Tag Archives: turtles

Manitoba Herps Atlas – Repost

Reid Dickie

I’m reposting this piece from May 2011 just because it’s a fascinating project and the wriggling tail of the lizard in the video is a little spooky!

Reptiles and amphibians are collectively known as herpetofauna or just “herps.” There are 24 species of reptiles and amphibians in Manitoba and you can find them all described, illustrated and located on the Manitoba Herps Atlas. The Atlas, part of the NatureNorth.com site, is the work of  Doug Collicutt, a local biologist. The site contains information on frogs, treefrogs, toads, salamanders, turtles, snakes and a lizard (yes, Manitoba has a lizard!).  Fascinating and informative!

Manitoba’s lizard is the Northern Prairie Skink and is mainly found in the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park and the Lauder Sandhills. If under attack and grabbed by the tail, the skink will release the end section of its tail as a distraction so it can escape. The piece of skink tail wriggles wildly adding to the distraction. Watch it happen here.

Click the pic of the Western Painted Turtle to find the Atlas.

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Filed under Critters, Local History, Natural Places

Two Days Out On the Prairie

Reid Dickie

Hot and windy, the temperature hit 30 degrees today (about 86 F.), amazing for early October. Something similar for the next two days before seasonal temperatures prevail. The warm weather stoked my wanderlust and I headed into southwestern Manitoba on Tuesday, doing a couple of video reports and gathering images for a large video project I’m working on.  This red maple at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park was in full blaze.

I stopped by Campbell Lisk Heritage Park below Hwy 10 next to the Souris River. The first picture is the flooded park taken in June and the second one I took yesterday.

The little park, at flood peak, had over seven feet of water in it from the Souris River. Now the water is gone, the flood cake has dried out and turned into a fine grey powder that sails on every gust of wind. The vegetation has started to return; the spruce trees suffered and each is surrounded by a circle of brown dead needles, waterkill from the flooding. The other difference in the two pictures is how everything has dried out. The recent shot shows how arid we are now after a hot virtually rainless summer.

I took a hike halfway around Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park today to survey the hiking trail. The flood cake from the flooding Assiniboine extends well back from the lake, in some places over fifty feet. The grey floodcake is dried out but several plants have asserted themselves quickly, notably grassy sedges and horsetail along the wettest parts. Further back and in the shade poison ivy, now scarlet and quite evident, flourished in the grey dry soil. Though the day was hot and sunny, I didn’t see any turtles sunning along Marsh Lake. The flood changed the ecology of the lake so it will take time to restore it or evolve into a new habitat. The turtles know what to do.

I haunted some cemeteries on my drive and have some interesting epitaphs to report. In the little cemetery just outside of Margaret, MB I found these three, the first rather common but profound: Sleeping in Jesus, the comforting Under His Wings and, chiselled into an old old stone, Nevertheless he lives. In my hometown cemetery, I found the most effervescent one of the trip: She has joined the dance, the sprightly dance, the dance ever-existing.

By the way, everything is up-to-date in Treherne, MB. Besides having buildings made of bottles, nice people and a pretty location, Treherne has the Birch Motel which is all mod cons as you can see! Waterbeds and direct dial phones…a little slice of heaven on Hwy 2.

Ghost towns are appearing more frequently now. The siding of Kelloe and fading village of Solsgirth are no longer acknowledged with signs along Hwy 16. Kelloe consists of a family home with modern kids stuff in the yard and a few tumbledown houses in the bush. Solsgirth appeared to have two houses being lived in. The entire population of McConnell when I went through it this morning was two horses. Although the school, church and an old house or two survive, no people live there. Instead the people erected a cairn to signify where McConnell is/was. Apparently you can’t rely on the memories of horses for this kind of thing. Cardale was pert and mowed, the few souls it supports keep busy and wave at me. Margaret has 9 people and 30 boxes in its post office, mostly farmers. I mention to the postmistress (how quaint does that sound?) that my parents lived in Margaret when I was born and so did I until we moved to Hayfield four years later. She remembered hearing our family name in the district.

I’ll end with two pictures of a delightful old weather-depainted Queen Anne style house I gaped at in Newdale today. The lovely gables with elaborate carved bargeboards and the over window and door detailing make this almost ghostly pile extra special. I wonder if it glows in the dark? It has a little satellite dish!

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Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Ghost Towns, Heritage Buildings, Manitoba Heritage, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

Manitoba Flood Aftermath

Reid Dickie

In a farmer’s field I saw an eagle tearing into the carcass of a stranded fish, just one of thousands of outwash fish delivered by flooding rivers into pools of water that evaporated, leaving them to die. Flooded ditches are now the scene of slowly dying fish, suffocating in the disappearing water.  This first picture is a flooded ditch along the Trans Canada Highway east of Portage la Prairie right next to the Assiniboine River taken in May. The second picture is the same ditch today. I saw several gasping fish slowly swimming in the shallow water last week.

At Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park I saw only one painted turtle sunning on a downed log. In past years there would be dozens of turtles in the sunshine. The Assiniboine River inundated Marsh Lake, which is an oxbow, changing the habitat of the lake substantially. It will be several years before the lake rebounds from the flood and hopefully the turtle population will survive.

Every time I passed through the Assiniboine Valley this summer I was surprised by the amount and vast distribution of flood cake, the grey rind left behind by the flooding, now cracking and broken in the late summer heat. Whole valleys are white from the stuff with little black soil in sight.

In the Assiniboine Valley along Hwy 83 south of Miniota is a recently planted arboretum known as the Assiniboine Riparian Forest. I reported on it on my Day Tripper page. The arboretum sits on the valley floor and I was concerned the river may have washed the whole thing away. I was pleasantly surprised to see little damage to the trees and pathways with just a couple of rows of trees having evidence of flooding. Overall it survived the inundation well, however, the surrounding farm land was thick and white with flood cake.

Heading into fall, Manitoba has thoroughly dried out in many places with others still covered in standing water. The next two weeks promise to be dry so more moisture will disappear from the land. We could use a thirsty spring that soaks up the excess water next year.

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Filed under Flood, Natural Places, Roadside Attractions

Best Outdoor Sex EVER – Three Videos from Marsh Lake

Reid Dickie

This is a shot from the summer of 2010 of painted turtles sunning on a fallen log at Marsh Lake. The lake looks much different this year.

Here are three short video reports from my recent travels to Spruce Woods Park.

Flood Damage

 Marsh Lake is an oxbow of the Assiniboine River and offers a pleasant picnic spot and easy hike although the trail is closed since the lake was severely flooded by the river this spring. The first video (2:33) shows the once-verdant picnic area next to Marsh Lake and the grey flood cake that covers it now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWexQo1RT2s&feature=player_profilepage

Red Maple

Red maples are rare in Manitoba, their usual habitat is in the eastern U.S. Several of the trees grow at Marsh Lake in Spruce Woods Park. They appear to be in full bloom but that’s not the case. Watch my short video report (00:37) on what’s going on anyway with those red maples.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bF3Rcfy1u2M&feature=player_profilepage

Best Outdoor Sex EVER

I’m always curious what people write in the guest books at various places in my travels. Recently, at Marsh Lake, a couple of couples seemed to have excelled at one of the endless opportunities that our provincial parks offer – great outdoor sex! Watch my short video report (00:42).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uvEVFnpAjA4&feature=player_profilepage

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Filed under Day Tripping, Flood, Natural Places, Parks, Prairie People, Roadside Attractions

Manitoba Herps Atlas

       Reptiles and amphibians are collectively known as herpetofauna or just “herps.” There are 24 species of reptiles and amphibians in Manitoba and you can find them all described, illustrated and located on the Manitoba Herps Atlas. The Atlas, part of the NatureNorth.com site, is the work of  Doug Collicutt, a local biologist. The site contains information on frogs, treefrogs, toads, salamanders, turtles, snakes and a lizard (yes, Manitoba has a lizard!).  Fascinating and informative!

    Manitoba’s lizard is the Northern Prairie Skink and is mainly found in the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park and the Lauder Sandhills. If under attack and grabbed by the tail, the skink will release the end section of its tail as a distraction so it can escape. The piece of skink tail wriggles wildly adding to the distraction. Watch it happen here. 

Click the pic of the Western Painted Turtle to find the Atlas.

 

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Filed under Critters, Natural Places