The fascinating world of dragonflies and their importance to ecosystems

Today’s blog comes to us from Park Naturalist Sarah Lamond at Algonquin Provincial Park.

Picture it: a warm July day at Algonquin.

You’re basking in the day’s rays and exploring an interpretive trail.

It’s all picture perfect until you hear that telltale buzz and feel an all-too-familiar pain on your scalp.

The Deer Flies have arrived.

Swatting at the growing swarm, you look to the sky and wonder: will there be no relief?

And then they arrive. The prehistoric predator. The Deer Fly devourer. The people’s champion.

Dragonflies.

Continue reading The fascinating world of dragonflies and their importance to ecosystems

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.

Continue reading Bats: The mammal, the myth, the legend

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

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?

Hands off park wildlife!

Protected areas are fascinating places.

If you’re lucky, during your visit you may spot a wide variety of wildlife who call these parks home.

However, you may not always see healthy animals.

In these natural spaces, you could see animals that look sick, injured, or orphaned. We know you want to help wildlife, but helping wildlife means keeping your hands off! Continue reading Hands off park wildlife!

Invasive species in our parks: what’s your role?

In today’s post, Amy Hall, a resource management group leader, gets us up to speed on invasive species, and shares some of the great prevention work happening at Pinery Provincial Park.

It’s Invasive Species Awareness Week!

No matter what role you play in parks, you are an essential part of preventing the spread of invasive species in Ontario.

Which of these anti-invasive heroes sounds like you?

Continue reading Invasive species in our parks: what’s your role?

From Discovery team to butterfly biologist

Today’s blog was written by Michelle Polley, a Master’s student conducting research at Pinery Provincial Park where she formerly worked as a Discovery ranger.

I had never been lucky enough to camp at a provincial park. So when I started my first summer on the Discovery team at Pinery Provincial Park, I didn’t know what a naturalist’s job entailed.

I also didn’t know how that summer contract would affect the trajectory of my life.

Looking back, my experience brought me skills and experiences that led me down a path to develop my career and interests.

Continue reading From Discovery team to butterfly biologist

Forever protected

We all know Ontario’s provincial parks aim to protect our natural landscapes and species.

But did you know that each individual park is protected for its own (often very specific) reasons?

Our parks work together as a network of biodiversity and protection.

Whether an immense wilderness or a small urban nature reserve, every park plays a critical role in the protection of our biodiversity, including representative ecosystems, species, and cultural heritage.

Continue reading Forever protected

How to book a virtual school program

Our virtual school programs bring different aspects of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage into your classroom through stories of the people and landscapes our provincial parks aim to protect.

Each program engages your students through storytelling, activities, discussion, and personal experiences.

Continue reading How to book a virtual school program