Sunday, 19 October 2014

Founders Property - Kitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists

A Morning Ramble
18 October 2014

     In 1968 the Hallman property in the Roseville swamp was purchased by the KWFN, and named the Founders Property in 1984 at the time of the club's 50th anniversary. Perhaps no individual founder was deemed sufficiently auspicious to have the honour conferred on him or her, and this mildly ignominious name continues to this day.
     This is a wild property, little known and seldom visited by most members of the club, and Fraser Gibson, a two-time past president and distinguished member offered to escort members of the current board of directors on a hike through the property. Only three of us took up the challenge, Paul Bigelow, our treasurer, Josh Shea our vice-president and myself, the sitting president.
     There are no trails of any kind, tangles to fight through, creeks to cross and boggy, swampy ground to trek through. It is hard going!
     Fraser knows this property better than anyone and we followed him as he led us through, trusting a good deal in his GPS, which was not receiving a good signal, and was therefore not entirely reliable.
     He was well prepared to cross a creek, where a primitive "bridge" consisted of a few logs straddling the water. They were slippery, wet, partly rotten and not engendering any confidence as to their stability. Fraser, intrepid soul that he is, had brought a rope to help us across and, having secured one end to a tree, went across the logs with a staff, to tie off the rope on the other side.

     Next across was Josh, who at about half the age of the rest of us, walked across with jocular confidence.

     Sorry the rope is bisecting your face, Josh!

     Paul followed while I stayed until last to take the photographs.

     The birding in the tract was quite good and we saw several species, but all high in the trees, or behind vegetation - none in any situation permitting photographs.
     Obviously in times past, bird enthusiasts had cared for the property since we found this long broken Wood Duck Aix sponsa box, now rotting on the ground.

     This is a general view through the woods which varied from being fairly open in spots to barely penetrable in others. We had a little dry ground to walk on but for the most part it was boggy and wet.

     This plant is Horsetail, in the family Equisetum. There are several species, and sometimes Mare's Tail is also thrown into the mix, confusing things even more so I will not attempt specific identification.

     Here is an interesting example of new trees emerging from a rotting stump, a classic example of recycling on an undisturbed forest floor.

     We saw numerous ferns and I am grateful to Fraser for identifying them. I have not a single reference on ferns on my shelf, an omission which needs to be rectified soon!

Spinulose Wood Fern Dryopteris carthusiana

Clinton's Wood Fern Dryopteris clintoniana
     As you might expect, moss was everywhere.

    We observed Partridgeberry Mitchella repens in several locations and this one still had a berry shining bright red on the forest floor.

     Given the time of the year, fallen leaves were everywhere, in all shapes, sizes, colours and hues.

     Here is another general view, taken as we bushwhacked through the undergrowth.

     It was very interesting to come across this old kiln. No one knew precisely what type of kiln it was, but I suspect that it may have been a charcoal kiln, and it appears that the oven type opening at the front may have been used for baking or roasting, drawing heat from the charcoal buried beneath debris behind it.

     This Oak Fern Gymnocarpium dryopteris has taken on its fall colour and will be buried in snow within a few months.

     Just before leaving the property I photographed this fungus and I am awaiting identification assistance on it. I will add the name as soon as I know it.

     It was a really enjoyable walk and both a pleasure and a privilege to visit this property which our club owns and has managed to preserve in a natural state. Thank you so much, Fraser for organizing it, and being such a competent and genial leader.


  1. Sounds like a wonderful place to explore, and lots of interesting things to see. But you really do need a fern book or two. After all, I have a bird book on my shelf!

    1. You are right about the fern books. Do you have any suggestions?

  2. Great work linking people to nature.
    Well done David.

  3. Beautiful place to a long walk, David.
    Walking over the tribes with the rope is quite dangerous.
    The nature is beautiful there.

  4. That sounds like a real adventure, David! I can understand why it's little visited. It looks like a place that is ripe for a little habitat development work!


  5. Zachodzą swobodnie naturalne procesy jak wieki temu :-)


  6. Daredevils! Wow, that walk was not a piece of cake, David. But it was so to see worthwhile. Great serie. It must really have been a fantastic and interesting experience. By whom was that kiln used? Was it old? Sorry, but I can't help you with the name of the mushroom. Have a nice week. Greeting from the Netherlands, Joke

  7. What an exiting trip you had through this protected area!
    Observing nature in a such a wild and beautiful place must have been a real thrill!

  8. A wonderful place to discover David:-) And you were helped to the other side with ropes because the bottom was quite slippery brrrr .... luckily everything went well and you're not slipped. It read like an adventure:-)