Galwegians August 2021

As of Friday, July 16th, the province of Ontario entered Phase 3 of its re-opening plan. This is encouraging news for the Galway Hall moving forward through this pandemic. However, the Galway Hall still remains closed to the public. The Galway Hall Board and its tenants must complete a COVID-19 safety plan and receive approval from the Municipality prior to entering the Hall. Guidelines issued from our local Health Unit for Phase 3 must also be followed in addition to the conditions established in the safety plan. Needless to say, activities and meetings at the Galway Hall are coming but not in the immediate future.

2021 has been a successful year for loons (so far) on Crystal Lake. As noted in the July issue of this article, a pair of loons had two chicks at the head of Crystal Lake. About two weeks later, the pair on Clear Bay also hatched two chicks. Did you know that loon chicks are called ‘loonlets’?  The female loon lays only two eggs. If the hatch is successful, one egg hatches first, approximately 24 hours ahead of the other egg. A surprising fact about loonlets is that they can walk on land (unlike their parents) during their first couple of days of life. That is how the adult loon can stay on the nest to continue to incubate the second egg and offer protection under its wing for the first loonlet.

Have you ever experienced a “Catch-22” situation? A Catch-22 is a situation where one is trapped by two contradictory conditions. This term comes from the 1961 novel of the same name written by Joseph Heller. Our Clear Bay loons provided such an experience. Does one put out floating signs, issued from the Canadian Lakes Loon Survey that state, “Loon Nesting Area Please Stay Away”?  The signs are intended to encourage boaters to avoid the bay where the loons are nesting.. However, in putting out the signs, the nesting bay has been identified. Ah, and there is the “Catch-22”!

One final note regarding the Clear Bay loons and loonlets deals with their natural predators. Within the first week of hatching, observers watched a rather large snapping turtle stalking the loon family. One adult loon calmly guided the loonlets away from the turtle and led them towards the main bay. The other adult aggressively went after the turtle several times, convincing the turtle to change its course of action. Yes, another Canadian Geographic moment witnessed on Clear Bay.

Have the trees on your property been affected by the Lymantria dispar dispar caterpillars this year? According to the Invading Species website, LDD is the acronym for this species moving forward as the previous name, European Gypsy Moth is derived from a culturally offensive slur.

LDD have a regular cycle that sees their numbers explode every 7 to 10 years. Some parts of Southern Ontario are being hardest hit this year. In 2020, Lymantria dispar dispar defoliated 586 385 hectares of surface of trees in Ontario. In 2019, the number was 47 000 hectares. The LDD caterpillars really like oak, birch, and aspen but also eats maple, birch, and sometimes white pine and balsam fir. 

According to David Beresford, a biologist and assistant professor at Trent University, the infestation is more distressing than it is harmful as the trees under attack are usually quite robust and they can bounce back. Time is the best way to solve this problem. The caterpillars change into moths in August and their numbers drop naturally as they die off from predators and viruses.

Did you know that the adult male moths are brown in colour and can fly while the adult female moths are larger, white, and cannot fly? As an end note, the droppings from the LDD caterpillars are officially called “frass”.

The word selected from the list for August is actually an acronym and it is a noun- “GOAT”. It stands for “Greatest Of All Time”. GOAT can be a person or thing that is considered to be the best ever in a particular field/category.

Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle produces little pieces of space debris that enter the Earth’s atmosphere and creates the Perseid meteor shower. According to NASA, Perseid is considered the best meteor shower of the year. It began on July 14th and lasts until August 24th, peaking between August 11th and August 13th. The best time to view this event is between 2 a.m. and dawn. The Perseid meteor shower is also well known for having a lot of “fireballs”. Shamrocking Galway- Year 3 was another success. 24 purple shamrocks were distributed. “Shout-outs” go to the staff at the Crystal Lake Transfer Station for their help in giving out this year’s shamrocks.

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