Roberta and Mark Buchanan are nature enthusiasts who are always eager to share their outdoor experiences with others. Roberta is a retired educator with a passion for birding, and Mark is a retired engineer who enjoys photography.
May, the best birding month of the year is just around the corner and that means it’s time to plan for the annual LWI Pelee Island camping trip! Every spring, a group of LWI members camp out on the island, enjoy the outdoors, take in the island sights, and most importantly enjoy extraordinary birding opportunities. Some of the activities from past years include: Calling in screech owls, evening campfires, participating in the Island birding competition: The Annual Botham Cup Bird Race, attending the Pelee Island Annual Springsong birding celebration evening banquet hosted by author Margaret Atwood.
If camping is not your thing and you still want to participate in the outing, there are numerous Bed and Breakfast places on the island, and you can still connect with the LWI campers for outings and other activities.
To help you plan here are some things you should be aware of: LWI reserves a group camp site, a large open, grassy site with a few picnic tables and no shade. The site doesn’t have hydro or water. Everyone in the group shares the picnic tables and the fire pit, and we pitch our tents in various places around the site and leave our vehicles close to the campground road. It’s a 2-3 minute walk to the washrooms but there are nice hot showers there, and a small campground store too. This LWI event is family friendly and the campground does not permit alcoholic beverages on the premises. The cost is $4/person/night payable to the campground office when you arrive.
The island is only 12.5 kilometers long and 6 kilometers wide, so getting around by bike is possible. The island is very flat, however not all the roads are paved. It takes about 4 hours to bike the perimeter of the island. One of the benefits of being with the LWI group is that many of the campers have good knowledge of the island from previous years and they know the best birding spots. You can join in on the group birding hikes or take off on your own to explore.
The ferry to the island does book up quickly so reserve your trip early, the cost is $16.50/vehicle plus $7.50/person (each way).
The average daily temperatures in May are around 18 degrees, with nighttime lows running around 10 degrees. The island temperatures tend to be a bit cooler than the mainland so pack accordingly.
Hope you can join LWI for all or part of this great weekend of birding!
LWI was fortunate enough to have been invited to the Sarnia Solar Farm for a winter bird count! Expertly led by Larry Cornelis, the day was a great success. A total of 22 species were sighted over a four hour period with spectacular views of short-eared owls. At one point eight short-eared owls flew up and were flying over our heads … it was an unbelievable sight to witness a murder of about 40 crows mob the owls as they dipped and dived around one another. At one point a red-tailed hawk joined in the flock but didn’t seem to be taking sides!
Here is the full report from Larry Cornelis:
Winter Bird Survey, January 2, 2017
- Sunny, light breeze, 0c to +4c
- 9:00 am to 1:15 pm
- Walked 6 km, drove 16 km (total party mileage)
- 20 participants, organized by Larry Cornelis RTL
This is the 3rd winter bird survey at Sarnia Solar conducted by RTL staff and the second survey that local birders/members of Lambton Wildlife were invited to participate in. Twenty participants were lead by Larry Cornelis. The weather was excellent and a very thorough survey was conducted.
The tall grass prairie sites and abandoned fields at Sarnia Solar provide excellent habitat for grassland bird species and raptors. This was reflected in the number of raptors observed on this survey. Of note were the 12 shot-eared owls. Short-eared owls are in decline and are classed as a ‘species at risk’ ranked ‘special concern’. The grassland-like habitats provide the highest ecological values for the 1100 acre site. All wildlife species that inhabit grasslands are in decline with many classed as species at risk.
Other highlights were the 30 robins, 1 bald eagle,1 great blue heron and 1 northern flicker. This was an increase of 5 species over last winters survey. Other observations included 1 jack rabbit, 2 white-tailed deer and numerous meadow voles.
Larry Cornelis RTL
Canada Goose 21 Great Blue Heron 1
Short-eared Owl 12 American Kestrel 1
Red-tailed Hawk 10 Rough-legged Hawk 3
Northern Harrier 4 Bald Eagle 1
Pigeon 75 Downy Woodpecker 4
Northern Flicker 1 Blue Jay 1
Horned Lark 3 American Crow 80
Black-capped Chickadee 8 White Breasted Nuthatch 3
American Robin 30 European Starling 250
Snow Bunting 3 American Tree Sparrow 50
Dark-eyed Junco 1 American Goldfinch 9
22 species 571 individuals
Winter is magical time to visit Mandaumin Woods. The sun shining through the trees casts beautiful long shadows in the glistening snow. As you wander the trail you can see the prints of squirrels, deer, rabbits, skunks, fox, and other small rodents.
In winter, voles travel in tunnels beneath the insulating snow – you can look for the tell-tale small round holes they make in the snow when they come up to the surface. Voles look a lot like house mice – with a shorter tail and a more rounded muzzle and head. Voles eat plants and seeds while moles are looking for insects. Come out and enjoy beautiful Mandaumin Woods!
After a great response to the LWI nature photography contest, it’s apparent that we have numerous talented photographers snapping shots in Lambton County that are worthy of sharing. Now that the photo contest is over, we’d like to invite you to share your best shots with other Lambton Wildlife members on an ongoing basis.
We have started a Lambton County Nature group on the Flickr website. Flickr members (it’s free to join) who are LWI members can join our Lambton County Nature group and by uploading your photos into Flickr they will be automatically uploaded onto the LWI website for all to see. The Flickr group app will allow up to 5 images to be uploaded each day.
Flickr is the primary sharing site where you can view photos from around the globe. Over 13 billion photos! The images shared on the site will both amaze you and inspire you. Nature shots are a large component of what is being uploaded.
Joining Flickr is easy, go to www.flickr.com and follow the instructions to sign up. Once you have a Flickr login, the Lambton County nature group is by invitation only, in order to limit access to LWI members only. To receive an invitation to join the Flickr group: “Lambton County Nature”, please e-mail email@example.com.
Lambton County has a wealth of amazing sights, from flora to fauna, insects to fungi, and landscapes too. Please share you images with all of us; they just might inspire someone! It’s also a great way for the Flickr community to see great images of Lambton County.
One of the things that the LWI blog posts can be used for is to share Lambton County wildlife sightings with other LWI members. The LWI community is always yearning to know as much as possible about nature in Lambton County, and when you see something interesting it might be nice to write a brief post. Of course providing information on the exact location of nests or vulnerable things should be avoided.
Here is an example short post based on a sighting that we experienced back in September:
Yesterday, while on our way to Hawk Cliff, we spotted two fox kits sunning themselves in the grass along the side of highway 80 near Alvinston. We stopped the car and turned around and were able to snap some photos, before one of the pair trotted off, while the other paid little notice to us. Their behavior suggested that they may have been orphaned or separated from their mother.
Looking at their coats they weren’t as luxurious as we would have expected an adult fox to be and they look a bit skinny, but perhaps this is consistent with being adolescents and the season. Maybe some other LWI members will spot this pair too. If you are in the area of highway 79 and highway 80 intersection, keep a look out!
If you want to post a Lambton County wildlife sighting, please send it with any photos attached by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
A walk through Mandaumin Woods in autumn is a bonanza of brilliant colours! Depending on when you visit the trail many different ferns and fungi can be seen; during the Mandaumin Woods bioblitz 11 different species of fungi were found (Polyporus alveolaris, Stereum ostrea, Hygrocybe punicea, Polyporus squamosus, Scutellinia scutellata, Crepidotus mollis, Pleurotus ostreatus, Hygrocybe nitida, Fuligo septica, Marasmius rotula, Panus conchatus).
There are eleven species of trees in Mandaumin Woods, including the Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata). The Shagbark Hickory is interesting because of its shaggy appearance, which also makes it an easy tree to identify. It is native to Canada and is extremely hard and dense making it very useful in making tool handles and furniture.
A Wallaceburg company, Hillerich and Bradsby, once used Shagbark Hickory trees (among other kinds of wood) in the manufacture of baseball bats and other sporting equipment. H&B were most famous for producing the Louisville Slugger Baseball bat. (more…)
Saturday was a perfect day for 45 nature enthusiasts to enjoy a beautiful hike! The hike was hosted by Lambton Shores Nature Trails and led by Klaus Keunecke who provided information about the history of the trails before we headed out. (more…)