Things I am Thinking About Right Now...

  • 1. Finally Updated; A busy ( and not-so-birdy fall ) fall
  • 2. A smew in Ontario ??? And I got to see it !
  • 3. Thinking about summer vacation...
  • 4. And Sping trips too !
  • 5. Quite a few Winter rarities around. May try to add a few more to the list
  • 6. Still no snow on the ground...
  • 7. Project FeederWatch is going strong. Two eports submitted...
  • 8. I think I have convinced my wife to visit Cape May next summer !
  • 9. The Elephant Pepper Development Trust ( Check out their site ! )
  • 10. Tying to decide how to spend my remaining gift certificates !

Monday, 13 June 2011

Baby Muskie ( or Muskellunge if you prefer... ) and other aquatic stuff

THE DAUGHTER and I participated in three sessions at the 2011 Carden Nature Festival. The first was an early-morning but unfortunately quiet Birding by Ear workshop. The second was a Fossil Finding activity at a local quarry which was rained out by some torrential weather ( although I did learn that limestone attracts lightning, a fact that I am sure will come in handy at some point in the future ). Upon our return and a near-simultaneous clearing of the bad weather, we ( really me, via executive decision ) went off and found my life Golden-Winged Warbler. After this triumph, we returned to Festival Central to take part in our last session: Aquatic Organisms. When I originally signed us up, I felt that this session would appeal to my daughter because it was fun. I remember participating in stream studies and finding all kinds of cool stuff. However, with a session that my daughter looked forward to already cancelled, the pressure was on. Would my daughter really enjoy dipping her net into water and catching little slimy, muddy beasties ? Thankfully the answer was a resounding YES !

A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon !

Our group leader was Bob Wright, the president of the Canadian Association of Aquarium Clubs ( CAOAC ). He started by talking about what we would find and showed us several live examples that were caught on other festival days. Iowa darters, Brown Bullheads and other baitfish species I never heard of ( I'm baitfish ignorant ! ); the largest tadpoles I have seen ( thought to be Green or Bullfrogs ) and a few dragonfly larvae. Due to conditions we were only going to survey the shoreline of Young's Lake. So on went the rubber boots and with dipnets in hand we ventured into the shallows of Young's Lake.

For the record, THE DAUGHTER can be a bit well...girly at times. I banned the Disney princesses from our home because there seemed to be some negatives that came along with them...I'm sure other parents can relate. So, I was wondering how she would take to dipnetting. Of course, she was completely engaged from dip #1 when she brought up several teeny tiny, unidentifiable tadpoles. Minutes after that, she brought up the first fish of the day; a BROWN BULLHEAD catfish. Apparently these fish have spines and, even better, venom in their spines that can trigger allergic reactions in someone unlucky enough to get spiked. Still my daughter was psyched. She showed off her catch to a television crew who are putting together a documentary for TVO on "The Land Between", then plunged back in to find more.
Brown Bullhead

And did we ever find more...there were lots of damselfly larvae, a few dragonfly larvae and several more large tadpoles added. My daughter plucked a snail out of her net and took some more camera time to show it off. Then my daughter brought up another fish. Eventually, we would ID it as a STICKLEBACK. If you noticed that I was not catching fish up to this point, you would be quite right. THE DAUGHTER must have been feeling sorry for me because she started giving me tips on how to move my net through the water. Within minutes, she had another fish in her net. A BANDED KILLIFISH. A fish that our session leader had been trying to catch. Now caught by my daughter. At this point my daughter was officially invited to come back next year. No word whether the invitation was extended to her father.

Of course there were other people and other nice finds. The highlight would have to be this baby MUSKELLUNGE.
Baby Muskellunge

We could only see it for a few seconds before setting back into the water but what a sight. Especially if you are like me and read about the mythical "muskies" in fishing magazines. Especially, if you are expecting this fish to make the roster for Season 3 of River Monsters ( Guilty Pleasure... ). I have outgrown the fishing bug but seeing a potential 50+ pounder at this early stage in life is quite stunning.

One other nice find was another baby: A PAINTED TURTLE. We all had nice looks at this little guy.

 Painted Turtle

So to sum up...I had a great time ( even though I didn't catch any fish; lots of bugs though ). THE DAUGHTER had a good time ( fish + time in front of a television camera + lots of other cool stuff + being called "a great fisher-person" by Bob Wright which morphed into her being called "the greatest fisherman in the world" by her account + a pin and posters ). There was nothing left to do but pour the water out of our boots and head home. And wait to sign up for this activity again next year.
No low-cut rubber boots next year !

If you want to bring children to the Carden Nature Festival, I would highly recommend this activity ! If you have any other questions regarding the Carden Nature Festival, please feel free to comment or contact and I will respond. Can't wait for 2012 !

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