Exploring Seasonal Change

In early November as the sun was breaking through the clouds, the Young Macnamaras met at the Macnamara Trail kiosk in anticipation of what the morning would bring. Of the six warmly dressed participants, only one keen young naturalist was in attendance, with several would-be participants on the sick list. Fergus and Gordon, two club experts, were on hand to impart their impressive knowledge of plant and animal life on the trail, and Alicia provided the background on what really happens during the fall season.

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Fall is a great time of year to discuss how nature prepares for winter, and our Young Macnamara already knew a lot about it. We discussed how all animals are looking for food and a safe shelter for the long winter months, and how some hibernate. We considered Eastern Chipmunks, American Toad and Green Frogs, as well as the Wood Frog which is able to go into a frozen state until spring. And we talked about migrating birds as well as the ones that stay in our area during winter.

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Fungi Blitz

Like most autumn mornings, the appointed day of the 2009 Fungi Blitz on Oct. 3 started out wet and foggy but soon dissolved into a clear fall day. More than 30 saprophyte enthusiasts sprang up like, well, mushrooms, at the Five-Span Bridge in Pakenham and headed off to the nearby Continue reading

Carp Ridge Hike

P1060193The Carp Ridge, a fault-bounded slice of Canadian Shield sprawling along the Ottawa Valley, is a picturesque venue for Sunday drives today, but it must have been a tough row to hoe literally for the first farmers who tried to pull a plough through its thin soil. Probably of more use as a source of lumber, maple syrup, and wood ash for soap-making, it was nevertheless well-treed enough to sustain the catastrophic wildfire that burned from Arnprior to Ottawa in the droughty summer of 1870. Set up by a rainless summer and fanned by freakish 100-mile-an-hour winds, an 11-mile wide wall of flame consumed trees, farms, livestock and a few unfortunate souls, not stopping until it had erased Stittsville and Bell’s Corners. Updrafts over the Ridge must have served like a blacksmith's bellows.

Today, the towns and trees have grown back – the former more so than the latter – but the swath that just missed Almonte is still justly called the Burnt Lands. Today the Ridge is mostly second and third-growth timber with pockets of boggy soil in small depressions in the granite gneiss, and the odd forest giant that has survived fires, storms, axes and chainsaws to reign over the spindly pretenders below. Relics of farms past lie scattered across the hills, mouldering in the leaf litter.

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Bug Me If You Can

“Bug me if you can,” it was called, the kind of kids’ activity in the newly created Young Macnamara group. On August 15 we set out on an insect investigation in local fields. Kids first learned about the parts of typical insects and what makes these tiny creatures important to Continue reading