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, January 31, 2013


How big is a turkey foot?

Well, that's a Taffy print crossing through the midst of the turkey trail.

Big foot...

Big bird!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Turkey Trot

Who on earth is that out on the snowshoe trail near Springside???

Why, it's our neighbours, the Turkeys!

They also dropped by the bird feeder to see what was on offer.

Every time I see the wild turkeys, I think of moose, which is not as weird as it might at first appear.  The wild turkeys are descended from those obtained from Michigan in a swap for moose from Algonquin Park.  While native to Southern Ontario, where they were hunted pretty much out of contention, they were never native up here. The milder winters have made Life a lot easier for them, and they are thriving.


It's Canada. What would we talk about if we didn't talk about the weather?

We have guests here this week, who came to ski.  They arrived Monday. The trails were in decent shape following a huge fall of snow, but Brian had simply not had enough time to both groom and track set, so some of the trails were a little heavy going.  That didn't deter any of them.

By Tuesday, everything was groomed, track set, good to go. So were our guests, who enjoyed a full day out there.  As the mercury slowly rose.  It was postively balmly, but the rain held off.

Until the middle of the night, when the rains came. Monsoon-like, complete with thunder and lightning and things that you don't normally see here at the end of January. Like fog lifting off the lake. The lake, by the way, is all watered up, and when it freezes may provide the best of skating conditions!

And freeze it will. The forecast is for a 16 degree temperature drop. Really???? Who thought that was a good idea?  It has been a roller coaster for the poor mercury in the thermometer! While we personally think that a rainy day in January is just wrong, we can deal with one day. Not two, so weatherman take note.

There is snow in the forecast, along with that sudden temperature plunge, so be of good cheer... winter still lives in North Muskoka!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Born to Slide

This was a wonderful winter weekend we just enjoyed. Not too cold, great snow and trail conditions made for fun times for all outdoor enthusiasts.

We had some little ones here, enjoying sliding down the toboggan hills, and being 'dog sledded' by moms and dads.

Zoey, Mia and Isabelle met the pony and the chickens, went sliding along some of our trails, and loved watching the deer from their cottage windows.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


Brian spotted a Great Gray Owl while out working on our ski trail network. He wasn't able to catch a picture however, so I had to borrow one from stock images.

One of our valued guests Syl came riding to my rescue, with a photo he took of a Great Gray Owl.  While not taken here at Bondi, we still think it counts...

It's a super shot, and shows off the 'bow tie' under the chin really well too! 

Thanks for sharing Syl!

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Ones that Got Away

From the camera, that is.

In the past week, we've had some pretty interesting wildlife sightings here.  None of the guests were in a position to capture that elusive photograph however, so we are posting here, borrowing photos from Stock.

Brian, out grooming the ski trails, found himself face to beak with a Great Gray Owl.

Pretty darn rare up here. They spotted four of them in Algonquin during the Christmas Bird Count and got all fluffed up with excitement.  Once spotted, they are easy to identify. First of all, they are BIG. Hence the word Great in their name.  Although much of that size is mis-leading. They are mostly a bag of feathers. The Great Horned Owl and the Snowy Owl both weigh half as much again and have bigger feet.  Great Gray Owls have  round faces, with no ear tufts. They are always in formal attire, with a black and white 'bow tie' under the face, and big yellow eyes.  The only owl with dark brown eyes is the beloved Barred Owl.  So when this owl sat on the tree limb and blinked knowingly at Brian on the Trail Groomer, there was no doubt who he was.

Up in the spruce bog, the Owl was watching for mice and other little mammals. Once located -- usually under the snow -- the owl makes an aerial dive down and plunges his talons through the snow to grab his lunch. It is the ultimate smash and grab.

They are magnificent birds. Their call is a series of deep and even hoots. You can listen in on them at this site.

Our neighbours were thrilled to find a pair of pine martens at their bird feeder, right by the kitchen window. One was pretty small, so most likely a juvenile.  The martens were equally thrilled to find the suet feeders full.

Martens don't usually hang out together, so we suspect these were related. Babies are usually born in March and April, so this would likely have been last year's baby. That's a guess. We're not sure, because, (see note at top of page) we weren't able to get a photograph, just a description. They are attractive little creatures, unless of course you are one of the smaller rodents or squirrels that they prefer to eat. As a member of the weasel family, they are definitely efficient predators.

Finally last week, some of our skiers had a fisher glide across the trail in front of them.
Fishers are big. Related to the martens and weasels, they are primarily nocturnal, so not usually spotted in the daytime.  Ferocious hunters, fishers (who live in trees, and don't fish, so go figure on the name  -- in fact, the name derives from the Olde English "fiche" which relates to a pole-cat and its thick dark pelt)  are about the only creature out there that will take on a porcupine and succeed.  There is a technique, and the fisher (or fisher cat as they are sometimes called) has it down to a fine science.  They are also pretty good at snapping up house cats that are out at night in wooded areas, which is another reason you have to look after your pets up in this neck of the woods.  From experience, we can also verify that they are terrifyingly efficient at getting rid of free ranging chickens, too, and are not shy about standing up to a person with a pitchfork. Just ask Dave.

They are predators... they are carnivores... they do what they have to do. You have been warned.  Fishers also make the most hair-raising screeches, usually late at night when you are outside in the dark. Similar to a fox, but harsher and more drawn out, it is easy to understand why people thought there were Wendigo in the woods, and preferred not to venture there.  As things that go screech in the night, the fisher is right up there near the top of the list.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Child's Play, that's what Winter is

Emmi-Lou and Serena had a great time with us last week.  From riding the pony and feeding the chickens to hurtling down the toboggan hill or hitching a ride on the skiis with Mom and Dad, they were busy.

It's great for the kids when they can simply step out the door of the cottage and start to play, with no need to get in and out of cars. 

There were trails to be explored.

 New neighbours to greet right at the cottage door...

It's also great that when they start to tire, they can simply pop back into a Comfy Womfy cottage and curl up by the fire with some indoor games.

Thanks so much for sharing your holiday pictures with us!

Sun Up, Mercury Down

This was, we are told, the coldest day so far this year.  True for you, it was 30 below this morning before the sun managed to climb up the
horizon and knock that back up a few degrees.  All the same, I can remember plenty of winters when the mercury dropped to 40 below and just sort of got stuck there for a week at a time, so telling me it is abnormally cold may not carry that much weight.

Grandfather Joseph wrote in his diary, in the 19-teens, "52 Below. A GRAND Day"

Maybe not, considering that water had to be hand carried to the barn for the livestock and the toilet was located in the lilac bush in an unheated privy...  all the same, those early Muskokans were made of stern stuff.

So too are some of our guests. We have a group here this week -- they were all out skiing by 8.30 in the morning!  If you are properly dressed for the conditions, and are not just standing around lamenting 'Wow, it's cold!' winter is not only bearable but great fun.  Of course, you do need to layer, you do need to abandon fashion for appropriate gear, and you do need to keep moving...

Except for those moments when you simply have to stop and admire the view.

Pine Grosbeaks bring some Colour to a Cold Day

I have been trying to photograph "my" flock of pine grosbeaks for a few weeks now, when they come swarming to the bird feeders.  Most of the time, as soon as they detect me and my trusty camera, they are gone.

But this morning, at 30 below, they changed their attitude.  When I stepped outside they all bolted.  But when they saw me topping up the bird feeders, they all came swooping back. Two landed right at my feet. One landed on the feeder while I was still feeding it.

Which would indicate that they were pretty pleased to see breakfast being served.

The woodpecker and chickadees were quite co-operative at sharing the suet feeder. The nuthatch just muddled in anywhere she could fit. And the bluejays! I couldn't count them!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Go Fish

The nerve centre for Operation Walleye is now deployed. Which is another way of saying the lads were able to get their fish hut out on the bay.  Careful investigation showed that there was about eight inches of good solid clear ice out there at the Island.

That's the BMD fish hut way out there, a dot in the distance.  Mind you, the way the sun and clouds were playing across the lake makes it a pretty picture.

Our bay is protected from wind so tends to freeze over faster than the main Lake of Bays down by Bigwin.  Once again, anyone contemplating heading out onto any ice surface, we cannot stress enough that you MUST KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.

There are fish huts out at Dwight Beach as well, including two that are available for rent from our cousin Ross Tapley. Call 877-635-2575 to reserve with Ross. We don't provide hut rentals -- we partner with Ross for that. He's got great huts, not far off shore so not involving heroic feats of hiking... and he's only five minutes away from Bondi.

Moving Day. Snow, that is

Winter came roaring back after two days of January thaw. So much snow fell, in fact, and it was heavy snow with high water content, that it took the tractor to truly move it.

Now, before one of you bright sparks reading this tells me that snow must have a high water content, being made of,  well, water... let me introduce you to Winter up close and personal.

Dry snow is light and fluffy, the water content has refined itself into just the crystals which are the smallest, lightest, fluffiest you can find. It piles up fast, and is relatively easy to move.

Wet snow is closely related to rain, it's unwelcome winter cousin. There is a lot of unfrozen moisture in those bigger, fatter (can snow be fat?) flakes which stick together to fall in a heavy, sodden mass that makes for fabulous snowballs, snowmen, snowforts but is sticky on the shovel and tends to be a pain in the butt to move.

So, we had the wet snow variety. Today, what is falling in the colder (much colder) weather is the Dry snow variety.

But on Sunday, it was wet.  Taffy went out to be sure Brian didn't need any assistance cleaning up the driveways.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Groomed and Track Set

Snow last night brought conditions back. Brian was out bright and early and our ski trails (thanks to his hard work!) are open, groomed, and track set!

We have about 20 km. of ski and snowshoe trails for our guests.

If you're not staying with us, you can still enjoy our trails -- please always check in and out at the Office so we know who is out there and can advise on conditions, trail closures, etc.  There is a fee for non-Bondi guests that goes directly to the cost of maintaining and grooming these trails.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Reasons to Get Out. And Stay Out.

The day started in bright sunshine, with frost rimming the trees.  The sunrise behind the Lodge was too pretty not to share.

Guests were out early, enjoying the day. There isn't a lot of snow, but there is a great base to the trails and you can snowshoe and hike just about anywhere.

And it is snowing again this evening. Hard. You can watch the flakes pile up.

 The lake is freezing -- we can hear it snapping and growling as the ice expands.  There is now over 6" of good ice all the way to the Island. (which doesn't mean you can just go anywhere. Always Know Before You Go on Ice

Taffy kept tugging at my sleeve until I took her for the walk she loves -- up to the Lookout. 

Right at the top of the hill we found an antler polishing tree, where the bucks rub the velvet off their antlers before courting the does in the breeding season. It's rough on the trees, but they seem to manage to survive, even with most of the bark rubbed off on one side.

The BMD (Bondi Maintenance Dept.) trademark "Dird" -- a chicken-like symbol that seems to follow the boys around. This one is helping mark the trail.

Beech trees keep all the marks made on their bark, guarding them almost jealously. This one has not only the carved initials of a romance, but lots of bear claw marks where the bears have been climbing up after the beech nuts.

The tiny creek coming down next to the trail is still running, with bubbling determination. The pond is frozen, the puddles are rock hard, but this little trickle comes jumping down, the entire side of the creek rimmed with ice formations.

You could spend an afternoon just exploring that adventurous little run of water, really you could.

Or you could spend some time jumping across it, with joyous abandon.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Winter. Wow.

Hannah and Sydney having a blast on our toboggan hill

Winter...  Wonderful!

These are some of our favourite pictures of the year, sent to us by guests who stay with us over Christmas and New Years.
"Hello, Sydney, how is your day going?" asks Jake

Call me, maybe?

When Ralph was here last winter with the Ancient Mariners Canoe Club, he spotted a bald eagle. That caused quite a buzz of excitement in the group.

The eagle has been see
n around this winter, quite often. On Christmas Day he made a command performance, circling right over the Resort, quite low, wings outstretched, giving our guests a great chance to see him.  And yes, the Ancient Mariners' have already spotted him this week.

This year, when the group arrived, two of the ladies (as they headed out hiking) said to me, "we would Love to see a wolf!"  Now that's not easy. We hear them. We see their tracks, but they are wild, and they are elusive.

So I had to laugh when they told me tonight that they had hiked up the Lookout (with Ralph!) and lo and behold, there was a big wolf trotting across the Bay towards Lumina.  It was too far away to allow for a decent photograph, so I have borrowed these with gratitude from the Algonquin Park photos.

Every now and then, when a coincidence like this happens, I begin to wonder if the local wildlife has a system in place so that our guests get these wonderful chances to see them! It is, as we sometimes joke, as if we have Wildlife On Demand... Or perhaps we just call them up?   And if so, since we haven't heard our wolf pack in a while since the autumn, Call me Maybe???

Bondi Sunset

Not a lot to say about this post... just enjoying watching the sun set across Bondi Bay. The snow came back today. Not a large snowfall, and it gave way to sunshine by late afternoon, but it is a start and provided just enough 'fluff' to allow some of our guests to enjoy getting out on their skis.
There was a silver lining to the limited snow conditions -- several of our guests hiked to the Mountain Lookout instead of skiing.  That is a trail that is simply too steep and twisting for skiis anyway, so often gets overlooked in winter.

They also wandered on snowshoes and hiking boots through the Sugarbush. And along the way they spotted deer, the eagle, where the bears had clawed the trees -- and yes, lucky lucky, a wolf trotting across the bay.  They were back at the Resort in time for this glorious sunset.  After dinner, several of them came out with me to look at the winter stars.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wild Voices Stilled

Logan and Haida, photographed on Boxing Day by
guests from Bondi Village who had enjoyed a day out
and gone dog-sledding at the Reserve as well.

This is a sad post. I could weep. But I am also angry. I am angry that people do such stupid things, that people don't understand (or bother to) the wild creatures that share this space. I am angry that beautiful, noble, wonderful things are so easily destroyed.

I am furious about the needless destruction of wolves. Specifically, wolves from the Wolf Centre at the Haliburton Forest and Nature Reserve.  Since 1996 this Centre has done a magnficient job of educating the public, and offering a rare chance to see wolves that are not socialized, not zoo wolves, but wolves in a large open habitat. They have gone to great lengths to ensure that wolves and people can co-habit, with a pack of wolves in a 15 acre enclosure and an Observatory that features one-way glass and sound-proofing, so wolves can be watched without wolves being disturbed. They offer programs, art shows, museum exhibits, videos and more on wolves.  The Centre is considered a world leader in education and wolf research.  

Wolves who, we will point out, tend to get the short end of the stick when they bump into people.
Haida, the alpha male
We have a wolf pack roaming here on our property, and beyond. Right now they are well off-site for us, but we know where they are because our neighbours report enjoying listening to them howl at night.  During the summer we go out weekly to offer Wolf Howls to our guests.  The Wolf Howl experience offered in Algonquin Park in August brings people from around the world, and it is not unusual for 1600 people to participate at one time in this celebrated and wonderfully run program. Wolves speak to us at our soul of wilderness.

The Haliburton Wolves have their origins in Michigan. These are Eastern Timber wolves, not the Algonquin Timbers that we see here, but their slightly heftier cousins. They are magnificent.  We have been happy to send generations of our guests to the Haliburton Reserve to enjoy a day out and a visit to the Wolf Centre, and they have never once returned with anything but praise.

You have to praise the Reserve - when it comes to working WITH the environment, they get it right. We salute them.

So we were saddened, upset, disgusted when on New Year's Eve, after the Reserve had closed, some idiots (and we use the term with intent)  cut the double fences that contain the Wolf Centre and several of the wolves escaped.  No-one has had the guts to admit they did this.  If they thought they were doing the wolves a favour, letting them "run free" they are double idiots.  These wolves have been at the Reserve for many generations -- they are not socialized to humans, but they do not have the pack skills to hunt in the wild, either.  It is not a simple thing, in winter, (or any season) to bring down a deer, or a moose... or even to catch a beaver out on the ice.  Nature is hard, and uncompromising, and unkind to those on a learning curve.

If these idiots (criminal idiots) subscribe to some Animal Rights creed that tells them wolves have the 'right' to run free, they should know that it also included their 'right' to be shot and killed, to be shot and spend 9 days of agony in the wild without food and two shattered legs, their 'right' to the sudden and complete disruption of the pack hierarchy. Do wolves have rights? I believe they do -- they have the right to the best life possible -- and as do all animals that are in human custody (be it cats, dogs, canaries) they have the right to the best of care, the best possible life that can be provided.  These wolves have the right to a peaceful existence: they have always been in the care of the Centre, they were not snatched from a wilderness pack, they have the right to continue to be safe and unafraid. Nobody has the 'right' to destroy their world.

 Four wolves escaped. Including the alpha male and female -- who would quite rightly be the ones leading an investigation into something like a hole in the fence.

Almost immediately, it was found that one of the wolves had been shot, killed, dragged into a truck.  The Reserve believes this to be Haida, the magnficently beautiful alpha male of the pack.  Right up front let's say that the Centre believes that the release of the wolves and the shooting of the wolves are two completely separate incidents, with completely different people behind them.

 Now, yes, wolves get shot when they are not on protected land, and often even when they are, by mis-guided individuals.  We don't 'get it' -- and we certainly don't 'get it' when the wolves would have been very adjacent to the Reserve and everyone in the area must have known there were wolves at Haliburton Forest and Reserve...  You would have to live under a rock not to recognize that this is one of the best attractions and assets in the Province.  One would have liked to think that the reaction would have been to call the Reserve and report that there was a large black wolf on the road...  One would, sadly, be very wrong.
Granite, with Peter and the Veterinarian, when she was
found a few days ago, after spending 9 days in the
wild with bullet wounds to two legs.
Nine days later, the alpha female, Granite, was found. She had also been shot, twice, and had spent nine days in the cold, losing blood, not eating, struggling to go on with the other two wolves, Luna and Lonestar, who are her last year's pups.  While the vet did everything possible for her, she succumbed to her injuries a few days later.  Shock, trauma...  it all takes a terrible toll on the wild things, just as it does on us.  We mourn the loss of both of these beautiful creatures, more so because it was criminally un-called for.

The other two wolves are still out there -- while they are circling close to the Centre, howling back and forth to the rest of the Pack, the Staff have not been successful in luring them into live-traps, or back into the space between the two fences.  Attempts to isolate the remaining wolves into a smaller containment area have also been foiled by the wolves themselves, who won't tolerate the approach of people, and who are much faster in the forest than any of us.  The pack has lost its leaders -- that alone would cause huge turmoil and upset in the wolves.

The Staff are still continuing in attempts to isolate the remaining wolves in the hope that they can then open up the main gates and entice Logan and Lonestar to come home.  And come home we hope they do. It has been two weeks.  They are going to be hungry, they are going to be at risk from cars, from life in the wild as they do not know it, and from idiots who think it acceptable to shoot them.  As they get hungrier, they are more than likely going to approach 'food sources' which could well include houses. Wolf/people confrontations may become more likely, and when those happen, historically, the wolf doesn't come out on the winning side.

So here is a little prayer for the Staff at the Haliburton Wolf Centre, that they are able to succeed in recapturing these wolves, that these two wanderers will be safe, and survive and find their way to safe harbour, that the remaining pack members will be able to cope with the sudden loss of both the alpha pack leaders.

We have very little expectation that those criminals who perpetrated this will be found, let alone punished. Sometimes you just cannot fix stupid.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Make your own Cheer

Yes, Virginia, there IS a January thaw. It is traditional. We just aren't big fans.
The up-side is that the temperature is very mild. It causes the lakes to water up, which will get rid of the slush that is preventing the ice from freezing firmly (we are not fans of slush, even less than we are fans of thaw in January). When it freezes again -- and it will -- we will have brilliant skating conditions on the bay. A small fall of snow will open up the ski trails again.

The down-side is that is pretty wet out there, skiing conditions are not good.

Never mind -- in the immortal words of Captain Jack Sparrow, "The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude to the problem".

Our guests had it beat -- they have been staying with us for their Family New Year for 32 years. They have never, in all that time, had bad weather or rainy conditions, and they did not intend to let a little damp put out the fun.

So what do you do with sticky snow? You make snowmen. You build huge forts. You make tons of snowballs, and you get down to it!

They gave the toboggan hill a workout in the morning, and come afternoon they got 'stuck in' with the snowball fun.

The place rang with the sound of laughter -- and that brightens ANY day!