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, May 31, 2012

Fond of Fawn

 David has a knack for being in the right place at the right time.  Three years ago, he was collecting garbage at Red Pine cottage when he stopped and carefully replaced the can.  About five feet away was a tiny fawn, hiding in the garden at the cottage, behind an iris.

Two years ago he was en route to the tractor shed when he suddenly stopped... and carefully backed up.  There was another newborn fawn, snuggled up beside the driveway, pretending to be one of the wild fleur de lis that grow there.

Last May, while Nancy was lying face down recovering from surgery to repair a detached retina, the doe birthed her fawn right beside the stable...  Nobody had a camera quick enough, however.  But, yes, you guessed it, David later spotted her hiding behind a 'frond.'  

So nobody should have been surprised today when he went over to pick up the bush-hog tractor at the old property that once upon a long ago time was a mink ranch, and there was a fawn, hiding by the woodpile.  Pretty darn sure David couldn't see him if he just kept still...

Thanks for sending us the pictures Dave! You lucky thing!

Honeysuckle - well named

The honeysuckle near Clover cottage is in full bloom, looking and smelling quite wonderful.

It is where you will find the hummingbirds, when they are not at the feeder by the back door!

Baby Blue

Going up for late night feed at the stable last night, I was stopped in my tracks by a little baby bluejay, sitting rather sad and forlorn in the middle of the Parking Lot under the yard light.
He was not very impressed, also not very impressed with being rescued (having no doubt been told not to go off with strangers.)  It was far too dark and late to have any hope of finding the nest, so he was set up in a red bucket, with some hay to snuggle into. Hung gently on the branch of the most likely tree, and had the yard light turned off so he would go back to sleep.
Handling baby birds fallen from nests will not stop the parents from caring for them. The best ticket is to get them back in the nest, but this is not always possible. Next best is to ensure they are safe, and as close as possible to where they were found.
Come morning he was yelling for his breakfast.  The parents were nearby, kicking up a ruckus. Last seen he had vacated his bucket, and gone to hide in nearby thick bushes.

Bluejays are not really as blue as they look.  The colour in their feathers is not produced by pigment, as it is with brown and yellow birds for example. Tiny air pockets in the barbs of feathers scatter incoming light, resulting in a specific, non-iridescent color. Blue colors in feathers are almost always produced in this manner.

If you find the feather of a Blue Jay you can check it out. First, observe the feather in normal lighting conditions and you will see the expected blue color. Next, try back-lighting the feather. When light is transmitted through the feather it will look brown or grey. The blues are lost because the light is no longer being reflected back and the brown shows up because of the melanin in the feathers.

The feather structures of many species also reflect light in the ultraviolet range. Some birds can see into the UV range so they may appear quite different to each other than they do to us. Big white flowers, for instance, look vivid purple to many insects... and birds.

Where is Rodin when you need him?

We get a little nervous when we spot all three of the Bondi Maintenance Dept. so deep in thought...

Dang... Downside...

This is a racoon track, on the beach.  That is a good thing.  Racoons love to hunt along the shore line, swishing the food in the lake. Not so much to "clean" it, because I hate to break this to you, they are NOT a naturally pristine creature. They make a mess. They smell.  They will cause enormous grief if they can get at the garbage or the bird feed.  They are darn cute, but not inside a building.

So these tracks, on the living room floor, were NOT what we wanted to see.  It seems Achmed the cat invited the coon in late in the evening. We were very very lucky. Coon came in the house... destroyed and ate the cat food and cat food container. Ripped apart the recycles. Left sticky pawprints on the floor. Left.   Praise be.  The operative and critical word in that paragraph is "Left."  The damage could have been extensive. 

These little bandits will follow their nose, and any food left out and about, such as a pie on the counter, cheese on the table, catfood in the bowl on the floor, is like a gilt-edged invitation.

We've had a chat with the cats. We've taken away their night-time cat flap privileges. Coon is back in the great outdoors.  That is where he has to stay.


David checks out a Smart Car...  He fit inside!

Mike opts for a smarter car...  Top speed might be less, but the carrying capacity is about the same, and Squeegee gets the very best miles per gallon (of hay).

Swallowtail Butterfly, Up Close and in Your Face

Swallowtail attack. photo: Christina Handley
This is perhaps the most remarkable photo of a butterfly I have ever seen. Our friend Christina Handley snapped the shot.  Now, it's no big surprise that the photo is exceptional. Christina has an exceptional eye for photography, a firm grasp on the elusive qualities that make a sensational shot.  She even offers on-line courses in the subject.

She is gracious about sending me photos to use on the Blog, and we thank her very much. 
Right now, here at Bondi Village Resort, the butterflies are abundant. This is the time of year we see swallowtails decorating the lilacs, and the butterfly bush in the garden. Flitting from blossom to blossom.

They are far more than just decoration, these butterflies. They have lessons to teach.

The caterpillars, for example, are a fairly boring green, that looks a little like a tiny snake. That's done on purpose. And if you pester one (and look like you plan to eat it), the little guy will rear up, and stick out his best defense mechanism: this is a fleshy Y-shaped organ called and osmeterium. It looks like the forked tongue of a snake, and thanks to the caterpillars propensity to dine on members of the carrot family, it comes complete with a pretty foul odour (if you are close enough, which people rarely are, so be not alarmed) The idea is to make the predator (usually a bird, or a yellowjacket hornet, think twice about tackling this fearsome beast.
Those intensely dark black scales on the wings, they're pretty funky too. They reflect virtually no sunlight -- perhaps an adaptation to help regulate body temperature. Engineers, trying to save the planet, get all tingly about this: the flat scale and its ability to absorb solar energy, make it ideal for solar cells. In 2009 a team of researchers created a titanium dioxide cast of the wing scales that improved the power output of solar cells by 10%. They hope to have a version ready for commercial use within five years.

So, that old saw that if a butterfly fans its wings in Brazil, we feel the effect in the wind in Labrador... it's true.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Who Knew?

What to feed a growing family?

Apparently tadpoles, and toadpoles, enjoy a light snack of lettuce.  Also, apparently, the approved method of preparation is to boil it first. Then pop it in the freezer. Then serve...

It is amazing what you learn.

Degrees of Separation and a Golden Spruce

The Golden Spruce.  Kiidk'yaas,by name, because it was an unique character and deserved a name of its own.  A Sitka Spruce tree, Picea sitchensis 'Aurea', it  grew on the banks of the Yakoun River in Haida Gwaii archipelago, British columbia. It had a rare genetic mutation causing its needles to be golden in colour. The mutation causes the chlorophyll to break down when exposed to much sunlight. The 250 days of cloud cover a year that typify the rainforest region of the Queen Charlottes was just what was needed to allow this tree to grow.  The only one of its kind, it was considered sacred by the Haida Gwaii nation -- in their myths it is often portrayed as a human transformed into a tree, a tree that will stand as long as the Haida Nation survives.  Sitka spruce in general are sort of willy-nilly messy, ragged. But this Golden Spruce was very tidy, very contained, with a peculiarly perfect conical shape.  Its needles were all about two-thirds the normal length. The tree's needles grew more densely.  It was 165 feet and 300 years old.

On 22 January 1997, a 48-year-old unemployed forest engineer named Grant Hadwin swam the river at night and felled the tree as a political statement against industrial logging companies. Personally, I'm not sure what the statement would be -- except one that spoke eloquently of the loss of beauty, of something rare and precious.  Later arrested, Hadwin disappeared on his way to trial. John Vaillant has written a book about this tree, and the logger turned environmentalist turned something else who, in 1997, cut it down.  It is a book you should read.  Can the damage our civilization exacts on the natural world be justified?

When the tree was felled, some cuttings were taken, so there are now Golden Spruce scattered here and there. None of them, to date, are 165 feet and 300 years old... none of them can propogate on their own...  Only time will tell if this tree will remain.

So it is with some excitement that I went to meet a relative of the Golden Spruce that lives in the Township of Lake of Bays.  Given as a retirement gift to Peter Kourtz, it was cloned from two Sitka spruce trees at the Petawawa National Forest Research Centre, and is called a Petawawa Sunburst tree. (and is more tolerant of sunlight, it would seem -- since Muskoka gets far far fewer than 250 days of cloud cover.
In the spring, the needles are a vivid yellow -- Joanne tells me they have paled a little from last week. They are still extraordinary, and one is simply drawn to the tree.

Unusual as it is, this is not the only tree of note on the Koutz' property.  Growing beside it is the best-travelled tree on the planet.  A maple tree that has orbited the Earth.  The seeds went into space with Roberta Bondar.  13 were later germinated at the Petawawa National Forest Research Centre, and Roberta was given three. She gave one to Peter, again as a retirement gift.

Visitors are welcomed to Peter and Joanne's property on Paint Lake Road -- Peter makes and sells amazing lawn and garden ornaments and wind machines as well.  Their garden is enchanting as a result.

He creates huge flowers out of glass -- now those are ones the deer will NOT eat!

At the end of the lane, Joanne maintains the Paint Lake Little Library --a box full of books. Please, she says, take some...  Her aim is to have three of these little libraries by summer: one at the Paint Lake covered bridge, and one in town by the docks joining the one at their property.  What a good idea that is!

Lake of Bays (and of course this lovely part of it, Paint Lake) is home to some tremendously interesting and creative folk!

Flutterying By

The butterflies are back, and out in force.  At this time of year the lilacs are covered with Swallowtails. This one paused in Carol's garden to check out the Butterfly Bush.  Which, it would seem, lives up to the name.

Last year we didn't see many Monarchs, at least not until quite late in the season.

This year they are well ahead of the game, and are already on site.  This one is showing wear and tear -- it was perhaps quite a long flight to get back this far north so early.  Luckily the milkweed are also ahead, so there is a good and plentiful food source here for the monarchs.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Toadpoles.  Seriously. What else whould you call them?   The toad eggs I found in the lake have hatched.   I took a small handful and put them in a small aquarium of lake water -- yesterday, the eggs were replaced by very very busy little tadpoles.  Except people who think of tadpoles think of frogs... so these must be toadpoles, wouldn't you agree?

Friday, May 25, 2012


Toads live on land. Frogs live in water. Or near water.  Mostly. We all know that.
 Frogs lay their eggs in big sticky clumps, that resemble a cluster of small grapes.  Usually stuck to something. Always underwater.  Those eggs will hatch into cute little black tadpoles, and those tadpoles will gradually morph their shape, grow legs, absorb their long swishy tails, and take up hopping and making wonderful peeping sounds of a spring and summer evenin
Toads prefer the land. They are frequent diners in the garden, where they are the most welcome and beneficial of guests. Their skin is dry, and described as 'warty' although we think that's a bit speciest and unkind. It is rough. No you won't get warts if you handle one, but they can be toxic, and when afraid they secrete a substance you'd much prefer not be on your hands, so it's best to just let them be.
They do go back to the water every spring however. That's where they, too, lay huge quantities of eggs. (hoping at least some will make it past the hungry fish and ducks that graze the shorelines.) Unlike frogs, toads lay their eggs in long strands. Connected by a protective jelly, each egg is clearly visible.
These were found by the dock at Clover cottage -- curling along the lake bottom like a broken black pearl necklace. The strands are unbelievably long -- don't even attempt to count how many eggs are involved.  We wish them well -- good luck. We look forward to welcoming some tiny new toads on the lawn later this summer.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Go with the Flow

Dave and Megan spent a gloriously sunny afternoon canoeing down the Oxtongue River last weekend.

This is a beautiful river, with virtually no development along the shoreline, and plenty of spots for wildlife and birds to hang out.

We have an access point at the end of one of our hiking trails, where we can put in a canoe, or kayak.  It is a short paddle upstream to the base of Marsh's Falls -- the only section where you paddle against the current.  From the Falls, it is all downstream, all flat water, all good.

Upstream of Marsh's Falls, it is a bit of a different tale. This river starts in Algonquin Park, spilling over the Tea Lake Dam.  There are large stretches of the river that make a wonderful day's outing starting close to Tea Lake.

 Working it's way down to the Lake of Bays, it plunges over Ragged Falls,  This is one of our smallest Provincial Parks, but well worth the visit. There are over 9 distinct forest communities in this compact space, along with the most dramatic of waterfalls and plunge basins.  Canoes can put in at Oxtongue Lake and paddle upstream to the base of Ragged Falls,

Still not done with descent, the river comes through the Hog's Trough narrows, and the Oxtongue River Rapids -- the site of a beautiful picnic area and a favourite year round with artists. 

Elbow Falls, which takes its name from it's 90 degree angle (not recommended for trying to run the falls... truly not recommended) is the last of the waterfalls before it reaches Marsh's Falls.

The lower portion of the river is designated as an Heritage area by the Township.  After the quiet paddle downstream, you have the option of following the shore to Thompson's Portage, carrying across this narrow isthmus and returning to Bondi Village Resort; or paddling up to Dwight Beach, and calling us for pick-up... 

This river trip is a favourite experience for many of our guests. Thanks Megan for the photos from your day!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


The song is described as pure, liquid, whistling.  We've been hearing it over and over again, all weekend.  Not that we mind, it is a beautiful sound.  The frustration arose because we couldn't spot the Oriole, who likes to stay very high up in the tree tops.

One of our guests, Peter, saw him by the lake, but nobody had a camera in hand at the time.  It is quite possible that we have two of them -- two pairs that is. Unless the oriole is a super fast flier, and able to get from the big Norway maple at my house to up past the shuffleboard courts and back without being seen in a matter of a few seconds. We have our fingers crossed. One cannot have too many Baltimore orioles around.  Up in the office we have this oriole nest on display.  It is an incredible bit of engineering, a deep woven basket. This one was built in the big cherry tree by Wheelhouse cottage.

Given that the bird can be tricky to spot, I was delighted this morning when he came out on a branch to show off.  He even let me photograph him in mid-song.

, My little Cannon Powershot did a good job of getting the photo, all things considered.  I am however, consumed by envy by the quality of the last picture on this post. It's not mine, it was taken from a birding website. But it is too good not to share.  Like the song of our oriole.

Fire on Langmaid's Island

This is a sight you never want to see.  Langmaid's Island is one of the jewels of the Lake of Bays, and home to a very old log cabin.   The cause of this fire is yet undetermined, but on Sunday it was destroyed by fire.
These pictures were provided by David Wilkie. It has been hot and dry up here. We had to water our garden before we were able to plant, it was that dusty in there.  The bush is like tinder. There was a bush fire just north of Huntsville that called in three fire departments and two water bombers.  This cottage fire also spread into the woods on the Island.
The Lake of Bays is fortunate indeed to have both a keen and well trained volunteer Fire Dept. and a Fire Boat.  For all those people who openly wondered why a fire-boat might be a necessary item, this is your answer.  This, and the several times last summer it was called to boating accidents.  We cannot emphasize enough how careful we all need to be with fire (and with boats. And cars, come to that). Once a fire gets started, in can get into the forest with terrifying speed.

Getting the ducks in a row

This is one of our resident merganser ducks, looking for lunch.   Like loons, these fishing birds will duck their heads underwater to check for fish.  They prefer shallow waters, and when they are here with their ducklings, the water will literally boil in a feeding frenzy. I've linked this to a short video in an earlier post, so you can see what I mean.

Strikingly handsome birds, with long serrated bills that let them grab a fish easily, they already have their babies out and swimming.  This one was all by herself however.  Well...not quite.  She was hanging out with a mallard drake by Anchor cottage.  There were two families of Canada geese just the other side of the dock. 
And there was Taffy... who was determined to get her ducks in a row.  Not an easy task.  The ducks, for their part in this, were completely unimpressed by Taffy channelling her inner water-retriever.  The merganser continued to hunt for fish, keeping about ten feet ahead of the dog at all times.

Very determined, Taffy kept following along. I suddenly realized that my dog was in the lake, without a lifejacket, and with no adult supervision. She was in the care of an uncaring duck, who was quite willing to lead the poodle deeper and deeper, farther and farther from the shore. 
It took a little bribing, a little coaxing... and me getting ready to go in an fetch the dog -- which is a bit of a switch from the dog fetching the duck or the stick.  You can see in this picture the duck is still hunting for fish.  Poodles don't count as part of the dinner menu.

Taffy had a brilliant time.  We just have to keep an eye on her now, with all the ducks, ducklings, geese and goslings luring her out into the water.  And the water is wonderful -- who would not want to go for a swim?  And at least for a short moment, she truly did succeed in getting all her ducks in a row.