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Showing posts from 2015

Do turtles talk to each other?

It's rarely heard, and not by people over 40 years-old, and usually with special equipment underwater, and out of their natural habitat it stops: Turtles do vocalize and we think it's pretty sweet. (see link to article below)

But we wonder about the conditions for the turtles of Cootes, swimming in a noisy environment filled with the sounds of traffic.

If anyone knows more about turtles communicating, feel free to pipe-up in the comments!




LINKS:
http://www.newsweek.com/turtles-talk-each-other-parents-call-out-offspring-265613
http://www.seaturtle.org/PDF/FerraraCR_2013_JCompPsychol.pdf


Growing the Connection: Expanding the Cootes To Escarpment Eco Park

Some tremendously good news - any expansion of protected habitat is welcomed, and this is a fairly significant addition to the Cootes to Escarpment Eco Park. Read the release about the land purchase to create an intact wildlife corridor connecting Cootes Paradise to the Niagara Escarpment here.

From the release:
The land, in Dundas’ Pleasant View (York and Valley Roads and York and Old Guelph Roads), falls within one of Canada’s biodiversity hotspots.  It is home to more than 1,500 species of plants and animals, including nearly one- quarter of Canada’s wild plants and more than 50 at-risk species.  It provides the last intact ecological connection between Lake Ontario wetlands and the Niagara escarpment.   Later generations may take such protected areas for granted, but it is certainly exciting to see the pieces fall in to place during our lifetime. This is a big project (evidenced by the cooperation from some large institutions) and speaks well of their collective foresight.


Parking to Paradise: Retrofitting a Parking Lot to Increase Sustainability

Guest blogger: Reyna Matties 

Urbanization displaces and degrades ecosystems that are critical for humans, animals, and plants. Sustainable urban development has become a priority in the challenge to re-design our ageing infrastructure. Working to coexist peacefully with the surrounding environment will increase sustainability. As a graduate student of Biology at McMaster University, I am studying the applied ecology and hydrology of a parking lot system (Lot M). Ancaster Creek, a rare cold-water ecosystem, runs along Lot M and is part of an essential wildlife corridor for native species such as salmon, turtle, and deer. Together with Dr. Susan Dudley, I am working to retrofit the stormwater management of the system to minimize the impact of contaminants and runoff into the creek.

One method of achieving this goal is through increasing and restoring the land next to the creek. This is called a riparian buffer, which protects the system by providing habitat for animals, increasing sto…

Volunteers Tree Planting on 30 Metre Buffer at McMaster

Just found this on the ole Youtube. This was a great day, but also the day we found that a very very thin layer of soil sat atop a very very hard substrata of the former parking lot.



Restore Cootes was responsible for bringing these groups together and the results are a living legacy. Go take a look for yourself! Thank you all involved in making this happen.

Wednesday Walk in West Campus

Go back in time to when Parking Lot M was Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary, see the ghosts from the past and see the future as nature comes back as the asphalt retreats.

Event informatino: https://goo.gl/vtK8vT

Science and History Hike in McMaster West Campus

Join your guides Reyna Matties (McMaster biology) and Randy Kay (Restore Cootes) for a lunch time jaunt into the past, present and future of McMaster's Lot M Parking.

This former floodplain was a Royal Botanical Garden Nature Sanctuary until purchased by McMaster in 1963 for a massive parking lot. But in 2014 some big changes started to improve the natural environment. Come see what's happening now.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015Meet at the OPIRG McMaster Resource Centre, McMaster University Student Centre Room 229 12:30pm departure, hike lasts approximately one hour, you can stay for all our leave early

Sign up at the Facebook page for the hike.

Pollinators Great & Small: Making the Community a Pollinator Haven: Dr. Peter Kevan & Dr. Vernon Thomas, Saturday Aug 29

Pollinators Great & Small: Making the Community a Pollinator Haven: Dr. Peter Kevan & Dr. Vernon Thomas, Saturday Aug 29, 11am

The Urquhart Butterfly Garden is excited to announce a free workshop held in the Garden, “Pollinators Great & Small: Making the Community a Pollinator Haven” led by pollinator and pollination biology experts Dr. Peter Kevan and Dr. Vernon Thomas. The workshop will take place on Saturday August 29 at 11am.

Peter Kevan and Vernon Thomas, accomplished professors from the University of Guelph, will share valuable information about the essential work of pollinators. They will discuss the numerous types of pollinators, their contribution to agriculture, the threats they face, and more.

Learn why it is important for the whole community to be committed to pollinator projects, and find out what an individual can do, without even owning a window box!

The garden is bustling with pollinators, flying to and fro - don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to …

Turtles top parking lot at Desjardins Canal in Dundas

RBG working with Hydro One on turning Cootes parking lot into turtle nesting area
Hamilton Spectator  By Craig Campbell
Working with land owner Hydro One, the Royal Botanical Gardens has created a management plan that will turn an informal Cootes Paradise parking lot into a meadow and turtle nesting area.

There is no plan to reopen public access through Hydro One's Olympic Drive property to the Desjardins Canal and an unofficial trail.

"The authorized water access for Cootes Paradise is Princess Point," said Tys Theysmeyer, RBG director of lands.

He said access through the private property became "totally abused" with, among other issues, illegal dumping, overnight tractor trailer parking and vehicles destroying grass areas.

Hydro One and the Royal Botanical Gardens have agreed on a plan to manage the location.

"Much of the gravel will be removed and the area turned into a meadow," he said. "Some of the gravel will be used to build turtle nesting s…

Dragons and Damsels: learn about dragonflies and their kin at this free talk in Dundas

Urquhart Butterfly Garden,                                  Centennial Park, Dundas Ontario
Dragonflies and Their Kin: Masters of Air and Water: Brenda Van Ryswyk Saturday, Aug 15, 11:00amThe Urquhart Butterfly Garden is hosting a free workshop by Dragonfly and Damselfly expert Brenda Van Ryswyk.Dragonflies & Their Kin: Masters of Air & Water will take place on Saturday August 15 at 11am.
Dragonflies and Damselflies are exciting to watch, with their extraordinary displays of speed and agility in the air. However, don't be deceived by their beauty, because they are also very powerful hunters and gobble up scores of smaller insects as they zip through the air.  
Brenda Van Ryswyk is known for her ability to spot and identify dragonflies. She is also an excellent teacher and holds workshops across Ontario.  The workshop is suitable for young and old, and everyone is guaranteed to leave with their eyes opened to the remarkable lives of dragonflies. The workshop will proceed in rai…

Turtles of Cootes: careful crossing the road!

It's not like they have a chance, being short, slow and focused on laying their eggs in sandy soil. Not when there's a 4 lane, 80 km/h divided highway cutting through the place where they live.

At 80 or 90km/h will you have time to notice the turtle, then take evasive action? Will the person in the car behind you have time? 
We need to do more to protect turtles and other at risk species from getting totally wiped out in our corner of the world. More on this subject to come.

RBG Protecting Turtles in Cootes Paradise

Playing Mother Nature with the Blanding’s turtle Hamilton Spectator By Mark McNeil 
They don't move too fast, but they go pretty far.

And that's a big part of the reason why Blanding's turtles are in such peril in Cootes Paradise and other wetland areas of Royal Botanical Gardens property.

Females like to ramble long distances before laying eggs and that can get them run over by automobiles, scooped by kids looking for a pet, or facing other dangers.

Consequently, numbers of the reptile listed as threatened by the province have severely declined to a point that RBG biologists estimate there are only four or five in all of Cootes Paradise and maybe another 20 in the Grindstone Creek (Hendrie Valley) area.

Faced with the real prospect of losing the species from the area altogether, RBG workers have decided to play Mother Nature using radio telemetry and incubation.

This spring, they outfitted three reproductive Blanding's turtle females with radio transmitters and, after…

Urquhart Butterfly Garden hosting a nature photography contest with prizes

Urquhart Butterfly Garden, Centennial Park, Dundas Ontario.

Urquhart Butterfly Garden Photo Contest 2015
Are you able to spot the  stunning  Milbert's Tortoiseshell Butterfly?
Or see a common bird like the Chickadee in an entirely new light?  Can you detect the smallest spider or insect hiding in the petals of a flower? If so test your photographic skills at the Urquhart Butterfly Garden during our annual Photo Contest.

Photographers ages 10 and up are eligible for both cash and certificate awards in the following four adult and youth categories: Butterflies and Moths; Insects, Spiders & Bugs; Birds and other Wildlife; Plants & Flowers.

The Photo Contest runs from Saturday July 11th until Sunday August 30th.

The Urquhart Butterfly Garden is located in Centennial Park at the corner of Cootes Drive and Street. Parking is available on King Street East.

The Photo Contest is funded by generous donations from The Conserver Society of Hamilton & District; & Canadian Tire, …

Environmental Footprint Increased with Removal of Maplewood from Dundas Valley

Maplewood is gone, and nature is returning. 
Restore Cootes is pleased with the outcome, but we wanted to see for ourselves. A visit to the site now that the demolition is complete was in order. We took a hike from Dundas University Plaza along the lovely Monarch Trail to the former site of Maplewood, deep in the heart of Dundas Valley. 
The photos above are worth 1000 words, clearly the structures are removed, and a small open meadow is currently evident. Not sure if there is a native planting going on, or planned. I will look into the details for a future post. 
The Hamilton Spectator reported that "The driveway leading to the hall from Artaban Road will be converted into a pathway the width of a trail." This has not happened yet from what we saw, and there was clearly an erosion issue of driveway gravel and sand being washed into the creek and culverts, an environmental problem with the current driveway identified during the discussion on Maplewood. This is another item …

McQuesten shaped city’s future: Parks on one hand and modern highways on the other

Hamilton Spectator
By Randy Kay

Tucked into the gravel sandbar known as Burlington Heights, in a small family plot, the bones of T.B. McQuesten are laid. It's a fitting resting place for a man who could claim the distinctive geography of the Heights as one of his life's canvases.

When the earth opened to receive him in 1948, the Hamilton Cemetery overlooked the peaceful Chedoke River Valley with Princess Point an easy landmark. Further along York Boulevard stand monuments to his time on earth: the signature high level bridge over the canal, the Royal Botanical Gardens' Rock Garden, or across York Boulevard from the cemetery a restored Dundurn Castle.

The marrow of McQuesten's contributions to the city are in each of these places. His days on the influential city parks board spanned almost three decades until his death, the lasting results found in natural spaces and parks like Gage Park, Kings Forest, the RBG and Cootes Paradise, even McMaster University, coaxed here f…

Scenes from a history and science hike

Photos courtesy Kamran Bakhtiari 

Trail fragment: Rim /Prospect Circuit to Coldspring Path

Beneath the shaded graveyard of the Binkley family cemetery is the McMaster Campus Services building. Prior to its construction in the late 1960s, this elevated island of land was the location of the Rim Circuit trail (or AKA Prospect Circuit), part of the Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary trails. 
Even today the adjacent hillside offers a beautiful canopy, now in fresh spring green.

As promised in a previous post, I went back to look for any sign of the former path that once connected the Rim Circuit to the lower Coldspring Path, which is, for all intents and purposes, buried beneath asphalt parking in McMaster's Lot M lot. 
Using the hand drawn map that once served to guide nature lovers through the Royal Botanical Garden (RBG) sanctuary, I looked for a relative location to any path down off the steep slopes to the floodplain below. Based on the contours of the RBG trail maps, and the angle of the hillside, it looks like the best candidate is the one pictured below:


The path i…

Rim Circuit Cut

With the former RBG trail system mostly under pavement since the late 1960s, there remain limited opportunities to hike the natural trails that once threaded their way through Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary.

Having the former trailheads -- at Thorndale for the "Maria's Walk" trail, and Lakelet Vale which lead to the Rim Circuit trail -- still intact, helps us re-visit the site with our imagination tuned to what it must have been like, and to get our bearings.


Having pieced together the location of the mostly intact Maria's walk (broken only by the driveway into the west campus), I've never ventured to take in the view that Rim Circuit would have provided. Until now, that is, and while the trail may have vanished beneath asphalt of the campus service building parking and rear service driveway/yard, I still managed to get a feel for how this trail would have been spectacular in its day.

It's a steep drop down to the floodplain, which was once covered in a …

Less driving to McMaster campus; what will the future of parking look like?

walk          bike       transit      auto        count

Faculty &  Staff 10% 11% 16% 63% 13000 Students 23% 9% 42% 26% 24000 All 18% 10% 33% 39% 37000
Note total trips by automobile are 39%. In the 1960s projections were that by 1980 54% of people would be arriving by car, so a significant shift of 15% away from car use.

Shifts in transportation choices and options continue to be discussed, with McMaster's Institute on Transportation and Logistics working on a Transportation Demand Management plan for the university that was initiated by volunteer group Transportation for Liveable Communities (TLC).

With media reporting the news that Hamilton will likely be getting a light rail system (LRT) -- with McMaster the western terminus of this high-order transit system -- all indications suggest opportunity to make future reductions in single occupancy vehicle use, opening up campus space for better uses than storing cars for a few hours a day. From our perspective, this is the trajectory that leads t…

From Ponds to Parking and Back Again: The History of Coldspring Valley

McMaster University's parking lot in the west campus sits atop the floodplain for Ancaster Creek, metres away from Cootes Paradise. Lot M, N, O and P collectively buried a former nature sanctuary owned by the Royal Botanical Gardens known as Coldspring Valley.

RESTORE COOTES' Randy Kay will be presenting a history of the area this Thursday for the Dundas Valley Historical Society. More than a history, this talk will provide a window into ongoing positive developments that could bring back much of the natural glory to this special but degraded valley.


From Ponds to Parking Lot and Back Again?
The History of Coldspring ValleyAll presentations take place at
The Dundas Museum & Archives
139 Park St. West (at Albert)
Dundas, Ontario

Doors open at 7 p.m.
Presentation begins at 7:30
Please come early, as seating is limited.

Admission: $2 for members, $3 for non-members

For more information, please e-mail Judith Morphet, President of the DVHS

http://www.unityserve.org/dundashistory/

A Mirror With No Reflection?

No, this is not about vampires (although in a way it is, too) - anytime we think of the changes wrought by McMaster in the name of parking, we need only to look across the creek to get a reflection of what was.


Above is the scene west of McMaster's parking lot (obviously not taken in winter) - this is what is buried beneath the fill and the pavement that elevated McMaster's parking lot above the floodplain level, taking away that natural diverse function --  and replacing it with a place to store cars.
Even recent positive developments creating a naturalized buffer between cars and creek can't address the fact that it is all done atop the fill that keeps the land above the flood levels.
Floodplains are important ecologically special areas and habitat. So the buffer is better than pavement, but it's not the real deal in terms of what the area was before, and with the right conditions, could be again.
Until that day, we are thankful for positive developments, and thankfu…

Re-Open and Repair Maria's Walk

Hopeful start "It shouldn't be a big deal, so hopefully McMaster will get behind the idea."
Goal Remove barriers to access on the trail between McMaster parking lot "P" and the west side of the bridge over Cootes.
BarriersThe barriers are cement and other debris blocking the lower access point to the trail at Lot PNo trespassing signThe "speed humps" on the actual trail, making the trail more dangerous. History This trail was part of the Royal Botanical Gardens’ Coldspring Valley Nature Sanctuary, 1958-1963. 
This is the longest, mostly intact, surviving trail, after campus parking lot expansion into west campus in 1968. McMaster bought the land from the RBG in 1963.
Our RequestWe will be asking McMaster University to remove barriers to this section of trail (see red stars on map), so that people can use it safely. (blocked at both ends, and “speed humps” on trail)
We also want to commemorate the history of the area in some way with some sort of sign…