The photograph above is of a flock of wild turkeys on our farm. There’s no shortage of fish and wildlife in and around Beaver Valley. It’s a fisherman’s paradise with river runs of pacific salmon and steelhead trout, streams filled with native speckled (brook), brown, and rainbow trout, as well as lakes full of smallmouth and largemouth bass, perch, and rock bass.
Native species of wildlife such as bluebirds and migratory turkey vultures are on the rebound and newly introduced species such as wild turkey are prolific. There’s been evidence of cougars with speculation that the Province introduced them in order to keep wild turkey populations in check. Restrictions to black bear hunting in the north has resulted in over population, driving them further south to our area in search for food. We even had a moose loose its way and make an appearance in Grey County several years ago.
Our area is home to naturally fluctuating populations of coyotes, jack rabbits, white-tailed deer, red fox, beaver, skunk, raccoons, porcupines, fishers, and occasional wolves. The area is also one of the last bastions in Ontario for groundhogs.
There are hundreds of species of birds, nearly one hundred species of reptiles and amphibians, over three thousand species of plants, and over one thousand types of fungi and algae. Many of these are unique to the area and over one hundred of these have been recognized as Canada’s species at risk.
Two unique local species particularly stand out for me. With respect to the first, soon after moving to our farm, I began building a stone retaining wall for a flower garden near our house. From an endless supply, I piled hundreds of limestone boulders in order to have a nice selection to choose from. After picking up one rock, I was totally spooked when I noticed it was alive! As it turns out, the rock wasn’t alive, but there was a perfectly camouflaged frog nestled into a depression in the grey rock. It turned out to be a Gray tree frog. I’ve been an outdoorsman all my life and have never seen a tree frog in Ontario – until then. I thought tree frogs only existed in the tropics. We later learned that the tree frogs were particularly fond of the new siding on our house, again camouflaging to perfectly match the siding’s light lime green colour. After a horrific discovery one morning, we now routinely check the inside of our window frames before closing our windows.
With respect to the second species, after moving to our farm, Alex and I packed a picnic lunch and headed down to the Rocky Saugeen River that runs through the back of our property. We found an ideal spot on a hillside under the canopy of the cedar forest. As we enjoyed our wine after our meal, the noonday sun penetrated the forest canopy. To our astonishment, surrounded by what we thought were weeds turned out to Orchids – Large Yellow Lady’s Slippers. Now I’ve seen the occasional one in my time, but here I’m talking about hundreds, creating a soft yellow blanket over the hillside.
Suffice it to say once again, there’s no shortage of fish and wildlife subject matter for painting purposes.
During the nineties, I took a break from painting landscapes and turned to a new topic for me – fish and birds. To my chagrin, many works were sold without taking a picture for posterity. However, I chose to hang on to a number of works over the years. These are featured in my Fish and Wildlife Gallery. Although I currently plan to focus my energy on landscapes, I do want to have several fish and wildlife themed paintings on the go at any given point in time.
Goshawk on Alert
Apple Blossom Chickadee
Fall Blue Jays
Hummingbird and Hollyhocks
School of Pomfrets