Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, Ontario Parks

Last week we were passing by Forks of the Credit Provincial Park so we stopped in for a few hours. We didn't see even 1/4 of the park (which was sad since it cost $14 for the day) but we had a great time exploring what we got to see.
 We followed the Meadow trail around to the pond, stopping to take pictures of flowers

and hug trees along the way.
Until we reached the pond.
 It took the girls less then 30 seconds to realize how many frogs there were in the pond and began the task of trying to catch some.
 Sierra lives to catch frogs...she gets very "into" it creeping up on the frogs ever so carefully.
 I was excited to see the Northern Leopard Frogs as they are the first we have seen of these frogs this year. There were literally hundreds of them. Every step you took around the pond you had to do very slowly because there were likely a few frogs sitting along the path. See the four pictured below? Each step you took looked like this and even more frogs jumped out of your way at times.

Sierra was the first to catch one.

She got her mind set on catching a big one...

But she didn't have any luck...she did catch a few different small ones, and let them go right after she caught them.

 We also saw some of these brown frogs that looked very similar to the Northern Leopard Frogs. I think they are Pickerel frogs but I am not certain because Northern leopard frogs can be either brown or green.

Aayla kept trying and trying and trying until she finally did it! She caught a frog all by herself!

After playing here for close to 2 hours everyone was hungry so we walked the approx 10 minute walk back to the car for lunch. There were some picnic tables (a bit over grown) along the ponds edge where we could have eaten if we brought our lunches on the trail.

After lunch we walked back around the other side of the pond through the fields of milkweed.

The fields were literally FULL of milkweed and were so pretty.

There were butterflies everywhere but armed only with my phone these are the best shots I could get of the monarchs.

The view overlooking the pond was beautiful too.

We continued our walk back down to the pond.

And of course once we got there we had to stop and try catching another frog or two.

Here Sierra is illustrating how fast the frogs jump when you try to catch them.

 Hopping fast or not she still managed to catch another frog before we had to leave.

 Aayla didn't have any luck this time but she did have fun playing in the muck at the edge of the pond. The girls also saw a big black bug in the water. I didn't see it but from their description it sound like a big water beetle.

 The trails around the pond were partly mowed meadows and partly a dirt trail. Neither of which would be very wheel chair or stroller friendly if you are thinking of heading to visit this park. If your kids like to hike they should be able to complete the trek around the pond with little issues (remember there is a $14 day use fee here but there are outhouses and shaded picnic tables near the parking lot).

I would have liked to explore more of the park as I have heard there is a nice waterfall here but the girls were having so much fun at the pond that pulling them away would have just upset them and then the walk would not have been fun anyway. I am glad they had so much fun catching and releasing the frogs.

Please remember that if you go out to try to catch some frogs that you do so with clean hands and no hand cream or hand sanitizer on them. Also only handle the frogs for a minute or two as frogs breath through their skin and long term handling of them can hurt them as can hand lotions. It's great to be able to visit with the frogs and examine them but you don't want to hurt them.

A baby toad that hoped right in front of us on the trail.

 And finding a sweet little heart rock was the perfect ending to a great walk.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Week 5 Nature Scavenger Hunt for Families Tasks and my week 4 pictures

How wonderful was your colour hunt this week? I love stopping to take pictures of wild flowers so the colour hunt is always fun for me. But the number of bonus entries added I'd say you all had some fun with this past weeks colour tasks too.

What will be doing this week? Well you are going on a bug hunt. You'll be looking for creepy crawlies of all kinds. Sometimes we overlook all the little critters and they are an important part of our world...even if you don't really care for them. have you ever rolled over a rotting log to see what lives in the decay? Please be careful of their natural habitats and be sure to roll the log back carefully so you don't disturb the residents too much.

Remember to upload all your photos by Aug 3rd with the hashtag #2014naturehunt and the date your picture is for as well as a description of your picture to help me award points more easily.

July 28th: Beetle 5 points (10 bonus points if you can identify it)
July 29th: Snail 10 points (10 bonus points if your find a snail for each family member and have snail races. Take a picture of the winner crossing your line)
July 30th: Ants 5 points (10 bonus points: how many body parts do insects have and what are they?)
July 31st: Worm 10 points (5 bonus points if you find a worm over 5"long...use a measuring tape in the picture)
Aug 1st: Pill bug aka rollie pollie 5 points (1 bonus points for each additional pill bug in the same picture up to 25)
Aug 2nd: Spider 5 points (10 bonus points if he is pictured in his web)
Aug 3rd: Centipede or millipede 10 points (5 bonus points if you tell me what the difference is between the two)

WEEKLY BONUS5: Invite bugs to your back yard (your birds will thank you). Make a "bug hotel" and take a picture of your finished hotel 25 points

Don't forget about the overall bonus's which may be uploaded at any time during the 9 week period:
EXTRA bonus 1: A family portrait with a waterfall 25 points
EXTRA bonus 2: Discover a cave 50 points
EXTRA bonus 3: Make art with natures bounty 25 points
EXTRA bonus 4: Go camping... show us your favourite experience while camping 25 points
EXTRA bonus 5: Explore a hiking trail and share with us some of the wonderful natural things you saw while hiking 50 points
EXTRA bonus 6: Use natural items (rocks, sticks etc) to spell the word for how being in nature makes you feel 25 points
EXTRA bonus 7: A family portrait at either a National Park or a Provincial or State park. Let me know at least one thing you learned while at this park  100 points.

Here are my week 4 pictures:

Multiple photos were allowed this week for extra points. I must admit I am surprised by the quantities of certain colours I found. I expected to find a lot of pinks but didn't find many. I didn't expect to see many orange things but yet I found a lot.

July 20th: Red

Red dragonfly
Possibly honey suckle berries and a raspberry

 Choke cherries ( I think) and some red maple leaves

 Red berries

July 21st: Orange
Pine tree bark and fallen pine needles

 Orange Maple leaves on a tree with green ones and yellow ones. It's not fall yet is it?
 An orange lady bug with hardly any spots showing and two beetles

 Butterfly Milkweed...I love this plant
Possibly another variety of honeysuckle and Spotted Touch Me Nots

July 22nd: Yellow
A sweet little bee on a Yellow Hawkweed I think

 Common Goats Beard and St Johns Wart

 Great Mullein
 and yellow centers in an Oxe Eye Daisy

 Buttercup and a mystery???

 Black Eyed Susan
 Butter & Eggs and Perennial Sow-Thistle maybe
 Lovely yellow snails
 Birds-Foot Trefoil and a mystery. It's got to be in the succulent family

Golden Rod 

July 23rd: Green

Green Damselfly

4 leaf clovers...only found 3 this week

 The tall grasses around the pond
 Leaves of milk weed and horse tails
 Lush green of the forest

Cat tail leaves and English Plaintain 

Northern Leopard Frog
 A turtle in a pond of green duckweed and a fern

 Grasses and bushes around the pond

July 24th: Blue

Blue Damsel fly
Blue water from our plane view and the bright blue sky

July 25th: Violet or Purple

 I'm not sure about the first one but the second is Chickory

Purple Crown-Vetch
 Bird Vetch (Cow Vetch) and Swamp Vervain

Creeping Bellflower
Deep purple leaves on a bush and Self Heal

Spotted Knapweed
Another one to research and Nightshade... (gets very red berried that are poisinus).

Wild Bergamont
 A thislte and Fireweed,

July 26th: Indigo or Pink

Red Clover

Common Milkweed
 Some very light colour Purple Crown Vetch and Sotted Joe-Pye Weed

July 27th: White and Black on same object 
Ian found this guy on the boat for us

A rock and tent caterpiller nests

A dragonfly with black and white wings but he was very elusive. the other pic is from a moth

 Happy happy heart rock

Week 4 BONUS: Go outside and paint a picture of a rainbow. Your entrance photo should show: you with your painting outside. Finger paint, brush paint, try making natural paint brushes, use hand prints...the choice is yours 50 points.

We made natural paintbrushes by using sticks, leaves and grasses we found in the yard. We also used liquid water colour paints on real water colour paper. The effect is always so pretty and the colours are so vibrant. The kids all had a fun time painting outdoors with their natural paint brushes.

Now it's time to head out on a bug hunt! Hope you all have a great week catching critters to examine carefully or at least photograph.