Monday, May 2, 2016

What Were You Doing on Save The Frogs Day?

Illustration courtesy of Save the Frogs.com

Save The Frogs Day was celebrated this year on Saturday, April 30 with hundreds of events planned all around the globe. It is very encouraging to see that so many people care about amphibians and are acting on behalf of threatened and endangered frogs and toads. Preserving habitat is so critical to their survival. Protecting and supporting wetlands rather than draining them is absolutely vital. 

One easy thing we can do if we live in built-up areas where roads and highways intersect habitat is to be mindful of the fact that we actually share the road with other species. These small animals face incredible danger on a busy road and, unfortunately, they can't know what it is they are crossing.

So it is up to us to be cautious, caring and mindful. Slowing down, keeping to the speed limit and even stopping (safely!) to help a toad across the road - these are all ways in which we can reduce needless amphibian deaths.

And that mindfulness should extend to all animals, large or small, especially this time of year when their activity is heightened. They are out foraging for food, building nests and looking after young.

So be careful out there this spring. Watch out for deer, raccoons, opossum, squirrels, voles and moles, turtles and snakes.

And a special note for Londoners: Please slow down, people, along Harry White Drive at White Oak Road! White's Wetland ESA takes up the entire northeast corner and is home to all of the above! Obey the speed limit and/or reduce speeds. Please do not interpret "country road" as your license to drive "like a bat out of hell."




Friday, April 22, 2016

Earth Day Greetings 2016 from White's Wetland



I'm hoping that this tiny oak has a chance to become a mighty oak one day. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Our Disappearing Songbirds

























Please consider attending the screening of The Messenger on Monday, April 25 at the Hyland Cinema in London, Ontario. A portion of the proceeds from the evening's event will support The Thames Talbot Trust and its efforts to preserve local natural heritage and habitat. 

The film was shot in part at Western University (UWO). 

If you love birds, a must-see.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

The Return



Anticipation.

Each spring we eagerly await the return of birds and animals to the wetlands. Many are just passing through, on their way to somewhere else, but we welcome the sight of them and are glad of their safe passage and return. We watch them pause and rest for a few days before moving on. Some stay. Spending spring and summer at the wetlands, much to our delight. The robins are back, the geese and a mallard pair. They join the throngs of winter birds that never left.

A doe appears at the edge of the woods, and in the morning mist that shrouds the tamaracks at dawn, the promise of spring is heralded by the sharp, shrill clarion call of a red-winged blackbird. 

Who will arrive next? 

We await with anticipation!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Thanking The Bees

This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks to pollinators and acknowledge the work they do to put food on our tables in abundance, for without bees and other pollinators we would not be able to enjoy the kind of Thanksgiving meals we have come to take for granted.

I am especially thankful and grateful this year because we almost lost our colonies. I cannot imagine late summer at White's Wetland without the familiar liquid gold harvest, the silky textured honey, pure and light and delicate, that has been gracing White family tables since 1919.

So the tragic and frightening scenario of a world without bees hit a little too close to home this year. The fact is that all over the world bees are disappearing. Bees are at risk on every continent. And if bees are at risk, the human race is at risk. It's that simple. Colony-collapse disorder, pesticide use, disease, loss of habitat - we are putting our most important animal kingdom allies at great risk by virtue of our own bad habits, our abuses and negligence and our ignorance. Books like Laurence Packer's can help us to better understand these tiny underrated creatures so that we come to appreciate how critical they are to our own survival.

Keeping the Bees is not a puritanical moral lecture, however, but a delightful journey around the world - the world of bees, that is. Packer teaches and enlightens with prose that is as easy on the palate as the finest honey dripping on fresh-baked bread. Fascinating and informative, it will forever change your relationship to these incredible insects. If the first step to saving them is to start caring about them, then this book is essential reading.

We must save the planet's pollinators before it is too late. We humans fear their sting, but the harm we are doing to their world will have painful repercussions for all of us - it will be a painfully hungry world, a world with more people but fewer crops. Fewer plants, fewer flowers, fewer fruits, fewer vegetables.

So before you pile your plate with delicious baked squashes, green beans, carrots or pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving, give a thought to the tiny creature who really brought it to your table. That yummy goodness really didn't come from Loblaws, Metro, Whole Foods or even Farmboy. It has been brought to you courtesy of the humble bee.


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Deciduous Dreams


I don’t know about you, but my eyes are starved for colour. I long to see green foliage and clear blue skies. If the bleak January landscape of white on white with shades of grey is starting to play with your psyche and if you’re not about to jet away to the Caribbean any time soon, may I suggest a quick and economical alternative?
Here is a good book all about trees, so you can pull the drapes against the drabness and indulge in deciduous dreams at your leisure. Roger Deakin’s  Wildwood, A Journey Through Trees is beautifully written, each chapter weaving facts with personal anecdotes about our complex and perhaps often unexamined relationship with wood, trees, woodlands and forests. Tree huggers unite, because there is something in this marvellous book for every interest or reason for loving trees.
Take, for example, the chapter entitled “Among Jaguars.” I turned to it believing I was going to be whisked off to the emerald rainforests of Central and South America. Not so. Deakin takes us to the Jaguar factory in Coventry, England and surprises us with some interesting data about the nuances of the walnut burr, the coveted and costly part of the walnut tree that is used exclusively to trim the mechanical beast’s dash, steering wheel and gearshift knob.
My favourite chapters, however, are “Willow” and “Ash,” two exquisite paeans in prose about two very lovely trees species that grace our lives and our landscapes here too in southwestern Ontario.
In “Willow” we learn that there are more willow varieties in the world than most of us realize, but only one, a  special variety of the white willow, is used to make the world’s best cricket bats. Yet Deakin’s curiosity for facts and stories about man’s many uses of wood through the centuries reveals an underlying reverence for trees just being, well, trees.
Of the willow he writes, ”All willows abound in life and vigour, and their pliable wands give them grace.” Willow’s genus, Salix, he reminds us, stems from the Latin verb salire, which means “to leap.” And leap they do, as willow’s natural spontaneity means that new saplings will emerge easily and readily from cuttings, all on their own and with little help from us. Willows are often planted inadvertently when we simply drive a willow fencepost into the earth or if we happened to leave a green log lying on damp ground.
Nature, so glorious, no?
As for the chapter on the Ash, I can only say – just read it, for under the spell of Deakin’s pen this great tree spreads its glorious branches across your mind ― Fraxinus excelsior, a name that exquisitely evokes its majestic essencemaking you want to run immediately to the nearest woods, find a specimen for yourself and throw your arms about it.
He writes:
“I love the skin of ash, almost human in its perfect smoothness when young, with the under-glow of green. It wrinkles and creases like elephant skin at the heels and elbows of old pleachers where they have healed. It bursts out in pimples or heat bumps where the epicormic buds are about to break out into new shoots.”
Roger Deakin passed away in 2006, shortly after writing this book. But by sharing his deep and abiding love for trees and the wooded places in this world he has reminded us of how intertwined our human lives are with those splendid giants among us who have given us fuel and furniture, ornament and shelter across the ages and who sustain us still with their grace and beauty, for whose soul is not stirred with wistful delight at the memory of a leafy canopy of green above on a hot summer day.






Saturday, November 16, 2013

On a Positive Note...


Credit where credit is due, the Ontario government has done something (environmentally) right recently! Ontario is now the first province in Canada to have a Local Food Act. Forest and freshwater foods have been included in the Act, and we can thank Ontario Nature (again) for this. Why is the inclusion of forest and freshwater food important? Because forest and freshwater foods rarely garner the same attention as agriculture in the discussion of local food. Yet it is intrinsically part of the discussion in many areas of our province, most certainly our boreal north. The new Act, which will probably be proclaimed in the spring of 2014,  will provide increased recognition of the importance and value of wild habitat and the need for clean water. Kudos for that. Or should we say two green thumbs up?
 
 
 
 
 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Ontario Nature is Going to Court

 
Ontario Nature is an organization that I respect and support. They have always been proactive and outspoken whenever wildlife, wilderness and habitat have been threatened in this province. So it is no surprise that one of nature's greatest allies in this province is, indeed, Ontario Nature.
 
To learn more about Ontario Nature's stance on the changes to our Endangered Species Act, see the link below. However, you might want to spend some time on their site and/or sign up for the newsletters, which are always well written, knowledgeable and informative.
 
A big "tree-hugging" thank-you today to a great organization, Ontario Nature!

http://www.ontarionature.org/give/your_voice_for_nature.php

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Ontario Government's Shameful Flip-flop on Endangered Species

 
While scandals rock municipalities, the Senate and the PMO, let's not forget the whoppers perpetrated by the provincial Liberal government under the guidance of Dalton McGuinty and crew. As if the money-sucking, morally reprehensible health care and gas plant scandals weren't bad enough, the Ontario government has opted to pay for its fiscal mismanagement at the expense of the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) and the Ministry of the Environment (MOE), the province's only lines of defense against the greed of corporate and industrial developers. Cash-strapped Ontario is jettisoning programs and protocols faster than you can say Close that racetrack! And who is paying the price?
 
Endangered (and threatened) species. Ultimately, however, we, the people of Ontario, will be the losers, as we will be losing our precious and irreplaceable biodiversity and the beauty and grace of these wild creatures and plants - forever.
 
Think this is just my embittered opinion? Well, read this and weep: Gord Miller, the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario, has  released a special report slamming the provincial government for the recent changes made to the once-gold standard Endangered Species Act (ESA) of 2007.
 
 
 
 

 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Results of Last Night's City Council Vote

With a pro-development and development community-backed mayor holding the reins of power in our city, it's open season on woods and wetlands in London, Ontario. You know, those pesky parcels of land where trees take up space that could be so better utilized for shopping malls and where ponds only welcome aquatic wildlife, purify our water supply and maintain our water tables. No matter. What city needs more oxygenating green spaces anyway? Let's give the developers the right of way to pour their cement, pave over significant wooded areas, and derisively laugh at us all the way to the bank.

One councillor has tried to broker an imperfect peace, though. He may have appeased Council, but judging from the buzz I hear Londoners are generally not happy about how this all went down. I don't believe that I am exaggerating when I say that some councillors last night have lost the trust of the public for once and for all. A new call to action seems to be emerging from the twitterverse that suggests Londoners may have the 2014 municipal election already on their radar and plan to gear up to elect councillors that will listen, pay attention and be genuinely hyped to make this city a kinder, greener, healthier, smarter city for ALL to enjoy - not just for the enjoyment of developers with deep pockets.

Now it's up to the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority and the MNR. Unfortunately, Council's vote last night has put the cart before the horse. UTRCA and MNR should have been respectfully consulted before an approval was passed. Personal agendas and the pompous prattling of the uninformed should have taken a back seat to the logic and reason of science, intelligent analysis and inquiry. But it didn't.

And had the parcel of land been properly zoned in the first place, that is to say, by taking into account that the woods and wetland might be significant and by conducting an environmental assessment to determine significance, we wouldn't be where we are now.
 
Welcome to London.

http://www.lfpress.com/2013/08/27/politicans-monday-were-debating-zoning-changes-needed-for-the-huge-retail-complex