September 25, 2005

Navigation and Fall Wildflowers

(Photos and report by Walter Muma)

In spite of the wet weather, five people met at Mono Cliffs Provincial Park. Thunderstorms rumbled here and there, but we were fortunate in that we did not get rained on very much.

For unaided navigation, it was particularly challenging as the sun was not visible for most of the day. However, we supplemented our route-finding with map, compass, and even GPS. Many tips for both unaided and aided navigation were shared.

Our route took us across an old field through numerous species of asters and goldenrods.

Then down a steep hillside and into a nice woods. After a lunch stop here we carried on. Craig scampered on ahead of us and we didn't see him for the next hour. Turned out he was practicing his shadowing techniques, and had us in his sights all along!
There were a lot of red Efts active on the forest floor. These are the juvenile forms of Spotted Newts.
We found several giant puffball mushrooms, all too far gone to eat. This one was downright rancid!
A break in the dark skies, as we crossed this beautiful aster-filled field, basking in the only sunshine of the day.

We discussed numerous topics today (aside from our main topics) such as shelter location, wild edibles (we found some wild leeks to snack on), tracking, and much more.

We found the remains of a wild turkey (as later research showed - thanks, Julie!). We couldn't figure out how it died, though. Here's some feathers from it.
Near the end of the day we found a lot of this weird blue bird scat along a trail. This one is about 1" long. It was full of large seed pits, looks like they're from chokecherry. Nearby were holes along the trail, poked by birds' bills.
Do you have any theories as to what kind of birds did this?
One of the many species of Asters we found today. This one is Heath Aster. We also saw Panicled, New England, Calico, Large-leaved, and Arrow-leaved Asters.

Of the Goldenrods, we saw Grass-leaved, Rough-stemmed, Gray and Tall.

For more info about Asters & Goldenrods, please visit the Ontario Wildflowers website.

A couple people left early, while three of us went on to the northern viewpoint. Here's what's left of the motley (& damp) crew near the end of the day.
When we got back to the cars, we found that the prior departees had left us this thank-you note, tied to the stick with milkweed cordage!
We had a great day in spite of the weather, and as usual learned a lot. Thanks to everyone who came out and made it a great day!

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