We had a surprising and humorous encounter with a cormorant on a recent visit to the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. Shortly after pulling out of a parking spot in the town of Lion’s Head, we heard a loud sound coming from the back of the car. We couldn’t figure out what this was and thought that perhaps something was rolling around in the trunk. However, when the sound returned 2 or 3 more times, I turned around in the passenger seat to see if the trunk was unlatched. There, looking back at me from the rear of the car, was a cormorant. We quickly pulled over to the side of the street and got out, hoping the bird wasn’t injured in some way. S/he seemed fine–no wings held at odd angles or other obvious problems that might explain why s/he had landed on the car. So this remains a mystery to us. After looking at us for a few seconds, the cormorant hopped onto the side of the road. A man heading the other way stopped to tell us he’d been amazed to see the bird land on our car. Thankfully, Lion’s Head is a small place where other vehicles had a chance to slow down or stop to make sure they didn’t hit the bird.
I’m taking a break from the cold and going to Larkwhistle Garden in my mind. Larkwhistle is a terrific garden on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario that has been created and gardened by Patrick Lima and John Scanlan. For decades, they have opened the garden to visitors in the summer. But last year, they decided to end those public visiting days.
We have gone to this place of beauty for years since travelling to the peninsula and it remains with me in memories of flowers, birds and grace. And with thanks to Patrick and John for what they have created and generously shared.
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.
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.
On the boardwalk through the Dorcas Bay Fen on the Bruce Peninsula, I also came across tiny Blue-eyed Grass flowers. Lovely gems, blue-purple, growing near their larger showier Iris relatives. The flowers are around a half inch wide and the plant can grow from four to twenty inches high. Their Latin name is Sisyrinchium angustifolium.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve just returned from a week on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario. A very beautiful part of the province that I’ll be telling you about in posts to come. Here’s a photo of rocks overlooking Georgian Bay near the Grotto in the National Park.