Trail Talk 203 January 12th 2022

Having seen the snowy owl again on Black’s Point road and a report of one being seen on Hwy 21 North of Goderich.  I was interested to learn about the relationship between snowy owls, foxes, ermines and lemmings.  Lemmings breed under the snow in winter and can have up to five broods and up to 7 babies each brood.  When there are a lot of ermines then the lemming population crashes, because ermines, unlike foxes, can go under the snow and catch the lemmings in their nests.  The main prey on ermines are snowy owls, so when there are a lot of snowy owls the ermine population declines, especially if there are not an overabundance of lemmings.

Resilient tree at Front Road Trail
Squirrel, Chickadee and Junco at Lobb feeder

I saw two interesting trees.  One is a very resilient tree near the Front road trail. Despite most of the tree being rotten and falling over,  a small trunk managed to stay alive.   In the Hullett Sugar Bush an ash tree was hollow inside and fell over in the windstorm before it was scheduled to be felled (note the red dot on the trunk). So although a tree sometimes appears to be sound,  it may in fact be hollow which is why it is advisable to  stay off the local trails when there are strong winds.

Now that winter has arrived there are not many birds to be seen on many of our trails.  The main exceptions are the Maitland Woods, Menesetung bridge,( a good place to see ducks )  Sifto loop and the  Lobb The bird feeder on the Lobb trail is near the third cut off, where one often sees chickadees, juncos, as well as a black squirrel and may see other species such as downy woodpeckers, or blue jays.

The snow brings a great opportunity to study wildlife tracks.  Fox and Coyotes walk in a straight line, they can’t afford to wander all over the place, unlike domestic dogs that don’t have to worry about where their next meal comes from.  I find it hard to tell the difference between a large fox and a small coyote track. So far I have seen very few deer tracks even at Hullett.

Plaque at Lobb trail

On January 8th we will be remembering Dorothy Bogie who died a year ago of a heart attack after hiking up the hill at Lobbs.  She was a regular L.I.F.E. hiker and an avid square dancer among her many talents.  She died the way I would like to die- but not for another ten or so years.

There was a dead long eared owl on our garden woodland path. According to Roger Goddard I can add it to my species list started on May 18th which now comes to 60. The other recent additions, as well as the two mentioned in last week’s trail talk, are: an American tree sparrow, pileated woodpecker, house finch, house sparrow, slate coloured junco, Swainson’s  thrush and white throated sparrow.



CORRECTION The New Hiking Guide lists 38 not 398 hiking trails

Outdoor gathering are now limited to ten people until at least January 26th

Saturday January 15th 9 a.m. Hike the Maitland Trail at the Auburn end.  Meet at Bridge Road for a 1 ½ hour hike.  If over ten people come we will split into two groups. Contact Patrick Capper

Saturday January 15th 11 a.m. at Varna.  (note this event may be cancelled) Join the Bayfield River Valley Trail Association on the Taylor and Mavis trails.  The hot dog lunch in the pavilion has been cancelled due to Covid concerns.  This is also an opportunity to take or renew your membership.

The Falls Reserve is closed until the end of May, except for the Maitland Trail’s main trail with white blazes and the blue blazed trail.  This is due to work on installing a new septic system.

The Hullett blue trail from the parking lot at 80602 Wildlife line has the broken boards from an unsafe bridge removed, so it is advisable to avoid this trail unless you wear waterproof footwear. The first section of the Sugar Bush from 80602 may be closed for logging between Jan 11 to March 31 if red flag is flying

Duck hunting season ended on Jan 8th

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.

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