Friday, February 20, 2009

Friday Foliage: Jack Pine

The City of Ottawa has a publicly owned Greenbelt which consists of a 20,000-hectare expanse of land which includes wetlands, farmlands and forests. Hiking opportunities abound in the Greenbelt and the admission free trail network extends over 100 kilometers. The Greenbelt includes Stony Swamp Conservation Area, Piney Forest, and the Green’s Creek. (Source: The National Capital Greenbelt)

I visited the Greenbelt, which is situated on the Ontario side of the Ottawa River, and chose the Jack Pine Trail, one of the easy trails within Stony Swamp. This area was reforested with Jack Pine trees about forty years ago. Jack Pine is a native evergreen which grows well in poor soils. It is a small, sometimes shrubby, irregularly shaped tree that can thrive in sandy or rocky locations. The cones can remain closed for many years and will open when exposed to the extreme heat of a forest fire.

The fall of their needles creates an acidic soil which is favourable for the growth of wild blueberries. The endangered Kirtland's Warbler nests only in stands of young Jack Pines and many other forest birds and animals find refuge in the shelter the trees provide.

The Jack Pine woods were not dense like some bush areas in our area of south-western Ontario. Other trees also grew in this swampy area including cedar and white birch. The most abundant mammal I noticed was the Red Squirrel. We have a few of them in our area but they were far more numerous here than the larger Grey and Black Squirrels. I heard their loud chatter and watched several high speed territorial chases.

The Jack Pine Trail is off limits for dogs. Much as I love dogs, the irresponsible behaviour of owners who allow their animals to defecate and run loose on public trails is most annoying. Spring thaw reveals the extent of this problem on the trails near our home.

Because of the thin forest cover, the absence of dogs and the generous food donations from regular visitors, White-tailed deer were very easily seen in the area. I rounded one corner and came face to face with a doe who hardly startled at my appearance. She moved aside as I walked by and then came back with another deer to enjoy the carrot pulp left by the man I described in a previous post. This same man told me about the many snakes and frogs that are found in this swamp in the spring (as well as the blackflies and mosquitoes).

And I decided that winter was the perfect season to explore these trails!

, a veteran blogger, lives in the Ottawa area and has visited this trail. His pictures of the deer are really worth seeing here and here. (I particularly like the second post)


  1. Anonymous9:07 pm GMT-5

    Oh, I love the pics of the deer - has been a long time ago that I saw one! thanks for sharing (french benefits of the cold, eh?)
    Look up my blog sometime to see my flowers (Camellias) and my flower paintings Celebrity Collection (Jan.09)

  2. Sounds like a fantastic place to hike close to home. I love the deer photos, and it's interesting to learn about the Jack Pines. Great bird pics, too.

  3. That is so special to have deer be unafraid of humans.Love the collage.

  4. Lovely photos. The trail sounds wonderful right about now.

    I can't even imagine getting that close to a deer. I put some carrots out myself across the street for the deer and they were gone in 1 day! I can't even imagine being dedicated enough to make pulp though. Very lucky deer indeed to have people doing that for them.

  5. What a lovely park to have. The white tailed deer are great. They look thickly furred against the winter cold.
    And I very much like your critter collage.

  6. What a beautiful place..Love the red squirrels and I find the idea of carrot pulp interesting..We can't feed deer in NY state and they actually jailed a repeat offender...

  7. Thanks for the delightful walk through a very nice forest. Kind of reminds me of Ponderosa Pine.
    Great captures.

  8. It really does sound like such an ideal place to see so much nature. Just lovely white tails. :c)

  9. I was wondering if you encountered deer. On our only trip to the trail on a very cold winter day, we had an encounter.

  10. I'm with everybody else...the pictures of the deers are awesome. What an great feeling it must have been to be so close to it. The sound of frogs and snakes scare me though ...not so much the frogs, but the snakes-yuck! But I think I would give it a whirl in warmer weather.
    It was really nice to see you at the trails this morning, I enjoyed our little chat.
    P.S. The little chickadees said thank you for the seeds.

  11. Wonderful photos! That would be a great afternoon. :)

  12. Although I'm not a winter person, it sounds like a great time to visit that trail.
    Loved your deer pic.

  13. Thanks to all who visited and commented today.


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