For a change, we made a cross-country trip from the Greenbelt’s Lime Kiln Trail north to the Wild Bird Care Centre. Only Rob knew, and he never mentioned it, but this is the terrain of the Macoun Club’s old study area, the one we used from 1968 to 1970. We petitioned for a new one because this area was being despoiled by indiscriminate logging. It has some features that our current Study Area does not have: the aftermath of a recent forest fire, some well preserved fossils, vertical fissures in the bedrock, and a couple of invasive plants (Phragmites, Coltsfoot, Japanese Knotweed, and the introduced land snail Cepea nemoralis). It has also become the home of the Wild Bird Care Centre.
The route past the big cattail marsh runs right by the ruins of a lime kiln from the late 1800s. On the shaded quarry face behind the main structure, Rob named the wall of orange fuzz as the rather rare terrestrial alga Trentopolia.
Not far away was an extensive patch of cedar forest that had been killed by a summertime forest fire in 2012. The bare, blackened tree trunks still stand, but the charred ground is now hidden by a chest-deep growth of Staghorn Sumac and Trembling Aspen. This was our third visit: see also Oct. 20, 2012 and Nov. 23, 2013 under Past Activities.
We examined a lot of limestone and peered into the 3- and 4-foot deep fissures where wide areas are exposed, but found good, clear fossils only at a minor exposure somewhere along one of the trails. There were delicate byrozoans, broken up crinoids (single segment rings), two species of brachiopods, and one nautiloid. All are of Ordovician age (470 million years).
We hit open water at only one point, and from an observation platform looked down on eight sleepy Mallards lined up on a floating log. Not two seconds after we turned away, there was a sudden noisy commotion behind us. All of the ducks had plunged into the water with frantic quacking – a deadly Goshawk had just sailed over them.