Hunting under rocks to see what’s there, poking fingers into algae-murked water to pluck a snail or poke a frog? Bliss for a preschooler like Cameron.
The critters around the woods and lake might not have been front-and-centre for his attention, but they sure caught his attention. Being a city kid, he doesn’t get a lot of wildlife interaction. Not that we ran across bears or deer, really. Deer poop, yes, the animal that left it, no. Anyway, Cameron can identify several bugs (ants, wood bugs, lady bugs, butterflies, dragonflies … everything else is “bee!”), and knows squirrels, rabbits, and deer. The cottage gave him a great opportunity to see more.
There were the cute and fluffy critters, of which for some strange reason I took no pictures despite one being clearly a cut above the others in Cameron’s eyes. He sure loved to feed the chipmunks with Granna. He’d yell out when he saw them by the kitchen window, under the bird feeders. The feeders were populated with finches, sparrows, and woodpeckers, with lots of other species around. Cameron got pretty good at IDing some of them. He even got to see some woodpecker holes up close, when we all went for a walk in the woods.
It was Summer in the woods in Ontario, therefore there were mosquitos. Despite generous application of deet we both were eaten alive on our walk in the woods on our last day. In the house, Cameron eagerly demanded to see any smushed mosquitos. But I don’t count those as wildlife!
Officially, the rat snake is at risk of extinction, or at least extirpation, in that area. Could’ve fooled me. The population seemed downright healthy in my eyes. I don’t normally have much trouble with snakes, but these ones lurked under the kayaks, and did you know they swim? Eeuuughhh.
The best were the frogs. There are a couple of permanent puddles down close to the lake, fed now and then by boat wash or waves, as well as rain runoff. In these lurk frogs! You have to look closely – here,
Cameron learned the word “camouflage” with a wonderful example. I know it’s cruel, but watching a preschooler try to catch a frog is hilarious. I did eventually capture one with the help of his orange croc knockoff shoe (there’s a picture I wish I’d taken, but my hands were full of frog-in-shoe), and dumped it into a plastic bucket so Cameron could get a good view of it. Could’ve sworn I took pictures, but they don’t seem to have turned up. Cameron was very excited to have caught a frog! He poked at it very gently for a bit, before we released the poor thing.
Cameron does know butterflies well, and he’s seen caterpillars at the aquarium before, but I think the cottage was his first introduction to them. He found lots of furry white and black ones. Anyone know what type of butterfly they become?
Ah, and the loons were our ‘friends’ the whole visit. At night we could hear them calling, and most days we could see Little Fluff and Mom out there on the water. They’d let us approach pretty close in the kayaks, and even in the motor boat. The mom would dive down, little fluff on the surface with his head stuck in the water to watch, and we’d all scan to see where she popped up again. I should note, the genders I’m using here are totally arbitrary. For all I know, I’ve got it wrong on both counts. Hearing Cameron yell, “Bye, loons,” was awesome.
Lastly, we were at a lake. That’s right, fish! Betty one morning scooped up several sunfish with a net, and so Cameron got to see them up-close in a bucket. Then on our last day there, Cameron got to fish! He’d tried fishing before at Cheakamus Lake with zero success. Here? Well, various baits were tried, but the swarm of sunfish just managed to tear the bait off the hook without being nabbed themselves. Then Bill figured we’d just drop the hook in the water sans bait. Presto! Hurrah! A rite of passage every kid should get to have.