Friday, October 24, 2014

Fern Walk

It was actually over a month ago that I led this fern walk in Owen Sound, for the annual meeting of the Bruce Trail Conservancy.  Unfortunately it was a very rainy weekend, and a number of hikes were cancelled.  But on Saturday the rain let up about noon, and the afternoon walks went ahead.  I had an interested group of 6 to go with me.

We only walked a very short distance, up a short slope to the cliffs of the escarpment, but remarkably we saw 18 species on only about 2 hectares (5 acres) of land!  In this case we were on private property.  And you can see how drenched everything looks after the morning rains.

We saw everything from this common woodfern, the typical fern shape if there ever is one, to quite rare species, like the Hart's Tongue Fern below.  We saw other rare species like Common Cliffbrake and Walking Fern, as well as more common ones such as Ostrich, Male, Royal and Christmas Fern, all in a very small (and very wet) area.

However, though it didn't rain, we remained under very dark skies, and there wasn't enough light to get good pictures without a tripod.  I got a frustrating number of blurry pictures!

On the way home I stopped by myself to check out one of the Conservation Authority trails, through the rugged talus slope where they had to use stretches of boardwalk to make it passable.

And here I found one of the rarest ferns in the area, the Green Spleenwort.  It's that little bunch of green leaves on the lower right of the boulder.

This is the best picture I got, still blurry, but good enough to show the green stem that marks this species compared to the much more common Maidenhair Spleenwort, with it's dark almost-black stem.

Even though it was wet and rained on and off, I really enjoyed another outing to find ferns.  For those of you who live in southern Ontario, there's an excellent book entitled 'A Guide to the Ferns of Grey and Bruce Counties, Ontario', that provides excellent information and pictures.


12 comments:

  1. The ferns are very pretty, but love that moss covered bridge.

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  2. Do you know where I can get the book?

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    1. The book is available commercially through Amazon and such, but you can call directly to GInger Press in Owen Sound to get it from the local source, I think a lot cheaper. If you check the website of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists under 'publications' you'll find the info. There's another fern site that is very useful - 'Ontario Ferns', which has a booklist at: http://www.ontarioferns.com/booklist/index.php; it has lots of useful info, and lists this guide + the Peterson one as the 'must-haves'.

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  3. Very interesting. I have never seen the Green Spleenwort. It seems slightly bigger than the Maidenhair Spleenwort. Is it?

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    1. Not really in my experience. But I've put pictures of both in my more recent post to show the difference.

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  4. That is a vey nice discovery. There are so many varieties of ferns out there. The woods look very lush on that day.

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  5. It's beautiful even in damp conditions.

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  6. Everything looks so green and springlike despite the season.

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  7. Love all the green! We have tons of ferns in the Columbia River Gorge.

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  8. It can be hard to photograph in the deep woods, but you have to love all that bright green after a rain. I really love the Green Spleenwort fern popping out of the rock. It has been an awesome fall to hike in Southern Ontario!

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  9. Would love to do a fern walk with you to learn some new ones! I wonder if that book would be partly accurate for us. Right latitude, wrong geology, so maybe not.

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