Some old friends from the Royal Ontario Museum were having a BBQ on the Toronto island so I thought it would be a good idea to visit the island and go herping before meeting up with everyone. Looking at a map of the island I noticed one island being named; "Snake Island" and though of course that the island would have been named for a reason. I got to the island and found absolutely nothing. I headed back to Toronto Island where I found a small garter along the side of the path. I went to get some photos but before I could get some closer shots an old lady began giving me a hard time for harassing wildlife. While it is good that locals on the island care about the local wildlife it is however a tad hypocritical as many still let their cats roam the island free to hunt and kill much of the islands native animal species, both rare as common.
On another field trip with Pawsitively Pets Kids Camp we headed to Mountsburg where the kids got to see many farm animals such as horses, sheep and goats. We also managed to see four Spring Peepers. Next we went dipnetting for aquatic insects but found some Wood Frogs and a juvenile Northern Water Snake instead. We then headed to another pond filled with Leopard Frogs and some large Green Frogs. After lunch we had a presentation where the kids got to pet a captive Garter Snake before heading out to see the raptor centre. At the raptor centre they rescue many birds of prey that can't be returned to the wild either because they were captive bred and don't know how to look after themselves or ones that have been injured. I thought it was a great trip not because of the photos and animals I saw but because the kids got the chance to catch frogs and create a positive relationship to the outdoors. Being in the city many kids have a disconnect with nature and don't have the childhood I took for granted where I would spend days on end catching frogs up north. Not having that positive connection with the outdoors and the environment causes a large disconnect where people are less likely to want to protect this amazing natural resource. This trip allowed the kids to experience some of the same things I did as a kid and the experiences that made me as passionate about the environment as I am today
After a long Monday at work I met up with my old friend Christian and went for a hike. We headed up the Rouge River not far from where I work in Swansea. Going up the river we found many Mallard Ducks and by a log in the water I saw an unusual bird which turned out to be a juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron that had recently fledged. Along the river we also saw a small leopard frog which got away before I could get a photo but automatically made it a herping trip. Further down the path by a wooded area I decided to take a few steps in through a rudimentary trail likely made by deer to see if I could find some salamanders. I found a large log which was much to heavy for me so I called to Christian who was standing just outside of the woods. He took two steps in remembered ticks were a thing then ran out… he's made for the great outdoors. He then claimed to have a tick on his shoe, I came out of the woods to remove what turned out to just be a burr. A little further up he trail I found some bark by the trees just off of the trail, I took two steps into the woods to flip the bark and soon enough I found a tiny Red-Backed Salamander which I grabbed and brought out so Christian and myself could get some decent photos. We checked a spot that's suppose to have frogs but the wetland had flooded and had just merged with the river. It got dark so we headed back and stopped at the pub before heading home. Not a bad find for the middle of the city and in the spot I found my first salamander many many years ago.
Heading to Tommy Thompson Park near mid day we soon found a complete Garter Snake shed just before entering the park. Soon in the park we checked out the visitor information building to get a photo of the map and to see what reptiles and amphibians we can expect to find. We headed down the trail and flipped as much cover as we could find with very little success as we had only found one Eastern Garter Snake. We then headed to a wetland that has always had many Leopard Frogs, today however there were none. The lack of frogs might be due to the rising water levels in Lake Ontario as it could have caused many to get swept out or could have introduced some larger predatory fish that would have decimated the population. We did however not far from the wetland find some more Garter Snakes sunning themselves along with a large Dekay's Brown Snake but it got away before we could photograph it. We made it almost to the end of the park before it started to get dark and managed to check out the area the Cormorants were breeding and another small wetland that had one little Northern Leopard Frog. heading as far as we dared we managed to find a small Dekay's Brown Snake under the cover of a fallen sign. As we headed back we saw what we thought might be a rock far up the path, it did not appear to be moving but zooming in with my camera I noticed a rather familiar shape; a Common Snapping Turtle. The Snapping Turtle had a tracker on the back of its shell which I photographed and posted a photo of on the Herp Atlas on Facebook. It turns out it is part of a study where the movements of 26 different Snapping Turtles within the park. This individual it turns out went "missing" about a week ago until we found it and posted it.
I'm Mac Marzolini and I created this blog for a variety of reasons, the first of course is to open a window into what is happening in my life (cause my grandmother reads this), but also to help myself catalogue some of my favorite photos from my many adventures.