You think you’ve had it rough trying to survive the cold, what about the birds and animals; how do they ever manage?
You can learn how wildlife adapts and thrives in challenging conditions by going on a two-hour hike at the Seymour Conservation Area March 7, starting at 10 a.m. It’s the first of five outings Lower Trent Conservation has planned for its “Hike with Us” series in 2015.
The conservation authority introduced the series last year as part of Conservation Ontario’s Healthy Hikes Challenge, and the walks were “very well received,” said ecology and stewardship specialist Ewa Bednarczuk. “We generally had pretty good attendance when the weather was good. People really enjoyed the hikes [and] felt they learned a lot about their own neighbourhood, so I’m expecting a good turnout [again this year].
“They’re meant to highlight some of the beautiful areas in our watershed and tell people a little bit more about their natural history and maybe cultural history.”
A fifth event has been added to the series this year, “Paddle the Trent,” which will take place August 8 at the Keating-Hoards Natural Habitat Area. Rather than go on foot around one of Lower Trent’s properties, participants will be asked to bring kayaks or canoes to travel the back channel behind Wilson Island.
“That’s going to be really neat,” Bednarczuk said. “There’s a beautiful wetland marsh that lines the back channel there” and the water is “pretty calm … This is the first time we’re doing an excursion on the water.
It “should be a lot of fun.”
Each outing has a theme. “Ground Awakening” April 25 at Goodrich-Loomis Conservation Area will focus on the “very first spring wildflowers that come out, their ecology, how they pair up with different pollinators.”
“Heart of the Watershed” will take place May 8 at the Murray Marsh and the final outing, “In Fall Swing,” September 25 at Proctor Park Conservation Area, will be held during Brighton Applefest.
“They’re not really strenuous hikes,” Bednarczuk said, but some do involve going up slopes on occasion. “I tend to walk and stop and talk quite a bit and point at things so you don’t need to be an athlete by any means.”
She recommended taking along a snack, as the hikes generally last two hours.
Bednarczuk said “there’s such an interest in the natural world and it’s nice to stop and have a closer look at it.”
You might come across “a plant or a critter that lives next door to you [that] you don’t know about it” or find out “that there are flying squirrels that glide around at night in your backyard.” Or it could be “a hairy plant that’s kind of wearing a fur coat” that’s the first to bloom in the spring “even when there is still snow on the ground.”
People find the “little stories” she tells about the plants and animals in these natural areas “really neat” as “they learn more about what’s going on around them.
“Get out, move around a little bit, and enjoy all the health benefits of being outside,” Bednarczuk said.
The hikes are held rain or shine. For more information call the Lower Trent at 613-394-4829, or email <firstname.lastname@example.org>.