Great Egret

Great Egret

Friday, 9 October 2015

Wild storm aftermath

Shorelines are dynamic features, and sand spits are especially dynamic as a result of the stormy weather of a few days ago.

I went out earlier this week to explore the beaches of Rondeau to see what had changed. I was surprised by some aspects, but not by others.

This was a kinder and gentler day compared to a week ago.

In a prior visit, I noticed that something new was showing up on the beach. This edge of a concrete slab had been exposed by a storm or three. It was under half a metre of sand and vegetation. This was located near the old south campground camp office, which was in operation in the 1960s until early 1970s. The high water of 1972 caused the closure of the campground, and the office was damaged and eventually abandoned and dismantled. However this particular slab of concrete was a little distance away from where I remember the office being, so I have yet to discover what it was.
I was expecting to see more of this slab exposed by the recent storms. Instead, I found this. The cluster of grassy vegetation on the beach at the left is what is on top of the concrete, but the recent storms had added a considerable amount of sand. The beach here is now as wide as I have seen it for well over a year!

This next photo shows what the southeast beach looked like in October, 2012, looking north. This image is featured in my 2015 Rondeau calendar. I found the obvious White Pine to be particularly attractive in this shoreline setting, and had photographed it on several occasions in different seasons.
It was quite evident from along the South Point Trail, but in the spring it had a decided lean due to recent storm activity.
And then it disappeared altogether. This next image show what is left of it, half buried on the beach that it once presided over.

 The Dog Beach access showed considerable change as well, but in a different direction. This first image shows what it looked like about three years ago, shortly after the shoreline pond was formed. Such shoreline ponds do not form often, and when they do, they don't usually last long.
Over the past three years, it became a little farther inland from the shoreline, and vegetation grew up around it. Shorebirds were sometimes found using it, including a Willet a year ago. But after the most recent storm, it is about 2/3 filled in with fresh sand and gravel.
 And a new, smaller and shallower one has appeared closer to the actual shoreline. How long it lasts is anyone's guess.
 This next image shows the two of them in their relative location.

The wind and waves must have been quite something last week. I found the high water mark, as evidenced by lots of small debris, to be about 105 metres from the current shoreline!

This post, used to identify the presence of endangered Fowler's Toad habitat, had been uprooted and deposited almost 100 metres from the shoreline. At least one other post demarcating the boundary of the dog beach, had disappeared altogether. It undoubtedly will show up on someone else's beach.
Beachcombing can be fun. Towards the south end of the park, I came across this old plank.
Upon closer examination, I noticed that the spikes in it were square! Square spikes were in vogue in the 1800s, but not much after that. It is hard to say where this plank came from....was it from an old ship gone down in such a storm many decades ago and just recently released from the watery depths? Was it part of an old dock, of which there were many at various places along the lake shore? Was it part of an old shoreline protection system? We will likely never know, but it is fun to wonder.

With all of the new, fresh sand and gravel thrown up on the beach, it is a great time to look for the telltale signs of animals of the area. I came across these tracks, which were likely just a few hours old. Any guess what made them?

Note the drag mark.
 And the distinctive footprint.
These tracks are that of a Beaver, and the tail drag mark is very useful evidence. Beaver used to be regular in the park, but were absent for several decades. The last time I saw a live one was back in the late 1960s! However earlier this year, more than one person has seen and captured photos of a Beaver roaming around the south beach area. These tracks would indicate that the one seen in the spring was not just passing through.

Amongst some of the recently deposited debris, I noticed a Common Buckeye. I have seen more of these in the past week than I have seen all summer! They typically move northward late in the summer.
 Often when you do see them, they show only their upper side. This next photo gives a partial view of the under wing, showing the reddish colour that differs from the typical pattern of early season ones, leading to the 'forma rosa' designation.
 An Autumn, a.k.a. Yellow-legged, Meadowhawk was noted on a low hanging stem.

And more tracks were seen. This set is of a snake, species unknown, but from the size it is likely either a Northern Water Snake or an Eastern Fox Snake. One can see where its coils have pushed against the sand to propel itself forward.


  1. Steve and I checked out the beaches this morning. Pretty amazing the powers of nature!
    The Woodliffe bench is now quite safe.

  2. Hi Blake....thanks for confirming the safety of that bench! The beach area would have been fun to be in a week ago if one was dressed for it. I would have liked to have seen the waves coming inland 100 metres or so.....from a safe distance, of course.

  3. Hallo Allen, I think it is wonderful how nature removes and returns things in it's own time. Always changing the shore lines and so also the lives of birds, animals and people.
    Marvellous records once again. thank you.
    Love and blessings, Paula.

  4. Hi Paula....always good to hear from you. Yes, one can go out to the same area week in and week out, year in and year out and it is never the same. The enjoyment factor to explore so frequently is enormous!