I drove out last April, passing by Chisamore Point, where I saw a flock of Caspian terns resting on shoals in the shallow waters of a bay. A half dozen great blue herons were in a nearby marsh, just west of the point. I took in the sight of a thriving shoreline, wetlands, a creek, farmlands, woodlots — a healthy ecosystem as far as I could see.
From the shores of Gananoque, I headed northwards to Lost Bay Nature Reserve, near the community of Sand Bay Corner, where I joined Ontario Nature conservation staff, John Urquhart and Josh Wise. We tramped over to a nearby wetland and saw painted turtles, a snapping turtle, frogs and dragonflies. We plunged waist-deep into the marsh wearing chest waders, counted reptiles and amphibians, paused for lunch, and watched red admiral butterflies feeding on the nectar of spring ephemerals, a bullfrog in the shallows of a seepage area and heard the call of a red-shouldered hawk. We headed to a second wetland along the edge of a big beaver pond. This time, I navigated the shore, while John and Josh continued their inventory, wading into the water. We saw painted turtles, a mature snapping turtle, osprey, turkey vultures, frogs, minnows, a number of trilliums, trout lilies, a small blue butterfly and a caterpillar.
I moved on to Frontenac Provincial Park, and saw deer, a turkey, red admiral butterflies, question mark and comma butterflies flitting through the forest. Keeping an eye out for reptiles and amphibians, I spotted more than a dozen painted turtles, a few garter snakes, and, I think, a ribbon snake. A couple of loons put on a show as they dove for fish in Big Salmon Lake. Yellow-rumped warblers and a number of sparrow species serenaded me along the trails. A broad-winged hawk swooped by, and I caught a glimpse of a red fox by Chaffey’s Locks.
The Frontenac Arch is a beautiful area with lots of wildlife, just what I needed for a respite from day-to-day urban life.
An accomplished naturalist with a passion for protecting the great outdoors, Noah Cole is Ontario Nature’s communications technician.