Trail Talk – March 21, 2018

Two Upcoming Evening Events:

The Maitland Trail AGM on Friday March 23rd at 7:00PM at the Goderich Livery (all are welcome), featuring a talk by Erica Clark on “Hiking in Peru” and Dave Bagnall “Hiking with Rare snakes: What we know, Don’t know and How to help.”

On Sunday March 25th at 1:30PM there is a G2G (Goderich to Guelph Rail Trail) meeting at the Threshers Hall in the Cowbell Brewery in Blyth. The main focus of the meeting is on the history and future planning for the trail.


Image of swans on a pondLast week I had quite a few interesting sights. On March 9th, when out with the LIFE hikers at Naftel’s, we saw several rainbow trout in the creek. On my evening walk I saw a flock of about 100 tundra (whistling) swans flying over. I learned from other hikers that there was a large flock of these swans on the pond at Scott Line which I investigated and saw about 200 there on Sunday afternoon. These tundra swans are different from the mute swans which have orange beaks and can be seen in the summer on the Stratford river. There is also a trumpeter swan very similar but slightly larger than the tundra swan, but it is very uncommon in our area. I know that early bird books stated all swans were white before they discovered black swans in Australia.; Any black swan seen in N. America is an escape from a zoo etc. My 1843 book of British and Foreign Birds states: “No bird makes a more indifferent figure upon land, or a more beautiful one in the water than the swan.” It also mentions a collared swan in Alkmar living from 1573 to 1672 and a thought that some might live to 300 years! Modern accounts state 20 to 33 years as a life expectancy, black swans (not mentioned in my 1843 book) can live to 40.

On Saturday driving to the Lobb trail I had a good look at a bald eagle in a field near the road.

frost covered shrubOn Sunday morning March 10th there was some lovely frost on some plants but this occurred on only a very short section of the trail. The last big snow fall of March 7th seems very reluctant to go away with no big thaw in sight as I write today (March 15th), but so far the trails have not been icy.

On Monday March 11th while driving into Goderich we saw a fox crossing the road. I have seen fox tracks on many trails but only seen them occasionally when hiking or driving. They are very useful in keeping the mice and vole population under control, and tend to move into urban areas where they are less prone to attacks by coyotes. Fox tracks are similar to those from a small dog but foxes go mostly in straight lines whereas dogs show a less direct trail.

On Thursday March 15th I hiked and snowshoed the Maitland trail from the Auburn end to 45.9km and was rewarded with sights of two swans on the river along with geese, golden eye and mergansers . There was also a muskrat in a small pond. The trail near Pinery Line was blocked with flood debris, but I cleared a by-pass round it.

Flood water has damaged the Olde Menesetung trail, part of which is now closed.

Brian McCulloch reported that in the lower part of the Morris Tract there are quite a few trees blocking the trail which he will later clear with a chain saw.

Note that the Eastern end of the Bayfield Woodlands Trail is closed including the eastern entrance from David Street.  A new loop has been created but the maps have not yet been changed to reflect these changes.

Upcoming Hikes & Meetings:

Friday, March 23, 2018 at 7:00PM: Maitland Trail Association AGM at the Livery

Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 1:00PM: Ross Property near Benmiller; Snowshoe or Hike, Level 2, Leisurely Pace, 2 hours
Enjoy an afternoon of snowshowing or hicking depending on conditions on Beth’s brother’s trails, as well as on Nature Conservancy property in the Morris Tract and Riverbend. Please phone by March 23, 2018 to sign up. Contact Beth Ross at 519.524.8144

Sunday, March 25, 2018 at 1:30PM: G2G meeting at Cowbell Brewery in Blyth, ON

Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 10:00AM: Port Albert Village & Beach Walk, Level 2, Leisurely pace, 1.5 hours
There is excitement at the Fishway in Port Albert during this time of year when a crew of volunteers transport fish up the ladder to the portion of the river above the fall. More on this later. Contact Anne Storey at 519.529.3050 for more information and to register.

Mid-Week Hikes

The Tuesday Trompers walk for about an hour at a moderate to slow pace starting at 9:00AM Contact Al Sanders at

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

The Friday L.I.F.E. hikers usually meet at 8:30 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