Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good-bye and Good Luck!

Well, this will be my last post to my Hanlon Creek blog. I intended it to end in December, but time has dragged on and I've been investing my time in my new blog, recording seasons and the landscape in the Beaver Valley -

But I thought I should make one last post indicating that the Hanlon Creek Journal is finished. Don't know how long it will sit here, but enjoy it while it does. If you're after MAPS OF THE TRAILS, you can find them in my January 2010 postings.

One of my best memories is of the trees of Hanlon Creek. Far to the southwest, along one of the less used trails, is this patch of dark tall majestic hemlock trees. As you pass beneath the trees, the forest is noticeably darker, and the trees provide the closest thing we have to a cathedral-like feeling in the forest. This was just one of my favourite places to walk on the trails.

I loved walking the trails of Hanlon Creek day after day for four years; hope you do to. And I hope we manage to protect this conservation area so it's still here generation after generation.

Good-bye and Good Luck!
The Furry Gnome

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Summer Memories and Pine Plantations

We got very busy moving at summer's end, so I never got to post some of these observations, but one of my memories is of the flowers blooming in the meadow. They vary over the year, with the yellow kind devil in the late spring, goldenrod in the fall, and these daisies and brown-eyed susan's in mid-summer. We watched with great enjoyment the changing colour of the meadow beside us over the season, as it switched from green to yellow to blue to white to light brown in the fall.

Many of the Hanlon Creek trails pass or go through pine plantations, and another pattern I noticed over and over again was the triangle of light you'd spot at the distant end of the rows of pine trees. Planted in straight lines, and now grown 40-50 feet tall, the pines still had many lower branches that made walking through them difficult; but you could look down the long dark line of white pine and see a bright triangle of light from the meadow at the end.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Moving On..........!

As you may have guessed, we have moved on (to retirement) and no longer visit Hanlon Creek often. We're now located in the Beaver Valley, and my new blog is ''. I invite you to take a look if you're interested.

So these will be my last few posts to the Hanlon Creek Journal, highlighting a few things I remember - like the mushroom trees.

A little earlier in the fall, a year ago, I came across several pine and cedar trees along the trail decorated with small mushrooms, tucked in the crotches of branches. It was certainly one of the more surprising things I'd seen while walking the trails. Presumably squirrels were picking the mushrooms, growing nearby, and putting them there to dry, or as a food stash.

I was reminded of this recently when I found apples stashed in the very same way in our own old apple trees in the fencerow. The squirrels have been busy here too. Now that winter's here I wonder how often the squirrels actually go back and retrieve their stash for lunch?

Monday, September 27, 2010

This Year's Fawns

It was late June before I saw a fawn this year, tiny and sticking close to the doe, but clearly covered with white spots. By late July we saw them regularly, usually two together, and once three, off on their own with no sign of adult deer nearby. They are left to grow up quickly, and grow quickly they do! Almost the size of yearlings, but still covered in white spots.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Deer Herd

What I remember most about the summer in Hanlon Creek is the deer herd. We never saw the huge numbers that we'd occassionally see when we first moved here, but almost every day there were at least two or three, and often a larger herd that moved through the trees behind us and out into the meadow to graze.
They seem increasingly tame. Several times I have passed by one only 10-15 feet away, even when I have the dog with me on a leash. On the other hand, we regularly hear the barks of dogs off-leash, chasing deer through the bush. Not something I appreciate!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Where are all the wildflowers!?

I always love a walk in the woods in May, when the trilliums, violets, spring beauty, and other wildflowers are in bloom. So when May arrived, after the bloodroot bloomed, I started walking the farther corners of Hanlon Creek to watch for wildflowers in the deciduous woods.
May apple.

I was surprised to find virtually none. Although there were plentiful leeks in the northeast woods, I found no other flowers. And in the southwest I found only May apple - nice to see, but not as nice as a woods carpeted with trilliums. In fact, the southwest woods was carpeted with a green woodland sedge, a plant that looks like a short grass in the forest.
Woodland sedge carpeting the forest.

I can only speculate that past grazing has eliminated the wildflowers in Hanlon Creek, and left us with a nice woods to walk through, but one that doesn't have the normal diversity of native species.

Garlic Mustard

Garlic Mustard is becoming one of the most troublesome invasive plants in our deciduous woodlands. It establishes easily, spreads quickly, and is very hard to eradicate once it gets a foothold in the forest habitat. The problem is that it competes with native wildflowers, which decline in favour of this aggressive, non-natural weed.

Much to my dismay I found first a small patch, and then later a large, healthy patch, growing along the trails of Hanlon Creek. Both were just south of the Preservation Park entrance off Kortright Ave. Perhaps the city and conservation authority should consider controlling it now before it spreads too far.

It is best dealth with by pulling the plants in late spring, when they have started to bloom (to help you recognize them), but before they set seed. Of course you have to recognize them to be able to do this, but fortunately, it's distinctive leaves and overall appearance when in flower make it easy to do this.