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Right Whales closer to the brink
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Right Whales closer to the brink

[caption id="attachment_22697" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Stephen Hazell Stephen Hazell
Director of Conservation
and General Counsel[/caption] Twelve highly endangered North Atlantic Right Whales have been killed in the past month in the Gulf of St Lawrence and U.S. eastern seaboard by ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement. Unfortunately, the global population of these whales is only 500. Nature Canada applauds the decision by the Government of Canada to slow ships to ten knots (19 km/hour) in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence where the whales have been frequenting this summer. Clearly this decision will not be enough to reverse the decline of this species. First, the decision applies only to a small part of the range of Right Whales, and not to other important habitat such as the Bay of Fundy. Second, other threats to Right Whales such as oil spills from tankers, oil and gas drilling, seismic blasts and ocean pollution such as toxics and plastics garbage remain unaddressed. Nature Canada has been an active intervener in the Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain, and Energy East primarily to ensure that the impacts of these proposed oil pipeline and tanker projects on marine birds and mammals are well-understood before decisions are made. Nature Canada has joined the conversation and you can too-visit the Government of Canada’s Let’s Talk Whales to learn more. https://www.letstalkwhales.ca/  

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On Feminizing Canoe-Tripping: Why We Chose the Name “Lily Paddlers”
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On Feminizing Canoe-Tripping: Why We Chose the Name “Lily Paddlers”

This blog post was written by guest blogger Ledah McKellar. We are four women in their early thirties who come from different places. We seek to escape the busyness of our lives for a short time to find a deeper connection to nature, each other and ourselves. Over this past winter, I felt an emptiness in my heart that I could not quite place. I knew I missed a strong female presence in my life. Women who were bold enough to be vulnerable, courageous enough to cry, strong enough to support each other. And so, here we are, the Lily Paddlers. About to embark on a seven-day journey through the Path of the Paddle section of Quetico Provincial Park. We are creating an intentional space to allow for deeper bonding with one another. Canoeing in AlgonquinEvery year we go to paddling festivals and watch films that obsess about conquering that next portage or that next set of rapids. We watch films that elevate extreme sports and risk-taking and pushing yourself beyond your physical capacity. Success is measured by defeating your personal best record. Often, the adventurers are strapped for time and pressing hard to make it to their final destination. There is a busyness, perhaps masculinity, and as Jocelyn would put it, “consuming of experience,” linked to this type of relationship with nature and the desire to push through the impossible. It’s not a question of good or bad, but this approach certainly dominates the representation we see in popular culture. We live in a time when many people are ruled by busyness and the clock. We struggle to balance 9-5 jobs, with exercise, eating well and perhaps kids. It’s a mad juggling game. “Busy” is the new response to “How are you,” and most of us are guilty at one point in time of competing to be more productive and busier than another. This has become so ingrained in our lives that sometimes we apply this to our vacations as well. How many countries can we see on a trip to Southeast Asia? How many stamps can I get in my passport? How many portages can we do in a day? How many kilometres in a trip? And yet while we do this, the miracles pass us by. The turtle laying its eggs, the raindrops glistening on the spiderwebs, the sound of the wind through the leaves.  All these moments unnoticed because we were too busy pushing ahead. There are ways you get to know a place only by dwelling in them longer than just stopping to rest and pass through. And there are ways you get to know yourself in the quiet, too. Pushing yourself to achieve the impossible on a canoe trip is a different form of distraction than a cellphone. When we are too busy worrying if we will make it to our destination, we do not have to acknowledge ourselves and the inner work we avoid paying attention to. We had planned out a trip that would take us from point A to B, and we would have to wake up every morning knowing we would need to make it a set amount of kilometres. Suddenly our relaxed trip started looking like a kilometre count. We began having issues finding people who could shuttle us to and from our desired location without it taking six-plus hours. Before we knew it, we were stressed out. It really amazes me how this occurred, even though the whole point of the trip was to avoid this. About nine days before our trip, I was at my brink trying to figure out the shuttle plan, and it hit me just how far we had strayed from our original goal. It was time for our first real “check in.” We agreed to scrap the linear route and loop back to our put-in. This allows us to avoid shuttling, and plan our route day-by-day, according to how we feel and the weather. Classic Canoe Tripping I am so excited to embark on my first trip that is not planned exactly where we will be every night. There is a certain vulnerability of not knowing exactly which route we will take. There is a certain letting go that must occur to allow the trip to form organically without planned structure. This can be uncomfortable because most of us are used to linear plans, and the need to know what is next. But it offers opportunity for personal growth. In some ways, I like to think we are feminizing canoe-tripping. Really taking the time to make it our trip, with our choices. I have been asked: “How will you train for the trip?” and replied, “We won't.” This is why we are the Lily Paddlers. Not because we are lazy women, or weak women who can’t dig deep or paddle with strength, but because we choose to engage in a “slow travel” so that we can connect with one another and nature. So that we can stop at the fork in the river and explore our surroundings. So that the journey is our focus and not the destination. So that we can stir up the unanswered questions, the painful memories, the passionate dreams, the things that matter to us most, that make us human, but can only emerge by dwelling in the quiet. The things that just collect dust in our busy day-to-day lives because we don’t stop to notice them. The “conquer” narrative thrives off of this. It is sometimes easier to challenge yourself physically than it is emotionally and spiritually. Don’t get us wrong, we hope to challenge ourselves physically. But we also hope to move at a pace that allows organic connection, conversation, and exploration of the places we will visit. When we return, we hope to share some of our story with you! Stay tuned.

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Discover Picturesque Howe Sound
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Discover Picturesque Howe Sound

[caption id="attachment_31795" align="alignleft" width="150"]Image of Amanda Simard Amanda Simard, Writing Intern[/caption] This post was written by writing intern Amanda Simard. This month’s calendar photo features a beautiful mountain landscape taken from Bowen Island in Howe Sound, British Columbia. Here are some facts you might not know about this picturesque region located just outside of Vancouver! About Howe Sound Howe Sound is a fjord located in the Georgia Straight. It image of Howe Soundextends 42 kilometres from West Vancouver to Squamish. Howe Sound is a great location for recreational activities like sailing, diving, camping, hiking, and fishing. An unfortunate history of mismanaged industrial operations in the area led to severely polluted waters which devastated local wildlife. However, Howe Sound has invested a lot of money and effort into cleaning up the beaches and waters as well as upgrading the environmental standards of the local industries. In the last few years, the success of these efforts has started to show through returning marine wildlife. Did you know? A Fjord is a long, narrow inlet of the sea through high cliffs or steep slopes. About Bowen Island Bowen Island is one of the bigger islands in Howe Sound, measuring approximately 6 kilometres wide and 12 kilometres long. It is home to a population of 3,551 permanent residents and receives an additional 1,500 visitors in the summer. Historically, the island was used as summering grounds by the native Squamish Nation. Like the rest of Howe Sound, Bowen Island is a great place for many summer activities like kayaking and swimming. It is also home to many artists, rating as Canada’s fourth-most artistic community per capita. Which Canadian regions do you like spending your summer in? Let us know in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!

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5 Ways to Be A Nature-Friendly Camper
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5 Ways to Be A Nature-Friendly Camper

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="160"]Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption]

This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy.

The glorious Canadian summer is in full swing, and admission to our national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas is free in 2017 for #Canada150 with the Discovery Pass. If you can’t go to one of those, no worries—there are myriad provincial and private parks to set up camp, take in our great outdoors and create wonderful memories with your loved ones. With nature and your safety in mind, here are some reminders for how to be a conscientious camper. Bring weather-accommodating clothing. The weather can change at a drop of your sunhat. Take along proper, quality gear that sets you up for varying inclement weather—rain, cold, heat. This means a waterproof rain jacket, a sunhat, shorts and long pants (or pants that convert into shorts), extra socks, and closed-toe, waterproof shoes for handling slippery rocks or sitting near the campfire. As well, think in terms of layers of clothing, so you can switch comfortably between hot and cold temperatures and dry and wet conditions.

shoes-1638873_1280Secure your food. When campers leave their food out in the open, bears lose their timidity of humans, resulting in them approaching campsites regularly and becoming a public safety issue. Take care to not leave food and ANY food-related items out, whether it’s empty or full coolers, dirty or clean dishes and bottles, and open or canned pet food. Some campgrounds provide bear-proof storage containers. The other easiest way to keep your stash out of their paws is to stow everything, including prep tools, in your hard-sided vehicle. tent-lakeClean yourself responsibly. Make sure your hygiene items such as deodorant and shampoo are unscented, so as not to rouse the interest of curious animals. If you don’t wish to rinse off with only water, use unscented biodegradable soap, available at outdoor stores. You can also use unscented baby wipes—just be sure to bring a large resealable bag to store the used ones for disposal once you return to the campground or come home. Whichever option you choose, be sure to clean and relieve yourself at least 60 metres away from both your designated campsite and any water source. Do not interact with wildlife. Whether it’s feeding, approaching, or engaging, it’s a no-no. Observe animals from a safe distance. Parks Canada recommends a minimum of 30 metres distance from elk and 100 metres from predators such as black bears, wolves and cougars. This is when binoculars come in handy. When walking around, be astute of immediate sights and sounds, such as droppings, paw prints, or claw and bite marks on trees—you don’t want to surprise an animal, accidentally or not. Even squirrels can give you a serious bite! Never leave your pets unattended. Keep your pets leashed and in your view at all times. Leashing your animal will help keep them safe, as they can attract bears, cougars, wolves, or coyotes, and dogs have been known to provoke defensive behavior in bears. Keep your dog’s barking to a minimum, as it will disturb wildlife and other campers. You may want to outfit your pet’s harness or leash with a light so they’ll be easier to spot if they run off.
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5 Ways to Decolonize Your Canoe Trip
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5 Ways to Decolonize Your Canoe Trip

This blog was written by Jocelyn Dockerty. It has been around that time of year where some Canadians are celebrating our 150th birthday. Now, as someone trained to be a history teacher, I could write a whole lot to complicate that number 150. That’s not why I am writing this piece today though, but it is related. Canadians need to decolonize themselves. This is becoming a more and more common thing to discuss today. It is in our social media feeds, in national headlines, and beginning to be discussed in schools. But what about in our canoes, during our paddling trips, in the outdoor adventure community? There definitely is much decolonization to be done within this community and many scholars are already discussing this. For us, four women paddling through Quetico Provincial Park very soon, there are a few minor steps we are taking to engage in decolonization. I understand that I am a fortunate white lady writing this piece and it would be ideal to read how to decolonize your canoe trip from an Indigenous individual, but I do think it is important to share our experiences and how we are consciously trying to engage in decolonization. Below are minor steps that any Canadian tripper can take before they embark on a paddling trip. Of course, decolonization will need much more than these 5 steps, but they are a great starting point.

1. Know the Treaty Territory You are Paddling Through

image1We are all Treaty people. All human experiences in Canada are extremely connected to what was signed in our treaties. It is important to know them. So before you begin your next paddling trip, visit this awesome website Native-Land.ca and find the treaty territory you are in. You can then visit Canada’s Indigenous and Northern Affairs Website and print out the text of that very treaty. Find a Ziploc bag. Bring it on your trip and read it with the community of paddlers you are in. Read it again. Question it. We will be paddling through Treaty #3 Territory, which covers about 55,000 square miles from Thunder Bay to the north of Sioux Lookout, along the international border to the province of Manitoba. There are 28 First Nations communities within Treaty #3, the nearest being Lac La Croix First Nation. Interestingly enough and not surprisingly, Quetico Provincial Park has a complicated relationship with the original peoples of this territory. Here is an excellent article that shares the story of one of the last Indigenous women to live in her traditional lands in Quetico. Click here to read the story.  You can also read more about Quetico Provincial Park’s history with Lac La Croix First Nation from pages 27 to 29 in this report.

2. Know the Indigenous Language(s) of the Territory You Are In

English speaking Canadians get funny about learning languages. It is the privilege of being English speakers. You travel or live elsewhere and it is a simple reality that people are polyglots. Canadians need to jump that hurdle of unilingism and this does not only include French. Indigenous languages have been systematically threatened through Canada’s education system. This affects our recognition of Indigenous culture, ways of knowing, and presence in Canada today. Image of a maple tree

Losing a language is a major setback for everyone, because along with the language, you will also lose all of the poems, the stories, the songs. And those things are of immense importance to all of us as human beings.

—Anthony Aristar—

We need to learn our Indigenous languages. Begin by learning what the language of the territory you are paddling in is. Anishinaabemowin? Kanien:ke’ha? Cree? Halq’eméylem? After that, try learning some basic phrases, such as “Hello,” “My name is…,” or “Thank you.” It is respectful to do this when travelling to other nations. Canadians can begin to decolonize themselves by recognizing that when they are in Indigenous nations, it is also respectful to learn basic phrases. The primary Indigenous language used in the territory that we will be paddling through is Anishinaabemowin. That being said, so many languages have been used in this territory due to its important trading history even before Europeans arrived.

Some members of our trip have gradually been learning Anishinaabemowin. An excellent literary resource is Talking Gookom’s Language. This book also includes a workbook and CD to practice phonetics. Ideally, connecting with humans is better but resources to teach and learn Indigenous languages are small, so there are not always classes in your community to learn your local Indigenous language.

3. Learn the Indigenous Names for the Territory You Are In

Ontario, Toronto, Quebec, Saskatchewan and so many other Canadian locations are rooted in Indigenous languages. For example, Kenora is the amalgamation of 3 different towns: Keewatin, Norman, and Rat Portage. Two of those three town names have Indigenous origins. Keewatin describes a north wind. Rat Portage is the English translation of Wauzhuskh Onigum meaning “portage to the country of the muskrat.” Why on earth does it matter to learn this? By recognizing Indigenous history and influence to Canadian communities, we rebuild a narrative that demonstrates that Indigenous peoples were not passive actors in our history. Indigenous peoples were and are active in this land. Words matter. Before you begin paddling, try to find the Indigenous name of the major rivers or lakes of your route. How can you do this? There are hundreds of Native Friendship Centers throughout Canada whether in metropolises such as Montreal or Toronto or in small towns such as Quesnel or Sioux Lookout. Many Native Friendship Centres employ Cultural and Language Coordinators or are in close connection to Elders. Email them. Ask for information. Even if they do not know their language, they may be able to direct you to people who do. It is important to not assume that just because someone is Indigenous, that they may be able to speak an Indigenous language. That assumption doesn’t really recognize structural reasons as to why many Indigenous peoples do not speak their languages (i.e. residential schools, lack of funding for Indigenous languages, generational gaps in knowledge of languages, etc.). So, begin the conversation and show that Indigenous history and languages matter to you. Honestly, we are still in the process of learning this. There is much to learn and we are committed!

4. Learn Your Waterways

[caption id="attachment_34194" align="alignleft" width="253"]waterways Click here for more information.[/caption] Canadians like to boast that we have the largest freshwater reserves in the world. Although we have 20% of the world’s freshwater, only 7% is renewable. Also, 73% of First Nation water “are at high or medium risk of contamination” while many of them simultaneously live alongside waterways. Why is this so? Decolonization cannot occur without conversations about land and water. We can begin to decolonize by understanding the places that have been affected by colonialism and industrialization and these are often our waterways. Here are a few important things to learn about the waterways you are travelling:
  • Where are the source of the lakes and rivers you are paddling?
  • Where do these lakes and rivers flow?
  • What industries exist along the riverbanks and lakeshores?
  • What communities are most negatively/positively affected by these industries?
  • Who financially benefits most from these industries?
Writing about the waterways we are paddling through could take a long time. This may be a future blog post!

5. Watch Your Language

While on your paddling trip, watch your language. Canadians have internalized the history of explorers. We romanticize it. We use it in our everyday. “I discovered this awesome musician.” “I want to do [country of choice].” This is not a matter of policing language but a desire to dig deeper into why we use the language we use. These expressions are problematic because they may assume that we are the first or they can be subtly aggressive even if we did not intend to. Can we not just travel to India? Is it really an adventure to “done?” Don’t thousands of people already listen to that musician? It is this barely noticeable mindset and language that devalued those that occupied this territory before European ancestors arrived. It is this mindset that allowed settlers to ignore how their actions affected those who lived in the areas that they were moving into. It is this mindset that allows us to also use the land as solely a commodity. So, as you paddle and see new sights and enjoy the beauty of the landscapes that you are paddling through, recognize that you are not the only one that has been there before. You are part of a long history and larger story of people living in this land. It is also important to be aware of respectful customs. For example, it is not appropriate to take photographs of pictographs. These can be found throughout Quetico Provincial Park. As you are expected to not photograph other sacred spaces and items in other faith traditions, it is also important (in a similar but not identical way) to not photograph Indigenous pictographs. Your paddling trip is not an experience to consume. It is an opportunity to continue to learn about the country that we live in and start to decolonize our thinking about it! What an exciting thing to engage in! I hope you can take these ideas to heart before you begin your next trip whether it be a two-day or ten. Happy paddling!
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Honing Your “Fieldcraft”: 10 Tips to Approaching Wildlife with a Camera
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Honing Your “Fieldcraft”: 10 Tips to Approaching Wildlife with a Camera

[caption id="attachment_28385" align="alignleft" width="150"] Tony Beck – Photographer, Naturalist, Nikon Ambassador[/caption] This blog was written by Tony Beck, who is a freelance naturalist and photographer based in Ottawa. He and his wife Nina Stavlund, operate "Always An Adventure," a company offering a variety of photography and birdwatching services. It’s natural to get excited when animals get close. Imagine a Pine Marten bolting out of the forest and crossing your path, or a Scarlet Tanager perching in clear view above a woodland trail. With the enormous popularity of photography, these days, events like this regularly get documented. But, if you're after prize-winning photos, overwhelming excitement can distract you from making the right technical and artistic choices. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to overlook simple details like crooked horizons, cluttered backgrounds, proper exposure or precise focus. More importantly, emphatic enthusiasm will likely alarm or scare off any wild creature. To overcome this, you need to develop something I call "Fieldcraft" - the art of taking photos while you're approaching your subject, especially during "field" activity. Fortunately, with a little practice, you can achieve a demeanour that will help you focus and relax while in proximity to wildlife. Even if the animal is fully aware of your presence, with ethical and fine-tuned fieldcraft, many animals can be approached. Here are a few tips to prepare you for field situations.

      1. Be patient, take your time and never rush. [caption id="attachment_28380" align="aligncenter" width="799"]Image of a Scarlet Tanager Photo of Scarlet Tanager by Tony Beck[/caption]

        When it comes to nature photography, slow and steady wins the game.

      2. Always remain calm.
      3. Try to suppress any excitement by moving slowly, gracefully and with fluid motion. Always avoid fast or jerky actions.
      4. Avoid loud and abrupt noises. Move carefully with every step making sure you‘re always quiet and light on your feet.
      5. As you approach the animal, pretend like you’re not interested. It helps to avoid prolonged eye contact. Pay attention. But, keep the animal mostly in your peripheral vision while occasionally looking at them briefly. However, looking through a camera’s viewfinder is usually OK. The equipment will mask your eyes, and your excitement. [caption id="attachment_28379" align="aligncenter" width="799"]Image of a Red Fox Photo of a Red Fox by Tony Beck[/caption]

        Pay attention to an animal's behaviour. Look at this Red Fox's eyes and ears. It's clearly paying attention to the photographer. Any abrupt or threatening move might have scared it away.

      6. Avoid moving toward your subject too directly. Wander around slowly, moving forward with infrequent steps sideways or back. Stop occasionally for short periods to reassess the situation or to snap a few frames.
      7. Become familiar with your camera’s settings and options. Preset your camera to the settings you anticipate using. Before pressing the shutter, pay attention to the information displayed in the viewfinder, then adjust your settings accordingly.
      8. In order to get wildlife comfortable with your camera noises, start taking photos from a distance. This also helps you get into rhythm with the subject. Continue to take photos throughout your entire approach.
      9. Be sensitive toward the animal. Back off the moment you detect any signs of stress or nervousness. Priority should always go to the animal’s well-being before your photography. [caption id="attachment_28381" align="aligncenter" width="799"]Image of a Snowy Owl on a post Photo of a Snowy Owl by Tony Beck[/caption]

        When photographing wildlife, always treat your subjects with sensitivity and respect. Limit your actions and avoid causing them unnecessary stress. Migratory birds like this Snowy Owl should use their energy hunting for food rather than escaping curious photographers.

      10. Beware of personal danger. Animals can be unpredictable. They might be hungry, disoriented, injured or protecting their young. If you look like food, or they perceive you as a threat, they might charge you.
Although digital photography is relatively easy, there’s no substitute for practice. Regardless of how well you act in the field, not all wildlife will let you to get close. But with refined fieldcraft you’ll greatly improve your chances of capturing prize-winning images of wild animals. [separator headline="h6" title="About the Author"] With more than 30 years experience, including 23 years as a professional, Tony teaches Birdwatching and Nature Photography through various schools, companies, institutions and businesses. Since 1995, he’s worked with several agents as a nature tour guide and photography instructor. An enthusiastic, skilled and popular guide, he regularly takes groups around Ottawa looking for birds, nature and photo opportunities. He’s extremely well traveled, guiding in many exciting places throughout North America, Tropical Pacific, Middle East, Africa, Tropical America and Polar Regions. Tony currently holds the prestigious title of Nikon Ambassador of Canada. [box style="1 or 2"] Thank you to Tony for these incredible tips for approaching wildlife with your camera. Want to try them out? Good news! We’re hosting a Nature Photo Contest this summer. This is your chance to test out these pointers and get out into nature. The Nature Photo Contest is a celebration of the plants and animals, landscapes, and nature moments that bring us joy and happiness.  This summer is particularly special as we celebrate Canada’s 150thbirthday. Submit your nature photos for a chance to win one of our amazing prizes! Get your photos in before July 1st for chance to win an early bird prize! .[/box]
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What’s Today’s Challenge with Wildlife Photography?
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What’s Today’s Challenge with Wildlife Photography?

[caption id="attachment_34105" align="alignleft" width="150"]Catherine Aitken Catherine Aitken, Guest Blogger[/caption]

This blog is written by guest blogger Catherine Aitken. 

Ah, the excitement of getting out into 'nature' to photograph wildlife and landscapes! You've checked your camera gear – battery charged and memory cards up to the wazoo in the pack. You've scoped out the area and have a pretty clear idea of where your subjects can be found. So you're all ready! Right? Not completely. There is one aspect of your photo adventure you may not have covered. It's not gear, it's not knowledge of your destination or information about your subjects.But it is equally important.

Have you considered how you will deal with the wildlife that you stop to 'shoot'? I have been photographing wildlife for over 15 years and here are some thoughts of how to mitigate the dilemma of photographing wildlife.

Treat them with respect. This is their territory. Give them space. Get out that telephoto lens and 'shoot' from the distance.

[caption id="attachment_34107" align="alignright" width="300"]Photo by Catherine Aitken Photo by Catherine Aitken[/caption]

Be quiet in their presence. These animals aren't in a zoo and aren't used to having people milling round. That's hard to do when you are also supposed to make your presence known.

Know your subject's natural behaviour. Watch from a safe distance and see how it is moving, how alert it is to other activity.  Understand that while you want that closeup of that grizzly, it doesn't want you closer. Be aware of what time of year you are photographing and what that means to the wildlife. Spring means young and protecting them. Some animals respond to trespassing on their turf by leaving their young. To draw you away or out of fear for themselves. You should never cause that kind of reaction. Also watch for the young. As we all know separating a bear from its young can be fatal. [caption id="attachment_34109" align="alignleft" width="300"]Photo by Catherine Aitken Photo by Catherine Aitken[/caption]
Fall is a critical time for wildlife as they try to 'beef' up for winter. So anything that distracts them from eating or puts pressure on them reduces their intake potentially. So don't make your presence obvious. Respect their needs. Our photographing isn't as important as their survival.
And while it's hard to believe that your being in the presence on an animal for that one time could be that detrimental, remember, you aren't the only person out photographing that animal. It all adds up. And the more people the merrier doesn't apply. So stay away from groups of people photographing something. I have seen tour groups or just a group of friends pour out of their cars or vans and gather like a flock of birds and click away all excitedly. Ten shutters going off at once can be quite loud.

Now I haven't always followed those words of wisdom. And invariably, after the fact I have felt guilty for scaring off an animal, interrupting its normal activities, or just making it uncomfortable. You want to be able to look at your photographs and enjoy them. Relate to the wildlife's natural behaviour on that occasion and cherish the shot.

[caption id="attachment_34110" align="alignright" width="300"]Photo by Catherine Aitken Photo by Catherine Aitken[/caption]

As more and more people partake of photography touring and go out on their own to see a spot of nature and its inhabitants, the ethical aspect of this activity will come up more and more.

This is their turf. This is where they live and hopefully survive and prosper. But the wilds are also under ever increasing pressures and threats. Photographers have a wonderful role to play by capturing images for themselves and others to enjoy and to learn from. We want to be part of the solution not the problem. Respect the wildlife and the landscape.

Leave only footprints and life going on as usual.


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Bird Tweet of the Week:  Eastern Bluebird
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Bird Tweet of the Week: Eastern Bluebird

The Eastern Bluebird is one of Eastern Canada's most colourful species of birds. They often appear in folk and fine art. The bluebirds song is a raspy flute like mix of a warble and a whistle, similar to a robins song but with shorter phrases and more chattering. Eastern bluebirds are short distance migrants that return to Canada from the south-east U.S. during late March leaving again by late October. [caption id="attachment_27862" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of a Eastern Bluebird Eastern Bluebird[/caption]   Each week we introduce a new bird from the Ottawa-Gatineau area. Alex MacDonald, Nature Canada’s Manager of Protected Areas, shares interesting facts about the birds that live in our communities. Catch up on past episodes here on our website.

The Lovely Ladybug: Natural Pest Controllers for Your Garden
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The Lovely Ladybug: Natural Pest Controllers for Your Garden

[caption id="attachment_33210" align="alignleft" width="150"]becka-tulips Guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy[/caption] This post was written by guest blogger Rebecca Kennedy. Has a Ladybug ever landed on you? You’re in luck because many consider this occurrence a sign of good fortune. As long as you allowed the Ladybug to rest as long as it wished, that is, you didn’t brush it off, the brilliantly coloured beetle will take away your troubles when it finally flies away. ladybug-on-fingerWhether this superstition holds true, the Ladybug is nevertheless a fascinating insect. Also known as a Ladybird or Lady Beetle, most of the Ladybugs we are familiar with belong to the beetle family Coccinellidae. The classic recognizable type stands out on greenery with its distinctive bright red-orange body and black spots. However, Ladybug species vary in colour, with a range of reds, yellows, oranges and browns and some do not have spots at all. There are around 6,000 known species of Lady Beetles worldwide. Of these, more than 150 occur in Canada. Ranging in length from a mere 1 millimetre to over 10 millimetres, females are typically larger than males. The two-spotted (Adalia bipunctata) and thirteen-spotted (Hippodamia tredecimpunctata) species are two examples of common ladybirds found in Canada. There is also the pervasive multicoloured Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis), a non-native species introduced to North America in the 1970s by the U.S. government as a biological pest control agent. First sighted in southern Ontario in 1992, it can be easily distinguished from other Lady Beetles by the M-shaped pattern immediately behind its head. If you’ve ever been in contact with a Ladybug, you may have noticed a teeny bit of yellow excretion on your skin afterwards. This is a foul-smelling fluid that Ladybugs release from their leg joints as a defence mechanism—they are warning predators that they won’t taste good! A 2015 study at the University of Exeter found that ladybugs also use colour as a signal to potential predators—those with more brightly coloured bodies were found to have higher levels of the toxin. Thus the more conspicuous the Ladybug, the less likely it is to be attacked by birds. ladybug-on-green-leafThankfully, the Ladybug’s toxin, though sometimes annoying as an odour, is harmless to humans. In fact, Ladybugs are rather an ideal insect for many of us. In addition to being aesthetically pleasing and a traditional sign of good luck, they do not transmit disease and act as natural pest controllers. They are a boon to gardens and green spaces, as they enthusiastically feed on more than 50 species of aphids—a single Ladybug can consume up to 500 aphids in one day! Lady Beetles will actually lay hundreds of eggs right in aphid colonies. Once the larvae hatch, they immediately start to feast on the nearby nourishment. Besides aphids, Ladybugs may also consume flower nectar, scale insects, small caterpillars, moth eggs, mealybugs, mites, mould, and in some cases … each other. If usual prey sources become scarce, some species of Ladybugs, both adults and larvae, have exhibited an inclination toward cannibalism, consuming eggs, pupae, and other larvae. On that rather interesting note, how can you encourage these natural pest controllers into your backyard? Ladybugs are known to enjoy the pollen flavour of flowering plants like marigolds, angelica, sunflowers, cosmos, roses, and geraniums, as well as herbs like chives, caraway, fennel, and dill. Favoured vegetable plants include cucumbers, peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. Ladybugs also need water, so leave out shallow bowls (and change often to prevent mosquitos). Acknowledgements: Encyclopedia of Insects, Health Canada, Michigan State University Diagnostic ServicesMother Nature Network, Penn State Department of EntomologyUniversity of Exeter, University of Florida Entomology and Nematology, Virtual Museum of Canada

The Best of Summer: Flowers We Love
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The Best of Summer: Flowers We Love

This blog was written by Nature Canada member Steve Gahbauer and edited by Sam Nurse. Summer is with us and a lot is happening in nature. In early July, sandpipers began their southern migration from breeding grounds in northern Canada. The first to leave are those that did not breed, followed by adult females. With wild berries available in mid-July, Black Bears are packing on weight from what they lost during hibernation. They will gain the most weight in the fall. Late in July, male and female Martens begin to pair up for mating season. The young will be born in March and April. The antlers of Bull Caribou are nearing the end of their growth in early August. The bulls will then shed their antlers in the late fall, after mating. It is also mating season for Little Brown Bats in mid-August. [caption id="attachment_34013" align="alignleft" width="300"]Image of Pink Showy Lady Slipper "Pink Showy Lady Slipper Cypripedium reginae" by Benjamin Smith is licensed under CC BY 2.0[/caption] The related swarming behaviour helps yearlings to identify winter hibernating areas. By late August, Red-winged Blackbirds, too, are beginning their southward migration. The females leave first, followed by males later, reversing the order of their arrival. That’s only the fauna. In the flora there is the wonderful world of orchids, bearing flowers in fantastic shapes and brilliant colours. Orchids are tough, widespread and different from what you would expect. The exotic variety of their flowers indicates adaptability. They tolerate degrees of dryness and mineral deprivation that would kill other plants. Some even thrive in deep shade. Most orchid seeds are too small to store much food. Before they can grow they must take nourishment from a companion fungus. Some orchids give off a pleasant aroma that attracts particular kinds of bees; others mimic the odour of rotting meat to attract pollinating carrion flies. Here in Canada, the most popular and cherished orchid is the Showy Lady’s Slipper, which also grows in the Rouge Park. Ontario is the only province where it flourishes in apparent abundance – at least for now. It is critically at risk in Saskatchewan, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland, and it is vulnerable in Manitoba and Quebec, due to habitat loss. For habitat, the Showy Lady’s Slipper orchid prefers chalky wetlands and open, wooded swamps with Tamarack and Black Spruce. It grows taller than related species. In June and July, it displays its spectacular soft pink to bright magenta lip, with white sepals and petals. In the context of flowers we love and of Canada’s 150th anniversary, here is a list of the provincial and territorial flowers: [custom_table style="1"] [caption id="attachment_34017" align="alignright" width="300"]Image of a Wood Lily Wood Lily[/caption]

 British Columbia: Pacific Dogwood  Alberta: Prickly Wild Rose  Saskatchewan: Wood Lily
 Manitoba: Prairie Crocus  Ontario: White Trillium  Quebec: Blue Flag Iris
 New Brunswick: Marsh Blue Violet  Nova Scotia: Trailing Arbutus   Newfoundland: Pitcher Plant
 PEI: Pink Lady’s Slipper  Yukon: Fireweed  N.W. Territories: Mountain Avens
 Nunavut: Purple Suffrifrage
[/custom_table] Stay tuned for the second blog on the other aspect of summer - insects! Sources: Canadian Wildlife Federation, Ontario Nature, Nature Conservancy of Canada, Toronto Metro, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and field notes. Earlier Nature Notes are archived and accessible on www.rougevalleynaturalists.com by clicking on “Nature Notes”.
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