My new header image is a macro shot I took of a Wild Ginger flower. It was taken a few weeks ago in the Marden Agreement Forest on a Guelph Field Naturalists outdoor hike lead by Charlie Cecile.
The most recent Guelph Field Naturalists meeting featured Joe Crowley from Ontario Nature speaking about the Herpetofaunal Atlas program. They are trying to map the reptiles and amphibians in the province.
An astounding 18 out of the 24 species of reptiles (that’s 75%) in the Province are considered at risk through the Ontario Endangered Species Act. He also spoke about amphibians but I can’t find any literature on line about how many of them are endangered… although I am certain some salamanders and frogs among the 24 species (also) must be.
Joe’s slide show was excellent and included a map showing the wilderness areas favoured by the herptiles in Ontario. Not surprisingly most of the habitat was in the south-western corner or triangle of the province. Then he showed a map showing the roads in black for the same geographical area. Although I shouldn’t have been, it still surprised me how incredibly much those roads dissect the breeding areas. Reptiles and Amphibians are forced unto roads because of this but are also naturally attracted by the flatness and warmth that a road means to their senses. In fact our vehicles are, according to Crowley, an even greater source of mortality than loss of habitat. That is a sobering thought.
Roadways are not only a way for us to pollute and waste our meagre store of fossil fuels using our cars and trucks, they’re also killing fields for reptiles, amphibians among other animals. It reminds me of Margaret Atwood‘s poem The Animals in That Country.
My friend Jeremy Shute gave a fascinating talk entitled Ghost Rivers of Guelph at the Guelph Field Naturalists meeting last night. His laid back lecturing style and easy humour made for an enjoyable investigation of Guelph’s forgotten small waterways. It made me look at my topographical surroundings differently as I biked to and from work today. I was, after all, going over at least four buried waterways on the way. Little dips in the road and schools, oddly enough, are good signs, especially in Guelph, of the path of this stealth water.
Jeremy mentioned how he, as a child, had bravely penetrated 100 metres of the concrete tunnel that hosts the mouth of Pond Creek. This waterway originally went from the Speed River to as far as Lourdes High School or Exhibition Park depending on the fork you take. And then told us that he had met others who have gone much further and that their discoveries could be found on the net. I take the liberty to provide a link to a delightfully written blog post from someone who did just that.
One melancholic thought that struck me as I listened to Jeremy and during my commute was how things have changed since I was young. I remember rafting on Bullfrog Pond when I was a kid and shudder to think how it has been replaced by the present Bullfrog Mall. There is a crime being perpetrated with the use of that name in my opinion. Likewise, my friend Pat and I enjoyed many hours on the pond that once existed in the marshy area between Bagot Street and Edinburgh Road. There are tall condos there now. They provide much housing I’m sure but I still can’t help but think of what has been lost. What my children won’t experience.
Of course the creeks are still there and will likely remain no matter how diverted or how much we otherwise try to tame them. Who knows? There may spring hope that an enlightenment will come to them in the future. When we aren’t so covetous of ‘our’ land.