An Insider's Guide to Waterloo Region

Interesting places on and off the beaten track

Archive for the ‘Wildlife’ Category

F. W. R. Dickson Wilderness Area

I visited this natural area for the first time on a snowy, damp weekend (as we have had every weekend lately!) In spite of the weather, it was an interesting and beautiful area that I will return to explore further when the trails dry out. There are several steep sections in the 5 km loop so if you go when it is icy, you need to take special care.

Chickadees here are very friendly and come readily to eat from your hand. Most of them have colour-coded bands and are being studied for behaviour and movement. This is a birder’s paradise.

This map directs you to Hillside Lake Park on the Brant-Waterloo Road. Dickson Wilderness area is immediately west of the trailer park. A parking lot is on the north side of Brant-Waterloo Road.

Other trails are found nearby at Sudden Tract, Wrigley Lake and Pinehurst Lake.

Written by Ruth

March 10, 2011 at 7:27 am

Signs of Spring 2011

The Laurentian Wetland in the Ottawa Street South and David Bergey Drive area does not look very inviting in this late winter picture. But the rain was melting the ice and birds were active over the area. I heard my first Red-winged Blackbird of the season here yesterday. Robins will be back in a week or two and spring is on the way. Here is an upcoming event in this area.

April 16, 2011; 1 to 4 p.m. – Laurentian Wetland Clean-up & Earth Day Celebration. See the KNAP website for more information.

Written by Ruth

March 6, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Sudden Regional Forest

1839 Spragues Road, North Dumfries Township

The Region of Waterloo’s Regional Forests and Woodlands include 16 wooded areas owned by the Region. Sudden Tract is south of Cambridge at 1839 Spragues Road. I have enjoyed the trails here particularly in the fall and winter. The Chickadees and Nuthatches are very friendly and will eat out of your hand. This is where I saw my first Red-bellied Woodpecker a few years ago.

The boardwalk traversing the large wetland near Spragues Road has been closed to the public for over a year now. It is in poor repair and is missing cross boards in many areas. People (like myself) walk around the barriers and follow the trail toward the back of the forest where glacial hills and formations add the beauty of the forest. I wouldn’t recommend using this trail though especially when spring arrives.

The boardwalk over the wetland is unsafe

Here is a link to a January 2011 report from the Region of Waterloo concerning the Regional Forest Management Plan. According to the report, in the fall of 2010 ” a team of students from Conestoga College’s Environmental Engineering program undertook the project of designing a replacement boardwalk as their major course project. To date they have produced an “Existing Conditions” report and are currently in the design stage of the project. It is anticipated that if their recommendations are realistic and achievable, that their proposal will be presented to EEAC for consideration at a later date.”

Red-bellied Woodpecker along broken boardwalk trail

Written by Ruth

February 23, 2011 at 9:40 pm

Fluffed up in the Cold

Cold weather increases the energy needs of wild birds. This male House Finch is fluffed up to help insulate itself from the cold. I will be filling the feeders to the top before the winter storm which is predicted to start tomorrow night.

Written by Ruth

January 31, 2011 at 9:05 pm

Posted in Birding, Wildlife

Tagged with ,

Winter Hike at Huron Natural Area

Josh Shea, coordinator of Kitchener’s Natural Areas Program (KNAP), led a winter hike at Huron Natural Area on Saturday, January 23, 2011. He discovered coyote scat and was describing its unique characteristics to the group. Over 30 people of all ages came out in spite of bitter cold temperatures.

Written by Ruth

January 23, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Ducks on the River

I walked along the Linear Trail after work yesterday. The Grand River is ice free following the thaw and rain we had last weekend and is home to many ducks which come south to winter in our region. Goldeneye, Bufflehead and Merganser ducks are found along this stretch of the river. This memorial bench is ideally situated for watching the river. On the opposite bank is the RARE Charitable Research Reserve. It is not uncommon to see deer on these river flats.

Common Mergansers and Common Goldeneye Ducks on the Grand River


Written by Ruth

January 5, 2011 at 7:59 am

Opossum on the Linear Trail

I don’t see these animals very often and southern Ontario is the most northern edge of the opossum’s range in North America. This one was walking near the Grand River along the Linear Trail in Cambridge ON.

Here are some opossum facts from The ‘Possum Pages:

Whither “opossum”?

The name “opossum” comes from the Algonquin Indian name for the animal, pasum. How the initial “o” was appended no one seems to know for certain.

America’s kangaroo?

The opossum is the only marsupial in North America. This means the animal carries its young in a pouch, much the same as does the Australian kangaroo. Once a female opossum mates, she gives birth a mere 13 days later to a litter of roughly a dozen baby opossums that are each no bigger than a honeybee. These tiny, blind, and naked babies crawl on their own all the way to their mother’s pouch. There they each latch on to a teat from which they receive milk. They remain there for nearly three months.

Playing possum

The opossum is perhaps best known for faking death as a means of defense when attacked. While he is capable of falling over on his side, his mouth open in a death-like grin with saliva running out, from which state he cannot be roused until the danger is past, this is usually done only as a last resort. More likely a threatened opossum will look for the nearest exit and run away (or more accurately “waddle away,” since they cannot move particularly fast). They will also sometimes bare their teeth, hiss, or even growl. With such displays they appear quite fierce, but actually they are not accomplished fighters and are very rarely aggressive.

Written by Ruth

January 4, 2011 at 12:42 am