Trail Talk 157 February 10th 2021

What trail is this Bird Feeder on?

Which trail is this bird feeder on?   I am sure many walkers are familiar with this feeder and stop to watch chickadees and other birds that are often there.

Last week’s photo was of a tire in the Hullett Sugar Bush that was installed as a squirrel drey.  A drey is squirrel’s nest, which is usually a collection of small branches and leaves and lined with finer material such as grass and moss. Squirrels also nest in tree cavities which makes them less susceptible to predators.   There seem to be fewer tire nests at Hullett than there used to be, perhaps because they were not very popular with squirrels. The squirrels seen in Huron County are  the Eastern Gray squirrel (even when they are gray, black or white!,)  Eastern Fox squirrel which is a bit larger than the Gray squirrel and the much smaller Red squirrel.

I often hike the Hullett Sugar Bush trails out of hunting season for deer, turkey and pheasants.  Waterfowl hunting is typically from mid September to mid December. Rabbit hunting season lasts from Sept 25th to the end of February.  Fortunately hunting is prohibited from June 1st to Sept 1st on or near the nature trails.

A burr near the Sugar Bush trail

My usual route in Hullett is to start at the parking lot at 80602 Wildlife Line (the 80602 sign is currently missing). Starting on the blue trail, turning South on the white trail, NE on the Green trail NW on the purple trail then back to the parking lot going West on the blue trail-this takes about an hour . For a longer walk I stay on the green trail until it reaches Conservation Line then South on the white trail until it meets the blue trail  for about 1 ½ hours. There is a short yellow loop off the blue trail that starts near the parking lot, where there is an interesting burr on a tree.

I have occasionally seen deer or a raccoon, and, at the right time of year, lots of frogs hopping out of the grass.  Beaver and musk rat are often seen when walking the dykes. There are usually free User Guides at the parking lots. One highlight in mid to late June is to see the Showy Lady Slipper orchids on a side trail off the white trail.

On Friday Jan 29th I waited until 10 a.m. when the snow stopped and hiked the Lobb trail.  I only saw one walker and Murray Lobb busy grooming the trail.  On Saturday afternoon the trail was well groomed and I saw about 10 skiers and 10 walkers and Boris Decker grooming the trail. What a great job Murray and Boris do to make walking or skiing the Lobb trail such a rewarding experience.

I had a good work out snow shoeing the Front Road trail on Friday and part of the Varna trail on Saturday morning, but by Monday the trails were packed enough to make snow shoes unnecessary.

Frost on a tree at Bannockburn

On Thursday Feb 4th there was lovely hoarfrost on the trees. I expected to some great sights on the Bannockburn trail near the river, but there was very little frost there, but a lot on the tree tops. However I did get a great view of a bald eagle flying up from near the river. There is a warning sign at the parking lot, “Caution trail is very slippery”.  The steps up from the river were very tricky – like a long slide and I had to have a firm grasp of the hand rail.  I later returned and cut some steps up to make it easier.

Driving up to Brussels I noticed the hoarfrost was better north of Blyth and was much very evident when heading North then went going South.

I was listening to Dr Christine Jones’ talk. There is an estimated 550 Gigga tonnes of Carbon on the planet of which 450 Gt is plants, 93 Gt in Protists, archaea, fungi and bacteria,7Gt insects, fish animals. Humans only account for 0.05Gt or 0.01% of total carbon. Two other interesting pieces of information were that a cover crop of 8 or more plant species did fantastically better than a cover crop of one or two species ( e.g. surviving drought , size of crop etc.)  Also that people who ate 30 or more different plants in their weekly diet had a better gut biome and were healthier and had fewer antibiotic resistance genes that those who ate 10 or fewer different plants in their diet. (A result of the American Gut project).  When I started counting how many different plants I consume I was not sure if a slice of apple pie would count as one (apple) or three including wheat and cinnamon.

All plants and animals including humans health  is very dependent on bacteria that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Variety is obviously the spice of life.  .

Notes:  Hikers are expected to be socially distant from others.

All scheduled hikes are cancelled during the lockdown, however the trails are all open and it is always good to get out and enjoy nature.

The Woodlands Nature trail is still probably closed past the bridge due to uncleared storm damage.

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