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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vivid palette of colours across Ontario marks the arrival of fall

   One-Tank Trip for Sept. 28/13

   (c) By Jim Fox

   With the onset of fall, Ontario’s forests are taking on a vivid palette of colours that are more slowly progressing this year.
   The display of vibrant reds, oranges, yellows and golds are putting on an extended show due to ideal weather conditions with lots of sunshine.
The colourful autumn landscape at Killarney Provincial Park. (Ontario Parks)
   This makes the “pockets of colour brighter and showier against the lush green countryside,” say the “colour experts” at Ontario Tourism.
   It’s an amazing transformation that occurs in just 14 per cent of the world’s forests, says forestry ecologist Charles Nock of the Universite du Quebec at Montreal.
   Forests famous for their colours include southern Ontario and Quebec, Alberta, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, northeastern United States, Japan and Korea.

   Let the show begin
   Colour has advanced the most in Algonquin Park at 80-89 per cent, according to Ontario Parks’ midweek update.
   It is also vibrant through the higher areas of north Haliburton and Muskoka and in the Parry Sound district with 40-60 per cent change, Ontario Tourism reports.
A palette of colours on the forest floor at Bass Lake Provincial Park. (Jim Fox photo)

   Back roads and scenic lookouts offer the best viewing locations while boat cruises continue to operate generally through the Thanksgiving weekend to view the colourful shoreline vistas from a distance.
   There are 49 provincial parks reporting on the dominant colours, the percentage of change and the amount of leaf fall.
   On-line, there is also a map highlighting the parks by region and tracking the colours along with a link to Ontario Travel’s “Great Fall Drives.”
   In Algonquin, sugar and red maples are reaching their peak now, followed in early October by a second colour wave from American beech trees, yellow and white birch, trembling aspen, largetooth aspen, red oak and tamarack.
   This is what Ian Shanahan, an Algonquin naturalist, calls the “golden encore.”
   Good spots to view the spectacle are the Highway 60 corridor, with the best lookouts being Hardwood, Track and Tower, Centennial Ridges and Lookout and Booth's Rock trails.
  In Owen Sound, Bruce and Grey, there are growing “pockets” of red and orange, with about 50-per-cent colour change.
   “The reds are looking bright and vibrant on the drive near Blue Mountain and Grey Road 1 and throughout the north of the counties,” Ontario Tourism reports.
   At Pinery Provincial Park and area, the show is just beginning as in Hamilton/Burlington along with Eastern Ontario, Ottawa, London, Niagara Falls and the Greater Toronto Area.
   As well as “Algonquin’s blazing landscape,” bird-watching is a popular fall activity at Ontario parks.
   Thousands of birds of prey, such as hawks, eagles and falcons, fly over beach parks along the lower Great Lakes now through late October.
   Ontario Tourism’s Fall Colour Progression Report is updated Tuesdays and Fridays through the third week of October at ontariotravel.net/publications/fallcolourreport.pdf
   The Ontario Parks’ fall colour report is updated “as conditions change” at parkreports.com/fall

   Fall for the zoo
Er Shun and Da Mao are two giant pandas from China on view at the Toronto Zoo. (Toronto Zoo)
   It’s all happening at the Toronto Zoo – with free admission for children 12 and younger on weekends and school holidays.
   The deal is good through Oct. 14 and fall is a “perfect time to visit,” said Jennifer Tracey, senior director, marketing, communications and partnerships.
   This is an opportunity to see endangered giant pandas Er Shun and Da Mao from China and learn about conservation, wildlife and the on-site extensive plant species, she added.
   To mark the changing of the season, the zoo offers new “interactive and themed activities, educational programs, tours, keeper talks and enrichment programs with the animals.”
   This includes fall foliage tours, photography sessions, information about preparing gardens for the winter and tundra trek tours.
   These happen on Oct. 5 and 6, and Thanksgiving weekend, Oct. 12-14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
   Open year-round, except Christmas Day, the zoo has indoor pavilions and more than 5,000 animals including Arctic wolves, polar bears, orangutans and western lowland gorillas.
Thika is one of three African elephants leaving the Toronto Zoo this fall. (Toronto Zoo)
   It’s also the last chance to see the three African elephants before they leave after Thanksgiving for a sanctuary in California.
   The zoo is at Meadowvale Road and Highway 401 (Exit 389). Fall hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., with last admission at 5 p.m.
   Admission is $28, including tax, for ages13 to 64, and $23 for seniors, 65 plus. torontozoo.com; (416) 392-5929


Jim Fox can be reached at onetanktrips@hotmail.com
For more One-Tank Trips: http://1tanktrips.blogspot.ca

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