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Happy New Year LWI!

 

This past year, 2019, was a year worth celebrating; filled with so many impactful initiatives, events, and indoor/outdoor programs. I want to look back and highlight some of what I think made this year exceptional before we look ahead to this new year, and new decade.


Outdoor programs 

We try to cycle our outdoor events to keep things new and fresh but it’s hard not to repeat popular and successful ones.  In 2019, club favourites such as Down River Ducks, Spring Wildflower Walk, Habitat Garden Tours, and the Fungi Foray continue to be enjoyed.

I have always had an interest in phenology – the study of cyclical plant and animal events and how they are influenced by seasons, climate and habitat factors . Perhaps the best thing about some repeat programming, is that it’s nature – no two years are the same; each time we see different things or experience them in different ways and places. Even though some of our repeat outdoor events happen around the same time each year, the number and variety of mushrooms in the fall or wildflowers in the spring are strongly influenced by heat and precipitation, making it a different experience every time. And, I love that!  

Indoor Presentations

With more of a local focus, pulling knowledge and stories from in-and-around Lambton County, 2019 was another exceptional year of presentations. Enriching our understanding of the natural world around us, we learned about bats in Pinery Park; woodlot management and naturalization on a local family farm; and birding in Lambton County, just as a few examples. 

I moved to Sarnia 6 years ago and knew no one. I looked for a local nature group because you are ‘my people’. I still remember going alone to my first indoor presentation, coming home after listening to a talk that thrilled me, and knew I’d be back. Since then, this club has given me friendships, a community, and a connection to local natural areas that I’m not sure I would have found otherwise. It was an advertisement for an indoor presentation in the Sarnia Journal that read ‘guests and new members are always welcome’ to thank for that.

Young Nats

Our Young Nats (YN) team focus in 2019 was to try to expose as many kids to nature as possible. This meant an increase in advertising using social media, encouraging the public (non-members) to attend, and hosting pop-up style events that are based around timing of natural phenomena and good weather versus fixed dates and times. Their efforts were very successful with all events well attended, seeing new faces all the time, and having membership significantly grow. Many of these new initiatives are expected to continue in 2020.

Some 2019 YN highlights include:

We also recently learned that we are the only nature club in our region that offers children’s programming (with Essex region working to establish one currently). It makes me so proud that our club prioritizes nature engagement and literacy with the young people in our community. After all, they are the next generation, our future, our club’s future. Keep up the awesome work YN team!   

$25,000 donation to support a local species-at-risk project

At September’s indoor meeting, our membership was wowed by the research by Biologist, Jessica Linton in and around Pinery Provincial Park in support of a local species-at-risk butterfly, the Mottled Duskywing, and Oak Savannah habitat restoration. The results of the project could be valuable for management of LWI’s property of similar habitat, the Karner Blue Sanctuary. There was overwhelming support for the project and as such, the Board of Directors passed a motion to donate $25,000. To learn more about the project, you can visit the following website, but we have also asked for periodic updates as the project progresses, which we will share with all of you! Your membership dollars and donations help to make large-scale projects like this possible!
For more info about the project visit:

Habitat Fund

Your membership and donation dollars were also used to support environmental initiatives (eg. naturalization projects) in our community through the Habitat Fund launched  in 2019. We made $10,000 of funding available to local community groups and organizations to complete projects that would enhance the ecological value of properties in Lambton County. The Habitat Fund committee hastily developed an eligibility framework so that applications could be accepted in the spring! A total of eight projects were completed in Lambton County in 2019 as a result of this initiative, ranging from school yards to First Nations communities.  

Be sure to join us at our indoor meeting later this month for an official Habitat Fund update and photos. Well done Habitat Fund Committee!

Tree Workshop

If any of you attended the tree identification walk in Fall of 2018 that drew nearly 100 attendees, you’ll know trees are a BIG crowd pleaser! Building on our community’s growing love of trees, we offered a one-day workshop in September 2019 that was SOLD OUT (with a waiting list) year. Organizers did a terrific job of marrying classroom-style presentations about local tree identification and ecology with hands on practice of learned skills in beautiful Canatara Park. I heard rave reviews by all who attended.  

Bioblitz at Karner Blue 

As owners and stewards of the Karner Blue Sanctuary property, Lambton Wildlife is aiming to renew their interest and stewardship in the property, and revise and update the current management plan. A BioBlitz is a great way to bring together taxonomic experts, citizen scientists, and the general public to inventory all species, for such a rare and unique property. We conducted a successful Bioblitz that was attended by Will Van Hemessen (botanist) and Jeff Skevington (entomologist) who contributed invaluable data to our KBS property. Thank you to organizers and participants of this citizen science activity!

Seed Collection and Planting at Sydenham River Nature Reserve

Ontario Nature hosted a seed collection and tree planting at the Sydenham River Nature Reserve in October, which was attended by several of our members. More than a thousand tree seeds were planted as another step towards restoring this near-and-dear-to-our-heart property to its natural state. To read more information and see some photos, visit our blog: http://lambtonwildlife.com/blog/tree-planting-at-sydenham-river-nature-reserve/

Ontario Nature Regional Meeting

In October, we co-hosted the ON Nature Regional meeting along with the Sarnia Environmental Advisory Committee (SEAC) and Sydenham Field Naturalists (SFN). This bi-annual meeting brings together representatives from each of the nature clubs and groups in the Carolinian West region for a one-day workshop to discuss environmental issues and each club’s recent and upcoming activities. It’s been a great way to network and gather ideas to continue to offer top-notch programming to you, our members. 

This meeting was very special as it was held at Aamjiwnaang First Nation. The Environmental Coordinator shared with us the community’s current environmental projects and priorities, and an elder taught us about the history of their traditional territory, and shared personal stories and her connection to the environment. We participated in a smudge ceremony, and drummers from their youth group performed. We ate a delicious lunch of traditional foods, and toured their native plant greenhouse, turtle garden, and a creek that underwent recent remediation. It was a tremendous day full of learning and sharing.  

Seed Swap and Seed Processing Demonstration

With so many LWI members having native plants or gardens on their residential property, the seed swap in the fall was an ingenious idea! Seed swaps serve as a fun and cost-friendly way to increase diversity in our own yards, with the benefit of using local seeds; protecting and enhancing the genetic purity of plants in our local ecosystems. The swap was well attended, with dozens of varieties of seeds available for other members to take home for free. I am already looking forward to planting my Black-Eyed Susans this spring!

The seed processing demonstration showed us some interesting and effective means of extracting seeds from different plant species. I have a large wild bergamot plant with at least 100 flower heads on it in my yard; but, didn’t know where to begin with harvesting the seeds because they’re just so small. Thanks to the demo, I will be ready next Fall. 

A BIG THANK YOU!

In my intro, I said highlight. A few pages of text later, and I still feel like I have only scratched the surface, not able to capture how wonderful the events and initiatives of the past year really were, and surely missing some altogether. Thank you to all our donors, we thank you for supporting Lambton Wildlife’s dedication to the conservation, preservation, and protection of the natural environment in Lambton County. Your membership dollars and donations have helped fund; a large-scale butterfly conservation project, a habitat fund for local naturalization projects, a bursary program for those who are interested in furthering their education to protecting or enhancing our natural environment, managing 2 wildlife sanctuaries, assisting Ontario Nature with habitat enhancement at the Sydenham Nature Reserve, and help deliver an array of events that enhance our understanding and appreciation for the natural world, especially to the younger generation through our Young Naturalist Club.

More so, in writing this, I am reminded of the cumulative effort from the board members, committee members, and volunteers among you that have made all of this and more possible. Year after year, you dedicate your valuable time,  and bring new and unique ideas that keep this club special. Actively protecting nature in Lambton County for over 50 years is a community of people like you. Thank you!

For anyone interested in volunteering within our club, as I look at the list of what we have accomplished in one year alone; all I can say is, it feels pretty awesome to be part of this. 😊
Looking forward to all the great things that are in store for us in 2020, and beyond.

 

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The 2019 Lambton County Christmas Bird Count for Kids (CBC4KIDS), hosted by LWI’s Young Naturalist team and staffed by club volunteers was completed on Saturday, Dec 28th at Canatara Park, Sarnia Ontario. 25 kids, ages 6-12 participated with their parents or grandparents in our 2nd annual count.

Although bird numbers were down, as is the case all over the continent, the kids and adults had a great time! It was wonderful to see so many children and youth interested in birds and nature over the holidays. With all generations involved, it made for a unique event blending outdoor activity, citizen science, and family-friendly fun.

Leading groups of intrepid young birders were: Sharon & Deryl Nethercott, Amy Virostek, Brandon Edwards, Sean Jenniskens, and Mike Kent. As participants arrived our leaders put them through a quick bino bootcamp to learn how to use binoculars. Upon completion, they earned a tufted titmouse (our mascot this year) button. After the bootcamp, Thanks to Vortex Canada and Nova Chemicals, we were able to equip our participants with Vortex binoculars that we hope opened a window to an undiscovered world for some.

16 species of birds were seen by the groups for a total of 186 birds seen in the 70 minutes of counting. One group saw two Coopers hawks, and another group got a look at a Brown Creeper! Our most numerous bird was the long-tailed duck, with a total count of 70. The temperature was 3-4 degrees Celsius with overcast skies.

Each of our participants went home with a pinecone feeder kit, a nature magazine, and a titmouse button. After the count, each group reported their findings and enjoyed hot chocolate and warm cookies.
Anne Goulden did a tremendous job organizing and leading the event. Also assisting were Brandy Fenwick and Mary Martin.


To learn more about the Young Naturalist Club, check out this section of our site: Lambton Wildlife Programs

We also made a special annoucement at the CBC4KIDS event that for 2020 memberships will be FREE for Young Nats!

Sign up today to get your family in the know for kid-friendly events!

Featuring the Teenage Tree Program, a Native Tree Sale and HUB Open House!
Teens and Trees Helping to Reforest Sarnia-Lambton

 

When: Saturday October 19, 2019 from 10 am to 4 pm

Where: At Rebound’s THE HUB – St. Luke’s United Church – 350 Indian Road South, Sarnia

The HUB will be hosting a native tree sale in support of youth mental wellness. Return the Landscape, Maajiigin Gumig (Aamjiwnaang First Nations’ native plant greenhouse), the HUB and the Unitarian Fellowship of Sarnia and Port Huron have joined forces to grow a diverse selection of locally sourced native trees.

Together, the above organizations are starting a Teenage Tree Program for youth to collect seeds, care and grow tree saplings for fundraising. Through this eco-fundraiser, local youth will have an opportunity to re-connect with nature while promoting the re-forestation of our community.

We live in the most “tree rich” region of Canada. We have over 70 species in our local Carolinian zone ecosystem. https://caroliniancanada.ca/legacy/FactSheets_CCUniqueness.htm.

Reforestation is considered to be one of the top 10 most effective strategies to address climate change. Not only is carbon sequestered but biodiversity is protected.

Trees for sale at this event will be Carolinian species with information tables and presentations on the value of native trees. People can either purchase native tree saplings for their yard and/or sponsor trees for a community park planting day on Sunday, November 2nd.

Join us for a tour of the HUB, a safe space with support services for youth ages 16 to 24. The HUB is operated by Sarnia-Lambton Rebound with at least 31 community agencies collaborating to co-create youth services and programs. The HUB will be open for a tour as well as the tree sales. Proceeds from the sale will be invested in the HUB, the native plant greenhouse and local reforestation efforts.

In addition, people can learn more about the Teenage Tree Program as we continue developing this eco-fundraiser for Sarnia-Lambton.
A barbeque and refreshments will be offered.

For more information contact Returnthelandscape@gmail.com or 519 464-6544.

 

Sydenham River Nature Reserve Tree Planting

On October 5, twenty enthusiastic naturalist from Lambton Wildlife Inc. (LWI) and Sydenham Field Naturalists (SFN) planted more than a thousand tree seeds, as another step toward restoring Sydenham River Nature Reserve (SRNR) to its natural state.  Oak, Hickory, Beech, Ironwood, along with other tree species were planted; all from seeds that were gathered from SRNR. The purchase of this property, by Ontario Nature, was made possible by the generous donations from both LWI and SFN.  Both LWI and SFN continue to support SRNR by being stewards of the property, and with on-going donations towards its restoration.

 

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The National Conservation Strategy for all Native Ash Species in Ontario is being led by the National Tree Seed Centre. The Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) is supporting this effort by conducting field research.  In the fall of 2018 Melissa Spearing, the field researcher for the FGCA, visited woodlots from Guelph to Windsor in search of live Ash trees (white, green, black, blue, and pumpkin) that fit with the following criteria:

  • Trees in a native stand (not planted), i.e. forest, hedgerow.
  • Larger trees (>20 cm DBH) with healthy crowns (for survivor DNA samples).
  • Viable seed of good quality (filled embryos, low insect damage)

We heard about this project through the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority (SCRCA) after being part of the Fifty Million Tree Program.  On one of the site inspections we showed Jeff Sharpe (from the SCRCA) our live Green Ash trees and asked him if he had any thoughts on why they had survived when most of the Ash trees had succumbed to the Emerald Ash Borer.  When he heard about the FGCA research he remembered our conversation and passed the information on to us.

We contacted the FGCA and informed them that we had live Green Ash trees that met the criteria (our live Ash trees have a DBH of 26 cm).  On October 11, Melissa Spearing visited our farm.  It was an interesting morning as we learned about the research that was being done and helped Melissa as she took DNA samples and seeds from our Ash trees.  She used pole pruners to do “cut leaf” and bud sampling for the DNA testing, and a throw line and tarp to gather seeds.

The DNA samples are being studied by the Canadian Forest Service; and the seeds are being sent to the National Tree Seed Centre.

The FGCA has also set up an iNaturalist project to gather reports from citizen scientists. The information that they gather will serve for planning this upcoming season.  If you know the location of live Ash trees that meet the criteria please visit the iNaturalist site and submit the data (or let us know and we will submit the information).

This research is crucial as our once abundant, valuable Native Ash trees are on the brink of extinction due to the invasive beetle; the Emerald Ash Borer.  Ash trees are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red list as critically endangered, with a decreasing population trend as the Emerald Ash Borer continues to expand its range.

Green Ash Trees

 

An afternoon get together for the LWI board members took place at Canatara Park recently and there was a lot of delicious food and good conversation. The weather stopped any hopes of an afternoon walk through the park but there was plenty of things to talk about and interesting food to enjoy.

If you are interested in joining the Board or have any questions, feel free to PM us!

Some quick details:
🐢Terms are 3 years in length and start in May
🐢We meet once monthly on a weekday evening with meetings lasting typically 2 hours
🐢There are 5 spots available each year (with 15 members total so there’s lots of support from experienced board members to anyone new)
🐢 You do not need to be a subject matter expert to be a Board Member as the role is more administrative.
🐢 But mostly… it’s just a great way to meet other members, share your ideas, and contribute to our great Club

Here are some pictures of your board members enjoying themselves before the new year starts.

See you in September!

Point Pelee National Park is an amazing park filled with natural wonders. There is a large diversity of habitats, from the sheltered canopy of the southern Carolinian forest to the expansive sea of cattails in the marsh. In autumn, songbird migration is in full swing, while dragonflies and Monarch butterflies drift by.

For further information visit the Lambton Wildlife Website: http://lambtonwildlife.com/blog/point-pelee-national-park-camping-trip-2017/

Please Contact Roberta Buchanan (roberta.buchanan@icloud.com)

Date:  September 4-7, 2019

Place:  Point Pelee National Park

Time: Anytime Wednesday through Saturday – When you arrive at the front gate let them know that you are with the Lambton Wildlife Group

 

Cost:  Group camping to be determined by the number of people in attendance.  There are no OTentiks available for the Friday night but for Wednesday and Thursday they are available and the cost if $90/night.

 

What to Bring:  Camping gear, bicycles, canoe (if you have one – rentals are available)

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Mourning Warbler

Yellow Warbler

Fifty-three species of birds were reported at the Sydenham River Nature Reserve during the Breeding Bird Survey on Saturday June 8, 2019. There were five Species at Risk reported during the survey: Bald Eagle, Cerulean Warbler, Eastern Wood Pewee, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Wood Thrush. This biologically important nature reserve is owned by Ontario Nature with Lambton Wildlife and Sydenham Field Naturalists as stewards of the property.A big thank you to both Larry Cornelis for organizing the survey, and to all the volunteers who came out to assist: Quinton Wiegersma, Blake Mann, Edward lavender, Mike Kent, Larry Cornelis, Peter Chapman, Paul Carter, Roberta Buchanan, and Mark Buchanan.

 

Dedicated Volunteer

 

Flycatcher

 

Enjoying lunch in Alvinston

Indigo Bunting

 

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A BIG Thank You to all of the volunteers who came out to help with the Mandaumin Woods Nature Reserve spring clean-up. On Sunday April 6 nine volunteers enjoyed a beautiful spring morning clearing rotting planks, trimming trails, and picking up garbage.  On Tuesday April 16 we had 14 brave souls come out on a cold, rainy morning to continue the clean-up of the trails! Again thank you to all of the volunteers for helping to take care of Mandaumin Woods Nature Reserve.

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Once again the projects at the annual Lambton County Science Fair were outstanding.  The Lambton Wildlife Inc. Natural Environment Award is presented to the students whose project best demonstrates a keen interest in Nature and the Environment.  A total of seven cash awards were presented to deserving students during the Awards Ceremony on Saturday April 5, 2019.

Here is a list of the winners of the Lambton Wildlife natural Environment Award:

Riley Edmunds and Warren Kimball (Carbonated Water vx. Tap Water, which one works better?)

Nithilan Sathish (Green Plastics)

Cyndi Rayson (Does eco-friendly soap lye?)

Ryleigh Murdock and Lizzy Kuykendall (Beans Beans)

Isabelle Robert (All A-BOAT Sulphur Emissions)

Ameera Almalki (Garbage to Some Treasure to Others)

Jessica Feniak and Parker Murdock (Salty Solution)