TURTLE ON THE BEACHIts the first day of visiting the pond after registering the program and its one of the coldest and windiest days imaginable. I know its too early in the season to see any frogs but at least I will be able to capture some great shots of waves when down by the lake. What I didn't expect, was to find any wildlife, and especially on such a windy day though there in the sand, and just washed ashore, what do I see but a turtle? This led to a rescue mission with this new found friend in the form of a red-eared slider. I come to learn that he is not a native turtle but a domestic one that someone has released into the wild. He is a resilient little guy to have managed the cold turbulent waves of the lake in winter. Turtles are a symbol of mother earth, I figure he's a good omen for the Frog Pond. Here's how I found him washed onto the beach after a large wave and I'm pleased to say I have now adopted him.
NURDLES IN THE POND
Part of adopting this pond includes monitoring whats happening and being attentive to things that may impact the quality of water. The concern with this pond is where its situated and how close it is to the lake. A great deal of waste can wash up onto the beach and into the pond. Like many other natural environments in Toronto, and especially those that are near water, there is a shocking amount of plastics that end up in there. Unfortunately this pond has sections where the surface is almost completely covered by small plastic pellets. I soon learn that they are called nurdles and they are a combination of both a waste product used in the manufacturing of plastics and they are plastic bits that have worn down over time. I head down to the pond a couple of days in a row with boots, gloves, bags and strainer in hand. My goal is to remove as many as possible before the pond becomes active with frogs. It's a beautiful sunny afternoon in March and I collect bags of the stuff. I make another visit though I soon begin to realize how many spiders I have been encountering. I decide to stop.
UNANSWERED QUESTIONSI've been questioning myself after emailing the TRCA to introduce the project. I emailed them to inquire about their near future plans for the service road and to ask if they would consider putting up a road sign about the turtle crossing area along the service road. It's been weeks and they haven't responded yet and I wonder why? Perhaps they think I'm not serious, or that I am bothering them but my concern is genuine and real. Last year, on a number of occasions, I came across snakes crossing the road at the same location. And in September I came across a large snapping turtle, again at the same location. It was crossing from the lake side going towards the side of the bluffs for winter hibernation. I sent photographs of the snakes and snapping turtle and indicated the location that they cross, which is parallel to the pond, but up the hill from it. And the week after emailing them I came across the first garter snake of the season. I know the TRCA is busy but I will email again this week. Of course now I'm even more concerned because they have been busy with repairing sections of the road that have washed out and vehicles are coming down the road often. Here's the garter I came across, slithering into the forest as he crossed before me half way up the east section of the service road.
NAME CHANGEA couple of days after announcing the Adopt-A-Pond program to fellow community members, I came to learn that the pond is already being well-cared for and watched over by a very active and wonderful community member Rosalee Mitchell Spohn. I also soon learned that the pond has already been informally named Guild Park Frog Pond and for short, the Frog Pond. For the Frog Watch program I chose the name Guildwood Pond and new to the community I hadn't realized that anyone really thought much about the pond so I didn't think of consulting with anyone about the name... finally after a little humming and hawing, I graciously accepted the inevitable, and that was to let go of the name I selected and go with the name already being used... so for this project, and going forward, the pond is called Guild Park Frog Pond, though in conversation everyone we simply refer to it as the Frog Pond. Its good to meet other like-minded people in the community. Together we'll take care of this great place.
WHAT'S IN THE WATER?In the first few days after announcing the idea of adopting the pond, I am mortified by the strange change to the colour of the water. There have been some heavy wind storms, the storm water outflow is not far from the pond, its possible that contaminants from runoff have gotten into the pond. I'm shocked by the disturbing opaque yet almost neon turquoise colour. What a disaster... and I wonder how is it possible for any form of life will live in this place? I hope it will just be a matter of time, waiting and hoping in the weeks to come that the pond will naturally recycle and cleanse itself. I hope it will, if not I will be so disappointed...
WHERE ARE THE FROGS
We are well into April and there are still no frogs. Actually on two occasions I did hear the sound of a frog plopping into the water from the edge and I just caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of my eye, but still nothing other than that. I look back at the dates from last year and realize that at this time there were plenty of frogs out and I even have a recording of a full orchestra of their singing. Feeling disappointed, I wonder if perhaps the strange colour of the pond indicated that there was some kind of contamination. I checked in with Rose to see if she has come across any frogs and unfortunately she hasn't either. A couple days later she sent a picture of a poor lifeless Eastern American toad, definitely not a good sign. Not feeling optimistic about things...
PREDATOR AND PREYAnother week has passed, something seems to be happening... I still haven't seen any frogs or toads though after waiting a little while I notice a raven suspiciously hopping along the trail on the outer edge of the pond. It seems kind of odd and I continue to watch him. He alternates a walk and a hop and its just a matter of time and I see him capture something. I'm sure he has gotten a toad. I snap a number of pictures and will zoom in on them when I get home. For now, I go to the area where the raven was so I can investigate the little trail to see what was over there. I found nothing. I decide to sit for a awhile and to see what happens. After a little while, miracle of miracles, I am delighted to hear the sounds of life in the pond. I hear both the American Eastern Toads and a Green Frog calling. The raven visits me and I shoo him away...
TOADS AND FROGS
Its the last weekend in April and finally the pond is full of life. I receive an update from Rose that she has spotted some frogs, so I look forward to getting down there the next day with my camera and recorder. I'm delighted, the pond is thriving and I'm able to identify them by their calls. I sit down by the edge and as I'm setting up my camera, I look down and find there beside me a wonderful toad. I capture some pictures and videos of her and some sound recordings from the pond. Both the American Toads and the Green Frogs are singing. I'll upload a video and some sound recordings soon.
LINKS OF INTEREST
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I have adopted the little turtle from the beach. If you are considering adopting a domestic turtle, visit local not-for-profit organization: Little ResQ
If you find a native turtle in the wild, please do not remove it unless it is injured. For advice you may contact the charitable organization: Toronto Wildlife Centre
Learn more about the worldwide problem of nurdles in our water: Nurdle Hunt
Would you like to join us on a Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup project? Please visit our site for updates: Toronto Natural Shorelines
If you would like to add your voice in support of asking the TRCA to add a snake/turtle crossing sign to this service road, please email them HERE
The Guild community has a number of Friends groups that you can join if you live in the area. Visit: Friends of the Guild Park or Friends of the Bluffs
Are you interested in learning more about the Frog Watch, Turtle Tally and Adopt-A-Pond program. Visit here: Adopt-A-Pond