Friday, May 01, 2009

Friday Flowers: Canada's 42nd Parallel

Point Pelee in southwestern Ontario is a sandy spit of land on the north shore of Lake Erie near the town of Leamington. It is the most southern point in Canada and is equal in latitude to the northern border of California, Rome and Barcelona. Because it is surrounded by water, the temperatures are even more moderate than other locations on the 42nd parallel in North America. The 20 square kilometer area includes Carolinian forest, grassland, marshes, and beach where some of Canada's rarest plants and animals are found. Point Pelee National Park at 15 square kilomemters, is one of our smallest national parks but it is a very popular destination for birders and naturalists.

Onion fields just north of the park

Leamington is a farming community of about 30, 000 people where large, fertile fields and numerous greenhouses are found on the very flat landscape. It is known as the tomato capital of Canada and there is a large Heinz factory in the town. There are beautiful parks along the lake shore and within five minutes of touring around I knew this was a place where I could live contentedly. Leamington is a three hour drive southwest of our home and is only 30 km or so from Detroit MI. I would guess that spring here is about 7 to 10 days ahead of us. The warmer climate is excellent for growing vegetables, fruit and flowers.

Spring Beauty, Tilden Trail

There are several parking lots in the park adjacent to various trails. Near the entrance is a large marsh and a 1 kilometer boardwalk. There are several beach trails and a homestead trail where farms once operated. Near the visitor's interpretive centre are some woodland trails and a trolley runs from here to the 42nd parallel on the southern point every 20 minutes.

42nd parallel

The point is a particularly interesting birding area during spring migration as thousands of birds land here after flying north across Lake Erie. The trees here were full of bird song and movement but it was also interesting to look in the ground to see what was growing upward. Early butterflies and other insects flew about and I saw my first snake of the season.

Painted Lady butterfly in a wild violet patch

I finally had an opportunity to see the early spring flower known as Dutchman's Breeches. I have never seen any around our home and was happy to note they were the most abundant blooming plant in the park at the end of April. Other wildflowers seen included Spring Beauties, Mayapples and Violets. We only explored a fraction of the park and I am sure there were many other blooming plants in various habitats. I talked to a man who lived in the area and came here every day throughout the year. He and his wife purchase a seasonal pass to the park each winter and enjoy all seasons on the trails. Because it is flat and relatively small, it is an ideal place for seeing many things without an excessive amount of walking.

Did I mention I could live here?

Happy May Day!!

15 comments:

  1. I really,really,really want to go to Point Pelee.This would be a dream vacation,forget Hawaii or any such place,give me Pelee in spring.Your post is good enough for a travel brochure.

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  2. This post brings back memories of my visits to Point Pelee. I would stand at the very southern point of the point watching the waters of where the East meets the West.

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  3. I remember doing the same thing that Katie did when I was a teenager.

    The Dutchman's Breeches is a very unique and intersting looking flower...but then again aren't all "Dutchman"(lol)
    How big is the bloom? It looks like it would be a good size and very sturdy.
    I'm up to 2 snakes this year already. Would prefer my count to be zero.

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  4. When are you moving Ruth?

    Your Provincial Park system offers such a variety of landscapes. I love the Dutchmen's britches. All the captures are great and the info also.

    Catch up with you in about a week.

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  5. There is going to be a lot of tears from those onions. The field is so big/

    How far is Point Pelee from Windsor, Ontario?

    Did I tell you I studied at the Windsor University in the 70s?

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  6. Ruth- I would really recommend a spring visit here I hope to go there in the summer and fall as well. With all the marsh, I was wondering if the mosquitoes would be bad. But the lake breezes may help that.

    Katie- A lot of people wanted to stand on that point. In the past couple of years the long sandy point has been washed away.

    Cheryl- I posted the DM Breeches for you... The flower is fairly small and my camera was less than 1 inch away from the bloom in this picture.

    Gaelyn- I will have to buy an RV and move there :-) Have a good week.

    Ann- No, I didn't know you had studied in Ontario. The signs said 34 km to Windsor (about 20 miles). And Detroit is just across the river from Windsor.

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  7. Beautiful images!
    By the way, I definitively have to start birding in some way. Yesterday, we had an turquoise roller come drink from Dennis' water bowl. Anette took some pictures after they had flown up in the tree which I will have to post later on, and now I'm having a period of identifying what birds we actually have in our area!

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  8. That was a cryptic ending. I presume you meant, "theoretically speaking," but for all I know a move may be in the works.

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  9. Ruth,

    I have always wanted to visit Point Pelee and after your post, it makes that desire even more acute.

    Thank you for sharing. You're a great embassador for Ontario and Canada.
    Blessings,
    Mary

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  10. What a beautiful park! Lovely photographs and descriptive narrative.

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  11. Ruth--it's clear you live in a wonderful area--but, even more clear, is the fact that you PAY attention to the beauty around you.

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  12. Dutchman's breeches is a beautiful flower. We have spring beauties in the mountains here, one of the first after the snow melts.

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  13. Great photos of the early flowers. I have to get myself down there yet this year. It always seems to be rainy and blustery on the days I have free! Nice write-up about Leamington and environs. It is a nice little town to live in.

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  14. It sounds like a beautiful place Ruth. Have I mentioned lately how much I love your style of writing? :c)

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  15. Sounds like a great place!

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