Trail Talk 186 September 8th 2021

Brian McCulloch releasing a turtle hatchling
A Dog Strangling Vine

On Friday August 27th thanks to Cristen Watt’s tender care 35 snapping turtle were hatched from the eggs recovered from the GART. They were launched into the pond just East of CP Line on Friday afternoon by Brian McCulloch and Cristen Watt.  Near the launch site we dug up a Dog Strangling Vine.  This is an invasive species, and the first one I have seen in Huron County. Fortunately there was only a small clump so I could dig it up and then take it home to burn, as it will survive composting if the temperature is not sufficiently high in the composting process.

Invasive species are a problem as they displace native species, and usually offer a less nutritious source of food, impact species that rely on native plants for food and habitat and they reduce genetic diversity.

The one that I have noticed the most action on is Phragmites. It is difficult to get rid of and out competes native plants such as cattails.  It has been tackled on local trails at Naftel’s and on the Millennium trail. There are huge areas of it alongside parts of the 402 highway.

Common Buckthorn

Another plant that has had some local attention is Common Buckthorn (also called European Buckthorn).  The Maitland Valley Conservation Authority removed a lot of it from the Wawanosh Valley Conservancy Area. Buckthorn fruit (a small black berry) provide a resource for birds but with a lower nutritional value than the fruit from native species that are displaced. Birds must then spend more time and energy searching for non-native berries to fuel themselves and their young. It also makes storing enough fat to fly long distances more difficult, possibly hurting a bird’s chances of surviving migration. There is a labeled buckthorn in the Maitland Woods between K and L but there are also many other unlabeled trees.

Most of the honeysuckles in our area are invasive honeysuckles. The native species have solid stems while the non native stems are usually hollow. The filling inside the branches (pith) of invasive honeysuckles is often light-colored or white while in the natives it is dark brown. The invasive honeysuckles leaf out earlier than most native species and retain their leaves later into the fall, making identification easier during those times. The invasive plants tend to be much larger, the ones on the Exeter trails being over eight feet tall.

Two very common invasive plants are garlic mustard and spotted knapweed. Garlic mustard is all too common as a spring plant and there are huge patches on the John Goldie Reserve, Spotted knapweed (see photo of a Monarch on knapweed in Trail Talk 180) is very common and is flowering and going to seed at this time of year.  I have been digging up literally thousands of plants from our back garden and on my third year have hardly seen any decrease.

Last trail talk I mentioned beech husks. On Saturday I hiked from River Line to about 33.5 km , and although there were many beech trees I only managed to find three beech husks.

One member of iNaturalist mentioned that he had seen fewer dragonflies this year. I have noticed that,although they were abundant in June, on August 29th when I hiked the Hullett Sugar Bush I did not see a single one.  At night there are now loud choruses of crickets.

Saturday September 11th 9 a.m. Hike the Maitland Trail from River Line to Cherrydale road about 16 km-,requires car pooling. Contact

Sunday September 12th, 1:30 p.m. The first of four Sunday afternoon bicycle rides on all, or part of the GART. (the others are on Sept 26th , Oct 10th and 24th.)  On Sept 12th meet at the trail by River Ridge Crescent to ride 6.1 km to McGaw and return the same way. Register with Sally Brodie 226-378-1648.  Full details are in the Maitland Trail Association newsletter.

There is no Maitland El Camino event this year, but probably one in September 2022.

Tuesday Trompers hike for about an hour contact Al Sanders at

Uneven  Hikers  hike for 1 ½ to 2 hours on Wednesdays or Thursdays contact Patrick Capper. Both groups meet at 9 a.m.

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