Nature lovers rejoice: there’s a exciting series of eight nature-related events, called “Seasons on the Moraine”, taking place in Kawartha Lakes between April and October.
The not-for-profit series features guided nature walks led by local naturalists, primarily on the Ballydruff Trails adjoining South Pond Farms in Pontypool, as well as a “farm-to-table” meal at South Pond Farms.
The series is designed to deepen understanding and increase appreciation of nature as it unfolds month by month in the Fleetwood Valley on the edge of the Oak Ridges Moraine. Events will include birdwatching, identification of flowers, ferns and sedges in the wetland and on woodland trails, studying the forest as an ecological system, walking a tallgrass prairie, and learning about the natural and cultural landscape of the area.
All events will be led by eminent local naturalists — ecologists, geographers, botanists, authors and artists — all of whom have vast experience in interpretation. Most of the events in the series begin and end at South Pond Farms, although some begin at the home of Ralph McKim and Jean Garsonnin and end at South Pond Farm.
Participants are encouraged to wear boots and to dress appropriately for “rain or shine” trail walking. While no other special equipment is required, participants are encouraged to bring a camera and binoculars.
Each event will include a display table with information on The Kawartha Land Trust, Peterborough Field Naturalists, Kawartha Field Naturalists, and Kawartha Conservation.
Tickets for each event are $30 per person plus tax. You can register and view the schedule for each event at www.southpondfarms.ca. Details for each event are also provided below.
The Ballydruff Trails are located on 260 acres of property privately owned by McKim and Garsonnin, adjacent to the Fleetwood Conservation Area and protected through a conservation agreement with Kawartha Land Trust. Southpond Farms and McKim and Garsonnin, in cooperation with the Kawartha Land Trust, are hosting the not-for-profit events.
The McKim/Garsonnin property has many features of glacially formed terrain, including rolling hills, sand deposits, a ridge of rocks (esker) left behind by an ancient river, and a wetland that includes a streem feeding into the Kawartha Lakes system. McKim and Garsonnin purchased the property, which was originally settled by Europeans and cleared for subsistence farming, in 1986. McKim and Garsonnin, who have built and live in a squared-log home on the property, are committed to restoring the ecological integrity as much as possible and making it available for others to enjoy.
Here is a brief description of each of the eight events in the “Seasons on the Moraine” series. More details on each event can be found at www.southpondfarms.ca.
“Night Sounds” from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22
Pond, wetlands and forest come alive as spring peepers, trilling toads and wide-eyed owls break their winter silence. The event concludes with a stone oven fireside supper.
This walk will be led by a Dan Bone, a volunteer owl and amphibian surveyor for Bird Studies Canada, a Project Wild Leader, and a member of the Kawartha Field Naturalists.
“Song Bird Sighting” from 7 to 9 a.m. on Saturday, May 6
As morning is breaking, greet the arrival of migrating songbirds to find their mates, build their nests, and raise their young. Bring your binoculars. The event concludes with hearty breakfast at South Pond Farms.
This walk will be led by Ian Attridge, an ecologist who has worked as a professional naturalist, wetland researcher, teacher (Trent University), and in various roles with both the Kawartha Land Trust and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, and a member of the Peterborough Field Naturalists.
“Wild Flowers and Other Wild Things” from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 13
Follow the woodland trails to discover the delicate ephemeral flowers of spring. Watch and listen as songbirds reclaim their summer habitat. Enjoy lunch at the farm.
This walk will be led by Mike McMurtry, an ecologist, formerly with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, who is a member of the Peterborough Field Naturalists and a volunteer with the Kawartha Land Trust.
“Dragons & Damsels … and Butterflies too” from 12 to 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 18
Beginning with lunch, spend an early summer afternoon enjoying a close-up encounter with the fascinating winged-world of dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies. Learn to identify them and build your list through the summer months.
This walk will be led by Colin Jones, a lifelong naturalist and Provincial Arthropod Zoologist at the Natural Heritage Information Centre of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.
“Wetland Wonders” from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, July 23
In the cool headwater streams, wet meadows and marshes in Ballyduff’s “back 40”, marvel at the diversity of ferns, sedges and rushes this landscape has to offer. Watch and listen for breeding birds that make the wetlands their home. Share summer fare by fields of ripening grain.
This walk will be led by Bill Crins, an ecologist recently retired from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources who now teaches in the graduate program at the University of Toronto and volunteers with the Kawartha Land Trust and the Rotary Club.
“Seeing the Forest for the Trees” from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, August 13
Trees tell a story — of the dynamics of nature and of interaction with humankind. Listen with care and probe gently into the secret life of trees. You may see them, and yourself, in a whole new way. Lunch is served behind the barn.
This walk will be led by Thom Unrau, stewardship coordinator with the Kawartha Land Trust.
“Feathers, Flowers and other Finery” from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 13
Nature clothes herself in new colours: gold and mauve and brilliant red. Walk through the tallgrass prairie, watch for waxwings in the locust trees, and savour the scent of fall. The trail ends with the fruit of the harvest on the table.
This walk will be led by John Vandenberg, a retired secondary teacher who has become a prolific botanical artist and works with the Kawartha Field Naturalists, and Eric Davis, a retired teacher and birding enthuisast who leads outings for the Kawartha Field Naturalists.
“Fleetwood Valley – Then and Now” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, October 1
The Fleetwood Creek Valley is a distinctive part of Ontario’s natural and cultural heritage. Following brunch and an opening presentation, you will explore the valley terrain, learn of its glacial origin, and trace the history revealed in its current fields and forests.
This walk will be led by Barb Heidenreich, a geographer, natural heritage conservation co-ordinator, and land use planner who is Forests Ontario’s Heritage Tree advisor and a member of the Board of Governors of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance.
All photos courtesy of South Pond Farms.