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.
On Sunday, 25 people braved the damp and cool weather to join Nick Alexander for the first of his two spring walks in Mandaumin Woods. Nick shared a wealth of information about the trees and plants found along the trail that winds through the 25-acre LWI property.
Nick provided many details on how to recognize the plants and tree species that he showed the group. Some of the plants and trees that he pointed out included:
Solomon’s Seal, False Solomon’s Seal, Goldenrod, Toothwort, Bellwort, Witch Hazel, Redbud, Leatherwood, Prickly Gooseberry, Black Current, Hepatica, various sedges, Shagbark Hickory, Blue beech, Ironwood, Sugar Maple, Basswood, Trout Lily, May Apple, Jack in the Pulpit, Wild Leeks, Wood Anemone, Wild Ginger, and Spice Bush.
The trilliums were in full bloom throughout much of the woods, mostly the white variety with a few red ones intermingled.
Interestingly, a yellowish colored trillium was spotted; upon later investigation it appears that this was a sub-species of red trillium!
Nick found many saplings growing and identified them and explained what characteristics will identify that particular tree. He pointed out that many of the plants found in Mandaumin are indicative of a high quality woodlot and Nick also noted the relative absence of weeds and invasive species. There’s little doubt that all the participants came away with improved knowledge of the native flora of Mandaumin Woods.
Well done Nick, we appreciated the learning experience.
Nick has scheduled another spring walk in Mandaumin Woods for May 14, at 1:00 PM. He expects more wildflowers to be in bloom for that date. Wear waterproof footwear as some of the sections of the trail are quite boggy.
A large flock estimated at 500 of Lapland Longspurs was observed on Moore Line in Lambton County on April 26. The birds were foraging in the stubble of agricultural land. The number of birds is more evident when they fly up together. These birds should be well on their way to the far north by now.
I hope you enjoyed my earlier post about Pelee Island. This latest post focuses on bird photos.
As you may know, thousands of birds migrate through this area every spring. Pelee Island is a stopover for many interesting species, and attracts avid birders. Having access to some very experienced and knowledgeable LWI birders who attend this event makes the trip especially worthwhile. For some competitive birders, Pelee Island offers the annual Botham Cup. This event is a bird “race” taking place over a 24 hour period from Friday noon until Saturday noon. Teams try and sight as many bird species as possible. Two teams of LWI members entered the event; one competing in the “green” category which means restricting your movement around the island to walking or bicycling. The other team used their car. Both teams placed well, and earned a mention at the culminating banquet held at Pelee Island Winery and hosted by author Margaret Atwood (an island resident in the summer).
Anyway, take a look at the photos and if you enjoy birdwatching and have never been to Pelee Island, you may want to plan to attend the LWI camping trip in 2017.
Every spring for many years now, LWI holds a group camping outing on Pelee Island. 2016 was the first year for myself and Roberta attending. Pelee Island is an easy 1 hour and 30 minute ferry ride from Leamington. The campground is located only a few kilometers from the ferry dock and is well situated for making forays to the various corners of the island.
By late Thursday the LWI group camping site was well populated with tents, dining shelters, pop-up camper vans and one truck camper. Some members come as early as Tuesday, with most departing back to the mainland on the Sunday. A total of 21 campers attended, with ages ranging from elementary school up to ?? Most campers in the group brought bicycles, as the island is relatively small and quite flat. For some outings we did choose to drive, in order to facilitate moving to other locations depending on bird concentrations or lack thereof. We enjoyed group hikes, campfires, late night owling (successfully calling in screech owls!) and great camaraderie. The atmosphere at the campsite was very relaxed and driving on the island is slow and easy; everyone waves at other vehicles.
The island is a mix of agricultural land, vineyards, and protected conservation lands, each with its own unique habitat. I thought the best way to describe the nature aspects of the trip was to show some photos. 2016 was a record turnout for this popular LWI outing and we hope 2017 will be even better. I have split my photos into two posts; the first will be general nature photos, and the second post will focus on bird photos. Enjoy!
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. (more…)
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.