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During the LWI camping and birding trip to Pelee Island, May 5th to May 8th, 2016, we had the opportunity to walk a lot of Pelee Island and view the force of wind and water as we travelled from point to point.

Walking to Fish Point on the south end of the island, we came across an area where sand and gravel had washed and blown inland 50 – 75 feet from the shore. The coarse material had covered up the trail for some distance and to a depth of about 50 cm, or 20 inches. As you can see from the photo below, nothing has been able to push its way to the surface.

Sand and gravel covers path

Sand and gravel covers path

 

The tip of Fish Point juts out into Lake Erie. It is a sandbar that changes length and shape daily. On this visit the actual tip was very short. The tail of the sandbar is separated from the tip by a couple of hundred meters or so and swings further out into Lake Erie to the east. Herons, eagles, gulls, and shore birds are able to rest on this part of the sandbar, but the top of the sandbar is close to the lake water level. Previously, the sandbar was well above the lake level.

The Tip

 

At the north-east end of the island, there is a trail to the Pelee Passage Lighthouse. To get there, you walk north between two marshy areas. This elevated dry trail takes you to the beach. During the last few years, there was a line of trees that paralleled the water’s edge at this location. These trees were well beyond the water’s edge and were healthy growing trees. During this visit, the trees were all uprooted and were stacked at right angles to the water. High lake levels and wave action had eroded their roots. Without support, high winds blew them over.

Trees stacked along the beach

Trees stacked along the beach

 

Continuing along the beach to the lighthouse, sixty to ninety centimetres of “old” bank has been washed away. Much larger and older tree trunks were exposed. Smaller, brush like trees and ground cover had been washed away. I was saddened to see the damage that had been done by higher water levels and wave action. The group of us were looking at the situation and realized that these particular trees had not been victims, but that the soil around them had just returned to the level at which the trees started to grow. From the photograph, you can see that the lower portion of the tree trunk (note the trunk colour) had actually been buried over the years. Soil and sand had been deposited by waves during the low water level periods and washed away by waves during higher water levels.

Tree trunks buried by topsoil.

Tree trunks buried by topsoil.

 

From the examples above it is obvious that nature is always changing around us. If we wait long enough, the cycle will be repeated and we will return to “normal”!

About Author

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Richard Wilson

A retired Information Technologist, Dick is the current Treasurer for Lambton Wildlife. When he isn't checking the figures he is enjoying local nature trails, sailing, playing hockey and volunteering.

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