There is no question that the biodiversity of southern Ontario is fantastic, in spite of the relative lack of natural area, but the landscape of north-central Ontario is even more fabulous for different reasons. Rocks, hills, trees, lakes....what a treat to have about 95% of the landscape as natural compared to the 5% in Chatham-Kent!
Once we get north of Orillia, I seem to connect with the expanse of natural area. And one of the first stops I like to make is Brooks Falls, about half an hour north of Huntsville and just a bit east of Hwy 11. Spring, summer, fall and even winter....there is always something magical and inviting about this spot.
One can drive to a small municipal park and hear the cascade as soon as you stop the car. Only a few metres away is the Magnetawan River, which tumbles several metres over the rocks. Normally when I photograph this place, I use a very slow shutter speed to capture the smoothness of the water, but I hadn't seen this much water flowing before, so I decided to stop some of the action with a faster shutter speed. The next photo shows what it looked like almost exactly two years ago and taken with a slow shutter speed.....much less water and more rocks showing. By autumn, there is even less water and more rocks.
One of the highlights of the immediate North Bay area is the Laurier Woods Conservation Area, a parcel of land totalling about 97 hectares (240 acres) right within the city limits, made up of rocks, hills, trees, wetlands and small lakes. What a concept! And a real treat, with several kilometres of well-designed trails to explore, and a trail guide to follow along with.
Kudos to the North Bay-Mattawa Conservation Authority and The Friends of Laurier Woods for establishing and maintaining this delightful place!
Being in the city, there is industry around the edges of this natural area, and some of it shows up in the upper right hand corner of the photo above. Adjacent to one of the other wetland areas is an auto recycling plant, so there is lots of noise and poor views to contend with.......I won't show it here. I suspect it is less distracting in the evening hours or on weekends.
The photo below shows a rock outcrop with a trail in the foreground and marshy habitat before getting to another upland area and rocks.
This is beaver country, and most of the small lakes and ponds are the result of the engineering skills of those large rodents. The next photo shows a small dam on the right, holding back the water to create the pond.
Painted Turtles are commonplace, and apparently Snapping and Blanding's Turtles also occur, but I didn't see them on this trip.
Being the latter half of May, bird migration was well underway. It isn't a hotspot like Rondeau is, but there was a fair diversity of birds. I noted Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and Ovenbird of the warbler family, as well as Gray-cheeked Thrush, Veery, Brown Thrasher, Savannah Sparrow and that flagship vocalist of the north...the White-throated Sparrow.
It seemed odd to see this Savannah Sparrow foraging on the shaded rocky outcrops.....a far different habitat compared to where they are found nesting in southern Ontario or in the Hudson Bay Lowlands!
The Common Mergansers were hanging out on this beaver made lake near the beginning of the trail.
Being that it was the Victoria Day weekend, the night skies around North Bay were bright with the display of fireworks. I don't normally spend much time photographing fireworks, but I took the opportunity on this trip as our son-in-law Alex had procured quite a selection and was happily setting them off at Sunset Park on the shores of Lake Nipissing. I will close this post with a handful of my more successful photos.