Sifton Bog – April 22, 2024

What better way to spend time on Earth Day than a stroll along the boardwalk at Sifton Bog Environmentally Significant Area (ESA)? The boardwalk leads through a deciduous swamp to a floating acid peat bog.

Many Common Grackles flew from tree to tree in the deciduous woods and dipped into the water. A pair of Mallards dabbled in the shallow water. A Song Sparrow was unusually quiet, as was an American Robin. Northern Cardinals called, but did not show themselves.

When sedges, moss and other plants at the edge of the central pond died, they became compressed as a layer of peat. Sphagnum mosses, heath plants and spruce trees grow on the drier hummocks formed on the outer edges of the pond.

The bright green needles of the Tamarack trees, Ontario’s only native deciduous conifer, were just beginning to emerge. Tamarack, Black Spruce and plants such as Leatherleaf, Highbush Blueberry, Small Cranberry and Pitcher Plant grow in the boggy areas closer to the open water of the pond. Leatherleaf and Highbush Cranberry bushes were in bloom.

From top: Highbush Blueberry in bloom (2 photos), Tamarack, looking back from the pond – low bushes of Leatherleaf in bloom with Black Spruce and Tamaracks in the background, Leatherleaf in bloom, Small Cranberry (reddish foliage), Pitcher Plants (2 photos), last year’s growth and new growth.

At the pond, we met Philip, a regular visitor to the bog, who provided a lot of information about the ESA. Several Midland Painted Turtles basked in the sun on logs on the far side of the pond. Tadpoles of Green Frogs swam in the shallow water. Find the tadpole in the final photo (bottom right)!

A few early wildflowers were growing in different locations beside the boardwalk that provide the right conditions – Colt’s Foot, Labrador Violet, White Violet and Eastern Skunk Cabbage.

There were many Red Admiral butterflies flying and landing briefly on the boardwalk. These butterflies are migrants that usually arrive in May, but some may also have overwintered in Ontario due to the mild weather. There may be two or even three generations produced between now and September.


Thanks to friends who are knowledgable naturalist for their helpful correction to our comments about the Tulip tree in our last post. They pointed out that, rather than new flowers forming, our photo “shows the dried husks from last year’s seed heads.  These often remain on the tree over the winter.  This year’s flowers won’t appear for some time, after the leaves come out.” Stay tuned for photos of these flowers that will not emerge until at least late May and more often early June.

Tulip Tree – dried husks from last year’s seed heads!

Osprey Update

Well, against the odds, the Ospreys have chosen the stadium lights for their nest. Tuesday, April 23rd, the female was at the stadium nest almost continually, not always sitting down, until it was too dark to see. Early Wednesday morning, both male and female were adding sticks to the nest on the lights. It looks sturdier now, but still not very large. It is possible that the female has already laid her first egg. According to, when the female lays the first egg, she spends most of the day and night protecting it, but does not necessarily begin to incubate it until after the second egg is laid.

Thursday morning, the female Osprey was nestled into the nest and did not leave until the male brought her a large fish that he had beheaded on the low platform. She flew with the fish to the low platform where she consumed it. In her absence, the male made some adjustments to the nest and then settled down into it. All afternoon, one adult or the other is always on the nest. By all appearances, there are two eggs being incubated. A third egg may be laid in the coming days.

Stay tuned…


Songs about Rain

Out of chronological order, but no song could ever follow this one. Like the CCR song, it was a reaction to performing at Woodstock. All of the young people in this band are amazing.

Just look at what The Who can do with percussion, bass, guitar, harmonica, and two vocals. One musician friend said that the bass is like a second lead guitar.