Dr. Hunt scans the forest canopy for birds while leading the walk along the Heritage Hike trail that loops through the 500-acre nature reserve during the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust’s Discovery Days Wild Leeks and Spring Wildflowers hike on May 14 at the Barnum Creek Nature Reserve in Haliburton. Ian Darragh photography

Finding wonders at Barnum Creek

Intrepid Highlanders gathered at Barnum Creek Nature Reserve on May 14 in search of spring wildflowers and wild leeks.
This was part of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust’s ongoing series, Discovery Days.
The Wild Leeks and Spring Wildflowers hike was co-led by Dr. Shelley Hunt, chair of the Haliburton Highlands Land Trust and a forest ecologist, who has taught at the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph for more than 14 years, and naturalist Sheila Ziman, one of the founders of the Land Trust and currently a director.
It was a beautiful sunny day for a walk in the nature preserve, but the black flies were out in full force, so many donned bug hats and jackets and bug spray was liberally applied.
The Barnum Creek Nature Reserve is located at 1118 Gould Crossing Road just off Gelert Road about 10 minutes from the Village of Haliburton. The 500-acre property was donated to the Land Trust by the Dobrzensky family, and it was an honour to have daughter to the late-Leopoldina Dobrzensky, Margaret Dobrzensky of Haliburton Village participate on the walk.
Dr. Hunt spoke about the ingenious ways wildflowers have evolved to thrive in Ontario’s woodlands. They require sunlight to produce seeds so have to flower in the brief period before the leaves on the mature trees block the sun from reaching the forest floor. The white trillium, Ontario’s official provincial flower, has developed a clever way of distributing its seeds. It coats them with a fatty substance that ants find delicious. This encourages ants to collect trillium seeds and carry them to their nests, thus distributing the seeds throughout the forest floor.
This spring wildflower walk was funded in part by TD Friends of the Environment. The Haliburton Highlands Land Trust is a registered charitable organization, whose mandate is to protect wildlife habitat in the county. You can learn more about the land trust’s programs and become a member by visiting: www.haliburtonlandtrust.ca.

Submitted by Ian Darragh