Carden Nature Festival
On the first weekend in June, the Carden Nature Festival draws hundreds of nature lovers and bird watchers. This occasion always provides some of the top event leaders in the province and is a well-run and enjoyable festival. This was our fourth time participating and we, again, had an amazing time.
We arrived late Thursday and set up camp at Balsam Lake Provincial Park. The area between the festival headquarters and Balsam Lake is an outstanding landscape of plains, lakes, alvars, forests and meadows. It is home to a different variety of wildlife that is unique to most of the rest of Ontario. We had all day Friday to explore the area and look for opportunities to see and photograph birds, butterflies and wildflowers.
The Festival started on Saturday, so we had all day Friday to explore the Carden Plains and surrounding region. The birding was exceptional, with sighting that included Wilson’s Snipe, Eastern Loggerhead Shrike, Savannah Sparrows, Bobolinks, Meadowlarks, Eastern Bluebirds, Eastern Phoebes, Common Yellowthroats and a pair of Sandhill Cranes.
This year, the Carden Nature Festival was only one day instead of the normal 2 day weekend. This minimized the amount of events we could enjoy. Every year, we love to attend at least one of Bob Bowles events. However, since the only event was the same as last year, we opted to do something different. Maybe we will catch one of his events next year.
We were excited when we found out that Tom Mason was leading a Spider Hunt and we quickly signed up for this event. We were hoping to go to a few different locations, but the first one we went to was so successful that we didn’t have time to visit a few on his hit list. We had fun catching a wide variety of spiders and examined them closely through magnifying glasses. We learned a lot about arachnid identification. Many species could not be properly identified unless they were sacrificed and examined in a lab. We left those to be unidentified or, at the least, left to a best guess. No harm came to any of our specimens. We were having such a great time that we were almost late for our afternoon event.
Our afternoon event was a canoe paddle around Raven Lake. Raven Lake was an interesting and unique shallow lake that was amazingly clear. We could see the bottom at all times including where it was over 2 metres deep. Common Loons, Blandings Turtle, Musk Rat, and a variety of fish were sighted on the trip. It was so peaceful as a group of us paddled around the entire lake lead by a local residence that was very familiar and knowledgeable about the history and the current state of the fascinating lake.
It was a very pleasant weekend and we enjoyed the camping, the Carden area, the festival and the wonderful evenings relaxing around the fire.