Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary

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Because Turtle Lake straddles the boreal forest / parkland interface, we are blessed with much higher number of plant and animal species. Documentation of inhabitants of the Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary, located between Turtle Lake Lodge and Indian Point on the east shore of the lake has produced some interesting statistics: 220 bird species are found there; 35 mammals and 260 plants and 60 species of lichen have been documented.  The butterflies and moth species are incomplete (ongoing) as well as mosses, insects and fungi (mushrooms).  These numbers do not represent the total species of the drainage basin. 


If the weather isn't good for fishing, sailing or the beach, then it may be a good time to visit the sanctuary.  The main gate on the paved grid road is only a few hundred meters south of Turtle Lake Lodge.  The sanctuary is completely fenced for your safety and the protection of the natural residents.  Pick up a self-guiding brochure and a bird check list at the store or main gate and explore nature in peace.  Take the time to read our welcome sign inside the front gate. Keep sunscreen and bug repellent handy and wear a hat.  Residents at the two adjacent resorts can access the sanctuary near the shoreline at specially designated gates.  All of our animals are not friendly: Beware of bears or moose, but enjoy the squirrels and chipmunks, or visit the frog pond.  Boreal chorus and wood frogs live there and birds and animals frequently come for water. Take the time to find the 15 little interpretive signs to learn more about our residents through the eyes of eleven-years-olds from Turtleford and St. Walburg Schools.  They designed and made the signs and researched the information.  Fifteen benches are scattered throughout the sanctuary along the trails to rest your feet, or just loaf.  Some of our more spectacular birds that you may see are: pileated woodpeckers, pelicans, ospreys, bald eagles, great blue herons, great crested flycatchers, rose-breasted grosbeaks and warblers: Blackburnian, Cape May, Magnolia, Nashville, Connecticut and Mourning Warblers.  to name a few of the twenty two warbler species who come here.  Ravens, blackbirds, sharp tail sparrows, kinglets and grebes create a joyful noise.

Several rare plants grow here. Nine species of orchids, including Franklin's and yellow lady's slippers bloom between spring thaw and August. A succession of flowers to watch for is: purple violet, marsh marigold, pussytoes, dry ground cranberry, wintergreen (four species) Labrador tea, orchids, western red lily, grass of Parnassus, fleabane (daisy), aster and goldenrod.  We love our trees and flowers and try to keep them alive and well but, as much of the sanctuary is mature forest, many trees are dying and your must be careful on windy days because the can fall across the trails.


November, 2010    

2010 was unusual for several reasons, but  here  on the Nature  Sanctuary  the  heavy summer rain produced an unexpected bonus. There  were  thousands  of  mushrooms  all  summer and fall.  Not just the bread and butter varieties we see every year, but many beautiful varieties. We have  chosen to  present  them along with some insects as  “ A BUGS-EYE VIEW OF THE NATURE SANCTUARY 2010”. From time to time we will present a new group.  We hope you like them.


1). Vermillion Waxgills

This tiny red mushroom is only 1 cm across, but  taken from the  ground up close, it appears quite large. Look for them along  the power line trail in August  between poles 2-4. You have to really look hard to find them. They are known as vermillion  waxgills   (Hydrocybe miniata).

   Photo by Brenda Rutz


Woodland Agaricus

This large white mushroom is one of the most common edible mushrooms we can find. It is pure white  and “domed” as it  emerges through  the leaf litter beside the Beaver Trail.  It soon becomes flat on top and  is  about  20 cm across.  Notice  that the gills are slowly  turning dark brown, which is one of the ways we can identify it.  It  is bigger than  your hand  and really  good to eat. Look for it by mid-July.  Woodland Agaricus ( Agaricus silvacola).

Photo by Brenda Rutz


Western Meadow  Fritillary  

This butterfly is frequently found on the sanctuary.  It likes goldenrod  and is  seen mostly in July and August. They love sunlight,  so can often be found along the power line trails or the butterfly meadow.  The larvae of most fritillaries feed on violets.  Bring a net if you like.  We practice “catch and release”.   


Photo by Dorothy Riemer


Ladybird or Ladybug

No nature trip would be complete unless you found a “ladybird” beetle or bug. These industrious insects help keep the population of aphids under control. So salute this little fellow. He is an  8-spot ladybird bug.  Family (Coccinellidae) 

Photo by Brenda Rutz


Red Eyelash Cup

Guess what? This isn’t even a mushroom. It is a fungus that prefers to intermingle with small mosses and other lichen. It grows on dead fallen trees in late summer. Know as a “red eyelash cup” (Scutellinia scutellata) and is actually less than one cm. across.  Pretty cool little plant.

Photo  by  Brenda Rutz


A Wavy Topped Snail 

This snail was found in leaf litter in October. This specimen is very tiny and prefers aspen leaves and mushrooms.  When alarmed they will  withdraw  their  antennae and tail  back into the shell.

 Photo by Brenda Rutz


Beaver  (Castor Canadensis)   

Beavers  have built a large lodge in front of the north lookout along the lakeshore trail.  You can’t help but notice the hundreds of aspen trees that have been felled for food and repairs to the lodge.  They have been cutting trees around cottages which makes them not quite welcome in the resort.  Take note of the canals that they have established around their lodge.


Photo by Brenda Rutz


White Pelicans     (Pelecanus  Erythrorhynchis) 

Our flock is sometimes over 150 birds,  but they are all immature non- breeding birds.  They hang out at the north end of the lake in shallow water. Their wingspan is 9 feet across and they often soar over the lake.


Photo by Brenda Rutz


Wood  Frog   (Rana  Sylvatica)   

Look for this frog in damp woods in summer.  It hibernates  in logs, stumps and under stones  rather than underwater;  will stalk  its  prey.  They  help control  insect  populations  (mosquitoes).  Check the frog pond in spring and summer and look for tadpoles in the water and small frogs on the land.  Please do not  abuse them.

 Photo  by  Brenda Rutz



 We have been unable to  identify  this  mushroom species.  They grow in clusters on rotting  aspen stumps in September.   Can you help us?



Photo  by  Brenda  Rutz



We hope you enjoyed this brief little bug’s eye view   of  the Turtle Lake  Nature Sanctuary.    We will  be  posting  other  collections  of  flora and fauna of the Sanctuary  from time to time.           



                                                                  Written by Muriel Carlson


Photo Gallery


Turtle Lake Sanctuary Resources

Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary Trail Map

Self Guiding Tour Brochure

Birding Check List