The (Not So) Secret Woods of Early Spring

I love this time of year— early spring: the snow is gone but nothing much is leafing out yet, so you can see the bones of the landscape. Even without the anticipation of the spring birds arriving almost daily, early spring is an exciting time. We can walk more easily through the woods now that the snow is gone, and we can see far into the trees without giving ourselves away.

The not so secret Bones of the Woods, by Robin Harmer

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my way into the woods for an early morning walk, when I noticed some movement about 200 metres ahead of me. I could clearly see a line of female turkeys scuttling across their usual path through the woods. And when I brought my binoculars up for a closer look? A young doe bringing up the rear! She froze, and we stood “binocular-to-eye” as I waited for her to move on. After a minute or so, she bounded on with a flash of her white tail. In winter, we might see such a sight, but the deep snow often inhibits the turkeys, and at that early hour, it is too dark to see far into the woods. Even now, the cover-up has begun as the ramps and trout lilies have begun to poke up. In summer — everything is hidden inside the mantle of wild raspberry, dogwood leaves, leaf covered trees, grape vine and yes, alas, those nasty invasives. Over on the summer meadow, the head of an occasional turkey will show above the grasses and wild flowers, or a deer will emerge from the forest briefly in the late evening dusk — tall enough to be seen clearly. But for the most part the secrets are well hidden from May until well into November, when the skeleton slowly but surely emerges once again to expose its secrets.

So — maybe those turkeys and that deer travel in convoy in the winter too, hidden by the shadows of dusk or the dark of night, or in summer masked by the green mantle of verdant underbrush. Who knows what happens when the woods are clothed in darkness or cloaked in green? But this is the time of year when we might just get a glimpse of something unexpected …

An old tree that once grew in the middle of a pasture field, by Robin Harmer

by Robin Harmer, Earth Day, 2020 April 22

Spring Bingo for 2020 April 04

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Here’s the Headwaters Nature Bingo page of clues for the next several weeks!

  • We’re now encouraging you to include up to three of your personal observations that go beyond the list of 22 other observations!
  • Make this your own challenge — and include observations that mean a lot to you!
    • (I am personally going to include the Merlins that I saw earlier this week in downtown Orangeville. They were exciting to see!)
  • Send your observations to the Webmaster for prizes of ‘inestimable value’!
Bingo card only
Headwaters Nature Bingo card only

Here’s a printable blank bingo card (including instructions) for you to use if you wish.

We’re also including a printed version of the current clues:

  1. Wild Leeks / Ramps (poking above the ground; bonus point for sustainably digging and eating one leek!
  2. Woolly Bear caterpillar (bonus point: what is the name of the moth, and what colour is it?)
  3. Baby bird of any species and name the species
  4. Bird breeding song – describe the song
  5. First Spring Peeper (and where?)
  6. Bluebird
  7. First Chorus Frog (and where?)
  8. Turtle basking (bonus: one that has safely crossed a road; double bonus: if helped carefully by you!)
  9. Snapping turtle
  10. First butterfly: what kind?
  11. First dragonfly or damselfly: (bonus: what kind)
  12. First Bumblebee: (bonus: what kind)
  13. First other insect (not butterfly or dragonfly or bumblebee; bonus: what kind)
  14. Baby mammal: (bonus: what kind)
  15. Osprey (and where?(
  16. First snake: (bonus: what kind)
  17. Silver maple flowers: shedding or receiving pollen
  18. First Red Trillium flower (and where?)
  19. Turkey vulture (and where?)
  20. Spring Beauty flower (and where?)
  21. Morel mushroom (bonus: samples given to another member!)
  22. Skunk cabbage flower – where
  23. Your favourite observation of the period!
  24. Another observation that excited you!
  25. A third observation that appealed to you!

(Last week’s clues are here.)

What’s in a name?

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We are Headwaters Nature, a group of nature enthusiasts, in the beautiful Headwaters region of Southern Ontario, around Orangeville. We live and explore nature in the Headwaters of the Credit, Humber, Nottawasaga, Saugeen, and Grand Rivers.

All six are functionally the same. All are the website addresses or URLs for the rejuvenated website for our Headwaters Nature club. It doesn’t matter whether you include ‘www’ or not. It doesn’t matter if you include ‘https” or not. It doesn’t matter whether anything is capitalized or not. All the various options end up sending you to this website. Please bookmark this and refer to it regularly.

We see this name,, as having various possible interpretations. Firstly, ‘ON’ could stand for Ontario, the home province of our club. Or it could mean ‘on the topic of’ Nature within the Headwaters region: “exploring nature in the Headwaters area”.

This website will develop into a hub connecting our members with on-going club activities and topics of interest. We will soon be rolling out links from this website to Facebook, to Twitter, and to Instragram, as well as to iNaturalist. All of these service will include onHeadwatersNature in their name.

It is the website for our club. We encourage members to submit short blog posts, such as book reviews, or topical thoughts, or recent observations. If you prefer using photographs to be creative with, or to show your observations, please include them as well. Interesting photos could go into a blog post, and/or could also appear in the Gallery page. Please send your submissions to the Webmaster. If you have comments about the website, also please address them to the Webmaster.

At the end of every blog post, there is also the opportunity to send comments that will appear below the actual post. (We reserve the right to edit every comment sent to us.)