The gabar goshawk
quickly plunged down
feathers shivering
swift down the safe and narrow path
through the acacia’s hazards
and these, same, muffling the sound and its flight
from the baked earth away from the river
and the scorpion is silent
the shadow isn’t enough
for it.
It’s tiny brain
registers little other than
Gosh! Hawk!
before crushed
and gobbled down.

Ontario Reptiles and Amphibians at Risk

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.

Storm above a Walmart

White so white
gulls cycling
near the bottom
of battleship grey clouds.
Holding, barely,
against the stronger winds.

Lightning and long dark drapes
of rain to the west.
But not here quite yet.

And the parking lot
of this bastion of commerce
seems wholly


The Mysterious Oak

I’ve been thinking about oak trees lately.
There’s a large oak (looks like a white oak but I could easily be wrong) just beside a road that I pass on my way to work each day. It is magnificent. Easily among the oldest trees in Guelph and majestic in its dark, deeply indented bark and craggy limbs. At least a metre at the base, the sidewalk has to swerve around it. So tall that the hydro lines do not dare to trespass: they cross the road to avoid it and start up again after. It is rare that it doesn’t astonish me. On those few times when I, likely up too late the night before, bike past it unseeing I turn to face it. Even if I can’t see it I acknowledge it.
It’s got a strange presence. It might be the way the limbs jostle about at odd angles and with such careless strength. It’s hard to say in words.
Wikipedia authors have had a lot to say on the subject. I was especially intrigued to see the following in this article:

In Celtic mythology it is the tree of doors, believed to be a gateway between worlds, or a place where portals could be erected.

Oaks have had such an impact on our minds that we have given certain of them special names and significance. Check this out.  I wonder if my tree should have a name or already has one?