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Stroll with the salamanders, explore the caves

Series of events at Grand River Parks help visitors learn

You’ve always wanted to have a stroll with a salamander, or go on a bug safari, or get on a first-name basis with local birds. Now is your chance. 

The Grand River Conservation Authority is hosting a host of events at its parks throughout August, including in those that are a short distance from Guelph. 

The Salamander Stroll happens this Saturday morning at the Rockwood Conservation Area, from 10-11:30 a.m.

According to the GRCA, salamanders are a seldom seen and oft misunderstood creature, but are nevertheless a fascinating amphibian that plays a crucial role in the health of forest ecosystems.

The public is invited to learn all about them during Saturday’s fieldtrip. A nature guide will lead a search for the elusive animals. Frogs and toads might be discovered in the process. The event will be an off-trail one, so wear appropriate footwear, a hat, and bug repellant.

Also on Saturday at the Elora Gorge Park there will be a chance to chase, catch, and identify insects in all their many stages of life. Sweep nets will be used to catch, but not harm bugs of all sorts. Butterflies of the Elora Gorge begins at 2 p.m.

At Guelph Lake Conversation Area on Saturday there is a Getting to Know the Birds experience from 2-3:30 p.m. Everything from waterfowl to song birds will be explored, and the findings will be reported to the eBird Canada survey. Bring binoculars.  

The following Saturday, Aug. 13, at Guelph Lake there is a “Bug Safari” from 2-3:30 p.m., and a campfire jam session later in the afternoon starting at 4:30 p.m. near the site of the proposed new nature centre.

“With the exception of the Bat Night at Rockwood, which is being run by local bat expert Derek Morningstar and his assistant, Luke Owen, all of the great events at our GRCA parks are hosted by GRCA nature centre staff,” said Cam Linwood, GRCA spokesperson.

Bat Night is at Rockwood on Friday, Aug. 19, and the following day, Aug. 20, visitors can explore the rocks and caves of Rockwood Conservation Area, on a guided walking tour.

The Underwater World of Rockwood Park happens on Aug. 13. Dip nets will be used to trap minnows, frogs and invertebrates near the Harris Mill ruins.

The events, Linwood said, are free to Grand River Parks members, campers at the parks, and those who have paid day-use admission.

“These events provide another great reason for people to visit and explore Grand River Parks,” Linwood said. “Many of our guests are interested in learning more about the natural world that surrounds them. Opportunities like these help our guests discover all the awesome critters that fly above them, or crawl below them when they visit us. “

He added the experiences encourage new users to visit GRCA parks more often, and to think of  the parks as places were there are many active learning opportunities.

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Rob O'Flanagan

About the Author: Rob O'Flanagan

Rob O’Flanagan has been a newspaper reporter, photojournalist and columnist for over twenty years. He has won numerous Ontario Newspaper Awards and a National Newspaper Award.
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