Heading to Tommy Thompson Park I managed to find all sorts of birds but due to flooding only very few herptiles. I managed to find a few Midland Painted Turtles out basking although with most of the trails underwater there was not a lot of places I could go outside the main path. The cells within the park sported a large assortment of bird life, I was walking around the perimeter looking for turtles when i came across a Killdeer putting on quite a display. I figured this was to distract me from what I could only presume was a nearby nest so I turned to walk away figuring I was stressing the poor animal with just my presence. I turned around to find the smallest and fluffiest killdeer I have ever seen, this ball of fluff looked to have legs too large for its body. I quickly snapped some photos before returning to the main path. On the other side of the cell I came across an Eastern American Toad, while not a rare species it was a rather large individual that I thought would photograph well. While leaving the park, I began to hear a familiar noise, a high pitched call belonging to a Peregrine Falcon. I looked in the direction it was coming from and sure enough perched on the ladder of a factory was a small blur appearing to feed on another blur, zooming in with my camera confirmed what I believed was a Peregrine Falcon.
After finding that many of my coworkers are interested in herping, I decided to take a few of them out to one of my board spots. On the first flip we managed to find a massive Eastern Milksnake which I of course had to photograph as it had been some time since I last saw one, compared to Peterborough where I was finding multiple Eastern Milksnakes a day. Other flips yielded Dekay's Brown Snakes and Eastern Garter Snakes, finally the last board had a tiny neonate Eastern Milksnake under it. We treked on into the forest where we flipped an Eastern Red-Backed Salamander before heading downtown for Korean food.
With my mom, I headed to Cameron for Canada Day. We met up with my aunts who picked us up in Peterborough and headed to Cameron to spend time with my grandmother. En route to Cameron we stopped to see a large Common Snapping Turtle digging a nest by the side of the road. It was enough to the side that it would not be accidentally hit and too far into burying the nest to be moved so we left her as she was and made our way to Cameron. In Cameron, I went on regular walks both during the day and at night to see what animals I could find. Cameron does not have a great array of herpfauna but it is an area that is special to me as I used to come here all the time when I was a kid and would spend hours on end catching frogs in the creek and playing in the forest. This area encouraged my passion for nature and going back only reinforces that passion. On my walks i found many Midland Painted Turtles sticking their heads out of the water, the occasional American Bullfrog and Northern Green Frog with Ospreys regularly flying over. At night there is often frogs and toads on the road which I would move so they would not be hit, I did not see any toads this time although there were a few American Bullfrogs sitting by the water's edge. On the last day my mom and I walked to a nearby lagoon where we found a few Midland Painted Turtles along with a tiny hatchling, the shell still soft, it was only about the size of a dime. This is an encouraging sign as the nesting area frequently used is often predated.
Before meeting up with friends downtown, I thought I would try and get a small hike in by walking to the Brickworks to look for turtles before hiking downtown. Unfortunately it was raining on an off inhibiting any turtle activity. Not even a Midland Painted Turtle was lurking about but there was a large assortment of Northern Green Frogs enjoying the humid weather. upon leaving the park I also saw a Raccoon who was a little damp and competently unafraid of humans.
I headed to the Brickworks to see what wildlife inhabited the area. I was pleasently surprised to find many healthy looking Midland Painted Turtles basking along with Northern Green Frogs and some rather photogenic Red-Eared Sliders. Red-Eared Sliders are originally from the southern United States but have been exported worldwide through the pet trade. Many people get sliders as pets when they are little unaware that they can live past the age of 50 and grow continuously throughout their life. As a result of this, many people abandon their pet turtle in local waterways where they compete with native species for resources, introduce pathogens such as Chytrid, B-sal and Ranavirus. Being right in the city, the Brickworks gets the brunt of these invasive species as many believe they are helping the turtles by releasing them in such a nice waterway. Upon returning home, I decided to use what sunlight was left and took my pet turtle out for a little photoshoot.
Having found records of Smooth Green Snakes in one specific park in Toronto's east end, Micaeli and I set out to see if we could find one. The park however, was slightly radioactive as it was originally used as a landfill during the war where uranium was dumped. The area has since recovered and is often home to White-Tailed Deer among other animals. As we got there we found no shortage of cover with some old signs left by the side of the road. Along the trails of the park there were old barrels holding unknown contents but their metal lids yielded a small Dekay's Brown Snake that got away before I could get any decent photos. We walked around the park and saw how it would be next to impossible to find a Smooth Green Snake with all the grasses and cover. We eventually left the park and headed to a larger green space nearby. There, we managed to find some toxic hogweed, some of which had aphids and ants, we watched a the ants protected the aphids from predators and were rewarded by the aphids with a sugary syrup the aphids naturally produce. We found many snakes along the path, most of which had been run over by bikes unfortunately although some like an Eastern Garter Snake were very much alive and full of musk. The last find was perhaps the saddest, it was a DOR Dekay's Brown Snake that had become dehydrated in the sun. It's final moments immortalized even after death. It had clearly been hit by a bike and likely died soon after although it was found with its mouth open as if reacting to the pain.
Before my work orientation I had some extra time so I thought I would check out my turtle spot and see what it would yield. While getting to my turtle spot, I managed to flip an Eastern Red-Backed Salamander. This population is one of the smallest I know of with a total range of only several metres. Continuing on, I managed to see a large Black-Crowned Night Heron along with an oddly positioned Common Snapping Turtle and several Midland Painted Turtles. I walked to a pond where I sometimes find Blanding's Turtles and low and behold there was a large Blanding's Turtle in clear view basking in the morning sun. I got as many shots as I could of the majestic turtle before having to head to work. Walking to work I managed to photograph some more Midland Painted Turtles and a Water Lily.
At Pawsitively Pets Kids Camp we were going to do something called forest day where we would spend the day with the campers out in a local park with nature themed activities such as scavenger hunts. Before the camp season had started myself and other staff met up to find the best route from camp to High Park and the best areas to have the activities. Afterwords, Saina and I decided to go on a hike through the park to look for wildlife. We walked over to the Black Oak Savannah where there was all sorts of animal and plant species such as Great Crested Flycatchers and Wild Lupin. Further along we came across some water where we managed to find one Midland Painted Turtle and one rather large Red-Eared Slider that someone must have released at some point. We circled around the park before heading home.
Having an afternoon free I headed to my Toronto board spot where my friend Eric and I set up some snake boards prior. I went with my friend Micaeli and in the second board we managed to find an Eastern Milksnake. Perhaps I have been spoiled by Peterborough's large population of Eastern Milksnakes, as finding them once again in Toronto has not given me the same excitement as it did in previous years. Regardless finding any snake is exciting in its own right. In the other boards I managed to find my first Dekay's Brown Snake of the year, a species that Peterborough is lacking. Heading down the path we managed to flip some Eastern Red-Backed Salamanders, the only salamander species I've managed to find in Toronto and stumbled upon two toads, the first was vibrant in colour while the other sported a more drab, baize colour to help it blend in with its surroundings.
Coming back from a work orientation I decided to take an alternative route to see what wildlife I could find. I headed to a known spot for turtles, one I frequent when in the city. Today I managed to find four species of turtles including Red-Eared Sliders, Midland Painted Turtles and some large Common Snapping Turtles. One species I was not expecting to find however was a large Blanding's Turtle basking. Unfortunately Blanding's Turtles are often poached which as depleted their population. For this reason I will not post information regarding their location.
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.