Outing Report: Return to Malcolm Bluff

October 2, 2011

By Clarke Birchard

On a beautiful fall morning 4 club members, one little boy and a visitor from Niagara Falls traveled to Malcolm Bluff Shores Nature Reserve north of Wiarton. It was a return visit for the leader and one member, new for the others.

On the way a small flock of Sandhill Cranes flew over and Wild Turkeys were seen in a nearby field.

In the morning we hiked the side trail from Wrights Crescent near Purple Valley to the main Bruce Trail that follows the escarpment edge on the Amabel Formation. The trail offered a number of spectacular views over Colpoys Bay; Hay, White Cloud and Griffith Islands; and Skinners Bluff across the bay.

Occasionally small flocks of Chickadees, Juncos and Kinglets were seen foraging among the trees and shrubs along the top of the cliffs. Plants of interest were Maidenhair Spleenwort, Herb Robert, Goldie’s Woodfern, Northern Holly Fern, Polypody Fern and aging Squawroot on the roots of Red Oak trees.

We enjoyed our lunches at the Colpoys Bay dock where we collected a nice bag of Shaggy Mane (Inky Cap) mushrooms from the grassy area along the creek.

In the afternoon we walked the logging road atop the terrace formed by the Manitoulin Formation. Sightings included a decomposing bear carcass, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Raven, Blue Jays, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers.

After a 40-minute walk we took a narrow path down the cliff to the shore of  Colpoys Bay and the site of a small sawmill at the turn of the 20th century. Geological features there included exposures of the Queenston and Georgian Bay formations, a mixture of shoreline cobbles, boulders and shingles from the formations above the beach and glacial erratics from the Canadian Shield. A wide variety of fossils packed shoreline rocks from the Fossil Hill formation.

One participant commented that a perfect way to end a hike on a cool, sunny, fall day is to bite into a crisp, tart apple and have the juice run down you chin. We stopped at a roadside market in Hepworth on the way south and did just that and stocked up on Georgian Bay apples.

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