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Nature – Owl Prowl

Nature – Owl Prowl

By Jason George

Jan. 23, 2024 – Year one of the JGP PROWL is in the books and was awesome! So, we’ve started our second year off early meeting on January 21, 2024. All the active members from last year are back plus we have added four new ones and still have space for more. We have 3 awesome events you can join with us Beach Clean-up ~ April 21(10-11 am), visiting a taxidermy location ~ July 7, and visiting the Natural History Museum and hike ~ Oct 27.

The group of nine kids and three adults were eager to go on the owl prowl as most of them showed up early. We went over a few rules and expectations, and then we boarded the Free Spirit tour bus and the journey began. For a couple in the group, this was their highlight, Thank you Free Spirit! We were blessed with a lovely day it was a bit cold but the sun was shining so it made us feel amazing.

We drove around looking for animals on our two-hour adventure in Wasaga Beach. The goal of this trip was to find a snowy owl. We got excited as we spotted 20 turkeys in two groups. Unfortunately, this year, no one has seen a snowy owl in this area, so this was going to be tough. The day before on a scouting trip, I spotted an Eastern screech owl in a hole, but today was not meant to be a day for owls. We did not get lucky seeing any of the 3 species that we were looking for. We saw a few hawks, and some crows and everybody on the trip had a great time and lots of laughs. They understand that wildlife is meant to be wild. You’re not guaranteed to see things just because you go out, but we learned about where and what to look for to increase chances.

Once we were back at headquarters the group received their JGP PROWL packages which included – their membership card, a free kid entry to the Wye Marsh, an engraved coaster, and a USB with 50 of my favourite images. Plus, any Beach BOOSTER newspapers that they had been in last year. We end our meetings with everybody’s favorite part – Prizes that they can pick from just for attending the meeting.

JGP PROWL is all excited for the Beach Clean-up as it should be warmer than today (-8). The Beach Clean-up will be running from 9 am – 12 pm on Beach Area 2 and everyone is welcome!! Bring a cup and grab a FREE hot chocolate, plus a FREE signed photo from Jason George and a photo with Bones the Teddy Bear!

Subscribe to my YouTube channel @JASONGEORGEPHOTOGRAPHY and join the JGP PROWL on there Owl Prowl and so many other exciting animal encounters.

Until next time, Stay safe, have fun, and enjoy the wildlife!

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Bearbells by Leslie Noonan

Jan. 28, 2024 – As we move into the New Year, we all have those resolutions that we try to keep.  My resolution is like most other people, to get out and get more fit.  Generally, my fitness involves hiking and other outdoor activities.  This year I decided to add the local Y to my repertoire.  Unfortunately, it did not go well.

I dislike gyms.  The smell, gag.  The same exercises over and over while staring at some boring wall.  The weird grunting noises of some highly muscled person next to me with sweat beads flying at my head. Nope, nope, nope.  Unfortunately, I have a knee injury that requires me to strengthen my leg muscles and here I am in purgatory.  That is not to say the Y is not amazing, because it is.  The staff are phenomenal and provide great direction and there are so many different classes for me to attend.  But….but….I want to be outside, in the bush, alone.

I started with a swim in the pool.  Good lord, when did I displace so much water!!  This chubby bunny is moving into the world of hippo swimming! That knee injury has devastated my normal hiking routine, and I am starting to pack on the pounds.  I left the pool and headed into the showers, intending to remove my bathing suit and change into my sports bra and gym wear.  Ummm, I did peel off the swimsuit, but ran into some serious issues once I tried to put on my sports bra.  I was still wet, and as I tried to pull on the sports bra, it rolled down my arms and stopped.  There I was, stuck, with my sports bra rolled over my upper arms and shoulders, where it stopped, trapping my arms above my head.  So there I am, ladies out to the world, wondering how I will get myself out of this situation.  I spent several moments considering my options and came to the realization that I could not unroll myself without help.  Sigh.  This is why I prefer bush problems, as no one would ever know.  Instead, here I am with my tatas free to the world, my arms caught in my sports bra and stuck straight up in the air, and no way to get out of my predicament without help.  I started out with a meek “help”, not sure that I really wanted someone to find me. After several moments I finally let out a loud “help” and there help comes to the rescue.

I am so grateful to the older woman who responded to my call for help, and only looked shocked for a moment before laughing at my predicament and helping me out.  There is nothing like bonding between women that involves some seriously embarrassing moments.  While I love the opportunities that the Y offers, I need to head out to the bush, where my embarrassing moments are only known to me.  So there I am heading to Wasaga beach and the many trails off Veterans drive that lead into the large provincial forest.

So after my adventures at the local Y, I headed west to the large provincial park in Wasaga Beach that includes Blueberry Hills Nordic ski Centre and over fifty kms of hiking trails.  There is limited parking along Veterans road next to the trail entrances, and the surrounding concessions also have trail systems to explore.

The forest is mostly pine and underbrush, and many of the trees have a blue grey lichen clinging to their upper branches.  While it is prudent to look where you are walking, I often stop to look at the tree limbs above my head and have been surprised by the number of animals I have seen, including porcupines, owls, fishers and entire families of raccoons.  The fisher was by far the most shocking animal to spot only 6-7 feet above my head.  Those creatures have very large teeth that he was only too happy to show off.  Today it was only the occasional chickadee to be seen, although evidence of other creatures could be seen by the stripped bark on the trees.  Both porcupines and deer will strip off the bark, and bears will scratch the bark off with their huge paws to get at the sugary sap.

The trail was wet and slushy in many places, though it was easy enough to walk around these areas.  I left the lower main trails and headed south and up the larger dunes.  The paths here are much narrower and less used, as they meander across the tops of the small hills before dipping down into the gullies between.  For the most part these trails are dryer than the more popular routes.  With more than fifty kms of trails to explore, it was no surprise that I didn’t meet or see any other people out on the trails despite the number of cars parked on the side of the road.  I returned to my car by using a loop trail that travelled approximately five kilometers.  This is definitely an area I would return to, to explore further.

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