Signs of Animal Life in Winter

A small group of WRN members spent Saturday morning, January 18, 2020, on an informative and enjoyable walk through Laurel Creek Nature Centre led by Fraser Gibson. Constantly falling snow flurries erased any animal tracks in the snow that we were hoping to see (except for recently walked dogs). However there were lots of other signs of nature, if you were observant and knew what to look for.

Emptied Reservoir

A number of trees had the remains of Fall Webworm Moth tents still fluttering from their branches.

The bird feeders at the nature centre were mobbed by chickadees, who were also happy to eat out of human hands.

There was a small birds nest in a little tree at chest height, but we never quite decided which bird built it.

Beavers from previous years had left behind gnawed stumps as evidence of their activity.

We saw the semi-circular exit holes of the Emerald Ash Borer (which sadly has done in all the ash trees there), as well as the holes where woodpeckers went after the grubs under the bark.

Ball Gall "2010-03-06 Ryerson Conservation Area 3" by JanetandPhil is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fraser pointed out two different types of goldenrod galls in the field. We opened one ball gall to observe the larva inside. Fraser had samples of ball galls that had been pecked open by a Chickadee and a Woodpecker (a much neater hole), as well as a gall where the Goldenrod Gall Fly had emerged successfully without becoming lunch for a bird.

Bunch or Rosette Gall © Quinten Wiegersma, some rights reserved (CC-BY) from iNaturalist

We encountered a couple of these deer rubs where bucks had rubbed their antlers during rutting season to mark their territory.

There were also a number of narrow paths in the undergrowth, likely made by deer.




It was well worth the time spent on this walk, but with the wind whipping snow in our faces as we headed back, we started looking forward to our warm houses and lunch. Thanks to Fraser for helping us see what we normally would just have walked past.

Deer Rub