Despite almost cancelling this outing because of the extreme cold and forecast of high winds, the day turned out to be sunny and spectacular with the forest providing lots of protection from the weather. Nineteen of us roamed around the beautiful trails, all of us bundled up in our warmest winter wear and stuffing “Hot Shots” into boots and mittens.
David Spence provided lots of information on the resident trees and shrubs. The property which consists of over 200 acres on the Carp Ridge has great diversity of deciduous and coniferous species. We looked at Bitternut Hickory of all different ages, observed the lovely yellow leaves still hanging on Beech, showing an abundance of that species too, along with Maples, many of them very old and on their last legs in the succession of the forest. The White Pines are suffering from Red Flag Blight and David explained that this disease requires Gooseberry for part of its life cycle. One Gooseberry host can provide enough of the blight to kill a whole stand of White Pine!
We examined tracks of deer, red squirrel, fox, coyote, mice, moles and grouse and studied skulls of various animals which David has collected there. The property provides great habitat for beavers which have a lodge in a bank of one of the ponds. Birds were around too, especially at the feeders (David provided interesting ideas for building our own feeders.) We saw: American Crow, Purple Finch, White- and Red-breasted Nuthatch, Hairy Woodpecker and Common Raven, which have nested on the property.
Over the years, David has restored over 40 acres of cleared fields to native habitat in an effort to bring birds and other wildlife back. He has provided a waterfowl rehabilitation area and taken birds for the Wild Bird Care Centre. The property is a wonderful refuge in a beautiful area of West Carleton. Thanks to David for leading and Helen and David for hosting!