Bats: The mammal, the myth, the legend

Today’s post comes from Ashley Hanas, a bat technician with the Friends of Pinery Park.

Bats are the only true flying mammal.

There are currently over 1,400 species and bats encompass 20% of the mammalian species on earth (meaning 1 in 5 mammals are bats!).

Bats are essential to the health of our environment, providing indispensable ecosystem and economic services in the form of prolific insect pest control, pollination of plants, and dispersal of seeds.

Their droppings, or guano, are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen, making it a highly effective fertilizer.

Despite the numerous benefits bats provide us, their reputations are marred by negative misconceptions.

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Opening doors with Ontario Parks

Today’s blog was written by Pilar Manorome, a park planner in Protected Areas Section at Ontario Parks.

As a kid, I was always fascinated by the natural world around me and was very fortunate to grow up in Norfolk County.

It was a place where I could step out my door and have a wide array of trees, wildflowers, birds, insects, and everything in between, right at my fingertips.

I am also very blessed to have a family that encouraged exploration of the natural world through taking me to the local conservation areas and provincial parks to find frogs and wildflowers, and down dirt roads to find birds and butterflies.

Although my mom and grandparents lit the spark, the flame was truly fanned when I started volunteering for my local Conservation Authority.

Working for Ontario Parks has only further fed the fire.

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10 reasons you should try spring camping

Close your eyes and imagine:

  • your face flush with your first dose of spring sunshine
  • your ears are filled with the beautiful songs of migrating birds
  • your nervous system soothed by the rhythm of waves on the shoreline

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Here are our top ten reasons to try spring camping this season:
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The story behind Emily Provincial Park’s pollinator garden

Today’s post comes from Alexander Renaud, former Discovery program lead at Emily Provincial Park.

A few summers ago, our Discovery staff at Emily Provincial Park wanted to do something BIG to help the park.

Previous years have seen the instillation of turtle nest protection boxes, the collection of species data through a BioBlitz, and the design and creation of a new trail system.

We decided upon creating a pollinator garden!

Continue reading The story behind Emily Provincial Park’s pollinator garden

Nature journaling — just try not to be inspired

This article was written (and illustrated!) by Courtney Lafleur, Senior Park Clerk at Murphys Point Provincial Park.

Time spent in nature can have a profound and lasting positive effect on our physical and mental health, and journaling has long been heralded for its own health benefits. Put them together and you’ve got nature journaling; an activity that inspires creativity, mindfulness and connectivity with nature.

In the simplest terms, nature journaling is about looking at the natural world around you and recording your thoughts and observations. You don’t need a lot to get started, just a piece of paper and something to write with.

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Happy National Pet Day from Ontario Barks

In today’s post, the Chairdog of the Ontario Barks committee shows off his best buds at their favourite provincial parks with their humans! 

Oh boy! It’s National Pet Day! *zoomies*

Even though this is a special day, I’m going to be fur-real with you – in my household, every day is pet day.

From the endless array of squeaky toys (with yummy stuffing and no eyes), the long W-A-L-Ks filled with my smelly presents, and second dinners because the human thought I didn’t get fed by the other human – it’s a pawesome time.

And get this: the fun doesn’t stop here. Sometimes, the human packs a bag and we head on out to a provincial park (there are hundreds!) for an adventure!

Don’t believe me? I’ve gathered all the evidence below of my best buds enjoying park visits! (Don’t ask about who destroyed the couch though; there is no proof.)

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Discover birds with your kids

Today’s post comes from Eva Paleczny, learning and education specialist with Ontario Parks. 

On my morning drive to work one day, I noticed a bunch of Mourning Doves sitting in a row along an electrical line. As I continued driving, I wondered why birds gather in groups like that. Are they being social? Is it advantageous to their survival?

Birds are among the most commonly seen wildlife in our parks and cities, yet probably among the most difficult to observe and identify, due to their intricate colour patterns, quick movements, and ability to stay hidden from view. Not to mention the HUGE variety of bird species out there!

Despite this, I’ve seen many young children express awe and excitement when they see a bird fly by or land on a nearby window sill. These are new sightings for them and they are curious…but eventually, they become ordinary sightings.

How can you tap into discovering birds with your children at home? How can you spark a lifelong curiosity in birds and other creatures?

Here are some fun ideas you can try out from your own backyard:

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Are you an ethical wildlife photographer?

You’ve recently unwrapped the latest iphone or a shiny new digital camera, perhaps an SLR with some fancy lenses.

Now you have itchy shutter fingers. You’re ready to point your camera at something spectacular and capture a beautiful memory forever. But where to go?

Not to brag, but Ontario Parks are beautiful, iconic places. Covering nearly 10% of the province and protecting some of Ontario’s most rare and scenic habitats, our parks are home to a variety of wildlife, from fascinating insects to enormous moose.

Basically, they’re a photographer’s dreamscape.

We’re animal lovers too. We know how exhilarating wildlife encounters can be. We understand how badly you want that perfect photo.

But before you hit the road, ask yourself: is taking the perfect photograph worth risking an animal’s life or an ecosystem’s health?

If your answer is “no,” check out our list of seven common photography infractions to ensure you’re keeping our parks safe and healthy.

Continue reading Are you an ethical wildlife photographer?