Pigeon River conservation area

A walk round one of the conservation areas near our house.

There are several conservation areas near our house.  This one is 6 km downstream from our house (by road, probably 10 if you walk downriver).  Another is even less the other way but is dry, whereas the Pigeon River one is wetlands. We live on the Oak Ridges Moraine so mostly there is lots of gravel and it is very dry, but ice sheets also grind finer and leave beds of clay in layers so there are wetlands as well – it can go from dryland to wetland and back again in a hundred metres or less.

The Pigeon River conservation area claims to be the “Pigeon River headwaters” but the river arises about 2 km upstream of us, in another wetland.  Still, close enough.

By the way, it’s the same Pigeon River in my header picture.

I went yesterday and they have just finished replacing the boardwalk.  It was around 6 p.m. and was very quiet, not much chatter from the birds or frogs so almost silent.  I actually saw more wildlife at home in about the same time.  Bad timing both by day and season. The trail starts on a note of optimism. I didn’t see any though.

Bear sign
Bear sign

Another sign said there was a bittern around, but I didn’t hear it (seeing one would be too much to hope for, but I know what they sound like from my younger days in the UK when they were more plentiful there. The only bird I saw that I don’t see in my back yard was this one, tentatively identified.

Willow Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher
Willow Flycatcher 2
Willow Flycatcher 2

I did see a pair of cedar waxwings, which I haven’t seen in the garden since the spring. They’re usually back in the fall when the wild plum is in fruit. There was lots of wood construction, both the new boardwalk this year, and this other construction.

Beaver Dam
Beaver Dam

I put this picture on Facebook and Twitter earlier. The Conservation Area folks do a better job of building bridges than I do. I keep intending to nail on cross-boards but haven’t got round to it.

Pigeon River Bridges
Pigeon River Bridges

This part of the trail was more my style.

Pigeon river trail
Pigeon river trail

Just by the construction, this garter snake was resting:

Garter Snake
Garter Snake

Out in the open, the elders are in flower. I think these are regular black elders that are good for elderflower wine and elderberry wine.

Elder in flower
Elder in flower

On the other hand, in the shade, these are already in fruit and I think these are the poisonous red elder (I hear you can render them harmless by cooking but don’t want to try the experiment. Even the black, you are advised to cook lightly).

Red Elderberry
Red Elderberry

On the subject of poisonous don’t try these red baneberries (or even the white ones, not in season yet). They are deadly even if you only eat half a dozen. Kids can die with only 2.

Red Baneberry
Red Baneberry
Purple flowering rasberry
Purple flowering rasberry

 

Author: Eric Lawton

Eric is a natural philosopher living in rural Ontario

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