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Exercise mind and body with StoryWalks™ at Enniskillen Conservation Area

Cedar Trail trail head sign at Enniskillen Conservation Area

It's story time and turtle time on the Cedar Trail at Enniskillen Conservation Area! Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority staff were out on-site last week with Alison Dee from the Clarington Public Library, to set up a new StoryWalk™ to help families enjoy a good book and a hike, and check off the boxes for exercising both their minds and their bodies.

The story this time is Only a Tree Knows How to be a Tree by Mary Murphy and reminds us that all living creatures have a special place in the world, exploring the concept of 'self' in very young readers. Alison, as a professional librarian, knows how important stories are as a tool for parents to engage their children in age-appropriate discussions about the world they live in. This story can be helpful for parents to instill the values of accepting differences in the people around us. One of the lines within the story reads, “Only I know how to be me and only you know how to be you.” Words to live by with all that is going on around us.

In addition to a great story, your family will see majestic cedar trees that make up this important forest in the headwaters of the Bowmanville Creek. The stream starts here in valleys that were carved by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago and are now fed by groundwater, and host native brook trout and American eels. Yes, eels! Don’t expect to see them though—they are very private, however our biologists have recorded them as part of their regular monitoring activities. American eels need absolutely cold, clean water, so they are good indicators of good quality habitat. So, really, only an eel knows how to be an eel.

White admiral butterfly resting on a leaf with wings open
White admiral butterfly (Wikipedia)

When we installed the story pages, we were treated to lots of activity from white admiral butterflies. While this butterfly is not typically seen feeding on nectar on our flowers, you will see it feeding on animal dung and rotting fruit, and they like to perch on leaves or on the ground to soak up the warmth of the sun. We also noticed a lot of crescent butterflies around, but were not able to confirm if they were Pearl or Northern, but they were lovely and there were lots of them.

Snapping turtle laying eggs

The highlight of our day was a female snapping turtle laying her eggs at the end of the trail and we thought, only a turtle knows how to be a turtle! While she finished laying her eggs and covered up her nest, you can see where it all happened, because we installed a nesting-protection structure over the nest. It's right on the trail—you can't miss it. The structure protects the eggs from being dug up by racoons, minks and skunks. The eggs will hatch in about 16 weeks and maybe you can return to Cedar Trail for a hike to discover what goes on in this cedar forest in a new season.

We will keep the StoryWalks on the trail until the middle of July, so there is lots of time for you to check it out. Enniskillen Conservation Area is open every day from dawn until dusk. Please note there is a $6 parking fee at the Conservation Area to help us with trail and habitat improvements at the Conservation Area. If you like, you can borrow a parking pass from the Clarington Public Library that lets you park for free. All you need is your library card.

Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority would like to thank the Clarington Public Library—you always pick such good stories and are a great partner in conservation!

Only a Tree Knows How to be a Tree book cover

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