Friends of Mashkinonje Provincial Park

THE  WETLANDS  OBSERVER


Volume 3 Issue 2

July 2003


Home of  the Blanding’s Turtle, Black-billed Cuckoo, and numerous other fascinating species.

Blanding’s Turtle (Emydoidea blandingii)

The first distinguishing feature you will notice on the Blanding’s Turtle is the bright yellow chin and throat. On a closer look, one can see its beautiful eyes – much larger than the other species in the area, Painted or Common Snapping Turtle. Its carapace (dome-shaped part of the shell) is black with yellow or cream colored dots and its plastron (underside) is primarily yellow with black areas symmetrically arranged. Both the carapace and the plastron are sculptured in the younger turtles.

The females quite often lay their eggs in the gravel alongside the highway, and choose to cross the highway that can be fatal. Watch for these and other turtles, and avoid them if possible. The Blanding’s turtle nest in June, laying around eight eggs. The hatchlings appear two months later.

Blanding’s Turtles live in ponds, marshes, creeks, and the shallow area of lakes with soft bottoms and lots of aquatic vegetation for food and shelter. Of the three species of turtles in this area, the Blanding’s Turtle is the only one that is protected. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada – COSEWIC – has designated some populations of this turtle as threatened. Mashkinonje Provincial Park is at the northern boundary of its range, so we are lucky to have these beautiful creatures.

Studies have been conducted for over thirty years in the Kejimkujik National Park in Nova Scotia regarding the population of Blanding’s Turtles, their age structure, distribution, habitat selection, movement, hatchling data, reproduction, nest selection, neonatal behavior, and affects of predation. Perhaps, one day the Friends of Mashkinonje will be able to conduct similar or joint studies with this park.


FRIENDS OF MASHKINONJE OBSERVATIONS
by Angela Martin

2003 is proving to be an interesting and fun year. We started with the Christmas Bird Count (see January issue), then we celebrated Earth Day with a hike into the Park (see Rebecca Klady’s article this issue). We have engaged an archaeological firm to conduct an investigative dig (see following article), and we’re going to hold our annual picnic on Sunday, Aug. 17th.  Every year, we are finding new events to celebrate.  If anyone has any ideas, we will welcome them.  2004 is promising to be a year of change, with many events and construction commencing in the Park.  If any of you are willing to volunteer to help The Friends of Mashkinonje in our goals to develop the Park and help educate, please contact anyone of the directors. We would be happy to hear from you.


MASHKINONJE: A BOUNTY OF BEAUTY AND WONDER  
by
Rebecca Klady

Northern Ontario, for many, presents the appearance of an endless landscape filled with beauty and wonder, with so much yet to be discovered – and to an extent this is true.  When we hominids settle in an area, however, we begin to add pressures on the landscape, on the flora and fauna that may have brought us, or our ancestors, here in the first place.  These human-induced pressures are the very reason why land is being set aside, land like the Mashkinonje Provincial Park. 

On Sunday, May 4, 2003 the event was a hike into the Mashkinonje Provincial Park (soon to receive a management plan) to see the heron rookery, as well as an edifice dubbed by Park members as the ‘Draft Dodger’s Cabin’.  About 25 hikers gathered in front of Angela and Gary Martin’s house, also known as The Welcome Lodge.  This diverse group of people included members of the Nipissing and Sudbury Naturalist Clubs, and Friends of Mashkinonje.  Here we were introduced to several key participants in the organization of the event. 

Harley Lang, our guide for the day, is a member of the Steering Committee for the Park, and has worked in the RCAF and as a pilot for Search and Rescue.  We also met Chuck Miller - Park Superintendent, Liz Lang- Secretary Treasurer of ‘The Friends’, Dr. Peter Beckett – Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, and a Plant Ecologist at Laurentian University, and finally our hostess Angela Martin, Co-Chair and President of the Friends of Mashkinonje.

After the introductions and a brief description of our planned events, we all piled into vehicles and drove south on Highway 64 to a yet uncreated park entrance.  This is where the fun really began! The day was sunny, but not too hot, and Mashkinonje Provincial Park was waiting to be discovered!  

 

 

 

 

The trail out to our main attractions was only very roughly marked, and was in fact being planned as we walked!  This meant that we had the privilege of seeing some of the considerations involved in planning park trails, such as avoiding certain features like rare mosses and other plants, or sensitive habitats like the heron rookery – but attracting attention to other less sensitive sights, such as the variety of habitats within the Park boundaries and their associated flora and fauna (see photo of lichen – Cladonia stellaris).   

Our first official stop was along a beaver dam that allowed a good look at the Great Blue Heron rookery.  The term ‘rookery’ essentially refers to the colonial nature of blue heron nests when rearing their young. Once we got near the site we were all warned to be very quiet so as not to disturb the herons while brooding their eggs. Initially one saw a marsh with some open water and about 15 dead, standing trees. Then came the shock - 7 or more very large stick nests near the tops of those dead, standing trees! If I had never before seen such a sight, it would have been difficult to keep quiet, but the peacefulness and tranquillity of the location helped.  I really felt I could have spent hours there.  

We moved on and up to higher ground so as not to disturb the heron parents. At this point some people opted to sit beneath the shade of some mature pine trees to eat lunch and observe the rookery from afar.  The rest of us moved on to the Draft Dodger’s Cabin.  

The cabin was used by a fellow who came up from the United States during the Second World War, in order to avoid conscription.  The cabin itself was located by Cranberry Pond, and was quite small, with only one very short door and a tiny space for a window.  This was done to minimise light escaping from the cabin that could give away the location to U.S. authorities. The story goes that a local priest would bring out supplies, and sometimes the fellow would help some of the local farmers harvest their crops.   Today there is not much left of the cabin but some weathered old logs standing as four rough walls.

After eating our lunches in this historic and beautiful setting, with birds singing, frogs calling, and a gentle breeze cooling the sun-warmed rocks and mosses, we returned to the rest of the group and headed home.  This was truly a lovely day.  What a wonderful introduction to a wonderful park!  Many thanks go out to the main organiser of this event.

Thanks Angela!!                                                  

 


ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG

Before we start excavation for the parking lots in the park, it is a requirement that we do an archaeological dig to see if there are any buried traces of our past. One of the proposed parking lots along Hwy 64 could be a likely site. It is within one mile of the water with rock to the north and west for shelter. The Friends of Mashkinonje have engaged Dr. David Slattery of Horizon Archaeology, North Bay to conduct this dig.  It will take place over three weekends beginning September 13th. Dr. Slattery needs up to fifteen volunteers per day, so if you would like to get some first hand experience in archaeology, contact one of our directors. You can take part for a day, a weekend, or whatever length of time you like. This could be more fun than a lottery! You never know what surprises are in store, and you can learn at the same time!

DID YOU KNOW. . .

. . . how fast some birds fly?

            House Sparrow……………                10 to 20 mph.

            American Robin……………….           20 to 30 mph.

            Herring Gull……………………          20 to 40 mph.

            American Crow………………..          31 to 45 mph.

            Humming Bird…………………          30 to 47 mph.

            Ducks…………………………..        44 to 59 mph.

            Swift……………………………        60 to 200 mph.

            Peregrine Falcon……………….          150 to 200 mph.

 Taken from: Everything You Never Learned About Birds, donated by Thomas Allen Publishing

 NIGHT SKIES OVER MASHKININJE

August 12…………. Perseid Meteor Shower peaks

August 27…………. 2 hours after sunset, Mars will be as close to the earth as it will be for another decade

September 24……… 45 minutes before sunrise, Mercury, Jupiter, and the moon will be in conjunction.

October 16………… 5 hours after sunset, Saturn will be below the moon

November 25……… Just after sunset, Venus and Mercury will be to the right of the moon.


Monarchs:
We hope you have noticed all the Monarch Butterflies around this year.  They have been scarce here since a frost hit them in Mexico a few years ago. It is nice to see more of them back.   

FOM DIRECTORS
President 
Angela Martin 
Vice President  
Daniele Lemieux
Sec/Treas
Liz Lang
Izettia Zeitz 
Ted Zeitz
Chuck Miller 
Friends /Ontario Parks
Superintendent 
Parks Liaison 

We hope you enjoyed our winter newsletter! If by some chance     you have not seen it, you can view it at our website:                                                         www.nipissing.com/mashkinonje  

or contact us at:  

Friends of Mashkinonje  
Site 8, Box 1, 99 Lang’s Landing
, Monetville, ON, P0M 2K0
mashkinonje@hotmail.com 


WELCOME NEW FRIENDS,      Norm and Donna Lang    


MASHKINONJE PROVINCIAL PARK  
by Chuck Miller

Park Superintendent, Mashkinonje / Ontario Parks

 Plan Moving Forward …..

The public consultation on the Preliminary Park Management Plan is complete.  The Approved Park Management Plan is being completed.  The consulting firm BDO Dunwoody has been engaged to complete a financial feasibility study; the first phase of this report will be complete this summer.  The archaeologist has been engaged which will provide an educational experience for those who want to get involved.  Ontario Parks has completed a report on the proposed Facility Development Plan, including design for access points, viewing areas, signage and trails.  Each step is being carefully considered to ensure that the Mashkinonje Provincial Park is the best it can be.

What is this?  

 
Friends of Mashkinonje- Annual General Meeting

The Friends of Mashkinonje are invited to attend our Annual General Meeting.  It will take place prior to the picnic at the picnic site at 11am. We will review the past year, our financial statements, nominate and elect next year’s directors. We have a few vacant positions on the Board of Directors. If you are interested in volunteering and you are a Friend of Mashkinonje, please join us.


YOU ARE INVITED TO
The Friends of Mashkinonje Picnic


  Hikes 
Entertainment

Pontoon Boat Rides 
Corn Roast   

Seaplane Rides
BBQ

Conservation Officer, Bill Clark, will be on hand to tell you about the wildlife display and answer your questions about the role of a conservation officer in protecting our environment.

Dr. Peter Beckett  and Harley Lang will lead  walks into the Park at 12:30 pm
Sunday, August 17

12 noon until 4 pm

Location: Sudbury East Board of Trade – West Arm Narrows, Hwy 64, Monetville
Watch for the signs  
EVERYONE IS WELCOME!
BRING YOUR FRIENDS!

   


Cranberry Pond

Nature provides us with a bounty of knowledge and experiences. All we have to do is be open to it.  Awaken your child-like curiosity and enjoy the beauty that surrounds you. The Friends of Mashkinonje aim to make all of this easier with trails and interpretive information. Thank you for helping us make Mashkinonje Provincial Park possible.

 Thank you for being a Friend of Mashkinonje