G’day! It’s been a while since I have blogged here, but perhaps it’s something I should do more routinely? In any case, here’s a post about a day-trip I made to Arden in Frontenac County, Eastern Ontario.
Throughout 2020 and up until recently I have focused, with varying degrees of diligence, upon the creation of video vlogs and documentaries on my YouTube channel and this website. At some point during this time I connected with Rick Oliver who himself has a channel of his own featuring landscapes and nature of Ontario, amongst other things. For a while, we commented and followed each other, but more recently got talking about meeting up somewhere to engage in our hobby of photography. He recently moved a little way north to the Arden area and offered to give me a tour. So off I went!
I got an early start with a 5am…. ok, a snoozed 5:15am… alarm and began the nearly 3-hour drive from Toronto to Arden via a bleary-eyed and barely comprehensible drive-thru interaction at Tim Horton’s for much needed caffeine and sustenance. Driving East, the sun began to poke up above the rolling hills of farmland found beyond the urban sprawl of The Greater Toronto Area, Oshawa, Bowmanville….
Upon arriving at Rick’s new digs, he gave me a tour of the land around his property, including a small amount of woodland backing onto a wetland, filling me in on his fun plans to create a bird hide. Throwing our camera equipment into his truck, we made our way to our first stop – a hike through Kennebec Wilderness Trails, where we took the white trail, traversing a wooded ridge, down towards a beaver meadow. Wildlife began sparse, but as we climbed around 200 feet towards the rising sun now spilling light upon the treeline, bird calls became more apparent.
At this time of year, late September and the beginning of fall, birds are less conspicuous, most chicks have fledged, mating is over and birdsong is no longer required. Instead we heard the gentle peeps of Black-capped Chickadees, and the occasional high-pitched trill of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, one of the smallest birds found in the province. A Hermit Thrush presented itself upon an almost bare branch with few orange-brown tinged leaves, viewing our approach with caution through its white boldly-encircled beady eye.
Negotiating our way back down the ridge towards a side-trail named “John’s Jaunt”, we talked of the occasional phenomenon of Ontario forests to stumble across abandoned machinery, often from long deserted farmsteads and homes from pioneering times. 1950s cars, farming equipment and even the semi-infamous abandoned 1920s era streetcar (tram) rusting away in Halliburton forest.
2022 saw a dry summer and water levels were quite low, but we trod our way down towards a small swampy lake. I immediately noticed that we had flushed something, as ripples were spreading outwards not far from our position. We looked diligently across the body of water until Rick saw a beaver surface a few hundred feet from where it first dove.
Further along the trail, we would hear this busy beaver chewing, though unfortunately, we didn’t manage to spot them again. We looped our way back to Rick’s truck via Nordic Road, eyeing some molty-looking Song Sparrows and a black-coloured tussock moth caterpillar of some kind.
We made a few stops along side-roads in an attempt to spot any wildlife that might be seen at the various swamps and marshes. Though things were mostly quiet, there were some nice views as the colours of fall begin to make their entrance.
We stopped at Myer’s Cove to view the rapids where Marble Lake enters into Georgia Lake. The theme of the day was that of Rick and I clumsily approaching look-out areas, and scaring away any potential wildlife opportunities, beginning with the earlier beaver and now reoccurring with a Great Blue Heron that immediately vacated its spot near the rapids, soaring directly over our heads and flying out-of-sight to the north.
The same thing would happen again a little later. As we exited the truck and strode towards a swamp, a Great Blue Heron flushed from a smaller pond directly behind us, flew overhead and landed on the far shore of the swamp. This time a huge fish hung from its bill. We watched for some time as it fought to quell and then swallow its dinner.
A few other stops gave us views of various frogs (Green, Northern Leopard and Tree) at Crotch Lake and we saw about a dozen Clouded Sulphur butterflies and the Eastern Comma Butterfly pictured feeding off an Aster. A few Yellow-rumped Warblers flitted amongst bare branches as they start to think about migrating south towards the end of October.
We stopped for a quick lunch at a chip-truck (chicken burger and chips!) before a last couple of stops prior to bidding our farewells in the early afternoon with a long traffic-heavy drive ahead of me. Lane closures through almost all of the east-Toronto stretch of the 401-Highway for several days. Why?! WHY!!!??