Thursday, May 30, 2013

Radio Free Camping!

There is nothing as soothing and peaceful as a night in a tent in the woods. The song of nature is pure bliss; the rustle of trees in the winds, the melody of frogs, the back and forth chatter of barred owls, rand perhaps the call of a loon from the shoreline.  And then--the blare of a camper's radio.

I was delighted to discover that on the Hilltop Campground of Ontario's  Pancake Bay Provincial Park, an incredibly beautiful park that hugs part of the eastern shore of Lake Superior, a radio free camping zone has been established.  Kudos to Ontario Parks!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A moose photo special; with (my) pants down!

All photos by Jonathan Schechter at Superior Provincial Park, Ontario 

In the wild-lands of northern Ontario the folks at Superior Provincial Park offered an open-air
 toilet  at an isolated trailhead where one can sit and attend to their business and
 enjoy the wonders of wild nature.
  My camera was with me; but was not about to be used. 
 I thought I was alone. 

I was not.

And this is where I sat and took in the scenery and  bird song and admired tiny spotted trout lilies
  blooming  near my feet in the shadows of the spruce before setting out on a six mile solo hike.
. A noise caught my attention from the brush in the boreal forest habitat. 
Something was moving. 
And then I saw it about 100 feet away seconds before it saw me.

With my pants still dangling  I moved forward about 20 feet and managed one quick photo. 
The moose turned and was gone in a thunderous crash.
 Life on the latrine does not get any better than this!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Secret Sex Life of Jack-in-the pulpit: Is Jack gender bending into Jacqueline!!

photo by Jonathan Schechter, Brandon Twp. Michigan 5/8/13

Size matters! 

And that is a fact of life in this not so naughty nature sex talk about a woodland plant naturalist love to gaze at - the near mystical sex changing Jack-in-the pulpit.  Look carefully under the hood, and there you find spongy old Jack!  But before you head off to shaded fertile woodlands in search of this protected wildflower here are facts of reproductive life of this understory beauty that glistens and shimmers with moisture on rainy mornings as it stands erect among the dry leaves of summer:

Botanists have struggled to discover the ways and whys of the transformation and the consensus is that size matters. The sex secret lies underground and is dependent on environmental conditions and is determined by the size of the corm; an underground root structure.  A small corm produces a male but at times of good growth the corm is large and the plant is female. But there is a twist - if the female produced lots of berries the corm size may then reduce and the next year the plant is male. And the sex can change from year to year!

Deer play a role, too, for they will occasionally browse on the leaves even though it is not a top choice entree.  Leaf destruction by deer or other creatures increases the chance of the plant being male. I did a quick survey in my woods this morning, and found only one Jacqueline among a sea of tiny rain moistened Jacks.

How do I know?

Females have two leaves and males have only one.

(NOTE: Each leaf has three-leaflets)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The coyote stands guard! Who notices?

photo by Jonathan Schechter

This coyote stands motionless in silent vigil at a small creek in a public park in Oakland County. Why? Aversive Conditioning.

Aversive conditioning is the growing science of using non-lethal methods to keep wildlife away from certain locations where their behavior interferes with our wants and needs.   Coyotes are often the targets of aversion conditioning, but in this case the tide has turned.  The coyote is not just standing guard against geese, he is meant to keep beavers from building a small dam that would create flooding across a trail.

Will it work?  Time will tell. Beavers are wary, but they are also wise. Perhaps the thought process of the master dam builder is, "That's a coyote?  Nah, I don't think so! Gimme some aspen limbs to chew!”

Wildlife learns quickly about our ways, as we stumble to discover their ways. But what I found most interesting was the human response: None.

I loitered near the junction of the trail, the creek and the coyote and of the six hikers that passed in a ten minute span only one noticed the coyote - and that was after their leashed dog pulled to the hunched over beast. It seems as if those that trekked the trail had their eyes set dead ahead missing many of the wonders of nature in spring -- and the plastic coyote just a few yards from the trail's edge.