Orillia Naturalists’ Club visit the Bruce Peninsula

Ten members of the Club ventured to the Bruce to explore the region and meet with Arni and Dianne Stinnissen, two past members of the Club.

“The Bruce Peninsula is the largest remaining intact natural habitat in southern Ontario with more than 19% of protected land and acts as an important flyway for migrating birds. The peninsula possesses diverse and unique ecosystems including globally rare alvar and cliff ecosystems, an extensive array of flora including 44 species of orchids, 50 species of ferns and several endemic species, the oldest trees in eastern North American, some over 1,000 years old plus a wide range of fauna including black bears, fishers, barred owls and massasauga rattle snakes.” (https://www.northbrucepeninsula.ca/en/live/natural-environment.aspx#)

On Saturday, the group visited Black Creek Provincial Park, Singing Sands (Dorcas Bay), and Bruce Alvar Nature Reserve.

Black Creek Provincial Park had a lovely sandy beach, and a trail through the woods. We had a good look at a Canada and Magnolia Warbler, as well as a Black and White Warbler. Ethan Meleg also joined us for a portion of the morning and his birding skills were very helpful.

Next we drove to Singing Sands (Dorcus Bay) for lunch and another walk. It was quite hot, so the group took advantage of some of the shade at the Parks Canada building after eating. The water levels were so high that the beach was all underwater. After eating, we headed out again to walk the boardwalk and trails in search of birds and orchids and flowers. We heard from Arni and Dianne that the Orchid festival was the previous weekend, and since the weather had been quite cold, there were not any orchids to see! It was still a bit too early for the Yellow Lady Slipper, but we did see others including Ram’s Head Orchid, Dwarf Lake Iris, Bird’s eye Primrose. We were also able to watch Terns diving into the water and catching fish, which felt quite special to witness.

We stopped in at the Tobermory Visitor’s Centre, which is the start/end of the Bruce Trail.

Next we were off to the Bruce Alvar Nature Reserve, a property of Ontario Nature to see Lakeside Daisy. At this later time in the day, there weren’t any birds singing, but it didn’t feel too hot in the shade so had a good walk on the boardwalk and alvar. Many parts of this property have boardwalks, and the boardwalk ends at one point with instruction to not go any further. Ontario Nature had a great sign at the beginning of the trail saying “Nature can’t Say Ouch!” and explaining how staying on the trail helps reduce our impact on the land.

We finished off the day with a wonderful potluck dinner at Arni and Dianne’s new home. Sorry – no food pictures to share this time, but there was a great variety!

On Sunday we visited the Isaac Lake Management area, which felt similar to Sedge Wren Marsh in Carden. This was a wonderful spot. We walked up and down the road, listing to Bullfrogs, Marsh Wrens and other birds. We even saw two American Bitterns flying above us. There were also a number of Egrets, which is a species that isn’t as common it seems in our area. Over the weekend, we must have seen 5-6 Egrets.

Thank you to Arni and Dianne for leading us around the Bruce, and to Marilyn Clark for coordinating this weekend!

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