberryhydrocyanic acid, but most or all the berries are fine after cooking. Some references state that red elderberries are toxic and should not be eaten, others say they are O.K. if they are cooked with the seeds removed. At this time of year red elderberries, which is a forest species has fruit while the other elderberries are still in bloom. The European elderberry has black 3/4″- 5/16” shiny berries compared to the native elderberry with less than 3/16” purple black berries.

Recent wildlife sightings on the trail include several rabbits, American toads some tiny ones and a few adults, a deer in Robertson Tract and a raccoon climbing a tree in the Clinton conservation area. Near Pinery Line black eyed susans were out, the first sunflower like flowers of the season.

I usually hear a lot of birds and see quite a few that flit by too fast to identify, ones most often seen and identified are robins, red winged blackbirds and grackles. On Wednesday we saw a turkey vulture fly over and perch on the black locust. One hiker referred to it as a buzzard. My bird books did not mention buzzards so I looked in my dictionaries. The Canadian Oxford stated: “1. Any group of predatory birds of the hawk family with broad wings; 2. a turkey vulture”. The Oxford English version stated: “Kinds of falcon or osprey”.

When cycling on the G2G I was thrilled to see a rose breasted grosbeak sitting on the Blyth brook bridge railing. I find it very difficult to see woodpeckers as I can’t determine which tree they are pecking at, it is much easier to spot the downy, hairy and red breasted woodpeckers when on the peanut feeder in the garden. On the rare occasion I have seen the large pileated woodpecker. One unusual plant I came across was a marijuana plant in a black pot on the trail, the plant soon died from the heat. Having lived a very sheltered life this was the first time I had actually seen a marijuana plant!

Upcoming Hikes

August 5th Hike the Maitland Woods after eating a pancake breakfast at the Goderich Fire Station. Details to follow.

Saturday Sept 29th to Sunday Sept 30th  MTA El Camino registration is now open Cost $25 adults $10 if under 18 detail

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

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

The Friday L.I.F.E. hikers usually meet at 8:10 AM 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

If you have questions or something of interest for Trail Talk email me Patrick Capper at