Bondi Resort Blog

Come on into our Blog for a look at the wonderful world we've got to share! With over 240 hectares (600 acres) of wilderness woodlands surrounding the resort, just ten minutes from Algonquin Park, we feature over 400 metres (1200’) of waterfront and beach; boat rentals; summer hiking trails winding through fields and woods; 20 km. of groomed cross country ski trails and snowshoeing in winter; access to nearby snowmobile trails for sledders, and a toboggan hill for the young at heart.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Polluted with Moose

That was the phrase the Hydro One driver used, when he pulled up behind my car in the Park today. I was actually taking a photo of a beaver lodge, but the moment you stop on the Algonquin Road Shoulder, a crowd gathers, scenting moose.

'We're polluted with moose this year,' he said. 'They're everywhere. It's crazy.' He also kindly offered to cut down a maple tree branch for me, to help me get my maple blossom photo, but we both decided this was cheating, and I had to climb up on the rocks to get the photo. I was grateful for his interest, and willingness to participate, however!

A little farther on, past my beaver lodge stop, I joined four gentlemen from Mt. Albert who were, indeed, moose spotting. They told me they had driven through to Whitney, and were on their way back. They had seen THIRTEEN moose. No repeats.

Inspired, I drove in as far as Centennial Ridges trail (another awesome beaver lodge viewing location, but that will be another post!) My moose tally? At almost high noon? SEVEN. Including this young bull, his antler buds just peeking through his fur, and a cow with two calves, who started high stepping for the bush when they saw the cars lining up.

Maples in Bloom

Before leaf-out on the trees, the maple trees bloom.
Because the blossoms are small, and usually pretty high up, a lot of folk don't realize what they're looking at. The trees just look red. A bit fuzzy, as if they're wearing little pom-poms...

But if you get up close, you're going to be rewarded with one of the most distinctive and attractive flowers around. They may not be as showy as the cherry trees in Japan, but they have their own beauty that is every bit as attractive.

Red Maples (Acer rubrum) bloom every year. The reds’ flower clusters, from a distance, look like fuzzy red balls that start out very red and turn more yellow and orangey. The flowers are showy and are easy to spot from a distance. Red maples and silver maples have very similar blossoms, and in fact can interbreed, which makes it tricky to identify some of them. One clue to the red or silver mystery is that the reds generally start bearing seeds at a much younger age than the silvers. Reds can start when they are around 4 years old but silvers need to be 11 years or so. You may not want to hang out in the forest for 11 years just to find out what kind of maple you're observing, but a helpful little hint is that a very young maple tree with the fuzzy pom-poms is more likely to be a red.

Sugar maples, may they live forever, have tiny, light olive green flowers on long, thin, flexible stems. The tree, from a distance appears to be fringed. Sugar maples don't start producing seeds until they are 30 to 40 years old, and then don’t necessarily produce flowers (and seeds) every year. Each maple seems to get to decide for itself how often it wishes to flower. Some do it every year; but for other the interval can up to seven years.

The Norways maples, in contrast, make millions of seeds every year, which is one of the reasons why they effectively out-compete the native maples (and almost everything else in sight).

And while we adore the sugar maples, and the syrup they bring us, the red maples are a high point of the spring for us, when they pick up their fuzzy red pom-poms and cheer on the advent of summer.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Capturing Sue's Woodpecker Photo

Sue spent last weekend here, with her camera never far from her hand. She's the one who scooped the Flying Squirrel photographs. She was amazed by the number and variety of birds we had coming to the feeders. And, on a drive through Dwight, we had to stop twice -- once for the wild turkeys, and again for a pileated woodpecker perched on a telephone pole right at the roadside. These last two models were frustrating, because they left before we could get them 'in the frame'.

So, this morning, on my way to the stables, I had to run back for my camera when the pileated woodpecker landed on a pole right by the barn. He spent quite some time there, preening and fluffing up his feathers, and let me get some great photos.

These are striking birds indeed. The largest of our woodpeckers (think of Woody Woodpecker) and their loud ringing cry of Quick Quick Quick makes them easy to track. Insect eaters, they are sometimes called the Anteaters of the North, and the huge rectangular holes they carve into trees in pursuit of carpenter ants and other boring insects can be so large that the tree breaks in half.

Because of their fondness for nesting in the largest trees left in the forest, lightning become a hazard for the young woodpeckers!

The species was in decline but Acid Rain actually gave them a bit of a boost in these parts. With the decline of the maple forest due to the acidic conditions, there were more dead trees hosting more insects making more food for more woodpeckers. Now the forests are coming back, but the woodpecker population remains strong.

We see these birds often at Bondi -- especially during the autumn when they come to the big wild cherry trees on our property.

These pictures are for you, Sue!!

Formal Dress

We see merganser ducks here all summer. The frazzled moms, riding herd on huge flocks of youngsters come fishing along our 2000' shoreline frequently. Ed, one of our summer guests, got some fabulous photos of them last summer -- this is just one of the great pictures he shared with us. The typical summer dress of the mergansers is this red headed, brown and grey informal outfit.

But in the spring, right now in fact, the drakes put on their very best formal wear. Margaret, one of the guests here now, said to me, "I thought it was an Albino Duck!"

We confess the merganser drake in his full dress formal with his red beak, red feet, green head and white back is an impressive sight.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Chorus Line

As soon as the ground thaws, the spring peepers come out. These are the little brown and gray tree frogs that celebrate the arrival of spring with their chorus of song.

The spring nights just now are a continuous stream of their peeping. Each frog, with a vocal sac like a balloon at the base of the neck, peeps twice: once as the air fills the sac, and once as the air is pressed back out. It makes for a chanting, repetitive stream of sound -- one that my Mother, newly arrived in the Canadian north from England, thought must be produced by machinery. She finally asked her fiance, Paul, who was operating a sawmill at night?
She has a point. It's hard to credit the sound of the noise with the size of these tiny frogs. In fact, you'll be lucky if you ever see one of them.

You're more likely to find their larger cousins -- and the two photos of the green frogs were taken by Quinn, our favourite young Naturalist.

All the same, frog song is a crucial part of the Muskoka spring, and we're always delighted to hear it!

Monday, April 27, 2009

You Scratch My Back...

The horses like spring mud. They like it more than Nancy does... There's nothing like a good roll in the mud to cake the stuff onto your body and that in turn will pull out the winter hair and speed up the shedding process. It will also ensure that the person grooming the horse looks like Pigpen from Charlie Brown, but never mind... At the end of the process, the fields have dried up, and the horses are slick and shiny once more.

Madam and Bailey were enjoying a little quality time, scratching each other's backs -- that little itchy patch that the horse just cannot reach on their own. This is the origin of that old saying, and the horses spend quite a bit of time helping each other out!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Moving on North

We've been having very April weather this week. Sunny. Very hot. Then cold. Then rain. Huge rain! April showers bringing May flowers, and all that sort of thing.

We've been welcoming back new birds too, on their migration to the breeding grounds. This week, a pair of bufflehead ducks dropped by. The rain didn't seem to bother them. Why would it? These are the smallest sea diving ducks, they spend their winters on the ocean. This time of year, they're moving north, as far as Alaska, to their breeding grounds. They nest in tree cavities, with a preference given to old flicker holes.

We've got plenty of those around here, if the ducks decide to stay south this summer. And here's a picture of a flicker on the front lawn, just to prove it!

Flying Squirrels

About the time Sue was wondering how she could get out of helping Nancy with the raking and find something to photograph, help arrived.

We have a family visiting us from France. In the course of the children exploring the property, they came across a very rickety bird house. One thing lead to another, and while they were playing in the area the bird house fell down. When it hit the ground, it broke open, releasing a very upset mother flying squirrel, and her four tiny babies.

The kids came looking for help for the family. Nancy grabbed tools. Sue grabbed her camera. All of us set off on the rescue mission. Carefully watched by the mother squirrel, (you can see her over to the side of the picture where we're hanging the nest up!) and assisted by Dimitri, Timothee, Simeon, Jeromine, Leonard and Catherine, with some assitance from Vincent, we put the box gently back together, and hung it more securely back up on the post.

Mother squirrel went up and down the post a few times, checking to be sure all the kids were where they belonged, and then she popped back into the repaired house to set her housekeeping to rights, fluff up the nest, and settle the babies in for their disturbed nap.

Northern Flying Squirrels, with their enormous eyes, round ears and cape-like glide membrane folded loosely between front and rear legs, are a little bigger and heavier than their southern cousins. The pups start trying to glide in their third month, and are proficient at the task by the fourth month. They are far and away the most attractive of the squirrels we see around here, and it's very interesting to watch them at night come to the birdfeeders and glide away, limbs outstretched. Much more rare is to see them during the day, as we did today.

Rarer still to get photos like these. We think Sue might have another prize winning entry in her camera!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Gardener's Delight

When Sue was visiting last summer, she took some awesome photos -- including some up close and personal with a hummingbird (August Blog, Close Encounters)
Photos don't just get left to languish in computers and photo albums, however. Sometimes they get to go into competitions. Sue is a member of the Mount Albert Garden and Horticultural Society. She's won awards for the gardens at her house, and whenever she's here at Bondi, she and Carol disappear into our gardens to compare notes.
Last Tuesday, she won several prizes for her photos, taken here at Bondi! In the Ahoy There category, she garnered 2nd place for her photo of Graeme Ferguson's beautiful Heather Belle.

One of our Sunflowers helped her scoop up 1st place in the Friendly Giants category.
And, our personal favourite, the hollyhocks by the back door also won her a first place ribbon in the Gardener's Delight category.
Up here in April, she has already set off with the camera in hand to see what other images she can capture!
Congratulations, Sue! These photos are wonderful!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Hook, Slice, Drive

Golf season is upon us. Before you head off to the links, you might want to fine tune your game after a long winter with your clubs collecting dust. Of course, you could have come out to Ice Golf with us in March on the lake, and got your eye in that way, but if you missed that, the next best thing is a Driving Range.

The Acres driving range is open, on Hwy 60, between the Limberlost Road and the Hillside Church. The range office is located in an historic old sugar shack, and the atmosphere is casual and comfortable.

They'll even provide the clubs, along with a bucket of balls. Try to join the 100 Yard Club... or head over to the sand traps to figure out how to get yourself out of them on the day of the big tournament.

They're open now, and if you don't have time for a full round of golf, you probably DO have time to bash a bucket of balls here.

Oso, the resident English Sheepdog, will be delighted to see you. His job is to help Sarah keep the place running!

Earth Day

We think every day should be Earth Day. I don't know about you, but I rarely wake up on a different planet... Nor would I want to. I'm staggered every day by the beauty of this one.

There's a lot of hue and cry about the new Pesticide ban for lawns. We think that's great. It's time to embrace your inner weed...

After all, this campaign of terror waged against the dandelion, well, all that does is remove the food source for the American goldfinch. They arrive every year, in great swirling flocks of colour, and brighten up the feeders and the lawns. We'd rather have the diversity of birdlife than a lawn that looks like a carpet of astro-turf.

Ever since we discovered that you could now buy dandelion greens in the supermarket, we realized we were in possession of a cash crop!

Disposing of unwanted items safely can be a huge issue for people, however. Where to take them? How to store them until disposal? Do What You Can is a handy site that will direct you to the collection sites near you, so you can help out the Earth. Not just today. Every day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It's gone. Right on schedule, the ice has left Haystack Bay. The first frogs started peeping two nights ago. And I was woken up during the night by yapping foxes, noisy little creatures!

We didn't have any ice damage this year, and no flooding, so the ice-out has been a pretty calm process. I was in Baysville this morning, and paused by the dam to watch the water head south, on its way to the Great Lakes. Despite the misty rain, it was still a lovely place to be!

Miss Nelle's re-opens on May 1st, and the Bearfoot Gourmet is now open on weekends, so if you're in the area, you should drop by Baysville, grab a bite to eat, and enjoy the gazebo here by the dam.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Science of Melting Ice

There's still ice out by the island. It's a soft, misty morning, with the sky darker than the ice. Any day now could see the last of the ice. We say that with conviction -- and backed by the scientific evidence of this Ice Out Chart our father Paul compiled over fifty years.
While the ice CAN leave as early as April 1st, well, obviously this year it didn't. It can leave as late as May 9th. Looking at the lake, that's not in the cards this year either.
Standing on the dock before he left for Bermuda, I bet Brian the ice would go on Tuesday, April 21. His engineer's perspective was for today, Monday. So far, I'm winning...
But, given the amount of ice still out by the island, there's room for the rest of you to toss your hat in on this one as well... It's still up for grabs!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring Brings out the Best in Everyone!

Shawn and Charlotte just returned from a quick vacation in Venezuela. Spectacular photos of beaches and oceans in the most incredible shades of blue, fishing boats bobbing at anchor, and seagulls lined up in rows sprinkled their vacation photos.

This week, they put the South American summer behind them and came to Bondi for a little R&R to help them recover from their vacation. Shawn was a little taken aback to find we still had snow, especially on the northern slopes. Undaunted, they snapped up our Park Pass and headed into Algonquin Park. Where they found something you'll never see on the beaches down south.

All winter the moose have been 'making do' with nibbling on twigs and buds. Pretty meagre pickings for the big fellows. Spring brings them out to the edge of the road, hungry for salt and the burst of fresh vegetation.
This bull is just starting to grow his impressive rack of antlers, the palms sprouting from his head like serving platters. He wasn't the least concerned with being in a photo shoot with Charlotte.
In April and May, you are almost guaranteed to spot moose while driving through Algonquin.
Later, while the couple were enjoying some quality time together on top of Lookout trail, they were startled to find themselves joined by a Golden Eagle lifting past them, riding the thermals up until he vanished from view.
Thanks so much for sharing your photos with us!

Oh So Close

The ice is completely off Bondi Bay. It has let go along the southerly shores, releasing Lumina Resort from winter as well. There's just a thin sheen of ice, the same colour as the evening sky, darkening the ice around the Island.

The swallows are back, checking out the nest boxes, and there was a red-shouldered hawk here today. Two small black and white ducks were diving along the front of the resort -- not mergansers, but hard to tell exactly who was visiting from where I was! Spring migration is the best time of the year!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Going, Going...

Brian has a bet with me that the ice will be gone by Monday. I said Tuesday. Today we got a soft rain, which might mean that all bets are off. There's nothing like rain falling into the ice to bring the water up through the ice, and poof... the lake is open.

Gloria Woodside sent me this photo of the ice piling up along her shore. She lives on the main part of Lake of Bays, along the South Shore, and there's a LOT of ice to move on that part of the lake.

Here in Bondi Bay, today the ice is out. Justine came down to the lake to check it out, and play in the Play Cabin.

Past the points, there's still that telltale dark layer on top of the water, but the end is in sight.

Poultry in Motion

I couldn't stop myself... I had to post this. Every summer, and only once a summer, we race Clams. Our need for speed is not totally satisfied by this however, and we're considering branching out. Racing chickens, for fun and profit, perhaps? Or, like the Clam Race last summer, as a possible way to predict the outcome of elections??? I can see them now, lining up at the start: Step-HEN Harper; Tony Clem-HENt; Michael CHICKEN-natief; Osama Been Layin'... the possibilities are endless... Regardless, the Bobs are training hard!

Congratulations David, One down, Two to Go!

This is the part where we brag. David is home from his first year at Georgian College, studying Architect
Technology (he's going to explain to us what we're doing wrong with our buildings... and he is the one who designed and built the new coop for the chickens, so it's already proving useful!).

Dave has done very well, making the Dean's List for both semesters. He tells me he got 94% in his Statics course. I'm not surprised. The boy has been giving us static since just about Day One... but we're tickled pink all the same, and tremendously proud of him.

Just don't tell him that... there'll be no living with him!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Icebreaker! More Ice Watching Updates!

This morning, the ice was starting to shift into pancakes, little icebergs that the wind was drifting into the northern corner of the bay.
Once the ice starts to break up that way, the wind can get at the water beneath, and all of a sudden, there are ripples, small waves, movement on a lake that has been held still since freeze-up.

This afternoon, Holly came along the shore with me, checking out some of the ice pushed up on the sand.

And Brian just could not resist getting out the boat, and pretending to be an icebreaker, pushing through the fragile ice. He did comment that it was "cold out there!" It's still not weather for canoes!!
But, oh, it will be... it will be...

And for folks like Vic, who has his fishing boat loaded on the trailer, dreaming of getting his line back into the water, well... open water has arrived.

Skeins, Gaggles and Flocks

Once upon a time, not many years ago, and not far away, the Canada geese migrated in spring and fall. Great V's would overfly us on their way north in the spring, south in the fall. It was thrilling in spring -- the first distant honking heralding the true end of winter and everyone outside looking up, trying to be the first to spot that thin black thread trailing north. It was sad, in the autumn, their return signalling the end of autumn, winter moving closer. In the wake of their flight, the skies were flown empty, summer was done.

When geese come in numbers, there are names for that. It's called a 'skein', when the geese are in flight. A 'gaggle' when geese are on water, a 'flock' when they are on land. It's a curious thing, the English language.

Almost as curious as the fact that now the geese are stopping in Toronto for the winter, and dropping into Lake of Bays for the summer. We have no objection to skeins of geese. Or gaggles. It's when the birds flock that we have an issue, and we go to great lengths to keep them off docks and lawns.

Geese dislike holographic "eyes", so we have mobiles that turn and flash by the dock. They dislike the taste of garlic -- there is a product that turns your lawn into something akin to a caesar salad, used a lot on golfcourses, I'm told. There's the time tested 'chase them off' technique, which no longer works for Holly the poodle, who got chased right back by a huffy gander and has since just tried to ignore the geese.

I still stand, rake in hand, breathless, watching the skeins of geese fly north. And I still think they are beautiful, dipping their beaks in the lake, sailing serenely in front of Bondi. But they can't be on the lawns, or the docks, and it makes me sad that I can no longer thrill to the sound of the geese in spring...

Susan Boyle Fan Club

If you've been off planet recently, say cruising past Enceladus or bopping about in Andromeda, you may have missed the Feel Good story of the year.

47 year old Susan Boyle, from Scotland, who lives alone with her cat Pebbles, finally got her chance to shine. She walked onto the stage of Britain's Got Talent, and was met with rather jaded, 'oh lord, what next' expressions from the three judges, and outright snickering from the audience. None of whom have an ounce of Susan's talent, it turns out.

She opened her mouth, began to sing, and the whole place stood up and cheered. The expression on the judges' faces alone is worth the trip.

I'm for sure a member of the Susan Boyle Fan Club. Enjoy all the time you're going to get in the spotlight, Susan, spread your wings, and SING! You are an incredible talent, and it's been a delight to share this start of your journey.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Turkey Saturday

The Dwight Lion's Club are hosting a Turkey supper this Saturday, April 18, at the Dwight Community Centre, from 5 to 7 p.m. It's only $13 for adults, $6 for kids. All proceeds go to the Canadian Cancer Society, and everyone knows just how very keen we at Bondi are about THAT cause!

The Dwight Womens' Institute whip up the pies for this occasion, so it's always extra special.

And the turkey? Well, despite the fact that Nancy had to stop the car on Wednesday so a big flock of wild turkeys could cross Highway 60 right by the Community Centre, we're expecting that the turkey dinner will be the more conventional birds... with cranberry sauce...

The turkey photo with this post is courtesy of Debbie Bradley, who not only ran the Kid's Camera clinic and Photo contest at the Library last summer, but who takes a Fierce Foto all by herself. The turkeys were just outside her house, while there was still snow to create some dramatic background. Thanks Deb!