When the sun sets in Algonquin Provincial Park a host of creatures emerge to forage in the darkness. All you need to see these animals is a headlamp or flashlight and a sense of adventure.
A small piece of clear red plastic cellophane (like the stuff a Christmas fruit cake comes wrapped in) taped over your light, will protect your night vision and be less disturbing to wildlife. Exciting discoveries can be had any month of the year.
In May, armies of salamanders will trek to woodland ponds to breed amid the chorus of frogs, and flying squirrels will drift like ghosts between trees.
On humid June evenings snapping turtles will emerge to nest in sandy areas. The hoots of owls will punctuate the darkness – try to imitate them, or the squeaking of a mouse, and they will often fly in to investigate.
Fireflies sparkle across the landscape in July – these tiny beetles use a chemical reaction to create light in an effort to attract mates – males usually fly while females wait on the ground. Watch carefully and you will be able to discern different species by their colour and pattern.
August nights will bring the howl of wolves– the ultimate wilderness experience.
Walking a trail at night can add an entirely new dimension to your outdoor experience, but there are a few extra precautions you should take. Bring a cell phone, extra batteries for your flashlight, safety gear, and tell someone where you are going and when you will be back! Avoid trails with cliffs or difficult terrain, stick to areas you are familiar with, and you will be rewarded by seeing a side of nature overlooked by most.
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Brad Steinberg – Management Biologist, Algonquin Park