Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Georgian Bay Part 1

Okay...so fair warning, this was a FANTASTIC weekend and thus...this is going to be one long post/story and with a ton of photos as I simply cannot pick and choose from my favorites. =)
Red-backed Salamander

The past long May weekend I went out into the Georgian Bay Islands National Park for a herping trip! The island we camped and searched was called Beausoleil Island. On our trip were a variety of friends from all sectors of the environmental field, MNR, Parks, consulting, masters students, the whole spectrum so it was really amazing at the vast amount of knowledge going around!


Osprey pair on nest
Michael and I went a day early as I was getting a ride with my friend Heather's boyfriend. Mike was driving down from Killbear Provincial park as its where his masters research is based out of. I am so happy we went early! We started off going to an area of the Island called Turtle Bay. What a neat spot! I'd never seen much of the Canadian Shield before so the vast amounts of open rock face was just stunning! With an Osprey calling above an alert warning us she, and her nest is near, we found a few amazing creatures! An adorable little dekay's brown snake, two awesome hognosed snakes, newts, and an extort rock island covered with map turtles!! What a sight it was to see them all jump into the water!

Grey Treefrog
We continued for the rest of the day to wander around the area.  There was such a buzz of birds up above me that I was so overwhelmed and couldn't make out who was who.  I realized then that my main problem was the fact that this year so far I have heard so many sounds and calls from chirps, chips, tweets, buzz, and singing that everything was all jumbled in my head. My task from now on would be somehow manage to sort these into whatever I can and associate it with the bird who uses it. For example the one I always knew, and heard a lot on this trip was the red-eyed vireo "where are you?? Here I am!!"

Anyways, back to the story. The rest was spent around the campfire where a shout out goes to Mike for cooking amazing steak!  Later in the night while putting the food away, something began hopping. I caught it and imediately assumed whatever it was peed on me!  But, it did not!  Instead it was the sticky hands of a beautiful Grey Treefrog! 

Massassauga Rattlesnake
The next morning we awoke to the rest of the group coming in. Steve marks ( the snake master) was of course the first person I hear, then I continue to meet Jeff, Pam, Louise, Tom, and of course say hello again to the awesome Pauline who I met at Snake Road.  Almost immediately camps are set and we are out. This day we headed out towards the YMCA camp and yonder.  The instant find of the day was a beautiful Massassauga Rattlesnake.  It was a first for me!  It had it's rattle shaking and did it ever sound amazing.  The viper eyes, rattle, and ease of being hidden is (although kind of scary and startling) also  stunning and beautiful.  Next we hopped around and saw woodfrogs, leopard frogs, green frogs, as well as more sights of the amazing rock barrens and woodlands just covered with blooming red, pink, and white Trilliums.  Red-backed Salamanders were almost everywhere we looked this day as well.   Walking around we saw so many amazing birds as well!  This had been my first year ever seeing an American Redstart while on the Toronto Islands.  Here, I think I saw at least 10 in one area!  A yellow-rumped warbler, sandhill cranes flying over head, catbird, and wood ducks were other highlights!
Heather looking out for turtles in an inner wetland
Walking into the woods we noticed a quick movement into the water. Amelia was quick to her feet to hop in and try to find whatever it was!  Eventually, we pulled out a large snapping turtle but it is absolutely amazing how it was able to hide literally right under out feet!  We wandered around more and found another two Massassauga Snakes, leopard and green frogs, red-backed salamanders, and all those "common" ones!  While walking through a wetland area in the inner part of the island I spotted a beautiful Broadwinged Hawk in the distance!  Another lifer for me!  Eventually we found ourselves back at the campsite, with an amazing fire, and of course, amazing food and drinks.
Wood Frog!

Then all night, the sounds of peepers, treefrogs, loons, and a barred owl filled the air.  What an amazing thing to fall asleep to!!

Well!  This is just part one. It's taking me forever to type so I really wanted to get this out there at least! Part 2 coming soon!

Me out on the rocks!  Obviously excited..