This summer we went camping with another family to the Pinery in Grand Bend. The Pinery is in the middle of the Carolinian forest and is home to the tulip tree. Tulip trees produce intricate and vibrant flowers in the warmer months, and their leaves are actually shaped similar to the silhouette of a tulip. The tallest tulip tree at the Pinery is estimated to be about 80 feet tall, possibly being the tallest tulip tree in Ontario.
We had the opportunity to speak to two naturalists at the park, (who we will call "A" and "S" in this entry), who answered all of our questions about the park and the variety of species in it. I tried my best to journal all the places we visited and species we saw, but there was such a wide variety that ended up resorting to listing to keep track of it all.
Here are a just few highlights from the trip:
We saw a tiger moth with an asymmetrical wing, and a mother grouse with about six or seven little ones walking by the side of the road. We also learned some interesting things about photosynthesis from A. First of all, not all plants photosynthesize. There are at least two species of non-photosynthesizing plants at the Pinery: Indian pipe and cancer root. Also, the reason why some of the middles of Victoria Creeper plants is red is actually to almost attract or funnel more light in shady areas. A also explained that different stalks of Victoria creeper, joined at the roots might even dedicate all energy to one single plant for that individual plants survival because it has the greatest potential.
On the Carolinian trail guided by two naturalists at the Pinery, we came to a stop and S began telling us about cicadas. When we stopped, a little girl from our group immediately noticed something small and brown on a blade of grass a few meters away and whispered to me, asking what it was. I tried to see but it was half-covered by the grass and I couldn't tell what is was. "Maybe you can ask her once she's finished," I whispered back.
"... and sometimes, you might even find a cicada's exoskeleton still clinging to a tree trunk," the S said.
"Like that?" The little girl asked, running over to the little brown dot and picking it up. She did in fact find a cicada exoskeleton with perfect timing.
Back at our campsite I also got the opportunity to commune with a small bee-like insect nicknamed "Marshy," who buzzed around for about an hour, and found a mysterious, spikey red and yellow female spider with her smaller, black mate spinning a web in our car window, later identified as Arrowshaped Micrathena (edit: see post Arthropod Mysteries From Camping at http://naturenimbus.blogspot.ca/2014/01/arthropod-mysteries-from-pinery.html).
These are only a few highlights from our camping trip at the Pinery. If you are looking for a campground with biodiversity but no bears (plus some pretty clean campground washrooms) then I definitely hope you get the chance to experience the Pinery.
(above) Female Arrowshaped Micrathena
(below) Her presumed mate.
The top of the Lookout Trail
Emperor Sumac (a poison ivy look-alike)
Tiger moth with an asymmetrical wing
White-tailed deer (doe)
Tulip tree (right is a sapling)
Black-eyed Susan and St. John's wort
A bent tree
'Sticky' the Green Inchworm
For more spottings visit my Project Noah spotting page (http://www.projectnoah.org/users/MelodyJT).