>Friends of Mashkinonje Provincial Park

Volume 1                  Issue 1          

The Wetlands Observer

July 2001


Home  of   the  Blandings Turtle,  Sandhill  Crane and many more fascinating species


The winter of 2000-2001 was particularly harsh for wildlife and some humans, but as the spring unfolded, it was amazing to see the beaver ponds, wildlife and the overall landscape  of the Ontario Living Legacy Peatlands, located within the Mashkinonje Provincial Park, emerge unscathed. The melting snow uncovered all the treasures so they could grow anew, and for the observant people, provided an opportunity to marvel and enjoy all the fascinating diversity the park has to offer.


The bird watchers in and around the park had a wonderful surprise this winter when the Great Gray Owls and Northern Hawk Owls arrived.  They travel south when conditions in their northern homes make it difficult for them to catch their food.   This is the second time in ten years the Great Gray Owls have traveled south and the first time the Northern Hawk Owls have arrived in that same time period.  Both types of owls are not aware of people and thus have little fear.  This allows us to get quite close and gaze into their big eyes.  I don’t know HOO was more amazed at HOO (or should I say at HOOM?).  There was also a Snowy Owl north of Lavigne but it always kept its distance.  By the beginning of April all headed north to their homes except for a pair of Northern Hawk Owls. They have set up home north of the park and are very busy keeping their young happy and fed.


The spring is a wonderful time of year. More than humans anxiously await spring. Ducks arrive here as soon as there is a patch of open water; some ducks will remain over winter if the conditions are right.  They must love it here as much as we do!  Waves of birds started to appear in March. The following chart includes the birds and other treasures we have seen this year:


   Winter Residents

Snow Buntings


Morning Doves

Downey Woodpeckers

Pine Grosbeaks

Rock Doves

Hairy Woodpeckers

White-breasted Nuthatches

Northern Shrikes

Blue Jays

Brown Creepers


Gray Jays

Great Gray Owls

Snowy Owl

European Starlings


Northern Hawk Owls

Roughed Grouse

    Spring Arrivals

March 17

House Sparrow, Purple Finches, Ring-Billed Gulls, Red-Breasted Nuthatches

March 27

Blue Herons, Hooded Mergansers

April 3

Evening Grosbeaks, Robins, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Grackles

April 6

Sandhill Cranes, Canada Geese, Mallard Ducks

April 7

Dark-eyed Juncos, Crows, Turkey Vultures, Common Mergansers, Song Sparrow, Double-crested Cormorants, Northern Harriers, Meadowlark, Killdeer, Bufflehead Ducks, Goldeneye, Wood Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, Green Winged Teal, Kingfisher, Pied-billed Grebe, Black Duck, Herring Gull, Kestrel

April 9


April 10

Tree Swallows, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush

April 16

Flicker, Phoebe, Osprey

April 17


April 21

Lesser Scaup, Roughed Grouse started drumming

April 23

Female Northern Harrier

April 24

Tree Sparrow

April 29

White Throated Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow

May 2

Whip-or-will, male Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

May 6

White Crowned Sparrow, Mourning Cloak

May 7

Yellowbellied Sapsucker, Dragonfly

May 12

Black Throated Green Warbler, Black & White Warbler, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Chestnut-Sided Warbler, Nashville Warbler, Canada Warbler, Ovenbird

May 13

Tiger Swallowtail, Spring Azure

May 20

Female Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

May 21

Pink Lady Slippers, Clintonia, Fringed Polygama bloomed

May 22

Pine Warbler, Cedar Waxwings

June 11

Indigo Bunting, Bald Eagle, Bonaparte’s Gulls, Monarch Butterfly, Sphinx (Hummingbird) Moth

There are many more birds out there but we need more FRIENDS to help us!!

This year we had a lot of rain, which made the spring trip into the Ontario Living Legacy Peatlands more interesting.  The ponds and marshes were filled with water as were the lag, fen and bogs in the peatlands.  The rock bowl-type structure and the beaver dam held the water, so the floating mat of mosses in the fen was higher than usual.  Many of the plants were submerged in the mosses and water.  This makes for lovely photos because the water sparkles in the photos.                                                                


In May, you can find the lovely green and red pitcher plants (I was fortunate to find one with a spider in it), red cranberries sweetened by the winter freeze, pretty pink bog laurel, cottongrasses, wintergreen berries, and in other parts, there are the blue violets, white kidney-leafed violets, pink ladyslippers, red and yellow columbine and many more varieties.  The spring flowers were beautiful this year.


During the past year we have been working with the MNR and Trent University to identify what we believe to be blue walleye found in Lake Nipissing. The blue walleye were introduced into the lake in the 1920’s and are now caught occasionally.  The fish were declared extinct four decades ago.  This spring two blue walleye were caught and as per the university’s scientist’s instructions, we took pictures and fin clips and drove them down to Trent University for DNA testing.  Everyone was excited!  For the disbelievers, Kevin Cameron has a blue walleye mounted and it has no slime; it is truly blue. We will tell you the results in the next Wetlands Observer.

While at Trent University, we were asked to take part in a Musky study.  They are studying how Musky develop in various habitats with and without Northern Pike.  DNA testing will be done on the Musky scales and slime.  All the lodges around Mashkinonje Provincial Park have agreed to participate in studying the great hunter.

In the whole scheme of our world and lives, sometimes we can overlook how important water is to us.  Without water, we couldn’t live; it provides a habitat for a variety of aquatic life, beauty, recreation, and to the park, everything.  Water encompasses approximately half of the park’s perimeter and fills our creeks, beaver ponds, swamps, marshes, fens and bogs, all with different types of plants and wildlife, and all very fascinating.  Just take the time to learn, enjoy and appreciate our beautiful park.


Knowledge is a great gift!  Share a gift membership or simply tell a friend.  Visit our website at  www.nipissing.com/mashkinonje 


or write :                       Mashkinonje Park Planner

                                    c/o Sudbury East Board of Trade

                                    P.O. Box 70, Noelville, ON

                                    P0M 2N0


or  phone:                     705 898 3302


The First Anniversary of the


Fish Fry                 Corn Roast           Silent Auction                      Face Painting                      Boat/Plane Rides


Sunday, August 18, 2001

11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

at the Sudbury East Board of Trade - West Arm Narrows