A Refreshing Drink

Here’s another bird, a more common mallard. Still, she was delightful to see earlier this summer on the Cyprus Lake Trail in Bruce Peninsula National Park.  I see many mallards in the city and enjoyed seeing their countryside relative.


Mallard at Cyprus Lake, Bruce Peninsula, June 2013

Fleabane on the Alvar at Singing Sands


Fleabane growing on the alvar at Singing Sands, Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013

While I was on the Bruce Peninsula, I saw many patches of lovely pink/white and yellow flowering Fleabane.  The flowers are 1/2 – 1″ wide on a plant 6 – 36″ high. Fleabane is in the aster family.  It got its name from the belief that the dried flower heads would get rid of fleas, according to the Audubon Field Guide to Wildflowers.  This particular type is, I believe, Philadelphia Fleabane, Erigeron philadelphicus.  A similar plant called Robin’s Plantain, Erigeron pulchellus seems to have fewer white/pink ray petals.  If I’ve gotten this wrong, do let me know.

These shown above are at Singing Sands, on the alvar, the pitted rocks.  I learned that alvars only exist in Estonia, Sweden and the Great Lakes Basin.  Water from rain or melting snow collects in the rocks’ small depressions along with silt and sand.  These provide growing places for plants that are able to live in harsh conditions.

Singing Sands

Singing Sands

Singing Sands, Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013

Last month, on the Bruce Peninsula, we went to Singing Sands twice.  As I’ve mentioned, it’s part of Bruce Peninsula National Park, off of Dorcas Bay Road on the Lake Huron side of the Peninsula.  I loved walking on the beach among the rocks and footprints of the birds, seeing the tenacious plants that grow there, the patterns of water on sand, hearing the gulls and terns.  In past years, I’ve seen killdeer and sandpipers, but none this time. I wondered if there were fewer of them or whether I was there at the wrong time of day for them.

Singing Sands

Singing Sands, June 2013

Singing Sands

Singing Sands, Lake Huron, Ontario, June 2013

Singing Sands

Singing Sands, patterns of water on the sand, June 2013

Northern Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant Flower, Dorcas Bay Fen at Singing Sands, Ontario, June 2013

Pitcher Plant

Pitcher Plant with view of the leaves from which plant gets its name, Dorcas Bay Fen, Ontario, June 2013

When I was on the Bruce Peninsula in June, we went to Singing Sands, part of Bruce Peninsula National Park.  The Sands are on the Lake Huron side of the peninsula with an expanse of beach and waters that remain very shallow far out.  Bordering the Sands are a woodland and fen where I took a short walk on a raised boardwalk and photographed some of the plants growing there.  

The National Park signs say that a fen is a wetland with some drainage, often a stream.  The Dorcas Bay Fen has much calcium in it, but is low in nitrogen.  This makes it a good habitat for plants that get their nitrogen from insects.  The pitcher plant is one of those.  Insects that are attracted to their flowers may fall into their pitcher shaped leaves or they may be attracted to the coloured lips of the leaves. There, among downward pointing hairs, they are trapped,  fall into collected water and drown.  Their nutrients are then absorbed by the plant, both by enzymes it secretes and by bacteria breaking down the animal.  Adventures of life and death at all levels in nature!

The Northern Pitcher Plant’s Latin name is Sarracenia purpurea.  Its sci-fi looking flowers are around 2″ wide and the pitcher leaves can be 4 – 12″ long.  The plant ranges in height from 8 – 24″.  (Thanks again for these details to my copy of the Audubon Wildflower Field Guide.)

Dorcas Bay Fen

Dorcas Bay Fen in Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013

Wood Lilies

Wood Lily

Wood Lily in the Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013

When we were in Bruce Peninsula National Park, I noticed flashes of deep orange as we drove to the park office.  Later, having hiked the Cyprus Lake Trail, we pulled over on the road and I got out and photographed these Wood Lilies.  I have no memory of seeing them in earlier years, but I could have been distracted then.  These were very beautiful flowers–with a crispness to their shape.  I saw them twice going into the Park and also along the northern part of highway 6 as we travelled south from Tobermory.

Wood Lily

Wood Lily and fern between road and woods in Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013

My trusty Audubon Wildflower Guide tells me that their Latin name is Lilium philadelphicum.  They also say the flowers are 2″ wide, but I remember them more like 3″ wide.  They grow 1 to 3 feet high and bloom from June to August.

Large Yellow Lady’s Slippers

Large Yellow Lady's Slippers

Large Yellow Lady’s Slippers, by a laneway near Tobermory, Ontario, June 2013

When we were on the Bruce Peninsula, the yellow lady’s slippers were in bloom. They were by the roadside, in laneways and in the National Park where they were a delight to see.

Their Latin name is Cypripedium  calceolus. They’re members of the orchid family, one of a variety of orchids that the Peninsula is known for. The orchid grows to 8 to 28 inches tall with the yellow lip petal about 2 inches long. This is according  to my National Audubon Society Field Guide to Wildflowers and to my own observation. Though I did not go out and about with a tape measure!

I’ve included a photo from a laneway near where we stayed and from The Cyprus Lake Trail in the National Park.

Large Yellow Lady's Slippers

Large Yellow Lady’s Slippers in Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013

Cyprus Lake Trail

On the Cyprus Lake Trail

On the Cyprus Lake Trail, June 2013

On our second day at Bruce Peninsula National Park, we hiked 5.2 km around Cyprus Lake.  We went through woods by the water and I photographed many wild flowers that I’ll be posting soon.  The walking was easy and the day cool, great for a hike.

On the Cyprus Lake Trail

On the Cyprus Lake Trail in June 2013

On the Cyprus Lake Trail

On the Cyprus Lake Trail, June 2013

By the Cyprus Lake Trail

By the Cyprus Lake Trail a mallard has a cool drink, June 2013

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Cliffs in the Park

Cliffs overlooking Georgian Bay in Bruce Peninsula National Park, June 2013.

The Niagara Escarpment in Ontario, Canada is a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  The Escarpment runs from Lake Ontario in the south over 700 kilometres to the most northerly part of the Bruce Peninsula.  On the Bruce Peninsula, where we were last week, we went to the National Park that’s part of that reserve.  We took a short walk up the Georgian Bay hiking trail on our first day.  These photos are of the rock cliffs overlooking Georgian Bay  with a view across Indian Head Cove of The Grotto, a very popular site with visitors.  On the deeply engraved rocks are very old small cedar trees and other plants hardy enough to live in this environment of wind, rock and cold winters.  

The water here looks tropical in its lovely pale turquoise near the shore, but it was only around 9 or 10 degrees Celsius when we were there.

Over Georgian Bay

Overlooking Georgian Bay, June 2013

Black and White Rock and Bay

A black and white photo of the cliff’s rock and the Bay, June 2013, Bruce Peninsula National Park