Saturday, September 24, 2005

Kemptville Forest Fair 2005

Attended the Forest Fair again this year. The weather was great. The main feature of the fair is the wood auction and this year there seemed to be more wood up for sale than last year. There was a wide variety of wood from cherry to maple, oak, butternut to name a few. There were also booths of local organisations as well as sales booths for books etc. There was one section with a display of insects intended for children. The display was quite interesting, and of course I had to inquire if the display manager knew anything about the glow-worms that I have found here along our driveway. This seems to be an uncommon insect. Since then I have collected four glow-worms in a pickle jar and sent them to her (display manager) to add to her collection of live insects. She will be feeding the glow-worms meal works since the glow-worm is predacious. The mealworms apparently thrive well on breakfast cereal.

I look forward to getting a report of what type of a beetle this worm is related to.

The following is a notice I received about the forest fair which has some helpful information:

To All;

Just a quick note to remind everyone the Forest Fair of Eastern Ontario is this Saturday September 24th 2005. The fair will be held at the Ferguson Forest Center located in Kemptville. There will several forest related exhibits and workshops, kids events, live music and plenty of food. As always there will be a large Log and Lumber auction. This year will be the best ever - there is an excellent assortment of both softwood and hardwood logs and lumber. This year we have a great quantity of Black Walnut logs – perfect pieces for wood turners, other species include; cherry, hickory, basswood, butternut, white oak and sugar maple. There will be a portable sawmill on site for custom sawing. The fair runs from 10:00am until 3:00pm.

Event Sponsors Include

Ferguson Forest Center

Eastern Ontario Model Forest

Ministry of Natural Resources

Ontario Stewardship

Rasin Region Conservation

Lavern Heideman & Son

Limerick Forest Advisory Committee

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Tree Identification Workshop sponsored by the Friends of Gatineau Park

Attended this workshop which took place at the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre, 33 Scott. Rd. Chelsea Quebec. This park is located north of the City of Ottawa and took a little more than an hours drive to get there from here. Since moving to Kars I have spent very little time in the Gatineaus but while living in Ottawa it was quite popular for our family. There are many excellent and well maintained cross-country ski trails there. The International Gatineau 55 Cross Country Ski Race event used to be held there.

The Tree identification workshop was a full day from 930 to 1630. Like all events it is the few little gems of information that make these events worthwhile. The level of the workshop was a basic introduction or Tree identification 101, but it is good since it gets one organised in understanding the methods of identification. We spent some time understanding the use of Keys for identification. We learnt about terminology for identifying leaves, names for leaf shapes and terms for parts of the leaves. I was particularly interested in easily distinguishing the types of ashes that we have on our woodlot. There are white, black and green ash that are common around here. I learnt that black ash is the only ash that has no stalks on the leaflets. That was a start for me anyway.

A simple trick to help in tree identification is the MAD-VE Rule. MAD-VE stands for Maple, Ash, Dogwood, Viburnum (- not Virbinum, sorry), Elderberry. These are the only trees that have opposite leaves, stems and buds. All other trees are alternate.

Another gem, the leaf of the slippery elm has a sand papery texture, whereas the leaf of the American Elm is smooth.

We also discussed tree silhouettes and much more. It was a good introductory course.

In the afternoon we did a field trip and went through a few tree identification exercises. What struck me was although this area is only about 40 km away from home the selection of trees have changed quite a bit. For example bur oaks which are common in Kars are just not heard of in these parts of Gatineau Park.

The field trip focused on identifying Basswood (American Linden), White Spruce, Slippery Elm, Tamarack (Eastern Larch), American Elm, Trembling Aspen, Paper Birch, and Red Oak.

Myself and two other classmates almost walked into a black bear sow and her cub, which added considerably to an already exciting day. We heard later for the park staff that a sow and cub have been relocated away from the area and that these two where likely the same pair that have returned.

To check out the many other events in Gatineau Park go to:

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Re: Found a Black Frog

As a follow up on the curious black frog I sought out the opinion of some more informed persons. In my past wanderings, I had come across the Bishops Mills Natural History Centre. So I fielded the question to Frederick W. Schueler of the Centre.

The co-ordinates for the centre are:

Bishops Mills Natural History Centre
Frederick W. Schueler, Aleta Karstad, Jennifer Helene Schueler
RR#2 Bishops Mills, Ontario, Canada K0G 1T0
on the Smiths Falls Limestone Plain 44* 52'N 75* 42'W

Following is the discourse:

Pieter wrote:

> From your website, I gather that you specialise in reptiles and amphibians. Can I ask you a question about an unusual find?
> I found a pitch-black frog in our woodlot. It definitely had the shape and behaviour of a frog and not a toad. Its skin was pitch black and glossy. It is a bit smaller than a full sized leopard frog. Following up in the Peterson Field Guide on Reptiles and Amphibians, I was expecting to find an explanation, but much to my surprise no frog nor toad exists in the guide that meets this description. An Internet search only identified black frogs in other and usually tropical continents.

Response from Fred:

there are two possibilities - it's either a very cold Frog (Rana sp.) reacting to cool moist temperatures in an unseasonable way, or it's a melanistic variant of one of these species. The melanic pigmentation of
any animal can be overproduced and result in a black individual. On the other hand, the melanaophore pigment cells of many frogs can expand in certain circumstances - characteristically on dark background or when
it's cool and wet - and produce a black colouration, This is most frequent in Wood Frog males in the spring, and in small toads taken from under cover in black soils in the summer.

Did you retain the frog? And if so is it still black?


To that I replied and the following discourse ensued:

Pieter wrote:

> Your explanation sounds plausible. The frog was found when I stirred up a rotting woodpile. It emerged from under plastic that was covering the pile.


I would think a Wood Frog or Green Frog is most likely. I didn't mention that young Green Frogs have a variant called "melanoid" in which their skin is dark and fairly transparent - this is a graduated thing so an individual can have more or less of it - so if it was a Green Frog it might have been predisposed to blackness by having a bit of melanoid in its makeup.


Fred also directed me to an interesting bulletin board which is the NatureList or Eastern Ontario Natural History list-serve at:

I have subscribed to the site and it is quite intriguing. It does a good job at connecting those who are inquisitive with questions about nature related topics with those who are informed and have the answers.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Glow-worms are Back

This evening several dozen glow-worms were observed along our driveway. This was previously reported September 15th 2004 when the numbers were considerably less than this year. So they are thriving.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Black Frog

Today I found a black frog behind the house. It definitely had the shape and behaviour of a frog and not a toad. Its skin was pitch black and glossy. It is a bit smaller than a full sized leopard frog. Not knowing what species it was I made a mental note and went on about my business.

Following up in the Peterson Field Guide on Reptiles and Amphibians*, I was expecting to find the frog, but much to my surprise no frog nor toad exists in the guide that meets this description. An internet search only identified black frogs in other and usually tropical continents. Had I known that this frog is not so common I would have caught it. But then what could I do with it, besides possibly take a picture.

Is this a freak of nature I wonder? If anybody knows any more about this type frog or has an explanation for it, I would be interested to know. Please leave a comment or email me at

*A Field Guide to Reptiles & Amphibians, Eastern and Central North America, Roger Connant and Joseph T. Collins, Illustrated by Isabelle Hunt Connant and Tom R. Johnson, Third Edition, Expanded.
Sponsored by the National Audubon Society, The National (US) Wildlife Federation, and The Roger Tory Peterson Institute, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, New York, 1998 ISBN 0-395-90452-8

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Woodlot Site Visit with Eastern Ontario Model Forest Staff

The Certification coordinator for Eastern Ontario Model Forest (EOMF) out of Kemptville spent the morning with me walking the Heartwood woodlot. The EOMF Certification program - see website - is an organisation established to promote and recognise sustainable forestry. One of the EOMF programs is the qualification of identified woodlots that meet a specific standard, thus ensuring that the woodlot is well managed within specific guidelines.

We are seriously considering certification for our woodlot since we strongly support the values espoused by EOMF and definitely support the “Seven Generation test” of sustainability. For more detail on the test see the EOMF website.

The morning was very enlightening, since my guest was very well informed and familiar with the local tree species. We found many butternut [Juglans cinerea L.] trees in the north end of MFTIP Plan Area C , and many of these were damaged and diseased due to the ice storms, while several in Area F were very healthy. Now that I was able to identify them I have found several more near the acre around our house.

We found a dogwood in Area G which stood about 6 feet high like a small shrub, unlike the more familiar and much shorter red osier dogwood [Cornus stolonifera] that is bush common in various spots throughout the woodlot. We were not able to definitively identify this dogwood, and I will have to return to the field to make a certain identification with field guides in hand.

In the same area G we found pin cherry [Prunus pensylvanica L. f.] and black cherry [Prunus serotina Ehrh.].

At the lowland Area F we found a jack-in-the-pulpit [Arisema triphylle] in seed. All that could be seen now was the short 30-cm. stalk with red berries. Upon first inspection I thought it was poison ivy since the leaf shape is very similar to it, but poison ivy has white berries, not red. Also this plant was isolated which is not a common characteristic of poison ivy.

Just as we exited the woodlot we found service berry. I had previously suspected that I found service berry [Amelanchier stolonifera Weig.] here but this was confirmed by my guest. I found this to be difficult to distinguish. I notice that there are a number of different types of service berry, again more detailed inspection will be required to confirm which exact species we saw.