Bats are nocturnal flying mammals that feed at night and can be found in both city and rural locations. During the day, they roost in caves, in holes or leaves of trees, in attics or in abandoned buildings. Although they look like a little mouse with wings, they are not related to mice at all, as most people think. Most bats are very tiny with the smallest ones weighting 1.8 grams (weighing less than a dime). It is their wings that make them appear larger, but their body size is generally quite small. They range in size, with the largest ones being flying foxes which are located in the tropics. Their life span is usually 4-8 years, although they can live longer than this. They emit a high pitched shriek or shrill call that is undetectable to human ears.
We do live in bear country, although they are not always visible. We had a reminder of that recently when a young bear decided to investigate one of the garbage boxes, in broad daylight, along North Shore Road in the East Basin of Loughborough Lake. Probably most of the long term residents of Loughborough Lake have heard of bear sighting incidents at one time or another. They may have also seen them. Typically this does not happen often although there is some evidence that sightings may be increasing. The Whig Standard stated: "Ministry officials do not think the bear population is expanding. Instead, they suggest development encroaching on traditional bear habitat is at the root of the increased number of sightings.
We live in Coyote territory. Yes, the coyotes do live in our area and they are here to stay. It is the Eastern Coyote who is most predominant in our area. The wolf population prior to 1850 was extensively hunted by man and as the wolf population decreased, the coyote population expanded.
The Eastern Coyote is a hybrid species – a mix of Western Coyote and Eastern Wolf. The Timberwolf or Grey Wolf is mainly located in Northern Canada and is the largest of the species ranging from 80-125 lbs. The Eastern Wolf located in mainly northern areas like Algonquin Park is a bit smaller ranging from 45-75 lbs. The Eastern Coyote (the main one in our area) is the smallest of the species ranging from 30-45 lbs. Since the Eastern Coyote is a mix of Western Coyote and Eastern Wolf, you may see a larger coyote in our area as well. What we see and hear are mainly coyotes and not wolves.
The Fisher is a member of the weasel family and it got its name from the European Poul Cat that the French called Fitch (pronounced Fiche). This developed into the name Fisher. The males, slightly larger than the females usually weigh about 15 lbs while the females who tend to be a bit smaller, are in the range of approximately 9 lbs. They are dark brown ranging to almost black in color. Twenty years ago our area did not have any Fishers, since Algonquin Park was the furthest south that they ventured. Their range of locations had been greatly diminished, especially in Southeastern Ontario, due to logging, overharvesting for fur and predator control.
Not that long ago, leopard frogs were the most abundant and widespread frog species in North America. It was hard to visit a marsh, stream or pond without coming across a number of these interesting looking spotted frogs. Since the 1970s, however, massive declines in Canada and the United States have significantly reduced their numbers. The declines are attributed to a combination of ecological factors, such as pollution, deforestation, habitat loss, lawns and mowing and pesticide use.
One of our most compelling summer visitors keeps itself aloft in air that, to it, must feel more like maple syrup. The reason this bird does not soar through the air like a Bald Eagle is because it is, well, very, very small. It is in fact one of the smallest birds in North-America: I am speaking of course of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird.
Every spring, as the ice starts to break up, flocks of migratory waterfowl gather in the small ponds that slowly open up the ice flow on our lake. The first cracks often appear near bridges and creeks, and that's where the waterfowl gather, exhausted after often flying several thousands of kilometers. Gradually these ponds grow larger, eventually returning to us the lake that we lost to winter. One species in particular, is dear to my heart: the Hooded Merganser, or Hooded for short.